This chapter was a real eye opener for me. Maybe I am just ignorant on the matter, but it was new information that I hadn't realized before. The statistics that are stated in regards to the cuts of GT funding around the country were alarming. Obviously we all know that with the focus on testing and the pressures that we face to "Do everything possible for every child" and the expectations that we are going to pull our lowest kids up to on grade level that unfortunately our kids who are doing fine can get overlooked. This challenge is something that I have always thought about and is something that is the most difficult to me as a teacher. In an academic and PreAP/GT classes alike, you have kids who are much higher, and kids who are much lower than grade level. When we as teachers are pushed so hard to focus on getting every kid to pass the state standards, it makes it difficult to have time to focus on getting the highest kids to improve as well. This is why we need specific GT classes. In certain subjects the GT kids are bumped up to the next grade level class, however in Science (What I teach) they cannot just skip a year, so we have to find ways to challenge them and adapt the learning to best fit their needs. Some of the cuts to GT funding, as is stated in the chapter, were astonishing to me. $19 million in Illinois and $15 million in NY to just be completely cut from the budget is crazy. However it is up to us as teachers, despite the lack of resources and extra help to use studies like this one to learn everything we can about our GT kids, so that we can help bring them up as much as we do for our low performing students. As we have all experienced I am sure, when we as educators focus on a GT group they can produce some truly amazing things. - Ryan Harvey
I agree with Mr. Harvey that we do so much for such a wide spectrum of learners that those students who are GT just get left out. I also agree that so much time is spent pulling up the under achieving students that GT students are not academically and creatively challenged. I also agree that it up to the teachers to find ways to benefit our GT learners. I know when I spend more effort on making my lessons GT relevant my GT students thrive.
In response to Mr. Harvey on July 1st- I am also amazed at some of the funding cuts and really am not being so surprised that it is in the area of g/t. It seems that states are more concerned with standardized test than actually teaching so all students will be challenged. We as educators get a lot thrown on us to keep the students engaged and challenged- yet curriculum does not match.
I agree with the statements above. It is very concerning that with all of the standardized testing requirements and benchmarks instituted the past couple of years, most of the attention is focused on the lower end of the spectrum and ensuring that kids meet the minimum requirements hence GT kids can be left out and may have to figure out ways to fend for themselves. (PV)
I agree with Mr. Harvey’s comment on July 1st. Funding is a big problem when getting materials for Gifted Students especially when they are working above multiple grade levels that the school does not even have. (ex: 7th and 8th grade working on high school levels) Many times I have been forced to ask the parents of the students to provide materials for lessons. This is usually welcomed by them however, other populations are given the materials.
When I first started teaching GT, I had more mobility of curriculum design choices that were geared toward research and individualized instruction or the “autonomous learner model”. After NCLB, it became necessary to factor in more of the “tested” material or suffer the consequences of the scores. This has been an area of frustration for me ever since. To add to the frustration has been the trend of “inclusion” of the GT student with the highly intellectual student or “Pre-AP”. I strongly agree, the GT student gains social & emotional benefits from being together in a learning and teaching capacity.The recommendations of Turning Points 2000 are spot on. However, without administrative support, some of the recommendations will be challenging to comply with. For example, the point on “cooperative learning” in the classroom: “teachers should be aware of the potentially social and emotional consequences for all participants when gifted students act in the role of junior teachers” reinforces the issue that one size does indeed not fit all in when discussing “Best practices” in curriculum and instruction. Teachers of the Gifted need to remember to foster the “talents” as well as the intellectual side of the GT student. Too often, that element is overlooked, again because of standardized state tests. We are the first line of defense for instruction for our students and must find ways to follow national standards while meeting the needs of our GT students. I feel it is imperative that administrators be educated in the needs of the GT student and therefore be more supportive of the GT teacher curriculum design and challenges.
In Response to Eleanor on July 1st, I agree that it would benefit us as teachers and our students if the administrators were aware of the social and emotional needs of a GT student. I understand that scheduling is tough sometimes. However, if they completely understood the difficulty teachers face when having many different academic levels in the same classroom, and how much more it would benefit the GT student to be in a true GT classroom, then we would finally truly begin to reach "Every student, every day".
