Sunday, 19 August 2018

The 'WHAT IF...' Project

A group of three senior boys are working with me this term on a 'what if..' project. We are exploring what learning means to different people and how different people go about learning.  We are digging deep and pushing our thinking in new ways - it is great to trust each other enough to contribute with honesty and insight! We are learning a lot about, and from, each other.

We started off by exploring our own unique qualities and then compared them; discussing which are fixed traits and which can grow and be nurtured. We have evidence that intelligence is not fixed because once we couldn't walk, talk or even feed ourselves but we certainly can now! This is exciting because as learners this means we have control over growing our brains and learning.

Last week we underwent various challenges - each one had a 'hard' and 'easy' option. Before starting each challenge we chose which option we wished to do, knowing we couldn't change our minds once we had started. Firstly, this involves risk-taking when you do something different to your friends, and even more risk if you are tackling something out of your comfort zone! We reflected after each challenge by examining our feelings throughout each challenge and then discussed why people might make the learning choices they do.

This is what we discovered so far:

*we think that learners always want to feel good about themselves. This usually means not taking risks that take you out of your comfort zone or put you under pressure because getting good results is important to us

*If learning is the goal and a task is 'easy' and we get a good result then have we learnt anything?

* sometimes a harder task doesn't seem like a lot of fun, and everyone agreed that fun, and interest was important in our learning

The challenges we did were:
1. recite the alphabet forwards or backwards (3 mins practice time)
2. copy a picture of a simple, outlined flower, or a photographed flower (5 mins)
3. throw and catch a ballin 1 min either standing up or lying on your back

....which challenges would you chose?

We then looked at a picture of an elephant chained up. Although the elephant is stronger than the chains, it doesn't try to break free. We suspect that is has been trained to stay put. We made connections between ourselves and the elephant. Sometimes we don't do something differently because we are used to doing it a set way. It is like our brains are 'trained' like a habit. As learners this means we have to be ware of when our brains are acting automatically out of habit like the elephant.


Sunday, 10 June 2018

Happy Gifted Awareness Week!

*****Happy Gifted Awareness Week!*********

This year's theme is 'Catalysts of Success.'

This week you might like to... 

Head over to the NZ Centre for Gifted Education GAW Blog Tour. Lots of NZ and international articles and clips. 

Email your local MP, or Chris Hipkins, or Tracy Martin. The future direction of NZ Education is going though lots of discussion and reflection - let's ensure gifted education has a strong voice amongst this.

Do something extra special as a whanau....

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Happy Gifted Awareness Week


This week we have been busy celebrating the wonderful diversity that gifted learners bring to our school community.

The following is a list of facts, traits and issues many would not recognize as a part of giftedness in children.
Ten Facts You May Not Know About Gifted Children But Should
1. It is widely acknowledged that giftedness is an inherent attribute.
Giftedness is present at birth, an inherited trait. Chances are very high that one or both parents of a gifted child, as well as siblings, are also gifted. Nor does giftedness discriminate against culture, religion, social-economic status.
2. Gifted children do not always excel in school.
Being gifted is no guarantee of success in school or later in life. For many various reasons, a gifted child will not always score well on tests, ace every task or turn in their homework. Many gifted children underachieve in school and often drop out.
3. Gifted children can and do have learning disabilities.
As with any child, a gifted child may have learning disabilities which can negatively influence their achievement in school. Unfortunately, gifted children with learning disabilities, also referred to as twice-exceptional or gifted+, often go unidentified because their advanced cognitive abilities often mask their learning disabilities.
4. Gifted children often develop asynchronously.
Asynchronous development is an imbalance or uneven growth of developing traits, skills and abilities—a gifted child’s intellectual abilities can be years ahead of their emotional maturity and social skills. A 12 year old child who understands high school algebra and science, but is unable to sleep at night alone without a nightlight, a fan and all of his stuffed animals is an example of asynchronous development in a gifted child.
5. Gifted children can have overexcitabilities (OE’s).
These are the emotional intensities and sensitivities set off by various forms of physical and psychological stimuli. A constant buzzing sound which causes extreme irritability and the inability to move on until the sound is located and stopped is an example of OE’s.
6. Gifted children often have difficulty finding like-minded friends.
Gifted children, with their intellectual, emotional and developmental differences, can have a difficult time finding friends or same-age peers who share and understand their intellectual interests and quirky traits. Parents of gifted children find this common situation the most painful to watch their gifted children experience.
7. Gifted children often feel like they don’t fit in.
They realize early on that they may be out of step or out of sync with children their own age. Feelings of isolation and not belonging can eventually lead to emotional struggles, depression, dropping out of school and even suicide.
8. Gifted children are gifted in and out of school.
The emotional intensities, asynchrony and social struggles leave school with the gifted child and follow him home. Being gifted is who they are, not how well they do in school.
9. Being gifted is not a net-positive situation.
Being ‘smarter’ or able to grasp and master concepts and skills above grade level is not a guarantee that any child has it made and will be successful in life.
10. Raising a gifted child is not easy.
Given the educational considerations, overexcitabilities, social struggles and asynchrony, life with a gifted child can easily come with its share of bumps in the road. Additionally, the reality that so many only see the stereotypical gifted child—the child who has it made—means parents find little support or empathy among other parents or adults when they need it most.

