November 21, 2014
On September 25, 2014 ESU10 was host to 20 teachers who serve as High Ability Learner (HAL) Coordinators at their districts.
Mary Duffy, Director of High Ability Learning from the Nebraska Department of Education was present to give updates on Rule 3. She also provided our coordinators with great resources for the identification process, identification policies and instruments for identification. These resources are valuable to our districts in allowing them to either develop or update their HAL Plans.
A special focus of our day was put on the idea of “Genius Hour”, a time during the school day where students of all levels are empowered to explore their own passions. We invited Dustin Favinger, Guidance Counselor from Cozad Public Schools, to join us via Google Hangout to share the excitement that has been generated at his school by giving the students an opportunity to work on a project that they are passionate about in independent study classes like Genius Hour. One of Dustin’s students shared with the group about the projects he was working on. This student shared how he was often bored and checked out in class but Genius Hour allowed him to excel and rejuvenate his love for learning. To read more about the work Dustin is doing, you can access his blog.
Jason Everett, Systems Engineer at ESU10, joined us at our meeting for a demonstration on using the software, Scratch. Scratch is a free programming language and online community where you can create your own interactive stories, games, and animations. This type of software is the basics for coding or computer programming and ESU10 is gauging interest at our districts to determine if there is an interest in creating a coding event for students.
We wrapped up the day by taking a look at some differentiation strategies that could be utilized in our districts by looking at the book “Differentiation for Gifted Learners” by Richard Cash and Dianne Heacox.
The day was a success and hopefully sparked some interest in new and exciting things going on for our students. We are excited about providing our districts with assistance in their High Ability Learner programs and are looking forward to the year ahead.
-by Jamie Schaffnitt, Teaching and Learning Coordinator