My aha moments:Chapter 11:pg 252: Just a few decades back in time, children were ability grouped for instruction in reading and math. We have actually done this for our intervention block and it is so great to finally not just ignore the higher kids because they "will pass TAKS" but actually challenge and enrich their instruction.Pg. 255: "Age mates are not necessarily peers. True peers are people whom you share interests and abilities with.." I think this sums up what I have thought while reading this book. pg. 288: Most schools are not set up to match teacher style to student's learning style. I think this would really help all administrators or people who are in charge of classroom placement. Some teachers don't feel comfortable working with higher IQ children and some teachers are more natural at it, while others are more natural at working with the reluctant or struggling learners. Maybe there could be a questionnaire that teachers can fill out to help this problem.In Chapter 12: I like the ideas for how to accelerate programs for gifted students, whether it be school type, online courses, or even accelerated programs in one or more areas.I thought the Appendix really was a nice "cheat sheet" of sorts: with the level of mastery per grade level and developmental notes.
response to Katie: I lked the ideas on accelerating children, too. I especially like the terms lateral enrichment and parallel curriculums, because those are in my area of control--the classroom. I can do little about district procedures or state laws concerning gifted children in my class, but I can do those.
My ah-ha moments:Page 252: "only a small percentage of schools...teachers across the US currently employ instructional plans for any learner based on a diagnosed assessment of individual learning needs." What? This was just one example of the author being outdated. Everyone in primary in SBISD is surely using diagnosed assessments to plan for individual needs...page 254: Appropriate group interaction is very difficult for the highly advanced children under the age of 14--the age at which experience and maturity begin to get closer to their reasoning. Gosh--how did 14 year olds get so mature? I know the prefrontal cortex develops in males between the ages of 19-21. There is a lot of maturing done then. Perhaps the author is describing girls?Page 282: Some gifted children, particularly Level Four and Level Five boys, are excellent synthesizers and need to be coaxed to give detailed answers. Yes! I totally agree! I have found they need more oral discussion and perhaps a scribe to add in details at the editing phase. The synthesis is awesome, though, and some students struggle forever with that concept. I wonder--doesn't this exist for the Levels 1-3 as well?Page 295: Level One students are in the general ability range from which most political and community leaders emerge. And then there is the list of leaders, but so many key ones are Level 2. Washington and Lincoln and Adams stand out for me. Page 298: These adoloescents need to know that their parents understand that most of what is required of them in middle school neither fits their needs nore makes them better people for the experience. I love that! I think we need far more options to large middle schools. It is a missing component in American society.In the Appendix, I disagreed with the Grade level expectations, especially the Kindergarten ones. Those were outdated and would not be helpful to parents.
One “aha moment” came on p. 270 when the author states “When the pace and curriculum are at an appropriate level for students, paying attention and completing assignments becomes meaningful and truly allows them to develop study skills.” It is frequent frustration for many of my students and me that they have made it all the way to high school without any study skills whatsoever. Usually, the class I teach is the first time in their lives that they have ever actually had to study. They have managed to glide through with no problems whatsoever and then they get to chemistry and its all new and different material that is not just a logical extension of other things they mastered long ago. Many of these GT students do not respond well to this and their grades (and egos) suffer for it. Many of their parents seem blindsided by it and unfortunately it becomes a source of friction between the parents and their students.On p. 276, the author writes about the problem of depression in gifted children, particularly levels 3-5. I have recognized this in many of my students. Boys and girls seem to manifest this differently in my experience and my heart aches for them. The author brings it up again on p 308 when she states that many Level Four people experience depression and that they are existentialists at a young age and that they truly need to find their purpose in life.p. 278: “If school systems grouped children according to what they were ready to learn, issues of being too young or too small would not exist. Many different ages and sizes would be represented within such classrooms.” I found this intriguing. The author made several references to the fact that schools in the past (one room school, etc) had used same ability grouping instead of same age grouping. I would like to see our system move in that direction.
