Lesson Plans Gifted and Talented

3 Mantras to Make Math Fun

Written by Werner Garciano

Every year, I present at Career Day at the elementary school that my kids attend. I have been doing it for seven years now, and it is always well received. I don’t know why teachers and students like my sessions since I talk more about the importance of math than I do my own career. Let’s face it, the career of a mathematics curriculum specialist (that’s the title on my business card) is not too glamorous. If I talked about what I do on a day to day basis, I am sure that kids will walk out saying, “No way am I going to do that job for the rest of my life!”

In order to show the importance of math in their future career, there are certain mantras that I follow when I design my presentations. It is much the same as the mantras that I used when lesson planning.

  1. Engage the participant. What could be more boring than a set of powerpoint slides about the life of a mathematics curriculum specialist? The slides just make it more bearable than a straight lecture since there is something to see other than the speaker and how he talks with his hands as he waves them about wildly.
  2. Be like Mr. Miyagi. In the Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi had Daniel San do various tasks that did not seem related to learning karate but they actually did. Remember how “paint the fence” was actually the best way to defend against a kick?
  3. Recognize your star participants. Recognition can range from pats on the back, making a great example of the work done by a participant or giving them a small prize.

So now you want an example of what I did at Career Day?

I posed a set of questions that seem like off the wall questions that are used by various companies when they interview candidates. These questions ranged from “How many cows are in Canada?” to “How many quarters will it take to reach the top of the Empire State Building?” The kids were in amazement that such “preposterous” questions were asked and they wanted to know what those questions had to do with getting a job at Google. I told them it was more of a test of their problem thinking skills and they had to solve non-routine problems in order to hone their critical thinking skills.

The kids went to various stations with different puzzles and games. One game they had to play was the game of Nimm. This is a game with fifteen coins and each player removes one or two coins at each turn. The player who removes the last coin is the loser. I challenged the kids to come up with a strategy on how to play the game of Nimm and also how to tell when they were going to lose way before the last coin is taken. We also played Coin Swap and Lunar Lockout, which are found in Discovering Geometry.

After all the playing was done, I asked who was successful in the short amount of time they had to play the games or with the puzzles. The star students got a little prize and a lot of praise from me, their teacher, and most important of all, their peers.

When I left after doing all of my sessions, I got a stack of thank you notes from the kids. The all said thank you and that they loved my session. Most of all, they said that they like math now. I made it fun.

How can you make every day in your classroom a Career Day, where students leave with excitement about math?


iPads, Digital Learning, and Facebook…Oh My!!!

Written by Lacy Knipper

I love learning.  I just love it.  As educators, we all do.  You have to love learning and be a strong believer in the gift of education if you are to commit to a lifetime of helping others learn.

Furthermore, as an educator (and therefore a lover of learning) I want to stay current, fresh, and in touch with what’s going on in my field.  When I start to think about all the changes that have taken place even in the couple years since I was teaching in the classroom, it’s enough to send my head spinning. 

Ponder with me the possibilities for learning now available to educators any given day with just a few simple clicks:

  • I can watch a video of a teacher in Turkey and learn about his flipped classroom.
  • I can engage in a discussion with other educators on Facebook and learn about best practices for parent teacher conferences.
  • I can search #edchat on Twitter and learn what other educators are saying about formative assessment.
  • I can attend a webinar and learn how to use social media in the classroom.
  • I can stay in touch with my professional contacts on LinkedIn and learn from their collective wealth of knowledge.

And what about the possibilities made available through new devices and tech applications?  There are now classroom-ready apps on my iPad.  Interactive whiteboard activities, online simulators, and digital curricula all offer new opportunities for learning in the classroom, and Bring Your Own Device and 1:1 technology approaches abound in schools.

If my head was spinning before, it becomes a spinning blur as I think about classroom management, lesson planning, preparing for new assessments, implementing curricula, professional development, and all the other things whirling through educators’ minds.  So what stops the spin?

Technology, specifically good technology, is at its core a solution.  To justify its existence any given technology should solve a problem.  For me, the key to utilizing technologies without falling into an overwhelming state of head spinning is to focus on how I can use technology to solve a problem I’m currently experiencing.  At that point technology stops being another thing to add to my list, and instead becomes something that shortens my list or increases my effectiveness as I tackle my list.

