Education Opinion

Picture This

By Tamara Fisher — May 06, 2013 3 min read
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It’s photo blog time! Here are some images from the past year to offer glimpses into my world with gifted learners...

In this photo, Hilda is showing me that she figured out how to change the keyboard on the laptop to type in Swedish. This was necessary so she could use the correct (language-specific) characters in her final product (a presentation about the Swedish language to a World Languages class. She also has been communicating with her grandmother in Swedish).

I work with my 2nd-4th grade students on an old cafeteria table in the lobby of the gymnasium. The noise from the P.E. classes is unavoidable, and while my students have adjusted to it, some days (depending on the P.E. activity), it’s harder to ignore. One day, a student said, “You know what I wish I had, Ms. Fish? Those things my dad wears when he mows the lawn.” Ah...! Great idea! So I went to Wal-Mart and, in both the gun section and the lawn section, I found reasonably-priced ear mufflers. I put them in a tub and told the kids they could use them whenever they needed to cut down on the P.E. noise, to help themselves focus better, or anytime when auditory input felt overwhelming. (I’m finding the kids who aren’t verbal processors also use them to reduce the auditory input of the kids who talk to understand what they’re doing.) Here’s my favorite case of “bed head” sporting some auditory input blockers:

In the few moments before class ended one day, I noticed one of my high school students write something on the whiteboard. After class, I found this haiku:
Haikus are easy
But sometimes they have odd words

My youngest student gave a presentation to his class about the Chinese New Year and how to write a few things in Chinese. Here he is at the SMARTboard having just finished showing them the number 9:

...and here you can see that each of his classmates practiced writing 1 to 10 in Chinese on their mini whiteboards:

Working with this little guy has been a lot of fun. He bounds out of the room when I come to get him and his enthusiasm is easily contagious. My main goal with him this year has been helping him learn to stick with a problem that he doesn’t instantly know the answer to. I’m happy to report that at this point in the year he can persist unassisted on a tough Rush Hour problem for 15 solid minutes. He’s young; this window will continue to grow. But it’s been a reminder for me of how important it is for us as the adults to know when and how to sit back and let kids learn how to struggle through something without always needing us to step in and show the way. Even tiny moments are opportunities for them to start learning how to find their own way through a problem. And for gifted kids - who are used to getting things quickly and easily - it can be tempting for us the adults to step in when we see them suddenly struggling. It’s hard sometimes to sit back and watch, to be hands-off, to feel their frustration. But here he is justifiably celebrating the 15 minutes he persisted to solve this problem:

Grey and Liv were intrigued by an unusual bug on our classroom window:

One student’s Creativity Day product... That’s a brain in his head, not hair on top...

A few months back, Julie came in to show me a poem she had written. Last week, guitar in hand, she popped in during lunch and said she’d put the poem to music. Oh, it was incredible! Brought tears to my eyes as I listened, as a matter of fact...

During a few minutes of unexpected free time recently, my 8th graders pulled the foamy pattern blocks off the shelf to play with. Soon Belle said, “Hey, Ms. Fish! I think this mistakenly-shaped piece should be our classroom mascot. Look! It’s just like us; it doesn’t quite fit in.”

I’m so grateful to be able to provide these kids their own slice of the Island of Misfit Toys, a place and a space in the day when they do fit in.

(all photos by Tamara Fisher)

The opinions expressed in Unwrapping the Gifted are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.