Gifted Cluster Teaching in the 602

A weekly news brief for PV Gifted Cluster Teachers

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Welcome Back! This is the fifth issue of Gifted Cluster Teaching in the 602!

This issue highlights the Global Read Aloud, which will kick off on October 3, 2016 and end November 11, 2016. This year, Write About is partnering with Global Read Aloud to generously sponsor digital student writing for all Global Read Aloud classrooms…not only for the project, but for the entire year!

21st Century Skills: Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, Critical Thinking

The National Association for Gifted Children recommends four approaches to differentiate the English Language Arts Standards:

  • Pre-assessment -to inform compacting
  • Creative Production-to encourage development of advanced writing skills
  • Focus on concepts, issues and themes- to foster examination of complex issues, problem solve to simulate discussion, debate, reasoning, and related skills of persuasion
  • Instructional Pacing - to be adaptable, based on student need

taken from Using the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts with Gifted and Advanced Learners. Edited by Joyce Van-Tassel-Baska. 2013.

Global Read Aloud partnered with Write About is an engaging and authentic way to incorporate these differentiation strategies and embed 21st Century Skills into your gifted cluster classroom.

The idea behind it is very simple; teachers around the world read the same book aloud to their students and then use technology to share the reading experience with these other classrooms. Students benefit from having an authentic audience, receiving purposeful feedback about their writing from peers and learning to use technology to broaden their connections to learners across the country or around the world.

While you can use any tool for the Global Read Aloud, here are a few crowd favorites and what they can do for you.


Skype is used to facilitate video conference calls between classrooms. All you need to use it is a webcam and a free account. You can also have group calls between classes or others if you would like. People use this for weekly book discussion, performances of projects, or Mystery Skype games to establish a connection. To see more information and to sign up for Skype, go here:


Kidblog or any other blogging platform is used to have students write back and forth with each other. It is a great way to have students post their thoughts and then have asynchronous communication. It has been used a lot to have students work on their writing skills, as well as to offer up predictions and opinions. To get more information about Kidblog, go here: Be aware though that Kidblog no longer offers a free version, other than a 30 day free trial.


Edmodo is like a private Facebook for students, meaning you can set up your class and they can use the wall to interact with each other. You can also create groups for several classes to be in where they can speak and share ideas. Unlike Facebook there is no private messaging so you can see all conversation unfolding. Edmodo can also work as has many other features geared toward educators as well to truly create an expansive online classroom experience. For more information, go here:


Twitter is the home of the Twitter slow-chat for the books, as well as the hub for a lot of sharing out. The official hashtag for the Global Read Aloud is #GRA16, however, each book also has its own hashtag:

Lauren Castillo - #GRALauren


Pax - #GRAPax

Orbiting Jupiter - #GRAOJ

All American Boys - #GRAAAB

Some of the authors of the books can also be connected with through Twitter and will sometimes even tweet back!

Lauren Castillo is @StudioCastillo

Sara Pennypacker @SaraPennypacker

Brendan Kiely @KielyBrendan

Jason Reynolds @JasonReynolds83

What is a slowchat? It is when a class posts questions for other students to answer and they post them throughout a week, you can therefore tweet them back at any time during the week rather than during a set time.


Padlet is an online bulletin board. Students can pin their thoughts on it answering a central question or add any other things they might like. It is a great way to reach out to many other classrooms to get their thoughts. For more information, go here:


WriteAbout is an online collaborative writing space where students will have access to an authentic audience for their writing. Students can receive feedback from teachers and peers and elicit crowd responses to their writing. With a variety of privacy settings, teachers can decide how large an audience they would like for their students. For more information, go here:

How to Sign A Class up for the Global Read Aloud
Click here to jump to the Global Read Aloud Blog

This link includes clear directions for signing up, concise guidance for maximizing the project in your classroom and handouts to explain the program to students' families.

Up Next! Face-to-Face Workshops offered September 19-September 29, 2016

To see all Gifted PD offerings, go to the PV Gifted Resource Site click on Professional Development and then Gifted Workshops.

Teaching in the Cluster Classroom: Strategies to Accelerate and Enrich!

