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Inspiring Middle School Minds: Gifted, Creative, and Challenging

Inspiring Middle School Minds: Gifted, Creative, and Challenging

by Judy Willis

ISBN-10: 0910707936

ISBN-13: 9780910707930

Pub. Date: 03/28/2009

Publisher: Great Potential Press, Inc.

Teaching adolescents can be quite challenging. Dr. Willis, a neurologist and teacher, explains the inner workings of the adolescent brain. She uses the findings of brain research in her classroom to explain how parents and teachers can trigger untapped motivation in students. Middle school education has often been a "black hole" for gifted students, but the advice and


Teaching adolescents can be quite challenging. Dr. Willis, a neurologist and teacher, explains the inner workings of the adolescent brain. She uses the findings of brain research in her classroom to explain how parents and teachers can trigger untapped motivation in students. Middle school education has often been a "black hole" for gifted students, but the advice and information in this book will help parents and teachers design positive and rewarding learning experiences for them.

Product Details

Great Potential Press, Inc.
Publication date:
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5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction xvii

One Size Does Not Fit All xviii

Middle School Years xx

Rekindling Lost Enthusiasm xxi

Keeping Alive Children's Natural Enthusiasm to Learn xxii

All Students Have Talents that Can Be Developed xxiv

Summary xxvi

Chapter 1 Reversing the Decline in Gifted Middle School Education 1

Middle School: The "Black Hole" of Education? 2

Problems in Middle School Gifted Education 3

Legislative and Policy Remedies 4

Identification of Gifted Students 6

IQ and Giftedness 7

Problems with Global IQ 7

Other Problems with IQ Tests 8

Gifted or Talented beyond IQ Tests 9

Unique Testing Problems for Adolescents 10

Achievement Tests 11

De-Stressing Testing Situations 11

Conclusion 12

Chapter 2 Teaching and Parenting Gifted Adolescents 15

Characteristics of Gifted Children 16

Asynchrony 17

A Lack of Training for Teachers 18

Working with the System 19

Goals for Middle Schools 19

Characteristics of Influential Teachers of Gifted Middle School Students 21

Challenges of Teaching Gifted Adolescents 23

Kidwatching 24

Matching Teachers to Students 25

Parenting Middle School Students 26

Renew the Joy of Learning through Out-of-School Experiences 27

Out-of-the-Classroom Opportunities 28

Personal, Goal-Centered Motivation 28

Building Interest 29

Emotion-Powered Learning 29

Communication Skills and Confidence 30

Higher-Level Thinking 30

Living History 30

Geography 31

Current Events 31

Novelty and Humor 31

Math Skills 31

Visualization 32

Priming 32

Recognize Progress 32

Use Feedback 33

Play Together 33

Emotional Support 33

Showing Trust Builds Confidence and Competence 36


Chapter 3 The Neurology of Adolescence 39

Brain-Based Research 39

Does the Research Prove, or Merely Suggest? 40

The Adolescent Growth Spurt-It's Also in Their Brains 42

Plasticity and Pruning 44

Plasticity Research 45

Pruning 46

Adolescent Pruning 47

Gifted Children's Delayed Frontal Pruning 48

Five Major Brain Parts for Adolescents 51

Corpus Callosum 51

Prefrontal Cortex 52

Basal Ganglia 52

Amygdala 53

Cerebellum 53

Looking into Gifted Brains 54

Even Faster than Neuroimaging 58

Is Brain Development All Due to Environment? 59

The Future of Brain Mapping 60

Conclusion 61

Chapter 4 Helping Students Overcome Barriers to Learning: Using Our Brains 63

The Brain's Information Filters: RAS and Amygdala 63

Reticular Activating System (RAS) 64

Amygdala 66

The Amygdala in Adolescent Brains 69

Dopamine-Pleasure System 70

Dopamine and Anticipated Pleasure 72

Risk, Reward, and Dopamine 73

Stress Hormones 75

Syn-naps to Avoid Neurotransmitter Depletion 77

Connecting Neuro-Knowledge to Classroom Strategies 79

Lower the Affective Filter and Raise the Resonance 80

The Stress of Being Gifted 81

Providing Gifted Students with Emotional Support 83

Stress-Busting, Brain-Building Classroom Strategies 84

Active Listening 84

Build on What They Know 84

Encourage Participation, Not Perfection 85

Private Response 86

Keep Students Engaged 86

Strategies to Promote the Dopamine-Pleasure-Attentive

State in Gifted Students 87

Make the Information Relevant 87

Offer Choice and Variety 87

Provide Levels of Learning 88

Predict for Success 89

Stimulate Curiosity 90

Offer Chances to Express Creativity 91

Acknowledge Success without Stress 92

What Parents Can Do to Help 92

Bibliotherapy 93

Role Playing 94

Teach Them to Do It on Their Own 95

Reduce Comparisons and Praise Specifically 95

Lessons Learned 96

Conclusion 97

Chapter 5 Memory-Building to Enhance Learning 99

Types of Memory 100

Semantic Memory 100

Emotional or Event Memory 101

