TeachersFirst's Gifted in Any Classroom: Connecting and Collaborating

Start • Helpful BackgroundDifferentiating Academic ContentRespecting CreativityPersonalized ConnectionsOrganization for a Sane Classroom

As gifted students curate their own collections of subject-related interests or collect their writings, they are ready to collaborate with other gifted students outside their own class. These connections will challenge their thinking, question their choices, and open dialog at a higher level than they might have opportunities to experience otherwise. The resources below offer ways for teachers to find connections and forge connections with other teachers who have gifted students and with professional scientists and others who are willing to provide real world expertise. Imagine having a professional engineer willing to comment on your gifted student's building designs done as a math project or having a professional writer or publisher make suggestions about your gifted student's writings.

Common Core digital writing standards call for students to collaborate on writing using online interactions to revise, respond, publish, and revise based on responses from others. Gifted students may need outside collaborators to push their thinking to a level that challenges them. Some of the writing communities below offer just that opportunity. Don't miss the idea for a blog hop. You might find this tool helpful if you start one.

Of course, you will want to be sure that interactions are safe and that parents have granted permission for these interactions. Use the customizable permission forms and student agreements on the Respecting Creativity page to establish expectations and gather permissions.

Twitter is an invaluable tool for teachers seeking connections, as are various Twitter hashtags. Resources below will help you leverage Twitter. To learn more about Twitter, see Twitter for Teachers.

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A List of X (formerly Twitter) Educators by Subject Area - Alice Keeler

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 1  Comments
Are you looking for other educators to follow on X (formerly Twitter)? Check out this lengthy list of educator X (formerly Twitter) handles arranged by subject. The easiest way to ...more
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Are you looking for other educators to follow on X (formerly Twitter)? Check out this lengthy list of educator X (formerly Twitter) handles arranged by subject. The easiest way to view the full document is to click the link located under the heading "A Twitter Win." This link leads to a Google document with headings for all content areas as well as Ed Tech, Counselors, Administrators, and more. Use the scroll bar at the bottom of the document to view all categories. Add your own Twitter handle in the appropriate category for inclusion on this document.
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tag(s): social networking (66), twitter (19)

In the Classroom

Explore the site to discover and follow educators who match your interests and needs. Read the Xs X (formerly Xs X (formerly Tweets) about what is happening in other classrooms to gain some fresh, new ideas. Looking for more ways to use X (formerly Twitter) in the classroom? If you are the only person in your building who teaches a particular subject, such as gifted or learning support, this list can help you find like minds to share ideas or to set up collaborations between your students. Read more about X (formerly Twitter) at TeachersFirst's X (formerly Twitter) for Teachers page.

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what a great resource Susan, NY, Grades: 6 - 12

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Classroom Authors - Classroom Authors

Grades
1 to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Classroom Authors uses four easy steps to publish an e-book or a printed book: writing, editing, proofing, and publishing. Teachers create an account and a project. Have students join...more
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Classroom Authors uses four easy steps to publish an e-book or a printed book: writing, editing, proofing, and publishing. Teachers create an account and a project. Have students join the project with a code. Every student with the project code will have a chapter to create. Student accounts require email, but they can use a parent email address or an "+" extension of the teacher's email address, for instance, myemail+studentname@myschool.org. All students invited to the project can be working on their section, on multiple computers, at one time. Adding content is as easy as using a word processing program and uploading images to the gallery. Drag and drop the images into the chapter. Students can view the entire book, but only edit their own chapter. Teachers have complete control over editing, style and leaving comments. There are default templates so the books created are professional looking. Customize to give the book your own look. Classroom Authors is not only a vehicle for publishing; this tool will fulfill the Common Core Standard requirements for using technology for collaborating and writing across the curriculum. The best part of this site: it is EASY to use! Classroom Authors uses ePub to format e-books and offers one free printed book for each published project that has 10 or more students collaborating. Beyond that, there is a cost for printed books. E-books are FREE.

tag(s): creative writing (119), descriptive writing (38), ebooks (39), process writing (38), writing (317)

In the Classroom

Research proves publishing improves writing skills. Use Classroom Authors for class newsletters, an anthology of student written stories, and creating "choose your own adventure" type stories. Use this tool for research or opinion pieces in world language classes, science, math, or social studies. Some teachers have their students write novels for National Novel Writing Month, and at Classroom Authors they will be able to publish them.