Take a minute and try out one of the above suggested technology applications.  Ask yourself, “How could I apply this technology to improve my practice? 

Share your teacher tech tips below, and perhaps you can stop the head spin of a fellow educator!


Want to Become a Better Math Teacher? Try Mint Chocolate Chip!

Written by Werner Garciano

I was cruising the blogosphere and I came across a curious blog by Larry Ferlazzo (visit http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/). He posed the question:

"What is the best advice you would give to help an educator become better at teaching math?"

He had three noted math educators give their advice. So I figured that I would give mine here and ask you to chime in on your advice to help others become better at teaching math.

Unlike conventional wisdom, failure is an option. Now we learned through the years that failure can be a bad thing. In Cool Hand Luke, there was the classic "failure to communicate." The great basketball coach, John Wooden, offered this bit of advice to his players: "Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." Matthew McConaughey was still living with his parents well into his thirties and thus labeled as a "Failure to Launch." But in teaching, failure is a good thing, and you can and you will fail. You need to embrace that failure like a kid who falls off his bike the first time when he is learning how to ride with two wheels. Like rubbing dirt on that skinned knee, rub that sting of failure off your math ego and move on. Reflect on that failure. Learn from it. Heck, even celebrate it when you make a mistake on the board rather than offering the cliché, "I was just seeing if you were paying attention."

Stop eating vanilla ice cream every day. By this statement, I mean take the time to go out and see other teachers in your school who teach different subjects. They are probably serving up chocolate ice cream. Or go see teachers at the schools that send students to your school. You can learn a lot about your students by watching their previous teachers. I taught high school math and I learned where my students picked up new and interesting techniques when I visited their middle school math teachers and their classrooms.

They were serving up all types of flavors. The best flavors come from visiting schools that are way different from your school. I was teaching at Tamalpais High School in Marin County, CA (school population of about 1000), and I got a full serving of 31 flavors when I visited Logan High School in Union City in the East Bay (school population of about 4000). After you visit, bring back those flavors to your colleagues and share what you saw and experienced. You will have a better perspective on what you do and how you can improve.

As your Kindergarten teacher said, "Share and share alike." This phrase is much better than the directive to collaborate. Collaboration within your department doesn’t have to be a formal event. If you have a prep period in common with another teacher who has the same subject as you, take part of that prep period to lesson plan, share ideas, reflect on the day’s lesson or distribute tasks like writing class investigations or quizzes. At Tam, we designed our class schedule so that teachers had a common prep period for collaboration. This prevents you from eating vanilla ice cream every day. It also diminishes your appetite to close the door behind you as you curl up in your teacher cave. See, what you learned in kindergarten still applies in adulthood.


Gifted math...and then some

Those of you who are faithful readers of our KH blog (and we appreciate that…thanks!) know that you will frequently get not only my Kendall Hunt perspective, but also my perspective as the mom of a fifth grader who is in gifted classes. This post is one of the latter. 

I received a phone call the other day from my son’s math teacher. She proceeds to tell me that he’s breezing through math, so they gave him the sixth grade math inventory test and he only missed five out of 45 questions. They’re moving him from fifth grade high math to the sixth grade high math group on Monday. I interpret this to mean three things: 1) I will not be able to help him with his math because his math abilities have now surpassed mine (there’s more than one reason I’m not an accountant!); 2) he’s pretty good at math, obviously; and 3) his school really needs a strong gifted and talented math program.

We’ve spoken many times about the lack of talented and gifted resources in some schools. But I’m wondering, even in schools that use accelerated learning resources like Kendall Hunt’s Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds our newest curriculum, Project M2: Mentoring Young Mathematicians, are there still students who are moved up a grade? Or is moving them up a grade the substitute for a curriculum for high-ability learners? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


All New kendallhunt.com - Check it Out

Yes, I am still alive. I know I've been MIA a bit the past couple weeks, but with good reason. I've been madly building content for the new, improved Kendall Hunt Web site (seriously, I've been like a troll in the basement just clicking away).

But it's finally done. You can view it at the same place: http://www.kendallhunt.com, but you'll find it easier to navigate with improved functionality. You can now set up an account, check your order history, and when you come back and login after you've ordered the first time, you won't have to re-enter your shipping and billing info every time!

