Pondering Giftedness

1. the quality or state of being gifted

A conversation with a colleague several weeks ago has had me pondering giftedness and what it really entails.

In school we have GATE programs for gifted and talented students – but that usually means those gifted in arts or music or maths or sports etc. But what about students who are gifted in other ways? Are there other types of giftedness?

My colleague, Julie, and I are running a buddy class program – we split our classes and each work with 1/2 of the others class on Friday afternoons – that means I get 14 of my Year 3&4 students and 13 of her Y1 students (5-1/2 year olds).

Julie is a talented/gifted artist – she’s had several exhibitions to show case her art over the years. I, on the other hand, struggle to draw stick figures!

I have some talent in the area of music and singing – but am not what you’d call gifted in those areas. My area of gifting is to do with technology which is an area that Julie struggles in.

Colleagues say to me “but how did you do that?” all the time – my response is that computers talk to me. And as strange as that may sound I believe that it is a type of giftedness – one that perhaps is overlooked – “he’s just a geek” or “she’s just a geek” being a common reaction to those of us who sit down at our computers to produce our masterpieces – whether they be webpages or wikis or whatever.

I know that when I’m talking to other teachers about a program and we’re tossing ideas around as to what we can do, I come up with the techo stuff in the same way that the arty people, and the literary people come up with their ideas.

I also don’t think it strange to be on my computer for hours on end – I get a lot of enjoyment tinkering away at different things – my wiki page; working on my wikieducator stuff; blogging; tweeting; chatting online etc. My computer is an extension of me – as I explained it to someone last week – some people take handbags with them whereever they go – I take some sort of computing device – I’m never far from being online – even if it’s only via my cell phone.

What do you think? Is an affinity with computers, web2.0, cloud computing, technology to the extent that the machines are talking to us a form of giftedness?

And … if it is – what are we doing for the students in our class who are gifted in this way?

Writing a recipe for an island holiday

Our writing this week was quite simple – sort of. We started out by looking at a story/poem from a school journal: Recipe for a Saturday Morning. Then each group started off by brainstorming all the things they thought they should take with them on an island holiday (I had a stunning picture of sunset in the Faroe Islands as the starter). These were saved as a group to the wiki.


The next day I put the brainstorm up for them to see – all the groups at once – and asked them to write the top 5 things they would take (as individuals) in their draft books. These top 5 things were then saved to their group writing wiki.

I put the starter picture in a voicethread and asked them to publish their top 5 to the VT (embedded below).

I also got each child to dictate their words to me for a whole class wordle. I used the wordle to whittle down our list of 135 words to 6 words – wordle made that quite an easy task.

Original wordle

Final wordle

Then today we looked at the 6 words and each group drafted a phrase for each word. Then we looked at what each group had come up with and chose the best – mostly the groups all agreed that one was better than the rest (except the last so I just wrote up “a sleeping bag”).

Recipe for an Island Holiday

  • a suitcase full of clothes
  • 5 large bags of food
  • hooray it’s payday, a wallet full of money
  • a tank full of water
  • a tube full of toothpaste
  • a sleeping bag

We then published the final work to the class blog. A huge amount of work for a simple result.


Classroom management oh my …

Classroom management is always interesting especially if you have kids doing lots of different things at the same time. Added to the complication of marking is the problem of how do you assess when the work is being done in groups or online? And when do you do this assessment?

This week my class is writing a “Recipe for an Island Holiday”. I’m documenting the work done on my own wiki – not just for my reference but also for evidence of work for assessment. The class is working in a variety of ways: publishing to wiki; brainstorming on wiki; publishing/writing to voicethread; writing on the whiteboard using the magnetic words and whole class writing to a wordle (with me as the scribe for that task). There’s a lot of management making sure the kids are on task while I work with small groups on editing their work in their draft writing books. Phew!

Wordle: island holiday

Maths is another case. We’re just beginning division work and doing it in groups and hands on. Each group had a whiteboard and pen and blocks and as they worked their way through the work I took photos of their work.

Some are struggling with cooperative work!

At the end of the day I can look back and say we worked hard – there’s not a lot of book work as evidence BUT there is online evidence of it.

DOS games in the classroom

Earlier this week my daughter asked me if my students were too young to play Maths Rescue and Word Rescue – a couple of old DOS games that my own kids grew up playing.

It seems that some bright spark has written an emulator that allows you to play these old DOS games on almost any computer.

Here are some photos of my students playing the games in the classroom.

Dos Games on PhotoPeach

Download games and dosbox

To get these games go to http://dosgames.com/g_edu.php and download for free. Then you’ll have to go to http://dosbox.com/ to get the emulator.


Installation is quite simple.

  1. On a windows machine create a folder under c:/ called DOS or DOSGAMES.  On a Mac create a folder in your base user directory. (~/user/yourlogin/)
  2. Put all the zipped files into that folder and unzip them – let them unzip into the folder they specify. By default Maths Rescue will unzip into 1Math and Word Rescue into 1Rescue.
  3. Then run the dosbox command. Once you’re in dosbox you will have to mount the drive. [Actions are inside bold square brackets]

Windows screenshot: mount c c:/dos [Enter] (or whatever you’ve called your folder – I’m assuming DOS here)


MAC screenshot: mount c ~/dos


Once you’ve mounted the C drive the commands are identical. Actions are in [square brackets!]

[1] Change to the C drive: C: [enter]


Then you have to install the games.

Change to the install directory:

  1. 1rescue for word rescue: cd 1rescue [enter]
  2. 1math for maths rescue: cd 1math [enter]

Then you type in the install command: install [enter]


You will go through a series of screens and each time you have an [enter] option – don’t worry about the other options just hit the enter key for each screen.

Screen 1


Screen 2


Screen 3


Screen 4


To get back to the C:/ prompt you type in cd.. [enter] and then go through the same process to install the second game.

Game Play

[1] Change to either maths or word rescue directories

Math: cd math [enter]


Word: cd word [enter]


[3] Type the command to activate the games

  • Maths Rescue: mr1 [enter]


  • Word Rescue: wr1 [enter]


[4] Take note of the keyboard commands – for most DOS games the Q button is your quit key. Both these games have automatic save.


[5] Once you’ve quit the game you have one final command: exit [enter] and then you’ll be back into your normal computing environment.


And that’s about it – hope you enjoy a chance to relive those games and your students enjoy them too. After two days about 1/2 my students are no longer asking me what they need to type up in order to mount the drive and play the game. I expect by the end of next week no one will be asking – but parents will be asking how to get these games. <G>