M2 and M3 Math Units are Available Please Use Them

Please look through the list and pick out a unit that you would like to look at/use.  We now have units and student journals available on all elementary grade levels.    Contact etfisher@henrico.k12.va.us and let him know which unit you want and where (which school) to send it.

Grade Level Correlating SOL(s)/strands Title
K k.10, Geometry & Number Sense Exploring Shapes in Space
K K.9, Measurement, Number Sense Sizing up the Lily Pad Space Station
1 Number Sense Exploring Number Games
1 Measurement, Number Sense Creating the School Measurement Fair
1 1.11 Geometry, Number Sense Exploring Shape Games
2 2.13 Geometry, 2.12 Symmetry Designing a Shape Gallery
2 2.17, 2.6, Problem Solving, Algebra Shopping at the Bazaaar
2 Using everyday Measures
3/4 number systems Unraveling the Mystery of the Moli Stone
3-4 Awesome Algebra
3-4 interpreting data Digging for Data
4 variables/equations At the Mall with Algebra
4 data interpreting Analyze This!
4 geometry Getting into Shapes
4 linking multiplication and division Factors, Multiples & Leftovers
4-5 fractions Treasures From the Attic
4-5 decimals The Tenth Street Pet Sanctuary
5 probability What Are Your Chances?
5 proportional reasoning & similarity Funkytown Funhouse
5-6 Our Environment Matters
5-6 Designer Boxes
5-6 algebra Record Makers and Breakers


Webinar Differentiating with Menus (These books are in our elementary libraries.)

Differentiating Instruction With Menus

Presenter: Laurie E. Westphal, Ed.D., Author and Consultant

The best-selling Differentiating Instruction With Menus series helps teachers differentiate instruction with easy-to-use menus and exciting tools to challenge students. Learn how and why to use these choice-based resources in the classroom.

This webinar will be offered twice. Click the date you are interested in to register now.

Register Now: October 2, 2:45 p.m. CT

Register Now: October 2, 3:45 p.m. CT

About Differentiating Instruction With Menus

The Differentiating Instruction With Menus series offers teachers exciting tools to challenge and reach both gifted and advanced students in the classroom. Whether these students need enrichment, choice in independent practice, or even additional academic options resulting from curriculum compacting, these books provide teachers a complete ready-to-use resource.

Blog Resources

Just a reminder, contests for students, professional development opportunities for teachers, and the gifted materials resource list of items available for library check out as well as the lists of M2 and  M3 units, Navigator novel sets, and teacher’s guides (available for check out from Gifted Programs) are located on our blog.

Also, the Virginia Association for the Gifted conference is being held in Richmond in October.  Visit the Virginia Association for the Gifted site for more details.


Point of View Adds Complexity to Student Tasks


From Dull To Creative With One Simple Trick

by Ian Byrd  (as posted in a recent e-mail to his subscribers)

To me, the ultimate goal when crafting a differentiated task is something that:

  1. Scales easily, for students who struggle all the way up to our experts. (Read low floor, high ceiling for more explanation)
  2. Requires little teacher prep (of course).
  3. Works across many grades and content areas.
  4. Students do lots of thinking (and talking).
  5. Final products can be different for all students.

A simple way to meet these requirements is to ask students to think from another perspective. If you’re a user of the Depth and Complexity framework, you’ll recognize Multiple Perspectives as a prompt of complexity.

From Dull To Creative

In my presentations, I give this example of a very close-ended and very boring (but very common) question:

What is Brian, from Hatchet’s, main character trait?

  • It’s close-ended because everyone will answer with the same word: perseverance (or a handful of synonyms).
  • There’s no room for creativity or fun final products. Åt most, kids will “back it up with evidence.”
  • It’s boring because students who have mastered this already know how to do the thinking. They’ve done it since 1st grade. There’s nothing making their brain sweat.

Add A Point Of View

One simple trick:

What would Darth Vader think about Brian?