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Meeting Words - Meetingwords.com

Grades
5 to 12
0 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Use this simple, online collaborative writing editor with up to 32 people! No registration is required. Create a free meeting room, and share the link with others or send an ...more
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Use this simple, online collaborative writing editor with up to 32 people! No registration is required. Create a free meeting room, and share the link with others or send an invitation email. Use the chat space along the right to comment to one another, perhaps explaining why you made the changes you made to the text. Save versions, view and revert to earlier versions, import/export, and use simple editing tools. Be sure to use or edit at least once per week, if you intend to keep your project. The site is clear on its intention to be a real-time collaboration tool among up to 32 people, not meant for long-term storage. "Pads" may be deleted if they haven't been edited in more than seven days. Be sure to mark the url for your pad as a Favorite or send it to yourself so you can find it again (before the seven days run out).

tag(s): editing (90), proofreading (21), writing (317)

In the Classroom

Have your students set up collaborative groups for projects, lab data, and more. Anything students can do on a single computer, they can do collaboratively on this tool, accessing their work from any online computer. Be sure to test out this tool before using with your class. It may be a good idea to set up the groups with the teacher as a "member" but have students work from home for group projects. Make sure you are protecting the safety of student work and identity and are within your school's Acceptable Use Policy.

Create an innovative, exciting revision experience for students to suggest revisions to each other's writing and instantly engage in the peer review process by using Meetingwords. This tool facilitates teacher comments on student essays by not having to wait until students turn in their papers. Have them share links with you to their works in progress. Check essays online, monitor progress, and even make suggestions for revisions to provide feedback along the way and drive successful evidence support, proofreading, and editing skills. Challenge gifted students on their drafts and push their thinking further, adding questions or responses. Since most if us do not have time to provide such individual challenge throughout the writing process, why not connect them with other gifted students to collaborate and debate beyond just your classroom? Obviously, this tool is also fabulous for collaboration among students or teachers creating a shared writing piece at any level. You could even use it for parent input into draft IEPs.

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Creating Community and Getting Inspired with Blog Hops and Events - Krista Stevens/WordPress

Grades
4 to 12
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Discover blog ideas galore from the "friendly writers" at Wordpress, especially these ideas for connecting your blog with other bloggers via special events, such as "blog hops." A blog...more
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Discover blog ideas galore from the "friendly writers" at Wordpress, especially these ideas for connecting your blog with other bloggers via special events, such as "blog hops." A blog hop is simply a response to the same prompt during a fixed time frame, with links to the other bloggers' responses so you can "hop" to read the many takes on the topic from the original post or prompt. Share writing around a common theme, image, quote, or topic by checking out the offerings compiled here. Note that this collection is intended for the general blogging public (not schools), so some topics may not be school-appropriate. On the other hand, making contact with "real world" people blogging about how they write, do photography, stay fit, and more. Click on the link to the updated list of blogging events to find inspiration and connection, sorted by general areas of interest. Don't miss the detailed information about how to Start and/or Participate in a Blog Hop.

tag(s): blogs (66), writing prompts (57)

In the Classroom

In its simplest use, this is a place to find and READ blogs on curriculum-related topics. You can also find questions and prompts for your students to write about offline. Never again will you need to hunt for writing prompts or ways to connect your science or social studies students with the outside world. Of course this is a time to discuss proper netiquette and digital citizenship/safety for interacting with "strangers." If you do not yet have a class or student blogs, you might want to begin with Blog Basics for the Classroom. Be SURE you get parent permission. If your students have blogs, use these ideas as a model for your own weekly or biweekly blog hops on curriculum topics. Since your math students need to write about their problem solving strategies for Common Core, why not make it more fun with a blog hop? Trying to fire up interest in local history? Pose a blog hop prompt asking which local landmark could be replaced with a shopping mall. Looking for students to support arguments with evidence? Spark an environmental question for a blog hop. Browse some of the special topic blog events for discussions related to your current curriculum. For example, connect your plant study unit with gardeners' blogging events. If you teach gifted students, this is the ideal way to connect your students (even reluctant writers) with an outside world that will raise their level of writing and thinking. If you can connect with other teachers who have gifted students, perhaps via the #gtchat Twitter chat, you can set up a regular connection among students in several locations.. in science, social studies, math, or writing classes. Your gifted ones may pull in other blogging classmates, as well!

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Places to Publish for Gifted Young Writers - Carol Fertig

Grades
7 to 12
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This blog post suggests a few places for publishing the writing of your gifted and talented students. Each suggestion offers sites that cater to "real" audiences for young students,...more
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This blog post suggests a few places for publishing the writing of your gifted and talented students. Each suggestion offers sites that cater to "real" audiences for young students, often audiences of their own peers. Explore resources that offer feedback and contests as well as more independent sites that accept submissions from student authors. Although quite short, this post is a great starting point for finding publishing resources for your students.

tag(s): process writing (38)

In the Classroom

Bookmark this article and explore the resources suggested for publishing student work. As you plan for ways to challenge your gifted students, this resource can provide ideas to extend their exposure and collaboration experience with other writers. Of course you will want to have parent permission before allowing interactions from your classroom, but parents of gifted students will probably delight in cooperating and even join in monitoring interactions as needed. Share this resource on your class web page so parents of your talented student-writers can encourage them at home, too.

