This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
On page 117 they stated,” We need to help children feel empowered that they can be problem solvers for themselves and for others.” I have been surprised at how deeply a 14 year old student can feel about world events, especially tragic world events they see as unfair or unjust. They keep asking “WHY” to very complex adult issues and are not content with most of the answers we can give in school. The other part I was impressed with is the second and third grade biology project, page 126, that a high school teacher was amazed by. These kids can do amazing thinks if they are given the chance. The other part about humility was kind of a reality check. GT students can be brutally honest, so I learned quickly to be prepared for the answers and not take them too personally. loliver
On page 147 there is passage about a student reading a book in class while the teacher was delivering instruction. I would like to thank the authors of his book for this passage because I have experienced this a few times and often wonder (doubt) if I am handling it effectively. This passage gave me validation. I also allow the students to read their novels. I do not invite it. In each instance, I look over and this kid is reading a novel. Paying absolute no attention to me or anything else that is going instructionally. Many times in full view of the other students. My immediate internal reaction is “how rude”! Yet, I, reluctantly, do not stop them. My reasoning is: 1. this kid is modeling reading to students who would never pick up a novel to read for fun; 2. he/she is learning something he/she obviously doesn’t already know; 3. he/she aces all the tests including the Benchmarks and TAKS; and 4. he/she is not being disruptive. I think the authors describe these kids behavior and abilities best in the following passage:“he would look up from his book because she was saying something new and interesting that caught his attention. He was able to multi task, shutting out the stuff he already knew so he could focus on his book, while at the same time keeping an ear open for new information.”It has gotten to the point in which I am challenged to catch their attention. Whenever I see them pick up their head and look or listen, I say to myself “SCORE!” But….the victory is usually short lived. They immediately return to reading. However, I was always afraid that I making the wrong choice. I constantly said to myself, “am I selling these kids short? I should make them pay attention like the others.” As I read the passage all of those worries/fears/self doubts melted away! “Interesting! This teacher chose to allow this kid to gain a better education.” This chapter was pretty liberating.
s. acevedo - YOU GO, GIRL! Your instincts were right! It's hard to remember that gifted kids can do this. I love that you've taken it as a personal challenge to give them the novelty (new learning) that they need.
I enjoyed reading about the GT students' hypersensitivity to the world around them since it is certainly something I have witnessed firsthand. The deep empathy that they often exude after simply reading a Time for Kids is a weekly event. I liked what the author wrote about our job being to help children feel empowered by being problem solvers. The most excited my students have been was when I suggested they write to President Obama about the myriad of concerns that were arising week after week. Unfortunately, as of today, we have not yet heard back from the Oval office.I have also reacted the way that Mrs. Lidstone did in the book to particular GT students reading during lessons. I have listened to my colleagues who also work with a particular child insist that the child close the book and give them conduct deductions for the "disrespectful" act. I think they think I am a pushover for allowing it to continue. I have always felt like if they are still getting the information, I am not concerned. This section made me feel a little bit better about this particular case. I agree with acevedo that initially, I found the lack of attention and blatant reading of a book rude, but when I would call on the student, I discovered that she was following along quite well. This would not be the case with every student that chose to read during instruction, of course.
Ch.9 p. 116 . I had a hard time reading about the little girl Susanna who developed physical ailments in what she viewed to be an '...unjust environment..." I have not experienced this with any of my gt kids in the classroom but I did experience it with my own child. It took lots of teacher conferences to try and run interference for my own child when she was in a "my way or the highway" classroom environment. But I have to say in my own classroom there are some times it has to be "my way or the highway" to have a safe and viable classroom community. This same child had to drop her HOSA class at Stratford because she kept fainting at the hospital. Our doctor told me she was just too empathetic with the patients . Her experiences help me to be watchful of very sensitive kids in my class and to be "sensitive" to their needs. In chapter 10 on page 124 it talks about sometimes unknowingly putting limits on what our students should know. I think we can get so stuck in following roadmaps and this can be limiting. I think the "testing" framework we deal with also contributes to this. In math my first graders have to take a TAKS like math benchmark the 3rd and 4th nine weeks. I found myself last year wasting so much time trying to teach them how to take this test that I really was putting limits on what I thought they should learn. This year I have backed off on this. Even if they blow a benchmark, I feel better letting them go with their math learning centers and watching the wonderful things they can do.Time is much better spent in this way. An aha I had in chapter 11 was on p.140 when the authors discussed confidence and humility as being opposite sides of the same coin. I think of them as running parallel to each other being measured in matters of degree. But I think the coin comparison does make it easier put these issues in perspective when dealing with a child like Adelle. I would have a very tough time with a kid like this. I'll have remember to reread this chapter if I ever get one!
