Page 234 says: The problem with the current three-building configuration of elementary, middle and high schools is that it results in a school "ceiling effect" for those students who out-pace or learn ahead of their age-mates. I think we need more support and acceptance of smaller schools without the ceilings, and of homeschools where info can be tailored and field trips can be daily. But that is not answering the question of how to meet needs within the classroom...Page 241 suggests that elementary, middle and high school be within walking distance for acceleration purposes. Even with all these in walking distance at the Hammerly/Gessner block, I doubt there are many students walking from campus to campus, assisted or unassisted, to get their acceleration needs met.They should be pulled (page 235) out of the heterogeneous classrooms to be with other bright students and be given exciting challenges. On page 237 is states sadly: active learning and achievement grind to a near halt for bright children when they enter school.This is beyond terrible! The SBISD program for GT 2nd graders would be described as "minimal" by this author. (page 238)Mainstreaming has negative consequences for gt children (page 238). With the current school economy, I doubt we are going to change from mainstreaming to ability grouping. I would like to know more about the SBISD special gt classroom I've heard about. Where is it?We must offer genuine challenges in the classroom so that gt students can develop study sklls and time management. (page 241) If such students never meet a concept they didn't know, how can perserverance be developed? (or executive functioning skills?)In designing the challenges,the personalities must be considered. We need to consider the "extraversion-introversion dichotomy" (page 248) where an extroverted child would like being grouped with older children, and an introverted child would appreciate a computer program.
It appears that the students we have been reading require many accommodations. Students in special education have a much easier time getting accommodations since NCLB. At our school, there really isn't a problem (for the middle school students that I work with) with the physical structure and layout (p. 233)because we have the upper school very close by. I guess we shoud have students grouped according to ability instead of age (234-235). We differentiate instruction, but that doesn't seems like it is enough for the author of this book. Any student can underachieve. But if their ability to achieve is much higher than others' it may go unnoticed.They also speak of awareness on page 239. This is something that could, and should be done. It doesn't cost money and no student suffers because of it.These students need an emotionally safe and supportive environment. At WAIS, I really feel that we have that.
Melanie referred to a special GT classroom in SBISD. I had not heard of this. If I were a parent of a highly gifted child, I think that my biggest concerns would be in the early years of schooling.
According to page 234 we need to stop grouping by age but by ability in our schools and classrooms. This backtracks on my comment on question 2. I don’t necessary agree with it from a personal experience in my own classroom. I had a kindergarten who was highly gifted and was placed in my 4th grade classroom. My students and I made him feel very comfortable and met his needs with the curriculum; however he had a hard time relating to my students due to the lack of maturity he displayed. I feel I would support this more if an entire campus was ability grouped. It would allow the playing field to be leveled for the needs of each student. This would be a major undertaking for a campus to model and implement this, but may need to be something SBISD needs to look at.
Lisa M says...We shoud have students grouped according to ability instead of age (234-235).This is a really interesting concept. I commented on it in my aha response for the section. There is a problem with this for kids who have been moved forward with the curriculum once they reach fourth and fifth grades. We do not have the materials, nor students to differentate appopropriately according to Deborah Ruf. She makes a good point. I do think that we have lots of underachievers by the time they reach upper elementary school and we have to teach students to engage and provide them with interesting material to study that challenges them. At the same time, I caution us to tread carefully and make sure we really know where our children's true gifts and skills are. Sometimes, we skip over important concepts with these kids that really need to be taught and they end up missing big chunks of information and not realize this until much later. She mentioned that about writing and math earlier in the book.
Response to Elizabeth: I agree that WAIS has a reputation for being supportive and encouraging to the very bright. I know some quirky bright children being homeschooled that moved onto WAIS and were successful. Hooray!
Beginning on p. 232, the author discusses several things that could be done to help meet the needs of the gifted. One thing that she mentioned is that school success should be evaluated by what schools “do or don’t do, to facilitate individual learning, building upon children’s individual abilities—not just by whether all students meet minimum grade-level standards. We need to close the learning gaps that exist within each student—not focus on the composite gaps between groups.”She goes on to discuss several different strategies including self-paced learning on computers, skipping grades, home schooling, and others. I could envision a classroom where students move through curriculum at their own pace with computers and a teacher there to facilitate. There would be some problems with this (expense for computer for every child and the computer software), but it seems a better solution to me than having very young students go to the high school, however nearby it might be. The whole issue of evaluating students through closing the learning gaps for all would require a lot more computer power than is available at my school!
