Encouraging Mathematical Thinking in Gifted Kids
Parents, do you want to encourage your young people to think mathematically this summer and beyond? Here are some ways to accomplish that.
Nurturing Mathematically Talented Preschoolers
–In this blog entry, Natasha Chen shares her experience on parenting a mathematically precocious child. The author acknowledges that it can be difficult to find a program for three- to five-year-olds, so she offers some tips that she has found useful. Her suggestions include
Playing with LEGOs, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, K’nex, Magna-Tiles, tangrams, and blocks of all shapes and sizes. She also provides ideas for using these building sets.
Ways to use mathematical logic in everyday conversations
Ideas for working with fractions
There is no need for formal lessons. All of Chen's suggestions are applied through play activities.
Elementary School Students
10 Practically Fun Math Games and Activities for Your Preteen
–While the title of this article suggests that young people be close in age to teenagers, many of these activities are appropriate for much younger children. Author JC Ryan lists eight indoor activities and two outdoor activities that parents may not automatically think of as building math skills.
Kindergarten through High School
Careers in Science and Engineering for the Gifted
Students who want to learn about careers in science and engineering can do so through a series of interviews (many written, some video) at Cogito
. Interviews are both with professionals and with advanced students in high school and college. When you watch and read these interviews, it becomes obvious that these individuals took their interests seriously, and found appropriate ways to pursue them, from very early ages. Their work is often notable before they even graduate from high school.
NOVA also has a great series of videos and written materials titled The Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers
. By watching and reading the various segments, students learn about the many different roads available to scientists and engineers (some quite obscure) and also see unexpected aspects of the personal lives of these professionals. This series brings a human element to the professions. For instance, Rachel Collins is both a microbiologist and a professional wrestler. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist and a figure skater. Emily Whiting is an architectural engineer and a rock climber. Alan Sage is both a vegetarian scientist and a rapper. The NOVA website also has a teachers guide
for introducing young people to careers in science and engineering.
Both the Cogito and the NOVA websites can be used to encourage gifted kids to pursue careers in math and engineering.
Call to Action: Making Gifted Education Relevant Today
Deborah Mersino has become very active in the gifted community over the last few years. She brings a business perspective to the field and acts as a consultant, writer, and speaker to gifted and talented organizations and communities. She helps institutions and associations serving the gifted population with marketing communication strategies, including digital media tactics. She also acts as moderator of the weekly global #gtchat sessions on Twitter, where she helps connect parents, teachers, and advocates from across the world every Friday at noon and 7:00 p.m. (EST) to discuss critical issues relating to giftedness.
Recently, Mersino posted a blog entry titled CALL TO ACTION: Making Gifted Education Relevant Today. This post is worth reading. The article would make a good topic for group discussion. I urge you to take it to your gifted associations, gifted parent or teacher organizations, or college classes. She believes that "the current course for advocating on behalf of gifted learners is doomed; a radical shift in mindset is needed." Mersino has five suggestions for making gifted education relevant in today’s world. I am only listing them here. You will want to read the descriptions of each in detail
Get rid of the word "gifted."
Focus research on big picture education reform and simplify focus.
Change the descriptor to the "Talent Development Movement" (no more “Gifted Education Movement”), and start tearing down protective, yet ultimately inhibiting, walls.
Overhaul national and state nonprofit gifted associations’ missions and purpose.
Give things away. Be generous.
Mersino takes some risks in bucking the established ways of doing things in gifted education. Many of her ideas are worth serious consideration. I hope you will use her article as a springboard for open and honest discussions in your advocacy groups and in your district meetings.
Prufrock Press' Journals Have a New Home at SAGE Publications
The last couple of weeks have seen two important milestones pass.
My daughter, Christina, graduated from high school. I’m so proud of her and the young woman she has grow to be, and I’m excited that she will be moving on to attend college at the University of Oklahoma. On the other hand, watching her move on in her life comes with a tinge of sadness. With similar, if less intimate, emotions, I want to announce that Prufrock Press’ peer-reviewed journals (Gifted Child Today, the Journal for the Education of the Gifted, and the Journal of Advanced Academics) have been acquired by SAGE Publications. Like my daughter, Prufrock’s journals are moving on.
For more than twenty years, with the leadership of some wonderful editors, these journals have been an incubator for the best ideas in gifted education. The journals are at the forefront of gifted education practices and theory and they are a place where advocates and researchers in the field can discuss and debate what should happen next.
I love the work we have done with these journals, but the business side of running a successful academic journal has changed dramatically over the last five years. For journals to thrive, they need the specialized focus of a large journal publishing house. Several months ago, SAGE contacted me saying that they were enthusiastic supporters of gifted education and the journals we publish. As one of the leading international publishers of journals, SAGE could offer our journals increased availability, a wider audience, and a secure future.
I liked that their focus was on finding ways the journals could reach more readers, both nationally and internationally. In the end, I made the decision to move the journals to a new home at SAGE Publications. I am convinced that under the care of SAGE, the future growth of the journals is now secure and healthy.
This has been a bittersweet decision. The journals have been an intimate part of Prufrock Press, and I am incredibly proud of them. I know we have made a positive impact on practice and scholarship in the field, and I have loved working with the talented, creative editors of the journals. However, it is now time to send all of my kids off on their various new paths … to encourage them to move on.
Parenting and Teaching Young Gifted Children
In her article, Differentiated Instruction for Young Gifted Children: How Parents Can Help, Joan Smutny does an excellent job of explaining strategies that can be used in the classroom to address the needs of young gifted children, including
- Compacting—Children skip content that they already know and move to more advanced work.
- Learning Stations—Areas of the classroom where students can work on different tasks within a unit. Each station may represent a higher level of complexity than the one before it. Students move freely from one task to the next.
- Tiered Activities—A classroom of children may focus on the same, broad learning goal, but at different levels of depth and complexity.
- Clustering—Students who are significantly ahead are grouped and provided with more advanced content.
The best parts of Smutny’s article, though, are the many quotes and stories about children she uses to illustrate her points. She not only explains the strategies that might be used in the classroom to differentiate instruction, but also shows parents how they can enhance their children’s learning at home and also support and get involved with student learning at school.
From this article, both parents and teachers will get ideas about ways they can form better partnerships to enhance the learning of young gifted students.
Smutny has made young gifted children one of her specialties. If you like her article mentioned here, you will probably also enjoy some of the many books that she has written on the subject. You will find these by going to web sites such as Amazon and typing in her name or doing a general Internet search using her name.