Sunday, March 8, 2015

Conference Play

What a crazy week! Wednesday was our field trip! One of the exhibits was a relaxation monitor, you win if you are the better relaxer. My team member and I tried this activity. Can you tell when our students came to join us?

Anyway, I have a confession. I love professional development. Maybe I should add a qualifier to that statement - I love good, well-thought, positive, useful professional development. Too often we are sent to PD sessions and are bored to death because we were told to. Am I right? This week I had the opportunity to attend the North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented conference in Winston-Salem. I was thrilled! While a couple of the sessions I attended felt more like a commercial for the presenter (here's why you should teach this, but to find out how to teach it you have to buy my $30 book) or the presenter was completely unprepared AGH!, most of the sessions I attended were fantastic!

Note to self: (which should have been obvious) the best sessions were those run by teachers. The following were a few of my favorite presentations:

PROBEs - Personal Research on Basically Everything

According to the presenters, PROBEs can be found all over Pinterest. For such an avid pinner, I was shocked that I had never heard of such a thing! Basically, PROBEs are ongoing research projects getting students to read and respond to nonfiction texts of their choice. Early in the year, students start a list of topics interesting to them. Students use classroom books, library books, or the internet to research. After reading the books, students follow the prescribed format for responding to the text. 
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I LOVE this project because it is naturally differentiated. It also has students cite their work and express their creativity. I can picture my students reading on a Level E loving this just as much as I can picture my highest gifted students reading loving it. The presenters shared 2nd and 3rd grade entries. Look at how detailed these are!
          


ePortfolios 
While this presentation wasn't exactly what I thought it would be, I definitely love the idea of students sharing their portfolios through student-led conferences. The presenter has students scan in their classwork and create PowerPoint presentations to share with their parents throughout the year. Interesting concept!

Anchor Activities
Anyone know what an "anchor activity" is? I had no clue! Essentially, its early finisher work. This session focused on vocabulary work as enrichment for early finishers. I probably will be implementing a couple of these activities as vocabulary station work instead. 

This Makes Me Think of...


Students are given a blank copy of the chart above and the first word at the very top. Students have to write two words which relate to the word above. They have to be able to justify the association between words. Then, for the bottom half, students have to write a word which connects the two words above. Trick: students cannot use proper nouns and the cannot repeat any words. Once the chart is completely filled out, students have to write a sentence connecting the bottom word with the original word. 

Easy differentiation: lower level students stop at the middle level while higher students complete the whole chart. Can be done in partners or independently. 

This will be a great activity to use at the end of a Science unit with vocabulary words!

Reading Workshop in the Gifted Classroom

This session was basically a potpourri of resources to use during Reading Workshop. I loved it! The two teachers shared their information with these awesome cards. Go find them on Twitter!
     

They spoke about the usuals for gifted education, Jacob's Ladder, Paideia Seminars, Debates, and Socratic Questioning, but they also presented some activities for teachers and students when reading. 

Literature Webs - Simple graphic organizers which force students to think deeply about their stories, articles, poems, songs, and more!
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Symbolism & Relationship Chart - CCSS puts a huge emphasis on determining the relationships between characters. This chart has students use symbols to represent characters' relationships. 

For the Love of Literacy
Then came my favorite session! I didn't leave with a ton of resources or even activities to implement into the classroom. This session felt like a pep rally for reading teachers to reignite their passion. We looked at using portions of books for specific reading/vocabulary/grammar lessons. You probably had to be there to share my excitement, but it was by far the BEST session!


After attending so many sessions filled with positive discussion and relative resources, how could you not love PD!? It is refreshing to be surrounded by teachers who are excited to share and teach!