The Museum of Mathematics—Great Resources for the Gifted
Great new resources are becoming available with the pending 2012 opening of the Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) in New York City. MoMath will be the only museum in the United States dedicated strictly to mathematics. (The small one that previously existed on Long Island closed in 2006.) To read about the founder of this new museum, how it got started, and the types of exhibits that will be included, see the article about it that recently appeared in The New York Times.
The exhibits and programs at MoMath are designed to stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity, and reveal the wonders of mathematics. I can hardly wait until it opens.
A series of videos titled Math Encounters is already available. Some of these include
The Geometry of Origami
Symmetry, Art, & Illusion
Soap Bubbles and Mathematics
Math Midway is a hands-on traveling exhibition that highlights the engaging and playful nature of mathematics. Math Midway is making appearances at science and technology centers across the country. A list of upcoming engagements is provided.
Math Mondays is a partnership between MoMath and the magazine Make: Online. The weekly column discusses fun, experiential, puzzling topics in mathematics. Some recent topics are
There is also an online store for MoMath that sells a variety of mathematical games and books.
Graphic Arts for Gifted Kids
Graphic arts encompasses the art of representation, decoration, and writing or printing on flat surfaces. Common uses include identity (logos and branding), websites, publications (magazines, newspapers, and books), advertisements, and product packaging. Graphic arts is a field of interest for many gifted young people. If nurtured, it might develop into a career option. Here are some websites that may be helpful for your students.
Celebrating Creativity: Interview with Graphic Designer Michael Schwab
—Want to know what it is like to have a career as a graphic artist? Find out in this interview with graphic designer Michael Schwab, whose designs are known nationwide for their bold colors and simple images. Schwab has created award-winning logos and posters for many clients, including Apple, Comedy Central, Levi’s, Major League Baseball, Nike, Warner Brothers, and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. In this interview, he discusses graphic design and what it takes to be a graphic designer
Design Dossier: Graphic Design for Kids
—This is a book that acts as a mini-class on all the aspects of graphic design, including profiles of graphic designers, each answering a few key questions about the art and craft. There are also pull-outs, die-cuts, and other special effects that allow young students a chance to interact with the material.
Staff Development and Parent Presentations for the Gifted
Budgets are tight, yet there is one quality resource for gifted education that is available at minimal cost. Check out the Educators Guild
at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Presentations are available for the cost of staff traveling expenses.
That should cut costs drastically as presenters often charge large amounts for speaking fees.
Repeatedly, the Davidson Institute has turned out quality programs and has amassed a huge database of information that is available online.
Some presentations are already in place, with the promise of more to come soon. Each of the presentations listed here has a PDF file that offers an overview of the topic. There is also contact information if you want to learn more.
Accommodations for the Gifted Child in the Regular Classroom—characteristics of giftedness, manifestations of the gifted in the regular classroom, accommodations, and free resources and ideas for teachers.
Davidson Institute for Talent Development - Gifted Overview—takes a look at the history of and the programs offered by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, as well as information on identifying gifted students, characteristics, underachievement, perfectionism, and peer relations.
Motivation and the Gifted Child—extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation, characteristics that effect motivation, and tips on how to shift motivation.
Raising a Gifted Child—asynchrony, intensities, perfectionism, peer relations, and underachievement.
Universal Themes and Essential Questions for the Gifted
This is a topic that I keep revisiting because I feel that it is the very essence of gifted education.
Teachers are often accused of delivering curriculum that is not relevant to today’s students. If we teach (or have discussions at home) using universal themes, the material presented does become relevant. By using universal themes, you will provide umbrellas under which details become easier to remember, and give students frameworks of understanding that they can carry with them the rest of their lives.
A universal theme is a timeless, broad, abstract idea that can be used to tie together literary works or to understand broad concepts in history. It is a concept to which all people can relate. It transcends race, gender, and creed.
We learn best when we are able to relate new information to previous experiences and to ideas that are familiar. By teaching universal themes/concepts, we help students better understand their past experiences and form “big ideas” that are transferred to future experiences. Themes give a common reason for students to read many different books, including books on different ability levels, which is excellent for differentiation. Universal themes can be used with any subject, but they are especially suited for literature and social studies.
When working with universal themes, it is important to ask essential questions. Essential questions are open ended (i.e. they do not have a single answer). Instead, the question requires a longer, more involved response and causes the respondent to think and reflect. These cause students to think critically instead of simply looking up answers. Essential questions
provoke deep thought
may not have an answer
encourage critical thinking, not just memorization of facts
require students to draw upon content knowledge and personal experience
Universal Theme: Identity--This theme might be used with a literature unit or while studying ethnic differences in social studies.
Identity might be defined as uniqueness, distinctiveness, individuality, or personality. The identity of a person or group is rarely static, but instead is constantly being changed by internal and external forces.
How do we form our identities?
How does what others think about you affect how you think about yourself?
How is identity shaped by relationships and experiences?
What can you learn about yourself by studying the lives of others?
When should an individual take a stand in opposition to an individual or larger group?
One resource that will help you with these topics is Universal Themes and Generalizations
, from DukeTip. In this pdf file, ten different themes are listed along with sample sub-categories for each of those themes.
You may want to refer to previous posts I have written on the topics of universal themes and essential questions. Some of these previous posts provide examples, demonstrating ways these tools can be used in the classroom. Parents, remember that you can always modify classroom suggestions for your discussions at home. Here are the links to the previous posts.
The Fascination of Storm Chasers for Gifted Kids
Gifted young people frequently get very excited about bizarre occurrences and occupations. The job of storm chaser fits into that category and may act as an impetus for the study of meteorology.
Please be sensitive to the emotions of your individual children. While this information will fascinate some children, it may terrify others. Use your judgment about making this available to your kids.
—Who are storm chasers? Can one make a living at the job? What does a typical chase look like? What is the best way to become a storm chaser?
Storm Chasers on the Discovery Channel
—This site is presented in Hollywood fashion, sensationalizing the storms. Here you will find impressive videos, a real-time weather tracker, and information about the vehicles and equipment used by storm chasers. The production crew of StormChasers also answers questions about their jobs.
Storm Chasers from PBS
—University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Howard Bluestein turned a boyhood fascination with severe weather into a career chasing tornadoes, working to shed scientific light on one of nature's most violent and unpredictable phenomenons. He and his graduate student “chasers” are featured in an IMAX film. An interview with the director of the film can also be found at this website. Learn about the development of Bluestein’s career. Included at this site are facts about severe weather and information about obtaining an activity guide for teachers (or parents).