You'll find our same great products, high school biology textbooks, our online math curriculum, gifted and talented resources and all kinds of elementary education books. We'll be continually updating and improving the new site, hopefully incorporating more social media, more online learning opportunities and expanded professional development choices, so check back in often!

In the meantime, you'll find that some of the links in older blogposts might not work anymore because of the new configuration. I'll try to change some of them, but the search tool on the site is really intuitive, so if you can't link to something from an old post, just head to the site and give the search a try!

We're talking math!

So we’ve decided to add a couple of new topics to our blog discussions here: math and online learning. Specifically in the online learning area we want to discuss what, if any online science curriculum you’re using, and what, if any, online math curriculum you have in place. As the PreK-12 world turns increasingly toward at least one online elementary curriculum and certainly as many as several high school programs online, I’m interested in your feedback on those you currently have.

And if you aren’t using any online curricula, do you want to? Have you looked at any? What’s keeping you from using them, or what’s the one thing that would make you jump into the online learning world?

Project M2: Mentoring Young MathematiciansNow, I also said we’d be talking about math, specifically grade school mathematics and gifted and talented math. Okay, math genius I never was and never will be, but I love math…the basic kind, anyway. And if you haven’t checked out our two gifted and talented math programs, Project M²: Mentoring Young Mathematicians, and Project M³: Mentoring Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical MindsMathematical Minds, please do so. Project M² is geared toward Kindergarten through grade 2 and Project M³ is designed for grades 3-5. These outstanding, research-based, inquiry driven programs offer everything you need to implement a gifted program into your grade school mathematics.



The Rhythm of Summer

As you float in the pool or sink the ball on the 8th hole, I’m sure the upcoming school year seems far off. But I have to ask this question, more out of curiosity than anything else: What do you do in the summer to prepare for the new school year? Is there a rhythm to your summer? If you’re a teacher of gifted students, my guess is preparing lesson plans for gifted and talented is at the top of your priority list. How about those of you who teach inquiry based science? Do you spend hours sitting on your deck pouring over physical science textbooks as you soak up the rays? Wait, I forgot, we’re not supposed to soak up the rays anymore, sorry.


No doubt that school is never far from your minds. Here at Kendall Hunt Publishing summer is actually our busiest time. It’s when we finalize all our new and revised titles, and begin filling orders from school districts and college bookstores around the country. There’s a rhythm to the summer here, starts out quietly enough then builds to a frenzy by the end of August. It’s kind of comforting. Not as comforting, mind you, as the rhythm of my hammock swinging back and forth between my two big maple trees, but hey, we take what we can get, right?


On the subject of student teachers

I know this is student teacher time. How do I know this? There's a student teacher in my son's class right now. So when I came across this book the other day, I thought I should share some information about it. It's not a high school chemistry textbook, or even a teacher edition textbook, but it might make a great thank you gift for a student teacher. 

Anyway, it's called Getting Hired: A Student Teacher's Guide to Professionalism, Résumé  Development and Interviewing. The book is designed to accompany a student teaching experience and provides step-by-step guidance through student teaching, interviewing, and into a job. It's set up in three phases:

Getting Ready -- Prepares individuals for the teacher job search by making the most of the student teaching experience.  It includes insider advise on multiple topics, 100 things employers will ask about you, and maintaining a professional web presence.

Getting There -- Teaches the essential tools of the teacher job search including résumés, cover letters, interview portfolios, and tips on where to find jobs.

Getting Hired -- Provides strategic interview responses, knowledge of various interview settings, common interview questions and sure-fire tips to make you stand out above the rest with a knock'em dead interview.

Each book comes with individual access to the Getting Hired Companion Website, which contains a plethora of resources, including: ePlanner Activities: Templates for résumé/letter writing, philosophy statements, common interview questions and topics, and success planning.

Interview Portfolio: Build an Interview Portfolio that can easily become an ePortfolio showcasing standards-based teaching abilities, as well as a tremendous interview preparation tool. The 10 Interview Portfolio templates comprise a powerful self-promotion and interview success tool.

Videos: Watch sample interviews for all levels of instruction, listen in as employers give job seeking advice, and key interview questions and topics.

