I jumped in using the Catalyst Cards first with my own third graders at home, even though it looked easier to use one the prepared lessons first, since they are already labeled as GT students, and could help me to find a comfortable way to using them. GT kids often find better routes then the pre-arranged ones by their teachers. I loved using the Catalyst Cards. The first time I selected was one with SELECT, PERSUADE AND DEBATE. It lead to a lot of discussion and proved to be a great vehicle for addressing the needs, interest and abilities of gifted learners, that are not all the time embraced in the mainstream curriculum. Catalyst Cards can be used in a multitude of ways as an introduction tool, as tools different that traditional to foster thinking and discussion, to extend understanding beyond the core curriculum, as well as to help students find their abilities when acting as self-directed learners. They give them a lot of independency and autonomy. Catalyst Cards are definitely great learning tools for gifted and advanced learners!!
While I don’t teach my own class, I did used ideas from the catalyst cards in a unit on culture. The teacher closely followed the discussion lesson. Culture is such a broad term and students were looking at aspects of different cultures from varying points of view.
As a sixth grade math teacher I decided to use the lesson on accessing information. I believe accessing information is an essential skill which takes time and practice for many students as well as GT students. GT students tend to find and absorb information in an area they are interested in. It is as teachers our responsibility to teach them how to choose complete, relevant and accurate sources, which would provide alternative points of view to provoke thinking. I am planning to use the catalyst card "Source of Knowledge" (Epistemology Card 2) with this lesson which is about the idea of truth, which would be a good lesson about judging the source of knowledge.
This year I taught 4th grade math/science. I did not have the GT students this year, but I did have quit a few advanced learners, which proves that this kit is fit for all learners. I chose to do the Research and Independent Study lesson. The students were to choose a scientist of their choice that has made a large impact on the way the world around us works. Most students did Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison. They then formed their questions, gathered information from various resources, created a web of info, and then produced a xtranormal project. The only thing I changed is I did have everyone produce the same product because it was part of my summative goals this year to have the students create three projects using technology. To conclude we discussed what traits the scientists have in common such as perserverance, curiosity, interest, and specific knowledge. We then linked together the process they conducted with the processes the scientists conducted which was much the same.
I teach fourth grade language arts and social studies. I decided to do the Research and Independent Study lesson. During the week of Earth Day, my students helped me create an anchor chart of problems or issues that negatively affect or environment and what if any solutions have been put into place. I then had a couple articles for them to consume that discussed environmental dangers and actual children that have made a difference.we revisted the chart to see if we needed to add or take away any ideas. I found that after making the anchor chart there were many general and broad topics so then discussed what a researcher needed to do: we discussed ways to narrow the focus, and we discussed the researched skills mentioned in the lesson. (form questions, gather data, organize the information, draw conclusions, and ways to share the findings.) The students then choose an environmental issue of their choice. They posed an overall thesis to guide their research, developed questions to answer on an outline to organize their information, and come up with a way to present their information. (Poster, commercial, flipchart) The students were required to decide on what specific topic about the environmental issue they were going to research and present. This activity was very student driven. We were able to close with students sharing their thoughts on this activity and how they felt having more indpendence. Some admitted that they were confused and needed more guidance from me, but others expressed that they were able to learn in more depth from this experience. I still have students sharing facts and information they learned from researching their topics. I even have a group of students that are now coming up with and researching ways to raise money to help protect our oceans from oil spills and our rainforest from being destroyed. They feel empowered. :)