TeachersFirst's Gifted in Any Classroom: Connecting and Collaborating
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.
GradesK to 12
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In the ClassroomExplore the site to discover and follow educators who match your interests and needs. Read the Tweets about what is happening in other classrooms to gain some fresh, new ideas. Looking for more ways to use 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 Twitter at TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page.
what a great resourceSusan, NY, Grades: 6 - 12
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomResearch 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.
Includes an education-only area for teachers and students
Parent permission advised before posting student work created using this tool
Requires registration/log-in (WITH email)
Multiple users can collaborate on the same project
Includes teacher tools for registering and/or monitoring students
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomHave 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.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomIn 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!
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomEven if you do not choose to join this particular Twitter chat with practitioners in the field, mark this simple site as a professional development resource to learn how to plan and organize successful Twitter chats between your students and the outside world. If you teach another discipline, try searching on Wefollow, reviewed here for people in the field that connect to your curriculum: writers, artists, curators, engineers, and more. Need to learn more about Twitter? Start with help from TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page. Extend the curriculum for your gifted students by having them help organize a chat with professionals and write the questions.
Grades7 to 12
tag(s): process writing (39)
In the ClassroomBookmark 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.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomIf 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.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomThere are several ways you can use this site as a place to publish. Some may involve using other tools. For example, with younger students: Once your students have completed a piece of writing, have them submit it to the class using MixedInk reviewed here. The class can then collaborate by choosing ideas from any of the pieces submitted and publishing a "class" approved story, poem, etc. on Figment. With older students: Have them submit their poems, short stories, current event articles, or persuasive writing to MixedInk for peer edit and advice. After the class has collaborated on the writing, submit to Figment for a more general audience. Some teachers have their students write novels for National Novel Writing Month, and at "Figment: Write Yourself In" they will be able to publish them.
Students will need a screen name that is not their real name, and a password. See the Profile area for Scholastic's "You Are What You Read" reviewed here for several suggestions for creating a screen name. For younger students you may want to have a "class account" and supply the password. Be sure you and your students write their screen name and password down. Just make sure they sign their writing with their screen name. With older students you can use the same procedure as above, or students can sign up with their own email. Read tips for safely managing email registrations here.
If school policies and parents allow it, You may want to introduce your gifted student-writers to this site as a place where they can publish and get feedback from a broader audience. The safest way may be to set up groups as a teacher, including other student writers from other classrooms and grade levels. Gifted students interact well in multi-age settings, especially if they have common interests. Have the history buffs work together on accurate historical fiction related to the time periods you are studying or have your advanced science students write up their research collaboratively using Figment. They might even try their had at writing some science fiction based on concepts you are studying.
Grades9 to 12
In the ClassroomNew to 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 Twitter for Teachers page.
So helpful, very completeFrances, CT, Grades: 6 - 8
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomBring teaching and learning to new heights by using this service as a great form of professional development. At conferences, use 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 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 Twitter applications to search or collect specific hashtags.
As a teaching tool, 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 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 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 Twitter in the many resources listed on TeachersFirst's Twitter for Teachers page.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomDownload 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.