More of a theme than a page number, but I think one of the main problems for highly gifted students is the school structure. We move kids up based on age, not necessarily on ability. We seem to focus more on the low kids than the truly gifted ones who need other challenges too and need special education goals.
One thought that stood out was noted on page 239. “Schools may conduct simple screening to see how many of their students already know some of the grade-level material, but they rarely look more closely to discover just how far beyond grade level these children might perform”. Efforts should be made, not just to determine, can the student pass third grade TAKS, but also to see, where does their ability lie? Ideally, it would be beneficial if we could implement a system/ schedule where the student is in a class according to level of ability and not age. If a two year old has a 4th grade reading level, then they should be in fourth grade reading. This of course, would require a restructuring of the system as a whole, which I unfortunately don’t see happening soon.
In response to Sasha Luther’s comment, I have to agree. Unless I missed it, in discussing acceleration or ability placement, the book gleams over the issue of social inclusion. In order for it to be successful, I do think that the child also has to have a level of maturity that matches or is close to the students within the class. Usually, that is the case for gifted children, however, with the especially young ones, as in the case of Sasha’s kindergartener, they may not yet be ready for insertion into a different class. They may be better served, at that age, by working on their own on the side within their own class.
I love the paragraph on page 232 that reminds, "Schools are measured on how well students meet grade-level standards." We are so concerned with No Child Left Behind, so many teachers are focused on the lower one-third of the class. We should instead try to "facilitate individual learning, building upon children's individual abilities." I think it's best stated, "We need to close the learning gaps that exist within each student--not focus on the composite gaps between groups." I couldn't agree more!!!
I like Katie Kavanagh's point. Rather than moving kids up based on age, we should focus more on ability. In fact, forgetting about age altogether, how amazing would it be to allow students of mixed ages (within reason) to learn together? Maybe more grouping based on interests? Or ability? Then those groups or individuals could share out with other students or groups. I guess this could be done in most classrooms, but I know we all have those classes that are exceptions. By allowing students choice in their learning, all (or most) students can move forward at their own level, and they could also learn from each other. I think I went off on a tangent. ;)
Unfortunately, it seemed a little gloomy to me after reading this chapter. I am a high school teacher and we don't have that much to offer for the GT student. Our buildings and classrooms need more flexibility to meet the needs of the GT students. With the testing pressure and other policies that are being enforced within a building, I don't think the GT students in my classroom and school get the attention they deserve. Also, it seems to me that more is happening in elementary school from what I read from everyone else's posts. I would like to know more about this subject and how to better serve my students.Page to cite:Configuration of school systems (233)I don't know if SBISD built Spring Woods High School, Spring Oaks Middle and Westwood Elementary close together in an intentional manner or the land happened to be available, but it would be the perfect configuration to try a pilot project of the concept of flexibility of grouping between grades not in the same school building. This could have national importance and I hope the district could take a leadership role in that.(234)Age Grouping and the Demise of Ability GroupingI'm old enough to remember back in the days when we had ability grouping and it wasn't the evil thing everyone said it was. It's very unusual in high school to have students of another grade level in a core area class. I would be open to the idea.(235"...teachers generally teach to the top of the lowest one-third of their mixed-ability class." I don't agree with this statement and I think if most teachers did that, we would have more problems than we already have! A gifted student would be completely turned off by that.In this time of state budget cutting, I don't see the school districts having the funds to implement any new programs. I would like to see more funding for GT, but I'm really not familiar with what is done for the gifted students on the high school level.
In response to Elizabeth H's post on 3/17 7:11 P.M.---Elizabeth mentioned that the students in this book required many accommodations. If secial education students are given accommodations, why not GT students? I hate to see students turned off from education because school was something that had to be endured and did not always challenge or interest them. I know that teachers try to help everyone, but it's hard to keep all the balls in the air.
In response to Katie Kavanagh's post on 3/22 at 8:25 A.M., sometimes our focus has to be on the low-performing students, when I may only have one GT student in the class. I then have to balance the needs of everyone as I try to stimulate the low, inspire the underachievers and challenge the gifted, all at the same time. I guess that is what we call the art of teaching, but it's not that easy and sometimes I have a hard time figuring out exactly how to do it. Working with our grade level teams helps us in that regard.
