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Fall Blog Series - Part 3

Fall Blog Series!

Week Three

Teagan Taylor


As we are heading further into the fall season and beyond the “back to school” phase, this is the perfect time to replenish our gifted educational resource base! The fall months are often when we are finishing gifted assessments, introducing parents to the world of gifted, and even assisting teachers with gifted differentiation. Each post in this Fall Blog Series will touch on an important topic that is hopefully relevant to your environment, and can be implemented right away!

Topic: For the Love of Reading and Game Play

To Ponder: “Today, though, we know that the jobs of the future are not only not yet in existence, but that we likely cannot even really imagine them because of the massive changes that technological advances will make on our way there…The solution is simple to say and much harder to do: instead of teaching them things we already know (knowledge), we teach them how to learn and discover things we do not know (learning). It’s the only way to prepare them for the world ahead — the one we can’t yet see.” (Jill Williford Wurman, Director of Research, The Grayson School)

Reading and playing are natural pathways to LEARNING!



Encouraging our Voracious (and even Reluctant) Readers: Do you have gifted students who fly through books each week, devouring their content like moths to a flame? Are they constantly hungry for more, seeking to lose themselves in their own imagination, in different realms and genres? Or, do you have reluctant readers who you know would just love reading if they only had the right book in their hands? Are you desperate for ways to entice these students with the magic that is the literary world? It can be “ground hog day” sometimes as we strive to keep these voracious and reluctant readers interested, and as our own resources are depleted. Even more so when we live in a reality of screen time and a decrease in motivated readers. Below are suggestions to feed your student’s reading appetite, while also ensuring they are experiencing high quality (and curiosity inducing) books!

  • "Leveled reading" (think Lexile Levels, Fountas + Pinnell etc.), can become more of a detriment than a benefit for some gifted learners. There is evolving research on this topic, some saying strict leveled reading can be too limiting or that it "unnecessarily narrows the scope of opportunity, reducing exposure to books that might surprise or challenge students". Perhaps ask to borrow books from the older grade levels, or challenge your students to pick something from a different section of the school library. Think about providing more choice/flexibility in what your students read, going beyond Lexile level, because the goal is exposure and enjoyment at the end of the day! Learn more, CLICK HERE.

  • is one of my ultimate gifted educational go-to resources! If you have not checked out Ian Byrd’s website and his curriculum platform, ByrdseedTV, yet, you are in for a treat! He finds a way of easily and creatively explaining how to engage our gifted students across all domains. But his reading resources are top notch! Check out his articles on book recommendations. Here he presents ideas on how to better reach our reluctant readers, as well as showcases books with gifted role models, gifted boys, and even books for book studies. HERE he suggests a gathering of great books of many levels, his own feedback included!

  • Ever heard of Mensa? Yes that Mensa! Well there is Mensa for Kids, which provides a plethora of amazing resources for highly capable learners. They have also developed a program called the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program, in which students can read to achieve goals and prizes! This is a year round challenge for kids of all ages, that includes nonfiction and fiction book suggestions from the National Endowment for the Humanities. There are also activities students can do after reading!

  • One of my favorite book lists to expose students to are the ones created by Novel Conversations, which is a compilation generated by a pair of gifted education teachers, with the goal of seeking out developmentally appropriate while also thought-provoking texts. Click here for books upon books upon books (summaries included)!

  • Nonfiction is often the way to go! Gifted students tend to gravitate towards nonfiction reads, seeking real world information that can elevate them to a wider world view and quench their thirst for higher level knowledge. Students should experience nonfiction early and often; it is not a genre just for the upper grades! Read here for more information.

children playing with robot

Encouraging our Serious (and even Untapped) Gamers:

  • There is so much research out there about the importance of “play” and exposing young minds to creative and competitive experiences. These experiences should be free-form with minimum guidance from an adult, so that students can make their own mistakes, discover through trial and error and develop confidence in learning new skills. Read more about play HERE and HERE!

  • There are differences between “games”, “serious games”, “game-based learning”, and “gamification”. Any of these terms unfamiliar to you? Read more HERE! Many of these techniques help gifted students (and really any student) tap into their intrinsic motivation, as they learn to work collaboratively in teams, while also gaining independence and self-reliance skills at same time. Instilling “gaming” as the foundation of your curriculum allows you to naturally tie in multiple subject areas and rigor levels; it makes for a very dynamic classroom environment!

  • If you meet with your gifted students everyday all day, a few times a week, or only every so often, make sure to find time to allow your students to play board games, card games, and online games etc. Or to just have free play! However, you want to be certain these games are rigorous and engaging enough. Below are my own recommendations for great games! As your students become familiar with reading/following directions for a game, and the structure/set-up of games, challenge them to design and create their own games!

  • Want to add games to your classroom wishlist? Look no further than Mensa’s Select Game list, which includes games rated and selected by Mensa members themselves!

To Extend: What are your favorite game and book suggestions for gifted learners? How can we ensure our students are falling in love with reading, and developing important skills through game play? Share in the comment section below!

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