This book can be used for student teaching courses through college or universities, or to support a job search for an individual in the education field. So if you can't decide what to get your son or daughter who is beginning their student teaching, the student who has helped you create lesson plans for your gifted and talented students for the past three months, or the friend who will be student teaching in the Fall, check out Getting Hired on the Kendall Hunt Publishing website: http://www.kendallhunt.com/gettinghired


Unwrapping the Gifted Education Myths

A colleague found a great article from Teacher Magazine dispelling myths about gifted students and gifted education. You can find it here: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/unwrapping_the_gifted/. It includes a link to a video that shows students tackling some of the myths discussed in the article.

Particularly interesting amongst the myths are “Gifted education requires abundant resources,” and “Gifted students don’t need help; they’ll do fine on their own.” Any of you out there who are charged with creating lesson plans for gifted and talented students, and who don’t have the resources to purchase a curriculum for high ability learners know that it’s possible to create a gifted program on a shoestring budget if you have no other choice. And as to that other myth about gifted students not needing help, as the parent of a gifted child I know that sometimes they need more help simply because more is expected of them and less help is provided because some people assume they don’t need it.


Gifted Social Studies…Hard to Find? Not at KH!

At home the other night we were hard at work on a Social Studies project when I got to thinking about social studies resources for gifted students. I know that these materials can be hard to find and many teachers create their own gifted and talented lesson plans.

But there’s a great social studies curriculum for high ability learners: the Center for Gifted Education (CFGE) at The College of William & Mary. Have you checked it out? You can find it here on the Kendall Hunt Publishing website: http://www.kendallhunt.com/index.cfm?PID=219&PGI=251.

CFGE Social Studies offers great topics, including these, just to name a few:

  • Gift of the Nile
  • Ancient China
  • The Civil War: It’s Causes and Effects
  • The Road to the White House: Electing the American President
  • Defining Nations: Cultural Identity and Political Tensions

And the program meets the needs of Grades 2 through 12. It even includes implementation support such as guidelines, learning centers and teaching models, along with additional resources. Where else can you find this? As the world gets smaller and smaller, it seems to me at least that our kids really need to learn about these things. Many gifted education books offer science and reading programs, but it seems social studies is a little harder to find.
Do your schools have talented and gifted resources for social studies? Tell me what you’re using and how you use them, I’d be really interested to know.


Eco-Meet Uses Inquiry Based Science to Educate about Local Ecology

My son was recently invited to participate in an area Eco-Meet. They chose three fourth grade gifted students and two fifth grade students from each of the participating districts to make up that district’s team. This is quite the inquiry based science event, it seems! Each team member received a packet about an inch thick of materials they need to study to prepare. Additionally, they will be working with the gifted and talented teacher, who is the coach, each week leading up to the event in mid-May.

The Eco-Meet is a day long event held at a local park high above the Mississippi River. The park rangers and Army Corps of Engineers will involve the students in activities and presentations on different subjects, including Fish of the Mississippi. After each event, the teams will take a test. The tests will be graded and winners announced.

Wow, talk about accelerated learning resources! I can’t imagine how much these kids will learn by the time this is all done. And it doesn’t come straight out of an elementary school science textbook or gifted education books…they’re doing and learning. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes. In the meantime, do your schools do anything like this? I’d love to hear about similar ideas that are happening out there!

Private School Education

Did you know that 99% of private school students graduate?
And of them, 90% attend 4-year colleges?

With statistics like that, it is vital private schools meet the needs of their students by providing curriculum for all students including high ability learners. Creating lesson plans for gifted and talented is never an easy when you are first meeting the needs of main stream students.  

Kendall Hunt is one of the leading publishers in talented and gifted resources for mathematics, science, social studies and language arts.  To learn more about the following programs, click on the links below...I know these will help nurture intellectual growth, challenge students and help prepare them for success at the next level.

Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds
The Center for Gifted Education from The College of William & Mary

I'm seeing stars...Wait, that's our new Astronomy program

Wow, you want to talk about inquiry based science? Then check out our new Astronomy program, Starry Night. It's available for the elementary, middle and high school levels, and is completely interactive and inquiry based. Kendall Hunt has just partnered with Starry Night Education to provide schools with greater access to this program in volume license format.

This isn't just any elementary education book or high school physics textbook. In fact, it's not a book at all. It's actually astronomy simulation software that includes more than 25 lessons at each level, extensive teacher resources, hands-on activities, computer exercises, worksheets and assessments, and a DVD with dramatic and realistic astronomical phenomena.

