Start the Conversation – Forming Informed Opinions

More than ever, it seems that our world is deeply divided. Gifted children may feel especially passionate about areas of social justice and/or enjoy debating current affairs.  However, our society seems to have forgotten the art of respectful debate, and often resorts to hurling insults and opinions to shut down conversations. 2020 has given us a lot to talk about, whether it’s the American election, or coronavirus protocols, give your class some tools to have these tough conversations.  Remember, problems need to be discussed before they can be solved!

Identify Bias (Theirs & Yours)

To have personal biases is to be human. We all hold our own subjective world views and are influenced and shaped by our experiences, beliefs, values, education, family, friends, peers and others. Being aware of one’s biases is vital to both personal well-being and professional success.

Have students ponder their own biases they might have about: gender, race, climate change, Americans, conservatives, liberals/democrats, older people, married people, single people, white people, people of colour, males, females, jocks, etc… Ask what others might assume about you?

Form an opinion

Try playing this variation of 4 Corners, which introduces students to the art of persuasion. By the end of the lesson, students are able to express their positions, as well as opposing arguments, on a particular issue.  

  1. Students will work in groups to clearly verbalize their positions on a specific issue/topic.
  2. Students will practice listening skills while other groups present their positions.
  3. Students will be able to use convincing arguments to sway others’ opinions.
  4. Reflect on what techniques and arguments that were the most persuasive.

Fore more info, click here.

More/Less & Before/After Questions

More / Less List

Originally published in the New York Times, a More / Less List is a great illustrated way to look back at the previous year and look forward to the new year. What would you like to see more of in 2022? What needs to drop away? There could be some great discussions around the idea of resolutions, but also the imperfect idea of perfection. 

Before / After Questions

What comes after a funny joke?  What comes before you say, “I’m sorry.”  What comes before the Nobel Prize?  What comes after the new year?  What comes before the feeling of pride? Before / After questions not only elicit some interesting and creative answers but often interesting depth of thought. Have students come up with their own questions to keep the “ball” rolling.

List of Before / After Questions

Put your answer after each question.

What comes after a funny joke?

What comes before you say, “I’m sorry”?

What comes after the telephone rings?

What comes before the victory parade?

What comes after the electricity goes off?

What comes before pay day?

What comes after the explosion?

What comes before the marathon race?

What comes after you hear “Look out!”

What comes before you sign the contract?

What comes after you lose your car keys?

What comes before the cure for the disease?

What comes after the broken window?

What comes before the Nobel Prize?

What comes after the blender stops?

What comes before the opening curtain on stage?

What comes after a rainstorm?

What comes before the crowd gets angry?

What comes after a squeaking door?

What comes before the concert?

What comes before the hard feelings?

What comes after the invitations are sent?

What comes before the trophy is presented?

What comes after you sign your name on the line?

What comes before a book becomes a bestseller?

Create some of your own for us to try………

Dealing with Perfectionism in Students

A Japanese tale tells of a young man who was asked to tend a garden. He cleaned and raked, removing every fallen leaf and twig.  Then, when the ground was completely clear, he shook one of the cherry trees.  He wanted the few flowers that fell randomly to demonstrate wabi-sabi,  or the beauty in imperfection.  

Robyn Griggs Lawrence,

Wabi-Sabi: The Art Of Imperfection, Utne Reader, October, 2007

Beyond the comfort offered to avid gardeners in the depths of winter, we think that this story is most vital as a counterpoint to the tradition of  the New Year’s Resolution, which encourages us all to think like perfectionists.  Beauty is achieved through balance, which is usually better than perfection.


Perfectionism is the combination of excessively high standards and all-or-nothing thinking, and it is almost always compounded by a poor self-concept.  It is particularly likely to manifest in highly gifted students.  (Alodat, A., et al, 2020)

Some of the  unhealthy signs of perfectionism are: 
  • high levels of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy
  • tendency to magnify imperfections and to blow things out of proportion
  • self-criticism and criticism of others

 Supporting the social-emotional needs of high-ability students,Victoria State Government, August 2021

Perfectionism can cause students both to engage relentlessly and to actively avoid:   

Active BehavioursAvoidance Behaviours
Double- and Triple-checkingProcrastinating
Excessive organizingGiving up too soon
List makingBeing indecisive
Correcting Others and difficulty sharing responsibilityReluctance to try new things to avoid possible ‘failure’
Academic OverachievementDisengagement 
Desire for control and putting high demands on others

Information Sheet 3: Perfectionism Behaviours

Government of Western Australia, Centre for Clinical Interventions

Academic work often comes more easily to gifted and highly able students, so they might not develop the necessary skills for managing challenges in their early school years.  Teacher, parent and peer expectations can compound the problem, and such students may begin to define themselves in terms of their academic success.  Difficulties later in their school career may cause them to question their intelligence or their abilities, rather than understanding that challenges are a normal part of life.  Thus, highly able students should be challenged in their learning when they are young so they can develop the necessary skills. 


