Today I sat in on an annual conference for gifted-and-talented educators at Randallstown High School, which drew teachers from throughout the state.  There were a variety of sessions on ways to inspire creativity and critical thinking among students in math, science, reading and other areas - led by teachers from various area school systems.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Bertie Kingore, a longtime gifted-and-talented educator who also held a session on books and teaching tools.


I thought I'd share some very interesting tips/tidbits from her session and another I attended - some of which could certainly apply to all types of students (or so this non-educator thinks).

A sample of Dr. Kingore's recommended children's books that promote higher-level thinking:

  • First the Egg, Courage and If the World Were a Village for abstract and critical thinking
  • My Dog is as Smelly as Dirty Socks, If... and The Dot for art, visual and spatial concepts
  • Marianthe's Story: Painted Words and Spoken Memories and Winston the Book Wolf for inference
  • If You Hopped Like a Frog, A Place for Zero and Sir Cumference Series for math concepts and terminology
  • The Boy Who Loved Words, Once Upon 1001 Stories, Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse and Mom and Dad Are Palindromes for oral and written language
  • I Wanna Iguana and Joyful Noise for the concept of point of view
  • Dear Deer (an exercise in homophones) and Pig in the Spigot for skills and written conventions

Kingore emphasized the importance of teachers documenting what they are doing - showing how they are covering the requirements (testing standards) even as they implement more creative strategies.

She also repeatedly reminded teachers to take Saturdays off.

After the reading workshop, I headed over to one whose title grabbed my attention - and evidently, that of the many teachers who crowded into the classroom: "The Singing Math Teacher."

Howard County teacher Marian Dingle showed her peers the art of teaching math concepts to song - and not just your typical "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

A self-described lover of music, Dingle has called on the likes of Stevie Wonder, James Brown and the Jackson Five to help teach fractions, times tables and geometry. She demonstrated the idea by singing the seven times table, set to Brown's "I Feel Good." While kids usually have a hard time with that particular table, they remember the song - and master the math while also associating it with fun, Dingle said.

Here's Dingle's "Elevens Song," to Ray Charles' "Hit the Road Jack":

This, of course, does not do justice to the idea - which Dingle actually demonstrated, singing along to the music. I imagine she'd be willing to take questions or do another demo if you asked; she teaches at Guilford Elementary.

The best part, however, was when she turned things over to her class of teachers, who, in a matter of minutes, came up with clever songs about exponents (to "Silent Night"), area and perimeter ("Farmer in the Dell") and - my personal favorite - geometric shapes (to Beyonce's "Single Ladies"..."A circle is just a great big o, oh-oh, oh, oh-oh, oh, oh-oh-oh...").

Truly creative and entertaining. Wouldn't something like that stick in your head?