Suddenly we have a question with many right answers. Students who want to go deeper can go deep. There’s suddenly the possibility for lots of cool products (imagine a comic book, a skit, a piece of art, or a short movie), not just a one-word answer.

Bonus: switch Vader to another character (or real person) and the question reinvents itself! What would Hamlet, Susan B. Anthony, or Katniss Everdeen think about Brian?

Click below to read the rest of the post.  Additional ideas are included.  Check out the Byrdseed blog and sign up to receive frequent ideas designed to support gifted instruction.

From Dull To Creative With One Simple Trick

Sensitive and Gifted

Gifted students can show extra sensitivity in varied ways.  While they may be far above level in certain subjects or topics, they may be asynchronous in their development.  It can also be that they simply “feel” certain things more deeply,  The student may become very sad and cry with the inability to finish a task that they love – or may hold in grief at the loss of a loved one because of fear of causing extra stress to other family members.  Strategies to work through these emotions are the lifeline that gifted students need.  One such strategy comes from the following website.

Sensitivity in Gifted Kids


Help Your Students Understand Their Strengths and Interests

Students have strengths and talents in a variety of areas.   The Multiple Intelligence philosophy provides opportunities for students to explore their interests and strengths.  Based on the work of Howard Gardner, students are invited to participate in a variety of discussions and to complete a variety of tasks to help pinpoint areas of personal interest. The eight areas are verbal, mathematical, visual/spatial, bodily, musical, people smart, self smart,  and nature.

The books, Applying Differentiated Strategies Teacher’s Handbook for grades K-2 and Applying Differentiated Strategies Teacher’s Handbook for grades 3-5,  offer excellent resources.  An overview is provided in both books along with a product grid which lists a variety of student generated products.  Charts and questionnaires are provided so that students may pinpoint their areas of strongest interest.

These books may be found in the professional section of all HCPS elementary school libraries.  If your library is missing a copy, please order the book from another library.

Applying Differentiation Strategies


Do you want to try different types of differentiation such as tiered lessons, choice boards, or inquiry learning in your classrooms this year?  The books pictured below are available in the professional section of all elementary school libraries.  The purple book contains K-2 sample lessons.  The green book contains 3-5 sample lessons.  If the copy is checked out of your library, ask your librarian to borrow a copy from another school library.

Tiered Assignments

A tiered assignment has everyone working on the same skill or type of project.  However, the specific tasks vary in difficulty so that your students are all working on “just right” tasks which are not too easy nor are they too challenging.

Below is  a list of tiered lessons available in the books. The lessons are complete and require very little teacher preparation.

For grades K-2

Write Your Own Story (with tiered pre-writing guide sheets)

Schools Now and Then (which includes photographs of classrooms and two levels of reading content)  allows students to compare and contrast classrooms during two times in history.

Goods and Services—provides an opportunity for students to distinguish goods from services.

For grades 3-5

Reading Cubes—has students analyzing the plot of sequence of events from a story with differentiated activities based on Bloom’s taxonomy.

Stickers and Attributes—Students classify stickers.  Process and content are differentiated based on student readiness.

Thirteen Original Colonies—a jigsaw activity based on ability.  Students focus on researching a region of colonial America.  Text is provided for research purposes.


Teaching for High Ability Students

ASCD offers differentiating strategies for high ability students in a classroom setting.  Some of the classroom strategies mentioned to keep all students challenged and engaged are to offer the 5 most challenging problems that will be taught in an upcoming unit FIRST to see if any students pre-test out of needing to start with the basics.  Other strategies like always having enrichment activities prepared and speaking to student interests will help keep students engaged and focused leading to a better learning environment for all. Also, don’t forget high ability students will still need direction and support! Read more about implementing differentiated instruction for our high ability students here: 

Six Strategies for Challenging Gifted Learners

“Encourage high-ability students to take on challenges. Because they’re often used to getting good grades, gifted students may be risk averse” Azzam