I enjoy doing the book studies for my refresher classes. I always find that there is something new and interesting that can be pulled from the information that directly relates to a child or couple of kiddos who I had just last year. My biggest "A-ha" moment really came from chapter two, but since the next question talk about that I will go with something that I read in chapter one. Even though we look back at this every summer, I have a hard time remembering that my GT kids are dealing with a lot all the time. Their thinking and awareness is much higher than some of my other students. I frequently forget that they have different social and emotional needs than the rest of my students. One specific area that was brought up was their relationships at home, and how students can feel a great deal of pressure from their parents to be this perfect student at all times. If they begin to slip, (Possibly due to just not wanting to be the one with the highest grade in the class) some of these parents really start to freak out. The can be overbearing with their scheduling for their kid, and with their expectations. It mentioned the importance of parent training and the need for understanding on their part (Which I think is awesome) but there was a quote on page 17 that I liked, "Although it is difficult, parents need to let students relax and be themselves at home." I know that so many of my GT kids are so over-scheduled and have so much going on that they probably don't have a lot of time to just relax at home. This can lead to burn out and frustration towards everything quickly. - Ryan Harvey
And as a 6th grade teacher, they forget that in elementary school, their kids were the "big fish in a small pond." Now they are in class with kids that are usually as smart, if not smarter, and they need to adjust their work habits. As you stated, I have also seen parents who want their kids to be "normal" and have them scheduled for too many after school activities. They are just trying to figure out six or seven teachers, and puberty, and the parents are pushing them to act "like everyone else". With my own son, I usually give him some time to decompress before we talk about school. As a former coach, I have to remind myself that he really doesn't like sports. We don't go to baseball game to watch the game, we go for the food and the one on one time.
The first 3 Chapters were comforting in the fact they often validated my thoughts, beliefs, and values toward gifted education. Chapter 1 brought into focus there is indeed a difference between the creatively gifted and the intellectually gifted person. However, as stated previously, I do believe all GT people have some talent that fosters and encourages the intellect and should not be ignored. That said, I found the discussion on the creatively gifted to be most insightful. I had a student 2 years ago who absolutely could not turn in an assignment without varying from the required into a most creative production of the assignment. It was always a thrill to see what she would hand me on the due date as it was a closely guarded secret until that day. Socially she was totally a non-conformist and often got into verbal sparring with other teachers and actually ended up in ISS once. While intellectually gifted, her need to express her creative gifts/talents took precedence. Going into Chapter 2 and being aware of honoring all students’ accomplishments beyond athletic and academic honors, there should be more room on the stage for the arts to be recognized.
I agree with Eleanor's reply about the first three chapters validating my beliefs of gifted education. I too have had GT students that are so creative that project take on a new meaning to them. This allows them to branch out and use that part of their mind to create something that is meaningful to them and not just to what was supposed to be done. We need to explore more opportunities for these students to attain a higher level of learning by doing more meaningful projects instead of just showing us another method to demonstrate their understanding of the TEKS that are being taught.
L. Howard (travelingbug)One idea that struck me was how teachers constrict our gifted students when we place too high of value on due dates, setting exact procedures and requirements for assignments and projects. While we may feel that we are setting clear expectations, we in fact are likely limiting creativity among our students, especially our gifted kids. I think if we work to construct rubrics that communicate expectations, but also are open ended enough to encourage creativity, it will help our students produce work that reveals their high capability and creativity at the same time. Another idea that was stressed in chapter 2 was the importance of preassessment. "...unit or skill specific preassessments should be part of the standard routine to identify areas of weakness for struggling students as well as what has already been mastered by advanced students." In order for any kind of differentiation to work, we must know where the students are on the learning continuum. The book recommends that we give the kids a preassessment about a week before beginning a unit. That way we have time to prepare for how we are going to differentiate. I really like that idea because it takes time to develop lessons, activities, and small group support that will meet the varying needs of our students.
In reply to Travelingbug on July 1st 2014, I completely agree with the unfortunately strict guidelines some teachers place on projects etc... I believe it stunts creativity and keeps our GT kids especially, from really giving their all to create something special. I haven't ever thought about the idea of due dates being flexible, and am not sure how all middle school students would handle presenting all major projects at the beginning of the year and telling them that they are due by the end of the semester, but something a little more structured than that would probably work! (not saying that is what you were implying, just what came to mind for me). Ryan Harvey
In response to Travelingbug on July 1st, I agree that strict deadlines and due dates can put out the creative "fire" for the gifted learner. However, as we prepare students for the real working world, how often can we allow them to not adhere to deadlines like the non-GT learner? This has been a struggle for me for many years. If a deadline is missed in the working world, it can often have disastrous results such as losing your job! I do agree that implementing preassessments may give us a better view of what student would be able to benefit and excel with strict due dates and conversely what student would benefit from "flexible" due dates with perhaps a mutually agreed upon contract. As you can see, still struggling with this one!
