TeachersFirst's Gifted in any Classroom: Tools for Differentiating in Science and Social Studies

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Start • Helpful Background • Differentiating Academic Content • Respecting Creativity• Personalized Connections • Organization for a Sane Classroom

This collection of resources provides tools to differentiate in your science and social studies classes at all grade levels. With the Common Core, science and social studies don’t always get the attention that they deserve.Yet, if you talk to gifted students about what interests them most, often the topics they name fall under the general umbrellas of science or social studies (endangered animals, disasters, environmental issues, stem cell research, human rights, current events, Civil War battle strategies, etc.). Gifted students often have a profound sense of justice or a fascination with specific sciences well beyond their years.

Use these tools to differentiate in these subjects for gifted students and even find ways to correlate activities with Common Core initiatives. Try some basic code writing to take gifted students above and beyond basic science (and math) skills. Explore sites that offer informational text (on science or social student topics) differentiated by grade levels. Don’t miss the many project options for enrichment under Classroom Use for specific ideas to use with gifted. 

 

 

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Plotly (Beta) - Jack Parmer

Grades
8 to 12
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Plot.ly is a collaborative data analysis and graphing tool. Import data from your computer. Copy and paste, drag and drop a file, or import from Google Drive or Dropbox. Create ...more
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Plot.ly is a collaborative data analysis and graphing tool. Import data from your computer. Copy and paste, drag and drop a file, or import from Google Drive or Dropbox. Create many types of graphs from your data including scatter, line, bar, area, error bar, heatmap, box, and histogram. Options include choice of colors and themes, switching back and forth from data to graphing view, and data filter options. Create your account using email or social networking logins to save completed graphs. Make graphs public or private using sharing options. At the time of this review, this site was still in Beta.

tag(s): charts and graphs (195), data (148)

In the Classroom

Plot.ly is perfect for use on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Use this site to demonstrate different types of graphs using the same data in a math or science class. Create an account and upload your own data for comparison. Challenge students to play around with Plot.ly to create and share their own graphs. Use Plot.ly as a challenge assignment with gifted students who research different data or simply need experience manipulating more sophisticated types of information.

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Fantastic Contraption - KONGREGATE

Grades
1 to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Test out your logic, mechanical understanding, and creativity as you create amazing 2D contraptions! Each contraption uses wheels, wooden stationary logs, and power moving water rods...more
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Test out your logic, mechanical understanding, and creativity as you create amazing 2D contraptions! Each contraption uses wheels, wooden stationary logs, and power moving water rods to create a moving vehicle to push a target to the goal. Get a taste of the challenge by trying your hand at the introduction activity. Then begin your regular contraption. Each level adds more challenge. Use the delete button, and try again until you succeed. Registration is not required to use this site. However, more options are available if you register (FREE). As you progress through a level, earn points and badges. Save your designs and send your best designs to your friends using a specific url. You can turn off the (rather annoying) music by clicking the speaker icon.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creativity (108), energy (198), gifted (96), inventors and inventions (97), logic (235), machines (30), motion (59), problem solving (272), STEM (134)

In the Classroom

In the classroom, develop logic, perseverance, and creativity for your gifted and high achieving students. These activities could be used with all learning levels. Use this activity as part of a unit on inventions or as a lead in to a Maker's Faire. Introduce this activity on your interactive whiteboard or projector and you will have all students hooked! Your ESL/ELL students and weaker readers will be on equal footing with their peers since this site requires very little reading after the introduction. Capture the attention of your students by gamifying science and logic. Continue with class discussions of movement, energy, logic, and strategy. Use as a stepping stone to begin a unit on geometry, energy, or motion. In elementary science classes, include this activity for students who have mastered required curriculum to go beyond the basics of simple machines and motion. Have students add a written explanation of the contraption to take sequencing to a new level. (A screenshot would help them illustrate their writing.) After drawing a scaled model, create the contraption using real objects. Discover the types of energy and movement that are in the model. Organize a contraption competition. Share this link on your class website for students (and their parents) to "tinker" with at home.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Tynker - Krishna Vedati

Grades
3 to 8
2 Favorites 0  Comments
    
Learn computer coding using simple and easy activities, lesson plans, and an interface sure to please all ages! Click Schools to access the free school activities, or click on Hour...more
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Learn computer coding using simple and easy activities, lesson plans, and an interface sure to please all ages! Click Schools to access the free school activities, or click on Hour of Code to find ones you can use at home or school. Build an animated character (everyone loves the zombie) and then animate it. Create Minecraft Mods and learn Game Design. Learn to code by dropping blocks of commands into sequence on the left side of the screen and seeing the results along the right. The lessons provide step by step instructions, missions, and other materials to learn to code. Teachers can create a class and add students to the class. Once lessons are assigned, the progress of students can be tracked. Click on student view of each lesson to see the tools and student tasks. Follow the instructions along the right panel. Note the tools that are along the top including undo and redo! This tool also features a question bar along the top. Note: This free portion of the resource offers three units of lessons, a visual programming environment, an art studio to draw and paint you own scenes, and a media gallery. The free units of lessons have unlimited student space.
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tag(s): animation (63), coding (47), computers (95), critical thinking (108), game based learning (103), gamification (65), problem solving (272), STEM (134)

