Mark Wagner, Educational Technology Coordinator for the Orange County California Department of Education starts us off with “An Introduction to Blogs and the Read/Write Web in Education.” Wagner provides us with illustrations of Internet developments and numerous website addresses, including free opportunities for students and educators. (It prompted me to go to one of his suggested sites and make a belated beginning in learning what a blog actually is.) Cassie Gurley and Pam Wood share their enthusiasm for using WebQuests in the classroom in their article, “The Wild and Wonderful World of WebQuests.” They provide a history, explanations, and suggestions for classroom use of WebQuests for teachers who want to encourage their students to solve inquiryproblem assignments. WebQuests consist of Internet resources that are preselected by the teacher for a particular assignment or topic. The authors include numerous Internet sites that contain collections of ready-made WebQuests as well as ones that assist educators in creating their own WebQuests. A major challenge for teachers wishing to incorporate Internet resources into their teaching is how to choose among the countless possible sites. Typing a keyword into a search engine often yields thousands or sometimes millions of related sites. Time and patience do not permit checking all of these. In response to this dilemma, a number of Internet sites have been established to assist teachers by prescreening those sites for appropriateness, usability, and then arranging them in a manner easily accessible by teachers and students. One such site, “History Matters,” was described in this journal earlier; it is a site devoted specifically to historical resources including primary documents, analyzing evidence, learner guides, classroom teaching tools, and more.
A similar motivation led Sally Reis and her colleagues to develop a website devoted to inclusion of prescreened quality resources to add depth and complexity to student learning. In their research, the authors found large numbers of classes in which gifted students received little or no services. This website encourages teachers (who might otherwise believe they have no time for gifted students in this basic skills, test-driven era of education) to provide enrichment and acceleration opportunities to their gifted students, especially in research and independent study projects. “Using Technology to Enrich and Challenge Student Learning: Introducing Renzulli Learning” describes the process and results of their efforts.
Another enthusiastic user of the Internet to advance gifted learners’ opportunities is Del Siegle who shares the process of creating electronic books. His article, “Creating Electronic Books with Word: It’s Easy and Free,” outlines how to initiate and utilize the various elements of this new means of sharing information. He describes the eBook as a “marriage of computer technology and printed books.” He also describes the free software available for making it useable in the classroom.
Elizabeth Fogarty entitled her article “New Literacies: Internet as Curriculum for Gifted Students.” She suggests that societal changes such as increasing globalization of our economy require that our students be educated in the “new literacies” so they may remain competitive in the technological world in which we now live. Fogarty provides examples for making technology part of the curriculum, including tools for “embedding new literacies into curriculum,” and recommendations for teaching them.
Jill Urquhart and Robin Kyburg provide information regarding an increasingly enticing option for professional development in their article, “Online Professional Development in Gifted Education.” They discuss three options: (1) the online Master’s degree, (2) state or local endorsement certificates, and (3) a self-education option. As can be expected, they cite numerous institutions and websites to start your quest for online professional development. The development of these many new technologies has inserted a new component into the identification of giftedness, i.e. the technologically gifted individual. We will explore this topic further in spring 2007 when Gifted Education Communicator will focus on the theme of identification of gifted learners.
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to Carol Ann Tomlinson’s Teacher Talk column. She wonders why educators, since there are so many of us, have accepted the current educational tyranny of the tests without vigorous opposition. It is food for thought.