Eleanor, I so agree. The comment I kept writing in the book was, "This is beyond my pay level". Turning Points are great, but if you have administrators who are more focused on a test that comes around once a year, and less on what kids are learning, nobody wins. I guess the best we can do, is hope that eventually somebody gets it and figures out that we can't forget the top ten percent. Yes they will do great on "THE TEST", but what will we do when they drop out because they are bored. And they will.
L. HowardIt is important for middle school teachers to respond to the national reform efforts in ways that include meeting the needs of the gifted students because we need to be advocates for the children we have been entrusted to teach. The national reform efforts of focusing on making sure our students all acquire a set of minimum skills in each subject ignore the fact that our gifted students already have long since acquired those skills. Therefore, they need instruction that is different. Our gifted students deserve our attention as well, and we should provide challenging lessons and activities that will promote their growth and developing talents. We should understand that part of our role as educators is to voice our opinions about what is best for all of our kids. We all know from experience that the "one size fits all" curriculum does not meet the needs of many of our kids. We should speak up about changes we believe will help meet the increasingly varying needs of our students. If we provide the challenge they are capable of, our gifted students will thrive and grow into our future leaders. In addition, administrators need to understand the needs of our gifted students when they are creating classes. While heterogeneous classes can serve some purposes, a vast spread of abilities makes it nearly impossible to meet all of our students' needs. A number of organizational structures that would help us meet the needs of the gifted are recommended in the book, including cluster grouping. However, even then the book cautions, "When cluster groups are used, it is also recommended that the most severely disabled students not be placed on this team because it puts an inequitable burden on the teacher and widens the performance gap". Perhaps we need to reconsider how we are grouping our students into classes. I believe that as teachers, we want to do what is best for all of our kids. We chose the profession to help make a difference in the lives of the kids we teach. Administrators need to be open to listening to our concerns when we share honest reflection about what is working and what is not. With true collaboration between teachers, administrators, and lawmakers, we can meet the needs of all our children.
In reply to travelingbug on July 17th, I completely agree with your first statement and believe it to be one of the most important things for us, as educators, to remember: that "we need to be advocates for the children we have been entrusted to teach." It baffles me that we would want each student to have a set of minimum skills, rather than taking each student to their full potential. I also agree that we need instruction that is different, more challenging, focused on targeting the creative minds of our GT students. After all, as you say, they are our future leaders.
In response to Mr. Harvey on July 1:I agree with you that it would benefit our gifted students to be in GT classes, at least for part of their day. When they are always in heterogeneous classes, with students working below grade level to advanced and above level, it is incredibly difficult to meet everyone's needs. I did like the idea of clustering our gifted students into the same class, if there aren't enough to make a class by themselves. That way they can at least work together in groups and have some challenge through interacting with peers that are on a similar level. I think we need to be cautious about how big the gap is in the ability range within our classes. There is a time for us to have very mixed grouping, as kids need to learn how to work with a variety of people. However, for a good portion of the time, they need to be grouped together so that we as teachers can provide the support and rigor they need and deserve.
NCLB has taken away any focus on GT kids and turned it towards kids that are academically underachievers. I agree with the statement that NCLB focuses on competence not excellence. A large portion of my time is spent teaching to pass the tests and not on developing rigorous and thoughtful lessons that will nurture and develop my GT students. Funding being taken away has also had a impact on what is taught and focused on in the classroom. Sometimes GT kids get left alone because they have easily mastered the material and more time is spent helping other students. This really bothers me because not enough emphasis is put on challenging these students. I was also shocked to read that gifted students were making the least amount of gains in testing compared to academic students. This just goes to show that money and time are not spent developing the GT kids but is spent on low and high achieving students.
I agree with Laura Boyd in her post of July 9th that because of NCLB, the focus on numbers only has left the gifted learner out in the cold. As gifted teachers, I'm sure we have all heard the comments, "oh, you teach the easy kids - they already know it all." And my favorite, "Are you sure that kid should be in the GT class - he/ she does nothing in my class". Because of the method of calculating school ratings, the emphasis is only on " closing the gap." Therefore all money, resources & energy is not spent on the gifted learner. Will NCLB never go away? It is certainly not meeting the needs of GT learners!