In response to Travelingbug and Eleanor July 26th, I agree with Eleanor on this topic. I feel that we may be doing a disservice when we overlook due dates for the gifted student. In the real world, due dates are present and consequences are high in some cases when they are not met. I also think that the structure with due dates helps many gifted students. I have noticed many gifted students will either fall into the perfection and done next day category or the procrastinator category. The first group will complete the project and then stress about it over and over again until the due date many times bringing it in for the teacher to review/check for correctness. The latter of course waits, makes it concise, completes it, then turns in. Either way, a deadline creates a working order for them (uniquely) and helps both types to accomplish something the same way a boss would.
Lisa H.In reply to Eleanor on July 1 1014,I agree with you that we need to promote more creativity in our schools. We need to celebrate the arts more, and even incorporate them into our classes. I think if we encourage more choice and risk-taking, our especially creative students will flourish. I think sometimes teachers have have good intentions when we give our students guidelines and expectations, but we need to be careful about not restricting our children's talents and creativity. I have found that many times my students have ideas that far surpass my own.
In reply to Lisa H on July 1st- I agree that creativity in our schools has to be promoted. This can be done in all subjects and it truly lets us know more about the students than just the answer/question sessions.
The one thing that resonated with me was how often we forget about the GT students in our high academic achieving classes. I need to put more emphasis on giving the GT students more ways to show their mastery of skills instead of just using a test. We get so hung up on testing that less time is spent creating meaningful lessons for GT kids and also making what they do seem more relevant to them. Of course this is a challenge when my PreAp/GT classes usually have 30 students. Just getting through the required material each day can be difficult. GT students need more attention instead of the attitude that they understand this so let me focus on the four students that don't in my class. Just an example.
In reply to Laura Boyd on July 17th, 2014,I agree with you in that I am also guilty of forgetting about the GT students in our high academic achieving classes. We get so focused on tests and "the test" that we often forget what lessons are important. The important ones, especially to reach those GT students, are the ones that are creative, open-ended, and relevant. I also agree that this is difficult to do in a large class with both Pre-AP students and GT students, and that even so, we must spend time attending to our GT students' needs.
One thing that really "hit home" for me was in Chapter 2, in the results of the Loveless et al. (2008) data collected that stated that, "teachers are much more likely to indicate that struggling students, not advanced students, are their top priority." I will be the first to say that I often fall into that category, by complete accident. At the end of the day, the kids I am worried about and try to give more attention to are the ones who I feel are struggling. By no means is this wrong, however, I know I should also worry for and give more attention to those who are highly gifted. By offering up more choice in lessons and encouraging creative thinking, we will allow these students to be challenged. And when we challenge them, they are engaged and are given the opportunity to excel.
There were many things in this chapter that made me think, but some of the main topics were the No child left behind? What About the Gifted on page 24-27. The loss of services for g/t students is disturbing. It also confirmed the difference in advanced abilities and true giftedness.
On page 55, she writes, " Rather than becoming an ideal setting for gifted students, unfortunately, middle schools can become something to be endured- time spent, at best, treading academic water." That line hit me like a 2x4 between the eyes. More time and resources are spent on the bottom ten percent, why the top ten percent is basically dealt a losing hand. On page 29, she is writing about reading programs, "...reading programs (such as The Reading Edge program) are encouraged to bring students up to grade level. In addition, recommended staffing of these remedial programs includes additional resource teachers, volunteers, and special training, again with the intention of ensuring that all students can perform at grade level, not beyond." The thinking is that the top kids will "get it" and we don't have to spend a lot of time with them. I see this with my son, in his district, the work is provided to the teachers. While he has been reading and writing his own stories since he was three, he is forced to answer simple questions designed to "prepare him for the STAAR test." Common assessment is another area where GT kids just "tread water". Principals feel that when it comes to assessing kids, one size should fit all. When I've asked about my students, I'm told the same thing," it's to prepare them for "THE TEST". UGH!!!!
I found the stress placed on preassessment to be quite interesting. I do feel that preassessments can be an important tool to determine the gifted students’ abilities because even among gifted kids, one may encounter a wide spectrum of abilities. Some students may be above-level and need acceleration while others may be at level but need differentiation in services. (PV)
My ‘ah-ha’ moment in chapters 1-3 happened early on. Found on page 11,’explored factors contributing to boredom in high school gifted students and found that their gradual disengagement from learning had begun in middle school. The extent to which students experienced the “5 C’s: control, choice, challenge, complexity, and caring teachers” determined their continued productivity and engagement in learning.’ This stood out for me for many reasons. One, that even though we feel that these students are small adults and are in fact smarter than many; they are still kids and want to be praised as such. Another reason this line stood out was, we as teachers must walk a fine line with these students every day, which for some, is not easy. Relinquishing control and giving choices that are complex can be very intimidating. It can also become hard to create multiple lessons that are challenging for all the students in the class throughout the year multiple times a week. In a way, creating lessons for the gifted student can be filled with more accommodations than other classes due to the extensions required to keep everyone engaged no matter the extent of their giftedness.