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Draft - Nate Kontny

Grades
6 to 12
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Draft is a collaborative writing tool similar to Google Docs with one notable exception: the ability to view and accept changes before they are actually made to the document. The ...more
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Draft is a collaborative writing tool similar to Google Docs with one notable exception: the ability to view and accept changes before they are actually made to the document. The site also features the ability to mark/label major versions of your work as it is produced, allowing the ability to go back and easily view previous versions. Be sure to check out "Hemingway Mode" (explained in Features) which prevents any editing as you write, forcing you to get ideas down to rethink, revise, and edit LATER. This is a great way to prevent the perfectionist in you from paralyzing your writing process! But the BEST part of this site: it is easy to use! Sign up using your email and password and immediately begin creating your document. When ready to share, choose the home icon and copy your document's link to send via email or text (or copy and paste as desired). When changes are made, you will receive an email. You may then view the document to see color coded changes and accept or deny changes as desired.

tag(s): editing (90), proofreading (21), writing (317)

In the Classroom

If individual students are allowed to have accounts (using email address sign up), that's great, but they must share their work with you. If students cannot have their own email accounts, consider using a "class set" of Gmail subaccounts, explained here. This would provide anonymous interaction within your class. Create an innovative, exciting revision experience for students to suggest revisions to each other's writing and instantly engage in the peer review process by using Draft. This tool facilitates teacher comments on student essays by not having to wait until students turn in their papers. Have them share links with you to their works in progress. Check essays online, monitor progress, and even make suggestions for revisions to provide feedback along the way and drive successful evidence support, proofreading, and editing skills. Challenge gifted students on their drafts and push their thinking further, adding questions or responses. Since most if us do not have time to provide such individual challenge throughout the writing process, why not connect them with other gifted students to collaborate and debate beyond just your classroom? Obviously, this tool is also fabulous for collaboration among students or teachers creating a shared writing piece at any level. You could even use it for parent input into draft IEPs.

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Cybraryman Educational Chats on X (formerly Twitter) - Cybraryman

Grades
9 to 12
2 Favorites 1  Comments
 
Use this resource to find great educational chats (#hashtags found on X (formerly Twitter)! View the various hashtags that have been created for a multitude of educator chats in different...more
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Use this resource to find great educational chats (#hashtags found on X (formerly Twitter)! View the various hashtags that have been created for a multitude of educator chats in different content areas. Scroll down the page to view a schedule of the various chats organized by day. Be sure to note the times that these chats begin on those days. View the various tools that you can use to "follow" the chats. Follow these chats to find incredible support and ideas for creating positive change in teaching and learning. Consider X (formerly Twitter) one of the best professional development opportunities teachers can participate in.

tag(s): chat (41), social networking (66), twitter (19)

In the Classroom

New to X (formerly Twitter)? Learn more about Twitter and how to set up searches to see these chats on your own time using suggestions and other reviewed resources included on the TeachersFirst's X (formerly Twitter) for Teachers page.

Comments

So helpful, very complete Frances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8

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X (formerly Twitter) - Twitter, Inc.

Grades
K to 12
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Yes, Twitter is now named X. X (formerly Twitter) users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 280 character Xs (formerly "tweets"); "followers" see what...more
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Yes, Twitter is now named X. X (formerly Twitter) users enter information to share with their "followers" by creating 280 character Xs (formerly "tweets"); "followers" see what they are thinking, favorite links, etc., all from the brief X (formerly "tweet"). Xs (formerly Tweets) are much more than messages to share what you are eating for lunch! Use this popular microblogging and social networking tool for a great way to communicate with teaching peers and real world people you may not have a chance to otherwise meet. Reply to others to create conversations for some of the best professional development around. Each X (formerly "tweet") or message may not seem extraordinary, but using the sum total of Xs (formerly tweets) from those you "meet" on X (formerly Twitter) can have an amazing impact. Use your profile and settings to add a bio and other information, change your security settings from public to protected, find those who follow you, and more. Post your tweets through the website, mobile devices, or myriad of applications to manage tweets and followers. Keep track of your favorite Xs (formerly tweets) by starring them. Refer to your favorites list as needed. Wish you could take back a X (formerly tweet)? Click the trash can beside the post to delete (however, others may have already seen and responded.) Find many opinions about X (formerly Twitter) on and off the Internet. Remember you will gain only as much as you put into this service. Build a network of helpful colleagues to become a better learner (and educator). Anyone can learn from X (formerly Twitter), even a class of elementary students! Still not sure what X (formerly Twitter) is about? Find a great explanation of how it works in this review.

tag(s): communication (135), microblogging (18), social media (54), social networking (66)

In the Classroom

Bring teaching and learning to new heights by using this service as a great form of professional development. At conferences, use X (formerly Twitter) as a backchannel to expand upon thoughts and ideas during presentations and after. Have a question to ask others' opinion about? Throw it out to X (formerly Twitter) to see the great perspectives given by those who follow you. Start out slowly and look at conversations that catch your eye. Follow people with experience in your areas of interest to gain from the conversations. Start off by following @teachersfirst or @moreruckus2 (our leader).