One ah-ha moment for me was on page 266- “Many parents find themselves in an awkward position because their children do not cooperate with what is required by the school for an average student, and the teachers use that behavior as the criterion for access to more advanced curriculum. It’s the old chicken and egg dilemma.” I found the ah-ha part in that it sounds like we are punishing the children and their parents for the lack of planning on the teachers part. I worked with several teachers who are constantly complaining about their gifted children behavior and how they never do what they should be doing so they never get to go to the extended and enriching activity in which the child’s learning would prosper. I was once told that I ran a well oiled circus in my room--- a very big compliment!! I had several gifted children at different levels and some would work on projects while others sat through the lessons and activities when appropriate. During workstations children were ability group to allow them to build their academic language. Lots of moving and speaking going on, but a wonderful learning and extending activity for my children as they would say every good minute is spent in the classroom working on my level.
In response to Katie on April 7, I to enjoyed the ideas for how to accelerate programs not only for gifted students, but for all my students! Spring Branch has developed the use of several of these on their campuses. I wonder if we did concurrent enrollment how many of our students would attend both high school and college classes at the same time???( Maybe we already do it…but I don’t know about it!!)
AH-A moments:Page 281: “Gifted children may appear to wait until the last minute to get assignments done, but many actually think about what they are going to write until the concept is well developed in their heads. …these students may have difficulty deciding which of heir abundant thoughts and ideas should be selected for writing down.” Two people came to mind immediately while reading this section. I struggle with enforcing time management and avoiding stymieing the thought/creative process when working with them. It seems that incorporating decision making strategies could help in preventing them from chronically missing deadlines or rushing to write final drafts that do not adequately represent their thinking, ideas, and ability.Page 275: “Many bright children can’t figure out what they are truly capable of doing because they are often the only one in their class…who learns as fast or knows as much as they do. They come to believe that they are far more unique than is actually the case…” Scares me to think of what it must feel like for the gifted person to come to this realization in the real world. It must be overwhelmingly confusing and debilitating humbling. I imagine that this causes some to drop out of college or choose jobs in which it is easy for them to excel or feel intelligent rather than one that challenges them; one more reason to support the need to provide them with consistently challenging curriculum and social/emotional support in K-12 (or ~3-12 according to the author on page 288).
I agree with Melanie regarding p. 282: Many of my GT students are excellent synthesizers and will refuse to show their work or justify their answers to problems (especially boys). Maybe the girls are just naturally the “teacher pleasers” so they will do it because I make it clear that it is an expectation of mine. The boys, on the other hand, are not going to do anything that is in their mind “for no good reason.” They also seem to sometimes not even know themselves how they arrived at an answer—they did not consciously go through the steps, so it does take some discussion for them to realize that they did actually process the info in a systematic way to arrive at an answer.
My a-ha moment was related to what was said on page 263 "some gifted children are expected to have learning disorders...when in reality these children are simply in an environment that does not keep them engaged." I also liked the comment on the same page that " far too many adults attibute a young child's poor reaction to school to immaturity. The reality is that a five to six year old child is always immature, and this makes it difficult for the child to figure out how to cope...." It is a reminder that we are dealing with developing children and that their reactions to their situations need to be judged accordingly. This goes for either when they are innatentive/spacing out/or bouncing around because they are bored or whether they have fits and act out because they are not engaged appropriately.
I agree with what lguidry said. I found the reference to previous schooling methods of grouping children by ability very interesting. I too would like to see that reinstated. Especially since there was mention by the author that social development does not necessarily mean being around children their own age, but being around children that can be peers and interact with the gifted child. I think this would be beneficial for all levels.
Regarding lguidry's comment on 4/10 at 6:51 P.M. about p. 278 (my paraphrase) about students being grouped according to readiness, not age or size, then some issues would not exist. I agree with lguidry that I would like to see us moving in that direction. The inflexibility of the schools mentioned in the book made me feel sorry for the gifted students and their parents.
Regarding Sasha Luther's comment on 4/11 at 11:19 A.M. about attending both high school and college at the same time. In SBISD we have dual credit classes, where students get credit from HCC and SBISD for the class. Some are taught by HCC teachers and some by SBISD teachers. The courses vary by campus. I think options such as these should be open to younger gifted students as well as regular high school students.