I echo the statement made by Laura Boyd as regards GT kids easily mastering the material and thus end up helping other students. Helping other kids improve is a noble task and is a skill that we wish to instill in our students however, it does not provide GT kids with the challenge they are craving. GT kids do not take kindly to being given busy work and if they are not properly challenged, may be at risk of becoming disengaged learners. (PV) and if not addressed, can cause them to becoming disengaged learners. GT kids do not take kindly to being given busy work and though helping other kids improve is a noble task, it does not provide GT kids with the challenge they are craving and if not addressed, can cause them to becoming disengaged learners.
This chapter brought a lot of things to my attention that I hadn't really thought of before. The part that talked about NCLB and testing made me really sad with the "... decreased attention to the needs of gifted students at every grade level. The focus is currently on all students reaching a set minimum standard, rather than maximizing everyone's individual potential." I can almost guarantee that no teacher decided to become a teacher to get "all students reaching a set minimum standard." It is alarming that this is what is happening and that, indeed, our GT students are the ones who are left behind. To answer the question, though, it is important for middle school teachers to respond to the national reform efforts in ways that include meeting the needs of gifted students because these students are capable of accomplishing more than they are given credit for, and they are in need of teachers who will foster the type of environment that they can be successful in.
It is important for middle school teachers to respond to the national reform efforts in what that include g/t students to make sure they are making achievements and gains while they are receiving the least amount of funding. Although, while the lowest achieving are making the most academic gains only shows that if g/t students are not advocated for they can be left behind. My view is that many of these special interest groups think that "the g/t students are smart enough" they truly don't understand the special needs of a gifted student.
It is important for middle school teachers to respond to the national reform efforts in ways that include meeting the needs of gifted students because we are the front line when it comes to those needs. On page 44, Recommendation #3, Staff Middle Schools With Teachers Who Are Experts at Teaching Young Adolescents and Engage Teachers in Ongoing, Targeted Professional Development Opportunities, she discusses the need for Middle Schools Teachers to become the vehicle for Professional Development at the campus level. On page 45, she writes, "Middle schools should provide professional development in the area of gifted education-designing differentiated instruction and understanding the gifted adolescent, assessment and gifted students, flexible ability grouping, and acceleration- to fill in the gaps of preservice preparation programs." But how many times have we sat in "Top Down" sessions, when the Principal stands up and tells us what we are doing wrong and ways to fix the problem. Why can't we have the GT teacher, who know GT kids, instruct the staff on ways to identify and teach these kiddos? We also need administrators who have spent more that a couple years dealing with middle school students. Having been in education for almost twenty five years, I have worked with many principals with whom elementary school is where they have spent the bulk of their experience. Middle school is a special place, and it's time that the folks making the staffing decisions understand that.
It is important for middle school teachers to respond to the national reform efforts in ways that include meeting the needs of gifted students because there is an apparent mismatch between the gifted students' needs and the opportunities offered thus GT students remain to be an underserved population. (PV)
I think it is very important for all teachers and not just those in middle school to respond to the rising need of the GT student. The ‘eye opener’ for me was the section about NCLB. We all see it when we conduct data meetings, the focus question never states “How are going to get the ones already passing the benchmark higher scores?” The discussions are always about the low scores/borderlines and how we can boost their scores. Having contained classes in SBISD middles school does help however, they come from elementary schools in which this is not the case therefore becoming bored and unhappy with the school/district enough to transfer to private or if available home-schooling. The other interesting portion of the chapter was on page 26, when the author discusses ‘teachers are no longer teaching their best units and lessons.’ As well as, ‘the focus on testing has narrowed the curriculum and contributed to the most ineffective teaching practices becoming the norm.’ This worries me not only for the gifted students but for all students. We in essence are creating individuals who are not individual. They are unable to have the confidence to discover new things on their own therefore limited the potential that they have. For the gifted individual (and non), that potential could be devastating for not only themselves but the impact they could have on those around them.