Learn about hashtags -- ways to mark, search, and follow conversations on a specific topic. For example, the #ntchat tag is for new and pre-service teachers and the #edchat hashtag is for all teachers. Participate in these chats which are scheduled at certain days and times or search for their tweets anytime. Find archived tweets from these chats to learn from some wonderful and motivated teachers when it is convenient for YOU. Use other X (formerly Twitter) applications to search or collect specific hashtags.

As a teaching tool, X (formerly Twitter) is amazing! If your school permits access, have a class account to share what you are doing with parents and especially for your class to follow people in topics you study. Studying space? Follow NASA. Studying politics and government? Follow your congressional rep or the White House. Consider using your teacher or class account to send updates to other teachers across the country or across the globe. You can also teach about responsible digital citizenship by modeling and practicing it as a class. A whole-class, teacher account is the most likely way to gain permission to use X (formerly Twitter) in school, especially if you can demonstrate specific projects. That can be as simple as making sure you and that teacher are FOLLOWING each other, then sending a direct message (start the tweet with D and the other teacher's X (formerly Twitter) name) or creating a group with your own hashtag for a project such as daily weather updates. Even if you are not "following" someone, you can send them a tweet using @theirtwittername in the body of the message. This is called a "mention" but can be seen by others, too. Compare what your class is observing in today's weather, which topics you will be discussing today, or ask for another class' opinions on a current events issue. Ask for updates about local concerns, such as talking to California schools about wildfires in their area or a Maine school about a blizzard. Challenge another class to tweet the feelings of a literacy character, such as Hamlet, and respond as Ophelia, all in 280 characters or less. Have gifted students? Connect your classroom with the outside world to find greater challenges and connections beyond your regular curriculum.

Learn much more about teaching ideas and tools for X (formerly Twitter) in the many resources listed on TeachersFirst's X (formerly Twitter) for Teachers page.

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Skype - Skype Technologies S.A.

Grades
K to 12
3 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Every teen and college student knows Skype, the free tool for making calls from computer to computer anywhere in the world. By downloading and installing free software and setting up...more
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Every teen and college student knows Skype, the free tool for making calls from computer to computer anywhere in the world. By downloading and installing free software and setting up a free account, you can talk and/or make a video call to a similarly equipped computer elsewhere in the world for free. Skype uses a lot of "bandwidth" so is not suitable for very slow networks. It may also be slow at high-traffic times on a good network. Some patience and pretesting is required before you can be sure it will work for your needs. Connect to classrooms, experts, authors, virtual special speakers, or interview subjects using Skype.

tag(s): virtual field trips (79), webcams (10)

In the Classroom

Download and install the Skype software. If you are not allowed to install software on school computers, ask to have a single laptop available that is Skype-capable so you can borrow it or else explain to your principal that you are planning a series of Skype visits in your classroom so your techies will install it in your classroom. You will need a computer with built-in or separate microphone and speakers and optional webcam. If you plan to use a webcam, you must know how to start it. A single teacher-controlled Skype account will work in most school settings.

If you prefer written directions go to More >> Get Help, and then slide to Skype Support to get started. Or ask a student to show you (without seeing your password). You will need to explore the tools in Skype to locate where to enter the SKYPE name of the person you wish to call, start the call, and answer calls. Do NOT set your copy of Skype to "remember me" on a school computer! If students are to participate in the Skype call, you may want to have a "hot seat" at the Skyping computer so they can sit at a mike so their questions will pick up better for the person at the other end.

Be sure to set Skype so it does not open every time you start up the computer. Manually start the program when needed and do not leave an obvious Skype icon on the desktop for "clever" students to find. Protect your password -- do not post it on the computer. A teacher-controlled account is best for Skype classroom use to prevent unauthorized calls by students. Your user name will show on the screen for students to see, so be aware of that when you create your account.

Anything you can do by telephone or video call you can do on a projector with your entire class. Connect the Skyping computer to a projector or whiteboard for the entire class to see if you are using video. (The video may be fuzzy, but good enough to follow a person's face.) Use Skype to talk to authors (check out their web sites or this blog for contact information). Have students write questions in advance. Use your contacts, web page "contact us" emails, and parent contacts to find others willing to Skype into your classroom. Interview scientists or government officials, deployed military personnel, or classes far away in a different culture or language. Younger students can compare weather, family life, community events, and more.

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