Thursday, June 18, 2009

Using Quiz Bowl in a Gifted Classroom

Gifted classrooms give students opportunities to work and play with their similarly-paced peers, and one activity students love is quiz bowl competitions.

Many secondary schools have official academic teams, and being on a scholastic bowl team is a rewarding experience. However, not every student can be involved in extra-curricular teams. Quiz bowl is an excellent gifted classroom experience, because all students can participate in all steps. Everyone gets a chance to buzz and shine individually, but there is the security of working together in an setting that encourages healthy competition.

Setting Up A Classroom Quiz Bowl

Having a real buzzer set makes all the difference, because students can answer in a split second and the buzzer will indicate who really did buzz in first. Buzzers can be found by searching for “quiz system buzzers”, “lock out buzzers”, or “player recognition systems”.

Arrange the desks to face the person asking the questions, not the opposing team. An outlet needs to be accessible for the buzzer set, and a scoreboard (such as a white board) should be visible.

Creating Questions

It is tempting to just open a box of Trivial Pursuit cards, but it is best to get questions from research. Students enjoy researching questions and answers, and question libraries grow quickly.

Questions need to be open, meaning they are not multiple choice or yes/no. Usually, questions are written on a theme, such as “Award-Winners”.

It is important that the required answer is clear. The question, “Which states border Utah?” is less clear than“Which six states border Utah?”.

Rules and Procedures of Game Play

It is important to establish if teams are allowed to discuss answers before buzzing. In Scholastic Bowl competitions, discussion is limited to written portions of games, but classrooms have flexibility.

A quiz bowl buzzer set is an excellent investment for a gifted classroom and for gifted children, because students enjoy competition, benefit from new challenges, and build skills for future opportunities.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sometimes Censorship is Spelled M-O-M

Helping gifted children choose appropriate reading materials is a tricky road; gifted children tend to read voraciously and at high levels.

These reading habits are understandable characteristics of giftedness; gifted children are cognitively more developed than is normally expected. However, gifted readers need guidance in book selection. A child reading at a college level is not necessarily ready for college material. Just because a ten year old can comprehend Anne Rice's writing does not mean that a ten year old is ready to meet the Vampire Lestat.

This, then, becomes the difficulty for parents. Children of all reading abilities tend to enjoy books about people slightly older than they are, so a ten year old will relate to and be interested in books about thirteen year olds more than books about twenty year olds. Finding books written at a high interest, high ability level requires time and work.

Choosing Books

Doing an advanced book search at and highlighting the appropriate age range is one tool. Amazon also provides book reviews, and reading those reviews is an excellent start. The reviews are usually written by adults, but sometimes there are child reviews. If there are no child reviews, beware: this is not a book for children.

Sometimes gifted children need to hear, “We'll put this book up until your life experience catches up to your reading level.” When parents say that, they need to drive directly to the library or bookstore and find a book that is of the appropriate interest level. Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Series is more a more appropriate vampire series than Interview with a Vampire or Dracula.

Helping gifted children pick out appropriate reading materials helps keep them in common experience with their peers and helps preserve childhood a little longer, which are admirable goals in themselves.