Effective teaching in a gifted cluster class requires providing opportunities for all students to worat their challenge levels and then monitoring progress. This workshop provides strategy based tools and guidance for teachers working with gifted learners in a cluster learning environment. Participants in this workshop will learn how to both accelerate and enrich the learners in their classrooms. This is a must for anyone teaching in a cluster classroom.

Instructor: Karen Brown and Cheryl Gehres

Date: Monday, September 19, 2016

Time: 3:45-5:45PM

Location: CRC Burgundy

Participants: Gifted Cluster Teachers, Gifted Specialists, All Teachers K-12

Contact Hrs.: 2 hrs.

Registration: Course Wizard

Lights, Camera & Action: Creative Film Making

Transform your students into creative Film Producers thru film and video productions. Explore engaging opportunities for students to create film and video productions in your classroom. Investigate how to make green screen productions and a variety of video productions for all content areas.

Instructor: ElizaBeth Warner and Randi Cutler

Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Time: 3:45-5:45PM

Location: North Ranch Elementary, Room 28

Participants: Gifted Cluster Teachers, Gifted Specialists, All Teachers K-12

Contact Hrs.: 2 hrs.

Registration: Course Wizard

Well-Being Instruction Unites with Language Arts

What would happen if teachers had the tools to incorporate well-being instruction into common core language arts instruction? With an increasing number of our students immersed in adversity, well-being instruction can offer students tools to cope with balancing every day life; however, with all the standards to be covered, time is not always available. Explore the ease of incorporating the pillars of well being, like fixed and growth mindset, problem solving, perspective and coping skills, into the common core standards. An understanding of how to create engaging lesson plans incorporating well-being and language arts is the focus of this workshop. Everyone is welcome!

Instructor: Karyn Rabe

Date: Thursday, September 22, 2016

Time: 3:45-5:45PM

Location: Desert Cove Elementary

Participants: All Teachers K-12

Contact Hrs.: 2 hrs.

Registration: Course Wizard

Applying Differentiation with Math Projects

Dig deeper into math units with differentiated math projects. Let students generate authentic real world projects in your math classroom. Provide direction and guidance, but allow the students to create the final products. Examples of math games, slideshows, posters, comic strips and other projects will be provided, as well as technology based projects for Chromebook and iPad users. Project based learning can be fun and exciting!

Instructor: Janice Dwosh

Date: Monday, September 26, 2016

Time: 3:45-5:45PM

Location: Boulder Creek Elementary, Room 452

Participants: Teachers 3-6, Gifted Cluster Teachers, Gifted Specialists

Contact Hrs.: 2 hrs.

Introduction to Coding

Everyone can learn to code, but where do you begin and fit this into your classroom? Explore the resources and opportunities to problem solving and think critically that coding provides your students. This class will provide a variety of coding resources and time to experiment and plan to implement in your own classroom. Come learn the basics of computer coding with simple, easy to understand websites, apps and tutorials.

Instructor: ElizaBeth Warner

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2016

Time: 3:45-5:45PM

Location: North Ranch Elementary, Room 28

Participants: Gifted Cluster Teachers, Gifted Specialists, All Teachers K-12

Contact Hrs.: 2 hrs.

Registration: Course Wizard

Click this link to view the Quarterly Gifted Newsletter

Please share this quarterly newsletter, Gifted in Paradise Valley, with the families of your gifted students if you have not already done so. Thank you!

Parents as Partners

To streamline your ability to communicate regularly with the parents of your gifted students:

  • Make a group mailing list in Google Mail for parents of your gifted students
  • Add a column to your weekly newsletter or link in your weekly email to content of particular interest to parents of gifted students. Copy and paste from this weekly brief to get started.
  • Remember that differentiation and fostering a growth mindset is good for ALL students!

Questions? Suggestions?

This weekly news brief will bring quick and practical information you can use immediately to streamline parent communication, stay in the loop with what works for gifted children and catch the latest district PD offerings.

This brief is curated by:

Cheryl Gehres, Gifted Differentiation Coach

serving Gifted Cluster teachers in Paradise Valley Schools

Your feedback matters, so please email Cheryl Gehres at to offer ideas, ask questions or share resources. Thank you!