More Online Learning for Gifted Students
Teachers and parents alike often turn to online learning options in order to supplement and/or accelerate gifted students' learning. Does your young person have a strong interest and ability in mathematics, physics, computer programming, literature, writing, history, or foreign language? Does she want to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes that are not offered at her local high school? Or, does your student need a flexible schedule because of family circumstances, work responsibilities, or health issues?
Are you in a school district where your young person’s needs and abilities surpass the available curriculum? Do you homeschool your child, either full-time or part-time, and, as a result, need solid educational resources? Or, do you have a student who doesn't necessarily want to earn credit for extracurricular classes, but instead just wants to expose himself to different topics in order to see if any really interest him? If so, then you may want to introduce your student to the wide range of opportunities available through online learning.
For years, I have been writing about the virtues of distance learning for gifted kids. Over the past few years, the distance learning field has continued to expand. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, many distance learning programs are beginning to use not only computers for their programs, but also everyday technologies, such as cell phones.
Kids are often more comfortable with these technologies than adults. This may be one reason why traditional schools are often unable to adjust to and incorporate these new technologies into the traditional classroom. Adults (both parents and teachers) sometimes lack the expertise that young people have already learned at an early age and use every day. Perhaps it is time for adults to stop fighting these new developments and, instead, embrace them and incorporate them into student learning. Online learning is one good way to start.
If you are interested in learning more about the opportunities available to gifted kids, there is a great deal of information available at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development website and at the Distance Learning Programs page of Hoagies’ Gifted Education website.
Free Tutorial Videos on Math and Science
Salman Khan and the Khan Academy are back in the news, having recently being featured on NPR and PBS. At the Khan Academy website, there are more than 1,100 free instructional videos, each 10-20 minutes long, that range from basic arithmetic and algebra to differential equations, physics, chemistry, biology, and finance. The videos cover concepts that, as a student, Sal felt were poorly taught through lectures and textbooks. Each video explains the concepts covered in the lesson in a comfortable, relaxed manner that reflects Sal's own easy understanding of math and doesn't compromise rigor or comprehensiveness. Sal also has included several hundred videos devoted to the SAT, GMAT, and other standardized test problems.
Since I first wrote about the Khan Academy back in December 2008, Sal decided to quit his day job and devote himself full-time to expanding his library of instructional videos. Eventually, he plans to add even more academic subjects to the website.
The videos at the Khan Academy website can be used by a wide variety of students, including:
students who need a bit more instruction to understand a concept,
those who want to learn beyond what is being taught in the classroom, and
students who are preparing for certain standardized tests such as AP, SAT, and GMAT.
The videos can also be used in a variety of venues, such as the classroom, home, and around the world. Those who live in areas where an advanced class is not available, or those who are homeschooled, would particularly benefit from viewing Sal's videos.
I highly recommend that you take a good look at the website. View some of the instructional videos yourself and take a look at some of the videos explaining more about Sal Khan and his plans for the Khan Academy. The website is a wonderful resource and it is free.
Macbeth: The Monster Interview
Prufrock Press recently released Advanced Placement Classroom: Macbeth, the last installment in its four-part Advanced Placement Classroom series. Like the series' previous installments, including volumes devoted to Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Hamlet, this teaching resource focuses on developing advanced reading comprehension and analytical skills while providing students with a greater historical context for understanding the story and its tempestuous cast of characters.
Co-author, Daniel Lipowitz has taken this a step further, hosting none other than Macbeth, who, fresh from the battlefield, joins him in this episode of his podcast series Lip On-Line. In this "Monster Interview," Lipowitz transcends time acquiring affectations of Elizabethan linguistics to create an interview persona appropriate for his Shakespearean subject. Set immediately after the murder of MacDonwald, the interview primarily focuses on Macbeth's (and to a lesser extent Lady Macbeth's) literary reputation, to which the Scottish rogue supplies a unique perspective. Not unlike the exercises in AP Classroom: Macbeth, Lipowitz's podcast offers an interactive and introspective method of examining the play. And it's fun.
Listen to the Podcast
Click here to listen to the podcast
(approximate length: 14 minutes)
Gifted Student College Application Rejected
There was an interesting interchange this past week on the Washington Post Web site. In What to Do With Gifted Students?, staff writer Jay Mathews talks about a letter he received from a mother of a very gifted student. (The boy was reading a college-level book in third grade.) Mathews admits that he has not been very sympathetic with parents of gifted students, but this one is an exception. In fact, he was so sympathetic, he invited readers to respond.
In a nutshell, the student in question had received rejections from a number of colleges/universities. The parents had focused on learning, not grades. The boy’s standardized test scores were very high and he had taken many advanced courses and scored very well on final tests. However, his grades were not great. He often didn’t do all of his assigned work, so received zeros. The classes didn’t move fast enough for him, so he did different work on his own and handed notes to the teacher and classmates.
After college rejections, the parents and student found out that many schools of higher learning do not look at things like AP scores until after students are admitted. (The boy had so many high scores on AP tests, that he would be qualified to place out of about a year of college.) The fact that his GPA (3.275) was low, in the minds of the admissions department, indicated to those decision makers that the boy is lazy.
