I’m Back!!


You can tell it’s summer…I have a little time on my hands! So much has happened in the past year. The big news is that I retired last month after 37 years of teaching. I plan to continue in the field in education in an encore career presenting workshops and doing a bit of writing. Stay tuned! More information to follow.

In the meantime, I wanted to share my Pinterest Gifted and Talented Resources page. Almost 400 people follow it. Lots of resources here for grades K-8. Check it out!




Above and Beyond: The 21st Century Skills


Today is the first day of school! The kids officially are back tomorrow. Meetings of course, and for me, pulling my office back together. Everything needs to be unpacked, put away and organized since the room was newly carpeted during the summer. Glad to get started again!

This school year, I am, as always, going to focus on incorporating the 21st Century Skills into everything we do. 3Rs- meet the 4Cs – Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and Innovation. These skills have always been the backbone of gifted pedagogy. I am thrilled that they have made their way into the regular curriculum for all students.

Check out this video by Peter Gallagher (author of The Dot and Ish) that illustrates the 21st Century Skills in action:

Bright student or gifted learner?


It is often quite hard to determine whether a student is gifted or just very bright.  This chart is helpful:

I’m not sure who to credit for this chart, as I have seen it from many sources.

This one is even better, because it lists the pros and cons that come with being identified as a gifted child.  It is also geared more to teachers.

How to Spot a Gifted Student

Gifted students possess some common characteristics. Recognizing these general traits and understanding how they may reveal themselves in the classroom is an important step toward working effectively with this unique group of children.

Some of these behaviors are listed and described below. Positive traits are included along with those behaviors that may frustrate you as a teacher. If a student in your classroom exhibits these characteristics on a consistent basis, there is a good chance he or she is gifted.

The Gifted Student But….
· Asks many questions and is very curious
· Possesses a large amount of information
· Has a good memory
· Easily gets “off task” and “off topic”
· Is impatient when not called on in class
The Gifted Student But….
· Learns new information quickly
· Retains information easily
· Masters reading skills earlier
· Demonstrates strong abilities in math
· Displays unusual academic achievement
· Finishes classwork quickly
· Is easily bored
· Can become disruptive in class
· Shows strong resistance to repetitive activities and memorization
· Completes work quickly but sloppily
The Gifted Student But….
· Is interested in many things
· Becomes involved in a variety of activities
· Is motivated to try new things
· Enjoys a challenge
· May resist working on activities apart from areas of interest
· Leaves projects unfinished
· Takes on too much and becomes overwhelmed
The Gifted Student But….
· Thinks independently
· Expresses unique and original opinions
· Is self-motivated
· Challenges authority
· Does not handle criticism well
· Does not work well in groups
The Gifted Student But….
· Uses higher level thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation)
· Makes connections other students don’t see
· Considers unusual approaches to problem-solving
· Tends to be absent-minded regarding practical details
· Forgets homework assignments
The Gifted Student But….
· Has a strong sense of justice
· Likes to debate current issues and real life problems
· Can be very critical of self and others
· Likes to argue a point
· Is a perfectionist and expects others to be perfect as well
The Gifted Student But….
· Has a sophisticated sense of humor
· Understands subtle humor
· Enjoys plays on words and satire
· Easily gets carried away with a joke
· Has a tendency to become the “class clown”
The Gifted Student But….
· Demonstrates strong expressive skills
· Is sensitive to feelings of others
· Elaborates on ideas
· Shows skill in drama/art/music/language
· Sometimes perceived as a “know-it-all” by peers
· Is sometimes “bossy” to peers in group situations

I suggest that classroom teachers keep both lists handy throughout the school year for easy reference.

Pinterest For the Classroom


Yesterday, I shared the following PowerPoint presentation at TeachMeet NJ 2012 at Richard Stockton College in Pomona, NJ about ideas for using Pinterest with and for students. It was a wonderful conference that featured lots of sharing of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom, and I came away with lots of food for thought. This link is posted here so the participants can see the PPT again, as it needed to be included in a Google Doc of all the resources. Perhaps you can get a couple of good ideas for using Pinterest with your students this school year, too!


Happy New Year!



Monday will be the first day of school for lots of students and teachers in the United States. Some folks in the south have already been back to school for a couple of weeks! I always envy them in May when they finish up early, but never at this point in the summer. Here in New Jersey, we don’t officially begin until after Labor Day, but my colleagues and I are gearing up for our new students these last weeks of August.

For a teacher, the first day of school is really when the new year begins, even more so than January 1.  I have always been grateful for this new beginning. It offers me the opportunity to make fresh starts, renew old bonds and refine routines and methods. Teaching is one of the few professions that allow this renewal every year.  It’s a blank slate once again for making new resolutions. What’s on my list this school year?  Lots…..but here are two:

1.  More parent involvement and input. I want to take advantage of their time, energy and enthusiasm to help this program grow. I plan to use the following two questionnaires I got at Confratute, both from Katie Augustyn, who is a former president of the Connecticut Association for the Gifted and a long time parent advocate for Gifted education.  The first is a parent interest and expertise inventory to help us tap into the talents of our parents and other community members. There are so many people who can share what they know well with students. The second is a questionnaire for parents to complete about their children and their interests, learning strengths and weaknesses and goals. Parents know their children better than I do, and it is foolish not to take advantage of their viewpoints and expertise. It DOES take a village, I strongly believe, to educate our children in the 21st century.  I need all the help I can get!

Parent Interest-Expertise Inventory_Augustyn-1


Parent questionnaire_Augustyn-1

2. Help my students understand themselves better as gifted students.  I will share and discuss “The Gifted Student’s Bill of Rights” with each group to help them grow as individuals.  This was written by Del Siegle, the head of the Department of Educational Psychology in the Neag School of Education at UConn. I expect it to spark good discussions, especially with the older kids.  Despite popular belief to the contrary, being gifted brings its own unique challenges, and Seigle’s Bill of Rights can serve as a great reminder for both parents and educators about some common issues relating to giftedness.

Bill of Rights

Happy New Year!


Mom or Aunt? A perspective on getting to know your new class


Mom and Aunt...my sister Janis and me (we are both!)A disclaimer: I don’t have a class of my own; that is, I am not a classroom teacher at this time. I teach over 100 identified gifted and talented students in first through eighth grade throughout the course of a week in small, pullout groups. It’s interesting, to say the least. For me, having a class of your own all day long is like being a parent, while teaching six or seven small groups in short time frames makes you more like an aunt or an uncle. (Note on the photo above: This is me and my sister Janis. We are both moms and aunts.) You aren’t living with the kids all day long. That natural ebb and flow that occurs throughout the day when you are the classroom teacher isn’t present in a pullout group. Every minute counts, even more so than when you have the luxury (but sometimes frustration) of having the same students all day, every day. It’s showtime every time a new group enters the room. Each class period has a definite beginning, middle and an end, and a personality all its own. The days go quickly; the weeks fly by. Although I miss teaching and interacting day-by-day with the same children, I do enjoy the tempo and pace of working with many throughout the course of a week.

So as the school year begins, how do you make the most of the getting-to-know-you process, the learning new procedures and routines for your groups/classes, learning how to get along and grow as a group when there is so much content to learn and projects to begin? I try to begin with something novel yet meaningful. Because my students are pulled from several classes on their grade level, I don’t want to repeat an activity that they may have experienced before.

Here’s a British Google Doc I discovered which has some creative ideas that are new to me, and can be adapted to many age groups:
(I am intrigued by #23- Take My Wallet!)

Imbedded in the Google Doc is an interesting Wiki with some good ideas as well:

September is all about new beginnings, and, as always, I want to make each day with each student count.