Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Utilizing Technology to Meet the Needs of Gifted Learners

Utilizing Technology to Meet the Needs of Gifted Learners

Instead of walking into a classroom and listening to your teacher talk, how would you like to enter your classroom and see this?

          So many of our gifted students are bored and estimates show that 20% - 50% are underachieving. One of the big challenges in gifted education is keeping these kids motivated and engaged. Powtoon is one easy way to motivate and engage ALL students. In under 45 minutes, I was able to use one of their templates, figure out how to modify it, and create the Powtoon linked above. And it cost me nothing! I think this is my new favorite website!
          Effective use of technology is one way to meet the needs of our much ignored gifted students. With the focus on the lowest 25% of students, our highest students are left to fend for themselves. Technology offers hope for these bored and frustrated students. In his article, Using Technology With Gifted Students, Neven Jurkovic delineates four ways technology can serve our gifted students. One way is to provide differentiated content for kids ready for more than the regular classroom can offer. Another way is differentiated assignments, which would allow gifted students to show their learning about the same topic the rest of the class is studying in a more challenging way. Additionally, technology can allow these students choices for what they want to explore in depth. Finally, Jurkovic praises technology’s communication opportunities which enable our gifted students to connect with like-minded peers across the world.
          As a classroom teacher, it is very difficult to appropriately differentiate for our highest ability students. I agree that technology offers a multitude of ways to successfully challenge these kids. Here are some more resources I have discovered. Many would be good for all students, but these offer gifted kids in particular the enriching opportunities they crave.
·        Powtoon: a great site for teachers to create fun ways to deliver content. I would have gifted kids use this site to create presentations for class assignments.
·        WebQuests: these are projects which require a great deal of research and problem solving, most of which is done online. For example, I found one in which students are given the task of designing and building a community park. This requires a multitude of cross curricular skills to complete. There are several WebQuests available. There are also templates and tutorials to help you create your own. This is the kind of learning project that many gifted kids love. I would offer this for kids who can pass a pretest on the topic and allow them to complete a WebQuest to go deeper into the topic.
·        Virtual field trips: many organizations offer this opportunity to visit far-away places without leaning your classroom. This allows gifted kids to pursue their passions without having to travel. These could be used to enrich so many topics and again, this would be good for all kids.
·        Online courses: there are a plethora of sites out there that allow gifted kids to take courses at their academic level as opposed to their grade level. Many are free. This could be a replacement of traditional homework.
·        Online Projects: there are projects to be completed online that require students to interact with other students across the world that are working on the same project. Gifted kids can choose a project they are enthusiastic about and interact with others.
·        I also discovered which takes educational content and turns it into an online game. Instead of passing tests, kids earn experience points and badges. Video games to learn school content??? What kid wouldn’t love that?
·        One other resource that many articles I read supported for gifted kids are some Web 2.0 resources. (Check me out! Before yesterday, I had no idea what Web 2.0 meant!!!). One type of scaffolding that gifted students need is interacting with other gifted kids. Blogs, social media, and other Web 2.0 content can serve that need well. I have used a blog in class before and it is definitely something I would do again.
Reaching and serving our gifted kids is something I am passionate about. I had a great time exploring some online resources to enrich the curriculum for them. Before this exploration, I didn’t know most of these resources existed. I am wondering what else I can make into a Powtoon….


How Gamification Works.  Retrieved on 9/13/16 from

Jurkovic, Neven (2012) Using Technology With Gifted Students. Retrieved on 9/13/16 from

Online Projects for Kids (n.d.) Retrieved on 9/13/16 from Resources for Teaching the Gifted and Talented (2008). Retrieved on 9/13/16 from

Van Sant, Joel "Brandyn" (n.d.). Gifted students with educational Technology. Retrieved on 9/13/16 from


  1. The idea of having different programs for different levels of learners is an idea I had not thought of before. I feel that would be very effective in pushing each student individually and uniquely to reach their full potential.
    The only concern I would have is the student feeling bad about themselves because they might not be at the highest level of learning in the class or may compare themselves to their peers. If there was a way to maybe modify the assignments to be to each students intelligence without them knowing they are different levels may eliminate that problem.
    Besides that minor detail I believe this system of teaching would be extremely beneficial in the classroom.

    1. What I have learned so far in this class has shown me that technology can be a wonderful way to differentiate for our gifted kids. Many programs work at the student's appropriate level, so your concern about modifying should be fairly easy to resolve.

  2. Hi there! I really like how you focused on how to bring technology into the gifted classroom- definitely a place where students should be using technology for sure! The Powtoons sound great! While I don't teach gifted, I know our gifted students do different presentations throughout the year, so this would be a good resource for them.

    Online field trips are something that I'd love to incorporate in my own classroom. Do you happen to know of any good ones that you would recommend?

    1. I had so much fun with Powtoons. I've already made one for another class! You can use it, too - not just the kids. It is a fun way to do a presentation of any kind.
      One online field trip that is really cool is Ellis Island. I didn't realize until I went there that it is part of the National Parks Service and they will do virtual field trips.

  3. Hey Aly,

    I don't always think about differentiating for a class full of gifted students but I guess they all have their own interests and abilities that need to be addressed. I think Web Quests and Online Learning both sound like great ways to do this.

    I'm intrigued by earning exp and badges from online learning sites. I'm a level 4 rogue in DND and have always wondered if this could be used in the classroom to motivate my students.

    If your kids have cell phones you can make your own Google Cardboard and have students use their phones. Check out this article to see how:

    1. Google Cardboard? Never heard of it. I'll be sure to check it out. Thanks!

  4. Hello Aly,

    You've touched on a few great points that I would like to expand on. First this statement,"With the focus on the lowest 25% of students, our highest students are left to fend for themselves" could not be more true. It is a sad truth of our education system. As teachers we need to be mindful of this because we need to be able to prepare all of our students for their future lives, not just let them figure it out for themselves. I have seen and heard of a few instances with children who are classified as Gifted/Talented who end up with behavior problems at school because they are searching for more attention since their teachers are not providing them with enough rigor. I love your idea of using PowToon. This is a great way to differentiate your instruction in a smaller group setting so that all students, whether high or low achieving receive the instruction and rigor that they need.
    The second thing I would like to touch on are a few of the technologies which you wrote about. For the rest of the course, I will be researching and implementing different technologies with my Pre-K students and there are a few which i thought could be useful. First PowToon! I have seen a few of their videos on Youtube, and I love the idea of being able to make them even better and more appropriate for my students. Second is the idea of a Visual Field Trip. Although we go on a few field trips a year, this will allow us to explore more and in turn learn more.

    Thanks for your input on technology,
    Ashley Theodoredis

    1. You are absolutely right about some Gifted kids getting themselves into trouble when they are not challenged. I love the idea of using technology for differentiating.
      I love the virtual field trip idea. Lots of museums and National Parks have them available.

  5. Aly,
    I loved your presentation on PowToon! Our school media specialist used PowToon to introduce the library to students and show/tell them how they should behave. I thought it was the coolest thing ever! Now seeing your presentation on it has inspired me to try and create my own for my students...I just need to find a topic.

    I see how you mentioned gifted students are not being challenged enough so they are losing interest in school. I have always wanted to be a gifted teacher. Creating fun and innovative projects for students to complete would be a great way to keep them engaged.

    Great post,

    1. I keep repeating myself, but I can't help it. I had so much fun with Powtoons. I already made another one for another class! You should definitely try it out!
      Gifted underachievers are, unfortunately, a big problem. Keeping them engaged is challenging and very necessary! :-)