It sounds familiar to me that "children learn to tune out extraneous information in classrooms that go too slowly and repetitively for them. They learn that it is rare that anything new is discussed, so they lose themselves in their own thoughts and then catch up quickly when necessary. Unfortunately, if this becomes a habit, these children may miss important information when the demands become greater in later school years" (274). Yes, this sounds about right! I definitely know students who are so used to tuning out, but they often miss important information. Unfortunately, I feel like these habits sometimes carry over from class to class, so a student who may tune out in math class will also tune out in language arts or history. I can also understand why some gifted children struggle with writing. I have a few students who "may appear to wait until the last minute to get assignments done, but many actually think about what they are going to write until the concept is well developed in their heads" (281). I have a difficult time with this during class. I like to see that my students are busy writing, but I have to remind myself that some students approach writing differently. I'm working on it!
My ah-ha moment was p. 258, under the heading Parents Assume They Can Work With the Schools. "Parents' initial faith in the ability-and desire-of the schools to help generally adds one to two years to the time period in which the child is in the wrong educational environment before the parents give up and decide to work outside of the system."I think this statement is a sad commentary on our lack of flexibility as a nation of educators. It makes me wonder if parents are more satisfied and feel that the needs of their gifted children are more easily met in states with legal mandates. I don't want the meetings and paperwork that would come with mandates, but it seems unfair for the parents and gifted children to be disregarded.
Like S. Acevedo, I too struggle with enforcing time management. I am so thrilled for my students who get lost in their creativity, but I believe it is important for students to also learn deadlines. Then again, I don't want students to become apathetic. I accept late work (with penalties), but I struggle with this decision.
In response to S. Acevedo’s comments regarding time management: It is still a problem in high school, when you might assume that students by that time would have developed some methods for dealing with this problem. I often have difficulties with some very high level students turning in assignments on time, even finishing tests in the given time period. I can think of one boy in particular today, asking for extra credit assignments for the end of the six weeks because he is in a bind now for not turning in assignments by the due date. He also has a poor test average because he has difficulty managing his time. I can see him during the test conducting the orchestra (reading music is a favorite pastime) when he needs to be solving problems. It is true that these incredibly gifted kids have important thoughts to think and contributions to make to very enriching discussions for the whole class, but sometimes they have to be reeled in and their feet held to the fire.
RE: EVassaliI agree with your observation regarding reminding ourselves that “we are dealing with developing children and that their reactions to their situations need to be judged accordingly.” It seems that it may be easy to lose sight of this reality because of these children’s mature intelligence. However, I think that we would be doing these children a disservice if we failed to provide both appropriately challenging curriculum and age appropriate discipline that is sensitive to their specific sensitivities.
RE: MelanieThe list of male historical figures interested me also. It really helped me to visualize the personality traits and levels of talent of each level of gifted. I had not made the connection between Levels 1 and 2 and political leadership…fascinating!! Found it interesting that those who struggled with social acceptance and accepting societal/intellectual norms in their respective eras whose works and genius are celebrated/admired today were generally in Levels 3 and 4, i.e., Michelangelo, da Vinci, Galileo and Voltaire.
On page 252, they said: "One has only to look at the reqirements of the current No Child Left Behind Act to see that lawmakers still believe that equal treatment in schools willl lead to the outcomes of high level school achievement and career success for all." Before this book, I never though of gifted or special education as a "Civil Right." I have not thought acout civil rights issues in education, I did not think they impacted me, my ignorance is pretty embarrassing.In Chapter 11, they talk about the writing issues with gifted students. I was taught to teach the "writing process," but these students would not like following the steps. I don't blame them, especially when they are using creative energies.
I agree with Katie about using the Appendix of the book as a cheat sheet. Unfortunately, I did not look at the end of the book until I reached it. I really should look at books more before/during reading.
Just as Katie Kavanagh wrote, the author's note "Age mates are not necessarily peers. True peers are people whom you share interests and abilities with, and they can come from various age groups and places in an individual's life." on page 255 also caught my attention. This to me highlights the need for exposure to different environments to promote learning.
One aha moment was how much she seemed to feel middle school was a waste of a gifted student's time, outside of socialization - and not really good for that either. (p. 298, 303,307,311)Another aha: "The achievemnt range within a typical middle school mixed-ability seventh-grade class goes from approximately third-grade equivalency to post-graduate college level (Lohman, 1999).""It isn't that the schools don't have enough money or good teachers; it's that the instructional configuration - lumping everyone together in the same classes - is ineffective." Maybe it's time to take a hard look at how we organize our system and start making changes on a district level.