On page 140, there is the story of Adelle and Thad and contrasts their self confidence and arrongance and humility. Adelle reminds me of a couple of students who I have taught. They too are only children and have parents whose only purpose is to tell them how amazing they are, and how much better they are. It is really important to show them to see the value of other people and that other people have the same worth as them. In SPIRAL, we sometimes have some of our GT 5th graders work with some of our PPCD students, and this experience does just that. It's amazing to see the lessons that our GT kids learn from the PPCD kids. The chapter on idealism also had an aha moment for me. It is really inspiring to see an idealistic student. I was in awe when one of my students confided in me that he is determined to be a Nobel Prize winner in Medicine. I was so impressed with his determination and goals, but it also made me nervous that he is putting so much pressure on himself. I will continue to support him, and having worked with his family for several years, I know they will too. I am glad that he dares to dream big!
melissaa,Please let us know if you hear something from the White House. What an empowering activity! Your students are fortunate to have you as their guide. Nice!
on p. 120..... I read how sometimes teachers lump kids together and not see each child as unique. I have heard teachers say before, "they do not have to worry about the GT kids"! I must fight to NOT let this happen and lump kids, especially the gifted kiddos. I found this to be an ah-ha moment. We need to 'find a magnifying glass and take a closer look at each child, and tune into their unique talents'. This was so powerful to me!It was also interesting to read how the student talked about her NEED for GT as an outlet. I think students desperately need this programs so they can be themselves, express themselves, and be around others who thim similarly to themselves. They can be so isolated and this is really essential for them to grow and blossom.
I have so enjoyed this book and the ah,ha! moments were many. The ongoing report of Maria's activities (p. 131-135) was the perfect example of what these kids can do with a little encouragement in the right direction. Another moment for me was reading about flexibility and "flexibility opens a doorway to an unknown world." (p. 150) Humility, too is a such an important factor in good teaching. I figure if I can get through one day without making a fool of myself, I've scored! (p.140) I hope that by example, I can show my students that it's OK to falter and that no one knows everything about everything. (Adelle--p. 140-141)
melissaa--what you said about the child not paying attention does indeed seem at first glance to be rudeness and disrespect, but I, too have learned that that isn't necessarily so! If the student follows and isn't totally lost in the book and can contribute meaningfully, then I let them multi-task.
The story about Adelle reminded me of a 3rd grader at our school. This student definitely has that feeling/attitude of superiority when it comes to the other kids in her class. I have seen her try to manipulate other students and bully kids in the class because she feels that she is better than others. It is difficult for me to keep my composure when I witness these behaviors. I usually just step back and let her classroom teacher handle the situation. Then I try to work on building the confidence of the of the other students in the class. They need to know that they have talents and are valued as much as she is.
I have experienced the same comments as melwelsh referring to pg. 120- "I have heard teachers say before, "they do not have to worry about the GT kids"!" I hear curriculum writers talk about how easy it is to plan for GT students... they just don't understand the complexity and time that goes into providing a strong program for our children to have solid academic programs! All this helped me see more potential in my current students. On page 124, I love the first paragraph. "Big dreams cannot survive alone. Their sustenance is persistence, curiosity, creativity, intensity, attention to detail, divergent thinking, sensitivity, humility, and even the innocence of not knowing how much the odds may be stacked up against the vision." The ah-ha is reminding myself that the young people that walk in my door each day should push the limit about learning in many areas because it is a part of their nature and what gives them such powerful gifts to give back if we do our job as we should honoring their intelligence!
On page 111 it says to consider the classroom a mental workout room - a brain gym. I loved that! It reminded me to give kids more challenging work. I also liked, on page 109 when it said that a trick of teaching kids persistence is helping them to know when to quit...that sometimes, enough is enough. It's a very important lesson to learn. On page 130, it tells us to quit telling our idealistic big drreamers, "You can't," "You'll never,"...instead to tell them, "It's worth a try," or "Anything is possible." Kids need all the encouragement we can give them. I love that they compare the founding fathers to "the biggest dreamers of all"...I teach U.S. History.
One, I agree with pcarr. I loved those quotes and the ideas that it is okay to say enough (especially if it is smelling (triopes)Second, I liked the page 124 "all students, but gifted students in particular, thrive under teachers who dream big" I love this. Having expectations for your stduents is great. Expectations for students that does not incorporate the test in someway is amazing. It also makes teaching that much more enjoyable to see where the subject matter can take kids when we do not have to limit the time in order to get a TAKS passage read and answered.
