Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

The fifth graders are in the process of completing their Unsolved Mysteries Wiki We read a book this fall called Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett. The book explores a mystery surrounding Johann Vermeer. The research on Unsolved Mysteries was loosely connected to the book. The kids spent 3-4 weeks doing their research, completing citations, and finding images. They put the wiki together and are almost finished with links and images. I am in total agreement with Jamie McKenzie's ideas about Ending Topical Research. He says:

When students conduct topical research, they do little more than scoop up information. Topical research requires little thinking and little imagination. It pays few dividends. It does almost nothing to prepare students for the kinds of thinking skills listed in state and provincial curriculum standards.

But, I wanted content to teach them about wikis, and topical research was easy. I'm hoping before I retire to do a "real" project using a wiki. Let me know if you've got a good idea for a wiki-collaboration.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Some Gifted Children Left Behind

The Lawrence (KS) Journal World ran an article called Gifted Student Feels Left Behind. Gifted children across Kansas were recognized January 31, 2007 when Governor Sebelius declared it the first-ever "Gifted and Talented Day" in Kansas. There were dozens of comments on the paper's website and of course I decided to add my two cents.

After teaching gifted kids for over twenty years many of these comments sadden and irritate me, but I'm not going to waste my finger energy to rebut the opinions of others. I would like to leave you with an analogy, maybe it will make you think:

You are an adult and last year you decided to take ski lessons in Colorado. You bought the clothes, rented the skis and drove out to the Colorado slopes. You signed up for beginner lessons, practiced and has a great time. A year had so much fun last year that you decided to go back to Colorado for intermediate lessons. You bought fancier clothes and this year you decided to buy skis. You drive out to Colorado and pull up to the ski school. Swen comes bounding out of the chalet and says "Velcome, Velcome...but I have bad news. Not enough people signed up for intermediate lessons, you will have to take "beginners" again." As an adult, you would say "H*** no, I will not take “beginners” again, I’m ready for intermediate!!"

But gifted kids don't have that power; they have to take "beginners" again and again and again. Think about it, as an adult you would never put up with that.