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Melissa Warren reflects on TAGT 2011

February 10, 2012

I immensely enjoyed my experience at the TAGT conference and the opportunity which it provided for both professional development and collegial discussions about gifted instructional practices.  I look forward to sharing gifted instructional strategies with my colleagues at Lakeside and continuing to incorporate additional strategies/projects I learned into my own classroom in the days and weeks to come.

1) Seminars attended:

  • Dr. Bertie Kingore’s First General Session on “The Rights of Gifted Learners When Life-Long Learning Is The Goal”
  • Making ALL Kids Smarter: Strategies in Analytical Thinking for All Students
  • The (Almost) Paperless Classroom
  • Tiered Instruction: Realistic Ways to Make It Work
  • Differentiation 3.0 – How to Use Technology to Make Differentiation Easier
  • Research-Based, Hands-On, Make-n-Take Workshop to Challenge the Gifted Student
  • Dr. Lynette Breedlove’s Second General Session on “Transforming Education through Social Networking Tools”
  • The Math & Science Connection: It Really Does Add Up!
  • I also attended the Exhibit Hall to peruse the Exhibitor Showcase products and Technology Center presentations.

2) In my current role as a fifth grade math and science teacher serving two GT clusters, I found the class entitled “The Math & Science Connection: It Really Does Add Up!” to have some great ideas for gifted instruction.  This class presented several examples of projects which asked students to go beyond isolated math and science curriculum to find connections between seemingly disparate topics, such as the human body and a corporate business model.  The presenters were kind enough to share project descriptions, as well as, rubrics, student work samples, and helpful project implementation tips.  Ideas from this class were easily adaptable and immediately able to be incorporated into my classroom.  In fact, my teammate, Amanda Stone, and I incorporated a Rube Goldberg contraption project into our science lesson plans the week after we returned from the conference.  We are eager to continue tweaking and implementing other ideas from this session with our students soon.

3) In the First General Session and the breakout class entitled “Tiered Instruction: Realistic Ways to Make It Work” presented by Dr. Bertie Kingore, I was reminded once again of the importance of differentiated instruction for gifted learners.  Dr. Kingore’s list of learners’ rights were powerful and motivating and definitely worth sharing with my Lakeside peers.  In her Tiered Instruction class, I gathered several ideas for meeting this goal, including “jump starts,” generalizable tasks, student choice contracts, tiered assessment/evaluation tools, and tiered learning stations.  A number of her easy-to-implement ideas would be valuable to Lakeside teachers and their classrooms.

In addition, I would also want to share with my colleagues a number of technology tools, viewed at several different conference breakout sessions, and effective implementation strategies with which they could be used.  I believe the Lakeside teachers would appreciate seeing practical examples of how websites like and Fakebook can be incorporated in classroom instruction.  Additionally, I would hope to demonstrate how the walls of Lakeside classrooms can be expanded through the use of social networking tools like Twitter.

To add a deliciously, motivating theme to our campus professional development session, the Lakeside team of teachers, who attended the conference, would like to share a cute make-n-take idea learned from “The Bag Ladies” by having the Lakeside teachers make a note-taking device from a coffee cup!  We also hope to provide different flavor cupcakes with different choices of icing and/or toppings to eat during our session.  By showing how yummy and ideal it is to select the perfect cupcake for our snacking experience, we hope to hit home the one of the main points of the TAGT conference – the importance of tailoring instruction to meet all learners’ needs.  We want to share ideas that promote serving the perfect instructional “cupcake” for each of our unique learners!

4) I would like to continue to learn more about how to use technology tools, such as QR Codes, Skype, and social networking sites like Twitter, to effectively extend, deepen, and differentiate my classroom instruction.

 5) As always Dr. Kingore’s general session and breakout session were very informative, but I truly enjoyed hearing Deborah Mersino, in the panel discussion associated with the Second General Session.  Mrs. Mersino is an avid parent advocate for gifted education and the founder of Ingeniosus and Twitter’s weekly #gtchat.  She is very knowledgeable about cutting-edge instructional practices, especially those involving the incorporation of technology, and was quite inspiring to hear.  She seems to have a philosophy of education that aligns nicely with CISD’s, and I believe she would be an intriguing and motivating speaker from whom our parents, as well as, educators could learn.

Again, thanks for this tremendous learning experience!

Melissa Warren

Fifth Grade

Lakeside Elementary

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