Here are some strategies that you might use to help students who struggle with perfectionism:

  • Build relationships so that students feel able to share their areas of struggle rather than trying to hide them;
  • Avoid defining them by their intelligence!  Don’t ever say, “You’re smart, so you should understand…”;
  • Be an example of someone who’s not perfect!  Model growth mindset;
  • Teach students to use the Stepladder:  choose a specific and appropriately challenging goal; break the goal down into small steps; do a step repeatedly, to make sure you are comfortable with it before you move on;
  • Acknowledge and recognize the process rather than the product;
  • Identify some tasks that do not have do be done to a high standard and teach students to evaluate tasks;
  • Be supportive. Ask your students what they need to achieve what they want;
  • Put ‘failure’ in context by using the ‘possibilities’ model to : questioning such as ‘what is the worst thing that could happen?’ 

Tiered Assignments

Why Differentiate?

A differentiated classroom provides various avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas, and to developing products.  It means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, format/products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction. 

Differentiation for the Highly Able

Who is the student in your class that will progress the least this year?…  It may actually be your enrichment student.  For them, differentiation means:

  • experiencing challenge, working hard and building grit
  • increased engagement and motivation to learn
  • strengthened well-being, self-esteem and sense of accomplishment

Tiered Assignments 

Tiered assignments provide differentiation by allowing students to work on the same content but at different levels of complexity and challenge. Content standards are met by all, but each individual student is challenged at the appropriate level – including the enrichment student! This helps to ensure optimal learning and engagement for all. Students get “just right” work, being pushed beyond what is easy or comfortable. The number of tiers can vary, but three is a good place to start. 

Steps in Developing Tiered Assignments

Carol Ann Tomlinson suggests ‘teaching up’, which she describes as “a practice of first planning a lesson that’s challenging for high-end learners and then differentiating for other learners by providing supports that enable them to access that more sophisticated learning opportunity.”  This approach, Tomlinson says, challenges advanced learners more than trying to pump up a “middling” idea—and serves other students better as well.

  1. Identify what all students must learn.
  2. Reflect upon assessments of students’ readiness levels, profiles, and interests.
  3. Create a task that challenges most students, is engaging, and promotes understanding of key concepts / skills.
  4. Vary task appropriately for students with fewer skills..
  5. Create additional activities that are more complex, require more abstract thinking, and possibly use advanced resources and technology. Determine complexity of each activity to ensure tasks will challenge students needing enrichment.
  6. Ensure each student participates in a variation of the activity that corresponds to that student’s needs and readiness. 

( from Differentiation: Simplified, Realistic and Effective by Bertie Kingore, 2004 )


  • Allows highly able students to skip “kill and drill” and lowers frustration with “doing school”
  • Can involve students in co-designing of tasks 
  • Allows a faster pace for work, or perhaps a slower pace to allow for more depth and complexity (fewer, but more complex tasks)
  • Focuses on abstract concepts as much as possible and uses open-ended questions 

CFEE Money Management Competition

Money Management Competition 

This competition is an opportunity for Canadian middle and high school students to become more confident about money management and budgeting while having fun competing for their school. This competition will be based on the new bilingual Money Management and Budgeting Module by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).  Use this form to download the info pack.

  • Who: All middle school and high school students nationwide (both languages)
  • Dates: Feb. 9-16
  • Prizes: A total of 22 top ranking schools on our four leaderboards will receive a piece of the $10,000 prize pot. Each student will also receive a Certificate of Achievement upon completion of the module.
  • How it works: Students will create or log into their free accounts on and complete the Money Management module between Feb. 9th and 16th. Points earned will go toward their school’s total. The module (and certificates) will remain available for you to use after the competition is over!

Twosday Math Challenge

Twosday Math Challenge

Twosday is the name being given to Tuesday, February 22, 2022 since the date will be written as 2/22/22 in the US and 22/2/22 in much of the rest of the world. On top of the date being composed of all 2’s, the day of the week (Tuesday) sounds like the name of the holiday (Twosday).