Gifted and Learning Disabled – The dichotomy in learning

I have students attend my After School Program (STEM focused Makerspace)  every Wednesday who struggle in their regular school. Many of these students struggle academically and socially. Yet, these same students, at the Makerspace,  perform skills and engage in social and academic activities that demonstrate knowledge of math, science, engineering and ARTs  with a proficiency beyond their age and grade level and with a strong level of motivation and confidence. It is often confusing for them for their parents. It got me thinking about the amount of Learning Disabled and Gifted students we see on a regular basis. Students that struggle to find and demonstrate ways that show what they know. I had a conversation with two students this Continue reading Gifted and Learning Disabled – The dichotomy in learning

Are students Accountable for their I.E.P’s?

Each student in my class has an I.E.P…..  It varies how long the students have had a formal identification and it varies what type of identification, although all of them are identified as “Gifted”.  During the first week of school, I began reviewing their files and updating their IEP’s, however, I struggled with this daunting task, since I barely knew the students. In fact, most of their IEP’s looked closely to the same – the same modification (s) , the same accommodation (s), the same test results, the same strength and weaknesses. I How could this be that they were all the same?  These documents, created on templates, with drop down menus were not telling of who these children are. Continue reading Are students Accountable for their I.E.P’s?

Indigenous Worldviews Inspires THIS classroom MAKERSPACE

Reconciliation should include a commitment to bringing in the Indigenous World Views as part of the learning process.  I ask, ‘Would recognizing that we are already moving in this direction be a valuable part of the healing process for Indigenous populations?’  Many traditional methods of teaching are being challenged, and now, in Canada (and elsewhere), we have begun to adopt some of the very philosophies and principles (of course, with different names, definition and labels) that were once removed from our First Peoples when they were forced to attend Residential Schools.   Canada has made a strong commitment toward Truth and Reconciliation in respect to First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI). This is especially important in our Education Systems because Continue reading Indigenous Worldviews Inspires THIS classroom MAKERSPACE

What inquiry looks like in a classroom with no bells, no subjects and no interruptions….

Problems that Matter… Where our Inquiry Started…and never ended. “Inquiry” seems is a hot topic in education today (although it certainly isn’t a new concept). Facilitating a true inquiry can be a challenge when students are strapped to a schedule, a curriculum or even when being assessed or monitored for their performance. It is a challenge when the classroom environment doesn’t allow for exploration or choice. Inquiry can be challenging because it isn’t predictable and it means taking risks, not knowing how long it will take and not always having the final answer. Where I co-teach with Beth Carey at the “Enrichment and Innovation Centre” (geared for Gifted Students at the HWDSB), these stipulations do not exist. A few things are important to Continue reading What inquiry looks like in a classroom with no bells, no subjects and no interruptions….

The Strength Based IEP – let it work for the Gifted Learner

The IEP for the Gifted Learner As a teacher for Gifted and Enriched students, I have spent many hours working with teachers, parents and learners on developing Individual Education Plans (IEP) for Gifted and Enriched learners. The IEP has a clear purpose and its process for development is not a difficult one to grasp. Regardless of school, district, or even country,  the IEP has similar characteristics: To identify the learner’s strengths and weaknesses,  to set measurable goals and objectives, to identify the tools and resources (including people) needed, to identify the strategies needed to achieve the goals and finally, as a team, to commit. Yes, there are subtle differences in language from district to district (modification, accommodation), but the Continue reading The Strength Based IEP – let it work for the Gifted Learner

Minecraft and Fractals – a wonderful pair!

Minecraft and Fractals By: Zoe Branigan-Pipe and Beth Carey We are all familiar with Math Manipulatives and the power of hands-on learning. Minecraft allows students to explore, create, design and problem solve in many dynamic ways. Here is one example of using Big Ideas and Concepts in Math. These concepts, once understood, force learners to use practical math skills in an authentic way. “Today I learned about fractals the mathematics of nature introduced by Benoct Mandelbrot. Fractals are a repeating pattern in all directions with any shape. Inspired by Ancient Egyptian architecture this fractal is made entirely of gold blocks and glass. Although it is impractical it just shows what minecraft can really do”. -Gwen, Gr. 5 Student Big Ideas: How Continue reading Minecraft and Fractals – a wonderful pair!

Design Thinking ~ Make Urban ReDevelopment a Reality in Minecraft

The purpose of this lesson is to inspire and engage students to use creative and critical thinking skills to make decisions and designs that impact an urban area. This cross-curricular approach to Design Thinking, allows students the freedom to use and connect  their inquires to real examples. The activity is intended for group or collaborative learning and uses a combination of whole class and small group facilitation with access to a variety of tools. The final product is a Design and proposal of a chosen Urban Landscape in their own community. Minecraft (and lego) are ideal platforms for students to use resources and tools collaborative to display their concepts.  The example lesson (below)  was facilitated with a group of Continue reading Design Thinking ~ Make Urban ReDevelopment a Reality in Minecraft

On the Tip of Their Tongue – Use audio for Assessment and Evaluation

“________ has not handed in the assignment. Neither has ____________or ____________or ______________. Please have them come to my class and finish their work during lunch hour. ” “_______  failed the test…..can you give him/her time during class for a rewrite?”   “________needs extra time in my class to do his/her work.” These types of concerns were shared with me (their homeroom teacher), almost daily by other teachers. Let me be clear. I don’t blame those teachers.  When put into a timeframe or constraint (part of their schedule), many of  identified (exceptionality) Gifted students would shut down, move on, or just not finish. Why bother? And so, they would either be graded accordingly, or be given another chance to prove Continue reading On the Tip of Their Tongue – Use audio for Assessment and Evaluation

Teaching “how to” Self-Direct Learning

  Student:  I am easily distracted from the work I have to do.   Teacher: What are you distracted by?     Student: Stuff like the latest article about the Redstone update in Minecraft <that allows you to use the concept of electricity, pistons, electrical flow, breakers) or by the book that is screaming my name, or distracted by the story that I’m co-writing with my friend <the one I want to publish>, or by the new world I’m creating in Minecraft that allows collaborators to co-build and discuss in real time or by the new mode that I’m creating and why the Java Script isn’t working…….   Teacher thinking: How can the distractions become the learning focus? Would Continue reading Teaching “how to” Self-Direct Learning

MY TOP 10 LEARNING SPACES – A Universal Design, in a Gifted Classroom

The learning environment is what will help create community. Before anything, students need to feel safe. Not just physically safe, but safe to learn how they learn, safe to think “outside the box”, safe to ask questions, safe to make mistakes, safe to be who they are.  I recently read a post by Jackie Gerstein, a friend and mentor who talks passionately about the importance of community in the classroom (It’s About Connections Not Content). Below, I talk about the learning spaces to honour all learners.  It is my intention to help these students find their passions, their gifts, and their understanding of themselves. The Circle Each day, we start off in a large circle. We might play a game, Continue reading MY TOP 10 LEARNING SPACES – A Universal Design, in a Gifted Classroom