In retrospect, the mother wishes that she had homeschooled her son. If he had been homeschooled, the colleges would have looked at the same scores that they now ignore.
The conversation of reader responses to this dilemma is worth reviewing. Since the staff writer who put all this together selected the responses to include, he was able to offer a variety of ideas by articulate people. You will not have to wade through a lot of the same comments written in a poor fashion. This article and letter responses would make a great discussion point for a group of parents, educators, or graduate students. I highly recommend that you read it.
Economics for Gifted Students
Resources for teaching economics to students is not something we hear a lot about, and yet knowledge in this area is something that is vital for one’s entire life. Strategies for teaching this are available for all ages. As a teacher, parent, or student, here are some you might want to investigate.
There’s an article in The Duke Gifted Letter
that reviews two board games for parents who are interested in teaching their children the complexities of the stock market: Bull Market
, by the Great Canadian Game Company Inc. for ages 8 to adult, and Stock Market Tycoon
, by Vida Games LLC for ages 12 to adult.
The National Economics Challenge
is a competition that takes place in 35 different states. There are two different divisions: one for high school students taking Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, honors, college level, or two-semester classes; the other for students enrolled in all other general or one-semester economics classes. There are monetary prizes for both students and teachers.
It is possible for a student to have dual enrollment in high school and college, remaining with his age peers at his home school while taking one or more classes at a local college. You can read about an unusual partnership that was created between an Illinois high school and university to provide duel enrollment courses in economics
that actually took place on the high school campus. Through the school partnership, administrators and teachers recognized that the high school audiences present special challenges for methods used most frequently on the college campus. Through this partnership, economics courses were taught by a tenure-track university faculty member and limited to honors students. Details are provided about the modifications made, especially in regards to disciplinary actions, grading policies, and scheduling.
Science OCW Geared to AP Courses and Beyond
Lately, we seem to be on a roll with more and more tools becoming available for advanced science students. (Click on the Science category in the column on the left of this Web page to see recent entries.) And now, yet another resource is available.
More and more very reputable universities are making available free video and audio clips, animations, lecture notes, and assignments online. Now MIT has taken that concept one step further and created Highlights for High Schools
. This new site takes the information that MIT had already made available through what’s known as OpenCourseWare and has created a site that categorizes that information to match the Advanced Placement (AP) physics, biology, and calculus curricula.
The site also has just plain interesting, free courses appropriate for gifted high school students, including a class that teaches how to design sets for theater and one on designing toys (both under the heading of Knowledge in Action: Build Stuff).
There are also high school courses created by MIT students such as Guitar Building; a course exploring Gödel, Escher, and Bach; and Combinatorics, a fascinating branch of mathematics that applies to problems ranging from card games to quantum physics to the Internet.
You can also subscribe to an online newsletter that will keep you up-to-date on new courses and other information.
An estimated 10,000 U.S. high school teachers and 5,000 U.S. high school students already visit MIT OpenCourseWare each month, and MIT expects Highlights for High School to make MIT’s course materials even more useful to these audiences.
New History Fair Project Handbook Released by Prufrock Press
If you are involved with students in grades 6-12 and want to engage them with hands-on history projects, Prufrock has just released an exciting resource for you.
Thousands of students across the nation each year participate in history fairs at the local, regional, and national level. Until now, however, these students and their parents and teachers have had to rely on their own ingenuity and skill to develop history fair projects. Creating Award-Winning History Fair Projects: The Complete Handbook for Teachers, Parents, and Students fills that gap. This exciting new release provides all of the following:
- successful tips for developing exciting projects,
- practical tools for middle school and high school,
- strategies for organizing and planning, and
- ready-to-use planners and student handouts.
The only comprehensive guide of its kind, Creating Award-Winning History Fair Projects also gives teachers and administrators tips for organizing and conducting history fairs at the local level to showcase their students' work. The author, an experienced regional history fair coordinator, judge, and coach, provides teachers, parents, and students everything they need to ensure blue-ribbon success!
To find out more about this exciting new social studies resource or to browse samples of the book's inside pages, please visit the Creating Award-Winning History Fair Projects Web page.
Authors Sought for Advanced Placement Shakespeare Guides
At Prufrock Press, we are interested in developing an innovative line of teaching resources for Advanced Placement teachers using Shakespeare in their classrooms.
Specifically, we are seeking teacher-authors who could write exciting, innovative guides to teaching the following plays:
- Romeo and Juliet
- A Midsummer Night's Dream
These guides would include debates, role-play activities, engaging discussions, critical and creative writing activities, and creative projects within the context of a rigorous academic study of Shakespearian works. Authors must be able to offer teachers practical, field-tested ways to make the study of Shakespeare meaningful, creative, and substantive. Additionally, each guide would be aligned with Advanced Placement guidelines and standards.
We are seeking teacher-authors who could work collaboratively with us to develop one or more of these guides over the next 6–12 months.
If you or a teacher you know has a special talent for effectively teaching Shakespeare to teenagers, we would love to hear from you. Please send your name, current position, and summer mailing and e-mail address
. Doing so will ensure you receive an information packet in approximately 4 weeks.
Please respond before May 25, 2007 if you would like to receive an author information packet for the four AP Shakespeare projects listed above.