Friday, June 6, 2008

What Can You Find Online for Your Gifted/Talented Middle Schoolers? A Lot.

Often, slower or needier learners get the focus of teachers' and school districts' interventions and budgets while gifted and talented students are overlooked, to the detriment of those easily-bored students and their teachers. Rachele Hall and Wendy Meunier write in techLearning about online resources that offer differentiated learning and more challenge and stimulation for your G/T middle schoolers.

Hall and Meunier divide the available resources into three categories: WebQuests, online projects, and virtual field trips. WebQuests offer real-world problems that require higher order thinking to solve and can be individual or group projects. Five links are provided that give details about WebQuests in general and how to incorporate them into your teaching. There are also lists of available WebQuests divided by grade level and subject. The site WebQuests seems to be the most comprehensive and may be the best place to start your search.

Virtual field trips are easy to incorporate into a curriculum for the whole class or a few select learners. Hall and Meunier provide a great list of links to start your search, including Tramline, which has resources, a book on virtual field trips, and a for-fee software that lets users build their own virtual field trips, which could be a great capstone project for a student or group. Other links provide lesson plans and links to museums. You can also find more virtual field trips in this post from April.

Online projects are also great for differentiated learning. Hall and Meunier describe the best online projects as beginning with a question that leads students "through a series of steps using the Internet to find answers." That search for answers should also offer "opportunities to communicate with students and professionals from other parts of the world." The culminating multimedia project can be presented to parents, peers and/or teachers or published on a website for general viewing. Six of the links lead to more information on how to use or find projects and to lists of available projects and their sponsors. Two of the best known hosts of online projects are iEARN and GlobalSchoolNet. iEARN has been at it 20 years and has projects that focus on science, the environment, and social studies.

The brief descriptions under the links make it easy to narrow in on a few links per category worth investigating. There's also a great list of online resources for teachers, parents and G/T students themselves that offer activities, details on state laws, camps, organizations for the gifted, and the California Virtual Academies, a public, free, online distance-learning program for K-12 students.

SOURCE: "Resources for Teaching the Gifted and Talented" 06/01/08
photo courtesy of, used under this Creative Commons license

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