I found it interesting all the different ways that G/T students can display sensitivity. My niece(7 years old)is very bright and being tested for G/T in her school district. I have always thought well she might be but she is probably just really bright. After reading several of the chapters in this book I have changed my mind and beleive she is G/T. One example of her sensitivty that occurred recently--We had all gone to see a play and while getting loaded back into the car, she noticed someone had spit out their gum. As we begin to leave she worked herself up so much about how it could hurt an animal (which she loves) and made her mom turn arould and go back to the parking lot and pick up the gum and throw it away. In chapter 10 when it talks about as teachers we sometimes tend to put limits on what our students can learn, I agree with weberp that we often feel stuck in following the roadmaps and end a unit whether the students are ready to end that unit or not. I can think of times before roadmaps when my students had further questions about what we were studiying and I was able to run with those questions to bring about more learning of things were of interest to them. It was great--talk about having their full attention. I do however now feel the pressure of following the roadmap.
P 113 “Their five senses all seem to operate in a state of hyper-vigiliance. Too often the adults in their lives discount those hyper-senses. . . If their sensitivities are written off and invalidated, gifted children may feel isolated. “ I have known that gifted children many times feel very misunderstood. However, I had not connected the fact that discounting that hypersensitivity would be even more hurtful to the gifted child since their feeling of being ‘misunderstood’ i.e. ‘the adults in my life say there’s nothing to this’ would be felt even more keenly, adding an additional layer to the feelings of being misunderstood and isolated. This is another reminder to me of the importance of listening, empathizing, and constantly developing my skills of perception. (p 121 “Some children will hide their feelings – either because they are shy or because their feelings have been denied them in the past.”) I found the segment on helping a child who is arrogant (pp140-142) to be very helpful: “One way a teacher can help is through positive reinforcement. . . isn’t about appealing to the ego – it’s about shoring up a sense of self-worth.” A person whose “tank is full” has the resources to appreciate strengths in others. I also liked the approach of asking her how she thinks her bragging and boasting affects relationships with other students. Encouraging reflection on interactions can be very useful.
As Kathm mentioned, I found the author’s connection between humility and flexibility to be very enlightening. We can learn much from our students, and our quest to reach and challenge them will propel us to constantly expand our methods. Doesn’t the very definition of learning imply flexibility?
It may seem trite, but I was encouraged by the discussion of dreams and visions on p 124 ("big dreams cannot survive alone" "big dreamers come in all shapes and sizes"). I wish I could say that there is never a point where I focus on pragmatism to heavily as an educator and lose site of the very real need for the sparks encapsulated in the realities of big dreamers...but I can never seem to constantly live up to the ideals I set for myself. Big dreams are the foundation of big ideas and big movements...I will continue to strive to always remind myself of that.
I also loved this specific qoute from chapter 11:"Teachers who gain the most respect are usually the ones who are humble." (p 144)As an educator, I spend a lot of time considering if my actions model and show respect to my students, however I realized that I se=pend very little time thinking about greating my young students in a spirit of humility. How beneficial in dealing with many challenging personalitiy related conflicts!
Chapter 11 is my favorite. Possibly because I try so hard to have humility as a driving force in how I parent, teach and live. I think reminding ourselves and our students that we should always search for more ways to solve problems, more information to round out our thinking and more perspectives to change our perceptions is paramount. On page 139, the authors point out that," Most people who are truly at the top of their game and eminent in their fields are humble enough to recognize the deficits in their knowledge. Yet they still have the confidence to push forward, to aim higher." Translation: If we have this mindset, their is no limit to our potential!A I read throught the posts here, I see that my peers are of this mindset! Keep at it!
The perfectionist in me is mad that I misused the homophone. THERE!!!!!
Chapter 9 was like taking a shot of vitamin B…what a boost and reminder how sensitive some gifted students are and how they perceive others and situations with such empathy. The fourth paragraph on page 117 struck a chord with me and some of my past experiences working as a counselor where GT students felt safe in expressing their deep empathy. Sometimes the pain that these sensitive students feel can be overwhelming. Offering tools for them to work through or ease the anguish that they are experiencing was rewarding for me and empowering them to become problem solvers.
What a different view…coming back and rereading other’s blogs to actual see participant’s opinions rather than relying on the “ole brain cells” to recall who said what and why during a face-to-face meeting! melissaa, I am curious has the Oval Office been in touch as of yet? I applaud the students, as well as yourself, in taking a course of action addressing the student’s concerns and their sensitivity to the world around them. How wonderful that this book study has offered the opportunity to share ideas and one’s commitments - melwelsh stated, “I must fight to NOT let”…kids get lumped together and lose sight of the uniqueness of each child/student. Oh how I agree!!! Hey, suellen, one of my favorite lines to use is…”I am an educator, which means I am flexible!”