Working Memory 104

Maintaining Long-Term Memories 107

The Efficiency of Memory Consolidation 109

Patterning 110

Analogies to Build Patterns 114

Patterning Activity to Build Scientific Vocabulary 114

Multisensory Input 116

Research-Based Strategies for Memory Retention 118

Moves to Increase Memory Retrieval 119

Executive Functions to Manipulate Information 121

Visualizations for Mental Manipulation 123

Personalizing 124

Example of Personalization: Discussing Ethical Dilemmas 124

Teachable Moments 125

Teachable Moments in the Ethics of Algebra: Classroom Example 128

Parents Can Help Children Personalize Academic Studies 129

Start with the Interesting Stuff 130

Take It Outside 130

Delve into Debate 131

Q & A 131

Compare and Contrast 131

Sleep Tight, Dendrites Ignite 132

Deep Sleep Grows Dendrites for Permanent Memory 132

Middle School Years and Sleep 134

Conclusion 135

Chapter 6 Structuring Instructional Opportunities for Gifted Students 137

Developmentally Planned Lessons 137

Homogeneous vs. Heterogeneous 138

Homogeneous Groupings for Gifted Children's Social and Emotional Needs 140

Program Alternatives 141

Ability Grouping 142

Gifted Student Groupings 143

Mixed Ability Groupings 144

Enhancing Gifted Learning through Positive Social Interaction 145

Challenging Cooperative Work for Gifted Students 147

Sample Cooperative Project for Gifted Middle Schoolers: Math through Paleontology 148

Classroom Community-Building to Liberate Gifted Students 149

Community-Building Strategies 150

Maintaining Class Community 151

Conclusion 153

Chapter 7 Customizing Challenges for Gifts 155

Individualization of Instruction 156

Individual Intelligences and Learning Styles 156

Linguistic Intelligence 157

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence 158

Visual-Spatial Intelligence 158

Musical-Rhythmic Intelligence 158

Tactile-Kinesthetic Intelligence 159

Interpersonal Intelligence 159

Intrapersonal Intelligence 159

Naturalist Intelligence 159

New Trends among the Intelligences 160

The Larger and Overlapping Categories 160

Sequential or Analytical Learners 161

Global Learners 161

Exploratory Learners 162

Learning Style-Compatible Teaching 162

Individualized Meaning 163

Differentiating Instruction 164

Guided Choice 165

Example of Choice in Learning 167

Too Much Choice? 169

Homework 170

Parent-to-Teacher Homework Feedback 171

Journaling and Logs 172

Learning Logs 173

Literature Logs 174

Graphic Organizers 175

Venn Diagrams 175

Timelines or Chains of Events 175

Cause/Effect Visual Organizers 175

Webs or Map Organizers 176

Metacognition, or Thinking about Thinking 176

Metacognition for Comprehension 178

Metacognition to Build Lifelong Strategies 179

Marshmallows and Goal-Directed Learning 181

Strategies to Build Goal-Directed Behavior 182

Individualized Goal Setting 183

Rubrics 184

Planning Rubrics to Enhance Gifted Learning 185

Keeping Students on Track with Rubrics 186

What to Include in Rubrics 187

Rubrics with Challenge Options 188

Conclusion 191

Chapter 8 Enriching Units of Study for Gifted Learners 193

Cognitive Atrophy or Enhancement? 193

Creating Enriched Classroom Environments 194

Use Interests to Unwrap Gifts 197

Open Big to Stimulate Learning 199

Offer Appropriate Challenge 200

Strategies to Promote Gifted Students to Challenge Themselves 201

Activities to Increase Challenge for Gifted Students 202

Note-Taking/Note-Making Strategy 202

Ethnography Activity 203

Inspire Motivation 204

Motivation and Feedback 205

Student-Centered Lessons and Open-Ended, Student-Centered Discussions 209

Guidelines for Open-Ended, Student-Centered Discussions 209

Student-Centered Discussion Topic: Discriminating Fact from Opinion 210

Discussions and Inquiry at Home 211

Turning Assessments into Learning Opportunities 213

Plan Assessments from the Start 214

Pre-Assessments 214

Make Assessment Expectations Clear 215

Spot Errors in Comprehension with Daily Individual Assessments 216

Testing Problems 217

Conclusion 218

Chapter 9 Extending Classroom Learning to Enhance Gifts 219

Extension Activities to Engage Gifted Students 220

Learning Contracts 221

Slowing Down Instead of Speeding Up 222

Extensions, Not Add-ons 222

Planning Independent Learning Extensions 224

In-Class Lesson Extensions 225

Mathematics 227

Language Arts 229

Science 232

History 233

Pairing Gifted Students for Lesson Extensions 236

Small Group Extensions 237

History Example: Lincoln-Douglas Debate 237

Out-of-Class Extensions 238

Mentoring 238

Competitions 239

Video Game Extensions 239

Cross-Curricular Investigations as Extension Activities 240

Cross-Curricular Study and Parent Participation 241

Conclusion 243

Concluding Thoughts 245

Appendix Sample Activities for Enrichment and Extension 249

Glossary 263

Endnotes 271

References 281

Index 293

About the Author 305

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