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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Gifted Kids End of School Year Survival Team -- Assemble!

Looking for a way to challenge your gifted kids during the final days of school (and help other teachers stay sane)?

If so, I have an idea for you. 

Let’s be honest. The last few weeks of any school year can be rough. After testing and more testing, 180 days or so of sitting in seats, and listening to teachers, students are ready to break for summer. Teachers find themselves in a similar mindset. On top of that, the final days of school are packed with graduations, field trips, and other events.

As a teacher, you’re supposed to keep teaching. But what do you teach and how do you keep kids engaged?

I ask myself these same questions every school year, and this year, I had a eureka moment. Why not have my gifted kids teach other students some of the skills and knowledge they learned?  So I put together the Gifted Kids Survival Team and told my students they had to select an interesting lesson they learned through the gifted program and develop a presentation. In the meantime, I promoted the presentations with teachers across the school through e-mails, flyers, and word of mouth (of course, the best form of advertising).

Now, my students are spending their final school days of the year productively presenting engaging and valuable information. The teachers love it because it keeps their students engaged—with minimal effort. They simply have to host the presentation, providing perhaps a computer and overhead projector. Finally, the students watching the presentations also benefit from learning some of types of projects and lessons normally reserved for the gifted.

Before I share some of topics used for the presentations, let me provide a quick outline of the project.

Step 1:

Get your gifted students excited about the project. I did this by showing them a PowerPoint that explained they were part of the Gifted Kids Survival Team whose mission was to save the sanity of teachers and excite classmates everywhere! Hype it up. 

Step 2:

Provide students a list of possible presentation topics. You could also assign them topics if necessary (more to come on topics later in the blog).

Step 3:

Give students time to develop their presentations. I allow them to design their presentations using a method that compliments their strengths and talents. PowerPoints, skits, demonstrations, and game shows are all fair game.

Step 4:

Rehearse. There’s nothing worse than sending your students into classrooms when they are unprepared. Have them practice for classmates and for you before you releasing them into the wild.

Step 5:

Provide feedback. If possible, watch the presentations and debrief with your students to discuss what went right and what needs improvement. Have them make adjustments before the next presentation. Teachers hosting the presentations can also complete a rubric that provides feedback.

In terms of what my students present, it was based on projects completed during the school year. I can share a few that I think would be of interest to a majority of students.

Coding - My students present the website, code.org., and demonstrate how to learn basic coding.

PowerPoint - Students also provide tutorials on how to create basic or advanced slide shows, which can be used in the classroom for research projects and other presentations.

Storybird.com - Students show this free website that allows users to create their own books.

Creative Problem Solving - My students conduct a lesson that involves teams working together to solve a hypothetical survival scenario using a small list of supplies. 

One way to think of it is that you have shown so many lessons, projects, ideas, and websites to your gifted students, that now, it’s a time for them to give back by sharing this information with the rest of the school. It provides a purpose for them during the final days before summer break, excites classmates, and supports other teachers. What are you waiting for? Assemble your team today.

 

Thanks for reading,

Steve