In the Classroom

Use this tool to learn basic coding skills. Students will quickly catch on to this program when allowed to "tinker" and see what they can make. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Be sure to recommend that students "ask three before me" (the teacher). Have students use a storyboard to write down what they plan to do/draw/say with their creation in order to keep tabs on students and their creations. When finished with these lessons, move to other free tools such as Scratch, reviewed here. Teachers of even very young gifted students can turn them loose with these challenges when they have already mastered math or science curriculum. Have them create a creature they can explain to the class or share with gifted peers in other classrooms.

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Flipboard - Flipboard

Grades
3 to 12
3 Favorites 1  Comments
   
Use Flipboard to collect, explore, and share information from many sources, all in a magazine-style format. Flipboard can hold specific articles and images you choose or a dynamic "feed"...more
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Use Flipboard to collect, explore, and share information from many sources, all in a magazine-style format. Flipboard can hold specific articles and images you choose or a dynamic "feed" from a web source such as CNN, a Twitter hashtag, or a favorite blog. Most Flipboard consumers read their magazines on mobile devices, but you can manage and access your magazines from the "web tools" page (the link from this review) on a computer. Create your personal magazine(s) with things you care about: news, staying connected, social networks, and more. Create an account with Flipboard and then connect with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube. Click the More panel to browse other categories and add them to your magazines. Drag the Flipboard button to your bookmarks bar or use the Flipboard app on your smartphone or tablet. Find an article you want to add to your collection? Click the + button next to the article to save it or simply click "Flip It" on your computer's browser toolbar to add that web page to your magazine. Edit your magazines online and share with friends and colleagues. View your RSS feeds or follow your news stream in social media with this magazine-style interface. Most of the tutorial videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home. If you want to share the videos with students, bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube. Flipboard is a device agnostic tool. Load the free app on mobile devices.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (198), news (261), social networking (112), video (254)

In the Classroom

Create a class Flipboard account and create magazines for each unit studied through the year. Add information that is useful for student understanding, application of concepts, or materials to be used for projects. Create a magazine of great articles and information to read or search through. Consider creating a Flipboard magazine for student current events or happenings. Use this for reports on various topics such as food issues, diseases, political information, cultures around the world, and more. Make a customized "feed" for more advanced information on a topic for your gifted and advanced students. Students can curate a Flipboard of pictures or videos from the web on a certain topic to share with their classmates. Create a Professional Development Flipboard with other teachers. Teacher-librarians may want to work together with classroom teachers to create magazines of certain content for students to use during research units. Challenge your middle and high school gifted students to curate a magazine for themselves on a topic of individual interest, creating a "PLN" they can use for years. For example, a student interested in rocketry can locate and add blogs from rocket scientists, NASA feeds, and more. Talented writers may want to collect feeds from literary publications and author blogs. They will probably also discover related Flipboards created by others. As gifted students' interests change, they can curate other topical "magazines" to keep learning, even if the topics do not fall within the traditional curriculum. You may find that the personalization of learning is something ALL your students want to do.

Comments

There are amazing collections on this site. Cindi, NC, Grades: 0 - 6

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News in Levels - newsinlevels.com

Grades
K to 8
5 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Find high interest, leveled news articles (and lessons) for English language learners. Although this site was designed for ESL/ELL it could be very useful in any elementary classroom...more
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Find high interest, leveled news articles (and lessons) for English language learners. Although this site was designed for ESL/ELL it could be very useful in any elementary classroom looking for informational texts that can be differentiated for various reading levels (great for meeting Common Core standards). This tool could be used with any readers to increase comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary skills. There are four difficulty levels. Take the Test Your Level quiz to find out what level will be best. Level 0 requires little to no reading, mostly audio, except some vocabulary words. Many of the lessons include audio, video, practice exercises (with answers), and more. In addition, interesting pictures pique the students' interest. The same story is presented in all of the various levels. The vocabulary at lower levels repeats at the higher levels with more vocabulary added as the level increases. A convenient online dictionary assists with English meanings. Comments are permitted with each article. Some of the videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube. At the time of this review, most of the news story content was fine for all ages. However, please preview the story before you share it with your class to be certain it is appropriate since there are comments, unmoderated by the site.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): guided reading (47), news (261)

In the Classroom

Add this website to your classroom computers, websites, and newsletters for parents of ESL/ELL students or beginning readers. This tool is especially helpful at the beginning of the year, as you are learning students' reading levels. Use this tool to differentiate in all primary classes. Although this site was created for English Language Learners, it could still be used by all students including gifted and learning support. Differentiate for your advanced/gifted students in elementary, while meeting Common Core standards of Informational Text. Use these news articles as informational text meeting your Common Core goals. Assign students of different levels the same story at the appropriate level or build skills by sharing the same story as a class. Challenge groups to compare the stories in pairs. Have students create a visual presentation of the story using comic-creation tools from this collection.
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Famous Inboxes - Mark Brownlow