                    *****************************************************************

Our gifted learners are a complex population. By nature, giftedness is an asynchrony between different developmental areas of a person. It can be very overwhelming (and frustrating) to have the thinking capacity of a young adult, the emotional regulation of a hormonal teenager, and the physical motor skills of a child all at the same time.....our kids are amazing! 

I found this short film Just Breathe which helps kids deal with emotions. I know ALL our kids, and us, will get a lot out it.  

To finish off our week we had a special afternoon tea with some of our gifted learners, whanau and MP for Palmerston North, Iain Lees-Galloway. Our students loved sharing their learning and discussing their needs in education. We had a great discussion about gifted education and learnt about Labour's policies around gifted learners in education in this election year. 



Tuesday, 2 May 2017

RSS GATE Parent meeting

Our next RSS Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Whanau meeting is coming up on Wednesday 3rd May at 6pm. We will meet in the Staffroom, and there will be a space available to bring your child(ren) with a quiet activity if needed.

Our school-wide focus for term 2 is about investigating through Science; culminating in a RSS Science Fair. Joy and I will be briefly presenting about the Manawatu Science and Technology Fair (MSTF) which may be an additional outcome for your child's learning.  We will be providing a brief overview of the scientific process, how to support your child(ren) with their investigation, and MSTF requirements. This is a valuable opportunity to ask questions and find out first hand how to support your child(ren) through this learning process.

GATE Parent Meetings are a great time to get together with other like minds and share ideas. If you would like to come along, or discuss giftedness further please contact Suzanne at suzanne@russellst.school.nz

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Gifted Awareness Week 2016



                                       Happy Gifted Awareness Week!
                     This week we highlight and celebrate the diverse gifts and talents we share in our school community. 

Wondering what giftedness is all about? Gifts and talents are words you may have heard banded around but understanding what they mean is actually not that simple! Giftedness is valued differently across culture, time and space. Although as a society we often look for indicators such as intellect and achievement giftedness is about potential. It is a way of BEING. There are however common qualities and behaviours that can be a starting point toward identifying giftedness in all individuals. If you want to know more about identifying and nurturing gifts and talents, check out the tab 'understanding giftedness' or contact me at suzanne@russellst.school.nz


Monday, 15 June 2015

Happy Gifted Awareness Week!

Take a look at these two clips. Although these cuties are not even at school yet they are already demonstrating gifted behaviour clues. In a world where achievement is continually reinforced as a measurement of ability these clips remind us that giftedness is about who a person is and their potential.

Have a great week celebrating who our gifted children are, not just what they can do :)

Heightened moral sensitivity is shown as the young boy talks with his mother about the food on his plate and articulates his depth of concern and feelings of hurt for animals that are killed for eating. He shows great empathy and compassion for his age. The quick pace at which he gathers, processes and extrapolates information throughout the conversation and uses this to develop his own ideas and beliefs is evident. The way in which he expresses himself is also quite distinct, in that he able to clearly articulate his questions, understanding, concerns and beliefs.

A clear example of heightened emotional intensity, apparent even in a baby as young as ten months. The profound effect the Mum singing has on this wee girl and how her response change throughout is quite remarkable. It raises the question of how, at home or in an educational setting, we might identify, validate and nurture emotional qualities such as this. This example promotes the very important need to acknowledge the advantages the intensity of experiences that giftedness and talent can bring to a child and how this can be expressed and used in a positive way, as well as the challenges it can pose for the child and their family members, and the need to support them in knowing how to cope with and respond to these in the best way possible.

Thanks to Vanessa's blog 'Lifting the Lid' for these http://liftingthelid.weebly.com/