On page 262, it interested me in the logic that we expect GT 5-6 yr olds to pay attention in class, though they may be fully developed in that area/content. I don't think I put the two together before, because I'm a traditionalist in the sense that kids should be a certain way in a classroom and that the school is always appropriate...
In response to Katie Kavanagh, I agree. I really like the way our intervention is going and would like to do it this way again next year, instead of waiting until the year is half over. I would like to see Reading and Math class grouped like that, not just intervention.
In response to elizabeth h: I agree with your point about the writing process. Some of my GT kids were extremely creative during writing, but would not follow the "steps"...if only I knew then what I know now...
Lisa M said...My aha moment came when reading about different levels of schools. I think I teach in a level 3 school which explains some of the frustration that I was having with this book. I felt throughout this book that Ruf was talking down about teachers and that we aren't meeting needs of students who are gifted. I feel that I do becuase I have to. It would be rustrating to the kdis nad me if I did not. There are many level 1 students in my regular classroom and therefore I already am meeting the needs because there is such a large group. It is more obvious perhaps that I need to meet their needs or else I do have a big classroom management issue. I still have to differentiate for the higher level children, levels two and three, but it is a smaller group and the tweaking is making sure that I can get them into areas that they are interested in pursuing in the language arts and social studies. I also find myself having to differentiate for the average kid in my school. So many are high achievers that the average to slighly lower intelligence really struggles with the rigor in my classroom. This last chapter made me feel better about what I was doing and that I was meeting their needs. There is always room to improve and I have taken away much valuable information from this book. Iw ould have preferred the last chapter to come earlier in the book, maybe at the beginning, at least in the teacher edition. I think I might have read the book differently.
Lisa M said...Katie K talked about ability grouping and how they have gone back to that in their school. It seems to me that pendulum is swinging back that direction again. In schools where there are large groups at each level and it would make sense to ability group, we are being encouraged to do this, but in small groups in the classroom. I think we are making our job harder on ourselves. Why not, put all the advanced kids together and move them ahead at a faster rate. Wea re oing it in Language Arts, why not math? Clearly, when they go to middle school and beyond, they are grouped that way. Maybe we are holding our kids back by not providing that more in the elementary school. Maybe we should have kids working in a sixth grade text at fifth, and so on down the line. It seems to me that we are encouraged to do it anyway, but without the resources. Let's say we are doing it and provide teachers with the materials to do it.
In response to Katie Kavanagh's view/experience with block programs, I must agree that this would be a style of teaching that could truly encourage cross-collaboration of gifted children. Who to better challenge you than an intellectual peer? Plus, the resources that could be shared and researched within such an environment would be amazing! I would pose this question: How do you think this type of class structure would affect teachers who take more of a traditional approach to teaching?
In reading SWagner's view that the author believe's that middle school is used primarily as a socialization tool within the school system, I somewhat agree with the author. I know there are tested subjects in 8th grade, it seems that the one thing I hear the most from educators is in reference to the fact that middle school is a time of kids trying to "find" themselves. And through readings, particularly on page 216 ("...a gifted child is academically or mentally older than he or she is physically,emotionally, or experientially.) I would assume that a gifted child is experiencing some of this "natural maturing" just due to their physical age. Is there truly anyway around this? I would ask the question: Is there a study that shows that at one point or another within a gifted child's journey do they emotionally "breakdown" due to puberty (for lack of a better word)?
In response to EVessali post on 11 April @ 5:36 PM – there are often times that educators are not quite sure what to do with students who appear “different “ than other students in their classroom. I have seen adults described inappropriate behaviors or “poor reaction to school” as learning difficulties or immaturity of a child. It is important as educators that we learn about asynchronous development of students…especially gifted children to improve our skills and understanding about students’ reactions to situations and possible reasons. Since gifted individuals may already have a full comprehension of what is occurring in the classroom it is easy to understand why they would daydream or "check-out” because they are not fully engaged in the subject matter or the learning process of something they already know.