It's a great way for children as young as kindergarten to begin to understand space science, is flexible enough to use as talented and gifted lesson plans, and works as a full astronomy course besides. Our website has screen shots and sample lessons available, so check it out when you have a chance!

I'm going to be out for a couple weeks now, but others will be staying in touch, so happy holidays to all!

Lesson Plans - Gifted and Talented - How Do You Plan?

I got to wondering this week, is creating lesson plans based on books for gifted students different than planning for a regular class?  What brought this to mind was a discussion with my fourth grader about the work teachers must put into their jobs beyond the classroom. We talked about grading papers, creating parent newsletters, where tests based on, say, elementary school science textbooks come from, and lesson plans.

This then led to a discussion of what lesson plans are and how they come to be.  I explained that many primary school textbooks offer guidance in this area, but he wondered how his gifted teacher (note to self: review sentence structure rules...while I feel all his teachers are gifted, I'm referring to the one who teaches the gifted classes) does it when they don't have gifted education books or a curriculum for high ability learners in his school. :-(  I told him I was sure she probably uses the Internet for ideas and planning, but I thought I'd ask you all...those of you who do it without a "program" - how do you create your lesson plans for gifted and talented classes?  I'd love to know! 

School's In!

School started today for my 4th grader.  Last night we went to "Back to School Night" so he could meet the teacher, take his supplies and start to get settled in.  First thing I went for, being in the science textbook publishing business, was the elementary school science textbook sitting on his desk.  Felt like a brand new one too.  Love those new books!

Then we stopped by the GATE room where the teacher showed me some of the new accelerated learning resources that she was able to purchase with some stimulus funds, including a few Kendall Hunt items from our Project M3 program, a math curriculum for high ability learners.  She also found some new lesson plans for gifted and talented classes that she's going to try out this year.  Project M3 has some great modules, like "At the Mall with Algebra" that let students use real life experience to learn math.  They're not just gifted education books, they're gifted education adventures.

Got Gifted Education Books? We Do!

Center for Gifted Education at The College of William & MaryHave you checked out our gifted and accelerated learning resources lately?  Whether it's elementary education books for gifted students or high school science textbooks for accelerated learners, we have something that will meet your needs.  One of our partners is the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William & Mary with whom we publish a curriculum for high ability learners that spans the subjects of Language Arts, Science and Social Studies and grades 1-11. Additionally, the program offers teacher resources and lesson plans for gifted and talented.  You can find the program here.
Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds Elementary Education Books for Gifted Learners
To complete our talented and gifted resources, is Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds, a research-based mathematics program for gifted and talented students in grades 3, 4, and 5. Project M3 gets students involved by offering interesting subjects they find relevant, and gets them learning by doing.  You can check out this great program here.

Is the thought of technology in your classroom overwhelming?

How can we keep up with all the new and ever-changing technologies that have kids mesmerized? Teachers often feel overwhelmed with the challenges and options this digital culture presents to students. We want students to take advantage of all technology has to offer; however, how familiar are teachers with technology?  Teachers often throw up their hands and say, “My students know how to work this stuff and I don’t” or “How can I utilize and implement something that I don’t understand?”

The digital world is growing and changing very fast. Technology companies release products so rapidly that there is little time for anyone to stop and think of the many issues that may arise with their use. Too often when schools and districts purchase new digital technology for their elementary school textbooks they look at all the bells and whistles and don’t think of how will this fit into an inquiry based science classroom or a teacher's daily lesson plan.

Technology offers exciting opportunities in the science textbook publishing arena, but for some teachers this strange new world can be intimidating.  Thankfully, there is help available…

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has developed the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for students, teachers, and administrators. With these standards, ISTE provides structure for utilizing technology in an effective and responsible way.  This site offers a plethora of information, tips, direction, and support.  You can even visit a school that has embraced the digital world: http://www.istevision.org/watch.php?vid=fc10dbd9251623e4379652fd1cb0ac54e5ad04a5

As an educational publisher we are committed to assisting teachers to best educate students.  Inspiring teachers to transform their classrooms away from traditional teaching toward a new vision of student-centered learning is our mission. 

We aim to offer technology that is relevant and to provide implementation support in our teacher edition textbooks.  And if you are still struggling with turning on the laptop or downloading the Nano Legends game that came with your KH high school biology textbook, just ask your students for help...they love to show off their expertise.