Grades
6 to 12
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If famous people from long ago had inboxes, what would be in them? Famous Inboxes takes that concept and creates inboxes for characters in literature, entertainment, and history....more
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If famous people from long ago had inboxes, what would be in them? Famous Inboxes takes that concept and creates inboxes for characters in literature, entertainment, and history. Choose from artists, musicians, great leaders, authors, and many more categories. Each inbox contains a screenshot of the person's email (mythical) inbox including the subject of the email and the sender. This is an entertaining and provocative site sure to inspire lots of ideas for your own use! Be sure to preview before you share as some of the topics (or "texting" language) may not be appropriate for the classroom.

tag(s): creative writing (166), digital storytelling (144), gamification (65), social networking (112)

In the Classroom

Share Famous Inboxes with your students on your interactive whiteboard or projector using a character or author studied in class. Assign students to each of the inbox titles and have them write the actual email sent. Don't see anyone to use in class? Create your own or have students use the site as a model to create their own. Most likely, working in groups will get the creative juices flowing. This would be a great model to use for introducing a history or science unit or for looking at the relationships between characters in literature. Have students write the emails as an end of unit review. Subscribe to the RSS feed of this site to receive updated contents. Use the option to create an inbox as a differentiated challenge for your gifted students. For example: Summarize World War II by showing Winston Churchill's inbox, then write two of the key emails. As a "hook" for new books in the media center, have students create inboxes for one of the characters and post them with the book jackets. Instead of a "report" on a scientist, have students create their inbox documenting their research and accomplishments.

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Gettysburg by the Numbers - TeachersFirst

Grades
5 to 10
7 Favorites 1  Comments
  
Gettysburg by the Numbers (GBTN) is a web-based, interactive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg through numbers and infographics that raise questions and invite connections. Exploring...more
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Gettysburg by the Numbers (GBTN) is a web-based, interactive experience of the Battle of Gettysburg through numbers and infographics that raise questions and invite connections. Exploring Gettysburg "by the numbers" invites you to move beyond dates and facts to questions that make the battle more meaningful and real. Dig into the numbers to imagine the weather, the clothing, the communications, the people, the weapons, and--yes -- the cleanup from three devastating, pivotal July days in 1863. Delve into the infographics and accompanying questions to connect what was then with what is now. The site includes ideas for families and for teachers to use it in the classroom. Be sure to click on the large color image of the battle to get the "big picture." Teachers will want to explore the extensive "For Teachers" section that offers materials, lesson ideas, Common Core correlations, and much more.

tag(s): civil war (145), gettysburg (26)

In the Classroom

Gettysburg exemplifies many aspects of the Civil War experience and of U.S. life during the 1860s. Use this resource as a whole class introduction to the Civil War or specifically to the Battle of Gettysburg. Extensive teacher materials include downloadable and customizable handouts for students to "get the basics" about the battle or extend their understanding through small group or individual projects on battle-related topics that interest them. Coordinate with your math teacher to reinforce concepts of proportion, percent, ratio, and graphing with real data about Gettysburg. Differentiate for your students by helping them select from more concrete or more open-ended "questions" included with each detail about the battle. You can make this a one-day "quick tour" or a week long journey. Find project ideas included in these questions. There is even a customizable project rubric in the teacher materials. Be sure to share this link on your class web page for curious students (and families) to explore on their own outside of class!

Comments

Excellent resource for research Arthur, TX, Grades: 0 - 12

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Shadow Light Productions - ShadowLight Productions

Grades
2 to 12
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Investigate the art of shadow puppetry through Shadow Light Productions. This is a commercial site featuring performances for school groups, community centers, or various events. Examples...more
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Investigate the art of shadow puppetry through Shadow Light Productions. This is a commercial site featuring performances for school groups, community centers, or various events. Examples of performances with traditional stories appear in written and video format. A commercial venture on this site sells DVDS of actual performances. Begin your study of shadow puppetry at this site. Detailed plans with standards include suggested objectives, strategies, equipment, materials, and resources for audio, video, and texts. These plans answer all your questions on how to use shadow puppetry effectively in your classroom. Examples of lesson plans and student performance give ideas for language arts classes. Some of the images (although appropriate) may appear scary to younger students. So please preview before you share with your class.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): halloween (40), short stories (25)

In the Classroom

Share some of this "puppeteer fun" on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Integrate into your Language Arts classroom to discover theme, plot, characterization, or myths and legends in a new way. Science classes can investigate the use of shadow and sound. Shadow puppetry is an easy way to incorporate several multiple intelligences. Easily differentiated plans for ESL/ELL and Gifted students to capture interest and motivate success. Use as an enrichment cluster, or after-school activity. Be sure to capture all your class creations on video and share on your class web site or blog.
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