On page 235 the author states: “Some students in the 70-90IQ range who are given differentiated instruction also qualify for additional daily pullout4 instruction in special education classes. Although it might make sense to similarly offer the brighter students instruction at their own levels during that time, it is seldom provided.5”I think this is a great idea, but more importantly the balance/equalizing quality of this statement is what I think will make the most difference in the long term. The passion for the gifted that is evident in all of our comments and time commitment to reading this book is probably echoed by those who are passionate about students on the other end of the intelligence spectrum. I agree with the author that the culture and physical structure of schools make serving the gifted adequately difficult, but I don’t imagine these two characteristics are going to change overnight (I do think they will change eventually). I think for the sake of students stuck in between now and that paradigm shift the best we can do for them is to consciously decide to serve them all to the best of our ability. Those of us who know a lot about a little (i.e. giftedness) collaborate with those who know a lot about another population and/or those who know little to nothing about the gifted for the purposes of both spreading and gaining awareness. More importantly, use what we know to be student advocates. This may counteract the imbalance in focus advocated by NCLB.
RE: Jane Cooper. I agree with you on trying to find balance and serving all the different levels in our classrooms. It is a constant struggle and most days I feel like a failure, but leaning on my team for support, ideas, and guidance helps me also.
In response to E Vessali’s comments about the younger GT students working independently in a classroom of same age children, it reminds me of the Montessori approach where students work at the various “stations” at their own pace. Perhaps that concept could be instituted in our schools such that each student would work at his own level on computer during “math” time, “reading” time, “science” time, etc. for the various subjects and intersperse those subject area times with physical education class (or whatever it is called these days instead of PE), art time, music time, etc and all those various activities that students in a given grade do. In middle and high schools, the same could happen, but students could still be grouped together in orchestra class, dance class, art class, etc. It would be ideal if each student could work each subject at a computer at their own level/pace and have a teacher available for direction and help. This way they could still be socialized together, but each working individually at his own ability. A drawback to this would be the lack of group discussion of a subject where the students would not get the benefit of other students’ thoughts or ideas on a subject. The teacher in these classes would have to be extremely flexible and I can see how it might be exhausting!
P Venegas:Page 234 states, “… most people unthinkingly accept that age is a logical way to organize schools, with little or no regard for when and what children are ready to learn”. It would truly be ideal for there to be a “school with no boundaries”, a school that puts emphasis on intellectual ability as opposed to social norms, but there are numerous challenges we face especially in light of the current educational structure. For me, having a differentiated learning plan for gifted kids would be a wonderful option.
P Venegas:I agree with Sasha Luther’s statement dated March 19 (2:39 pm) about taking into consideration a child’s maturity vis-à-vis ability. We need to provide the needed stimulation to keep the gifted kids challenged yet also ensure that their socio-emotional needs are being sufficiently met.
About age grouping: "Such grouping makes about as much pedagogical sense as grouping children by height or some other random factor." p.234 I know it would be a scheduling nightmare, but I'd like to try something more like a college system where students moved to the next level once they demonstrated mastery. Age wouldn't matter because there would be no grade level. It would also help with: "Ability grouping for appropriate instruction would definitely lessen the problem of these children learing to underachieve. p. 236On p.239 it talks about teachers not having training. I know SBISD provides many trainings and many campuses (all? not sure) required teachers to have their GT hours. Sounds like we are on the right track, but may have many miles left to go.
After reading “Crash Course” I believe that the school system does need to be revamped on a few levels. 1. Though it may be difficult, there needs to be some sort of individual assessment. 2. I think having self paced classes would be an option, as well. I have been in a school where they had “Open Block Classes” where you may have a class in Language Arts, but any student in grades 9-12 would be a student in this class. This would allow cross-collaboration for younger students who had higher intelligences, yet challenge older students to be mentors and/or further develop their mindsets. It proved to be quite intriguing. Not only for the students (who raved about the program), but the teachers. The teachers could produce an interactive activity that was completely open-ended and allow students the lead to self teach on concepts/theories that were supposed be addressed. This would happen naturally, therefore created a lasting impression upon the student. Win-Win!!