What are your best GO TO resources as a gifted teacher?
February 20, 2015 3:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm blessed to teach the GTD program in a well-resourced and supportive district. I have some budget funds left over for the year, and I'm really at a loss for how to spend it. I have the general materials I need to get through the year and into next year, so I'm looking for great resources, particularly ones based in project-based learning and/or common core instruction. I love teachers pay teachers as both a contributor but mostly a shopper. If it helps, I provide direct pull-out instruction to 3-5 graders in LA and math as well as more informal push-in instruction to K-2 classes, where I like to focus on critical thinking skills rather than a set content area.
posted by shrimpsmalls to Education (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Off the wall answer: make puppets. I had my 6 graders make puppets from a 12 inch x 14 inch piece of anti-pill fleece, some scraps of felt, a needle and thread, duct tape, a hot glue gun, and some cardboard. That's all you need to make puppets.

Okay, here's the why behind it. If you do PBL, many final products can be videos to show learning - it's my favourite way for students to demonstrate learning in a way that is sharable with all stakeholders. However, privacy concerns mean that students shouldn't put their faces in these videos. Enter a physical avatar: their very own puppet. No privacy concerns at all.

On top of that, it lets students practice with narrative writing. Their puppet is a distinct character, needing a unique voice and personality. So kids learn to write from another person's perspective and make narrative choices to make that personality come out in direct and indirect characterisation. With small groups collaboratively writing plays for their puppets to perform, you will get better writing and ideas than without puppets. I've seen that happen with my students.

It also reinforces growth mindset. Their first puppet will suck and they will fail a bunch of times. But it teaches them that being "good" at something is more about hard work and revision than it is about innate skill.

Puppets also give students a chance to not know everything without feeling stupid. Let's say you're working on fractions. The kid explains the problem to the puppet, but the puppet doesn't get it so asks a lot of "dumb" questions to get to the answer. Those questions can be the same as the ones the student himself had when he was learning the concept. Plus, those can be used to help other students get additional repetitions with the content they just need over and over (phonics, basic math, etc.).

The other thing I would get (if the funds stretch to this) is a few devices that can record video with tripod or monopods (old iPhones, iPods or iPads work great for this!) and a green screen.

I would really encourage you to think in terms of creation and publishing, rather than specific unit resources. Giving students structures and tools (like puppets and video equipment) sets them up for way more future learning than skill-specific resources. I'm personally not a fan of TPT (I give away my curriculum for free to anyone on the internet because I believe in open source and don't want to profit off of other teachers), but with that same guideline of looking for something that can help your students be more creative and become creators, you may find something useful there.

If you want to know more about puppetting in the classroom, I write about it on my blog (link in the profile) and on my YouTube channel. TheEduPuppets YouTube channel is one I'm involved with as well. Send me a memail if you want direct links.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:48 PM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Illustrated works are generally more intellectually dense and yet, at the same time, also more accessible. Gifted students of that age often do well with illustrated books that are above their grade level. Calvin and Hobbes and "The Cartoon Guides" are both really popular with parents of gifted kids. You do need to prescreen the cartoon guides. They occasionally have a little off-color humor because they weren't really written for small kids. But illustrated works of any kind tend to have a higher vocabulary level and high conceptual level (than "chapter books") and students can handle it because a picture is worth a thousand words.

You might also try finding whatever resources were used by the program discussed in this video.
posted by Michele in California at 4:03 PM on February 20, 2015

Teaching Tolerance (attached to the Southern Poverty Law Centre) has some excellent classroom resources. You can search by grade level, subject, topic, and anti-bias domain.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:21 PM on February 20, 2015

It's a bit hard to answer this question without know more about what you have and how much money you have to spend, but if it were me I would be looking at things that inspire making/programing:

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It's a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything inbetween

littleBits is the easiest way to prototype and learn with electronics. It's an ever-growing library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets so you can invent anything!

Or apps that help kids create content using technology (or help me):

Or you could invest in a comb binder and supplies to allow your kids to create books as part of their school work.

Final idea, is to do a unit about Butterflies in the fall and buy larva to watch the butterflies grow. We did this at a school I worked at, and it was amazing.
posted by momochan at 5:36 PM on February 20, 2015

I'm a huge fan of the Lego engineering materials.
posted by OkTwigs at 5:42 PM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sphero is pretty cool too.
posted by guster4lovers at 7:24 PM on February 20, 2015

While not quite as whizbang fancy as littleBits, Snap Circuits are a lot cheaper and IMO you get more play for your money.
posted by BlueJae at 7:16 AM on February 21, 2015

« Older Looking for a specific MAD Magazine issue number   |   Should I cooperate in extending a patent? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.