This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
trial #1-Sasha Luther
Most of Chapter 1 seemed to be a review of information I have learned at previous G/T trainings. It's always helpful to read about the traits G/T students have and the challenges they face. I could always use improvement in meeting the needs of all of my G/T students. When the author talked about the issues facing teachers and schools, I could definitely relate.
Mario's story - lack of learning skills - pg 40 - is something I have seen often. GT students get to 7th or 8th grade(Algebra)and have never had to work at getting As in math. They are very upset when they do not make 100s on every piece of work and every test. They cannot even imagine how to study for math since it has always come so easily to them. They can still easily learn Algebra but it requires at least a little work and they're not used to that.
This was the first time I heard of GT kids receiving mods. This is so appropriate: in college and grad school, we studied GT as part of special ed study.
On page 30- "Even in a test-heavy environment, classroom instruction can foster motivation and provide gifted students with the growth and challenge they require." (The whole paragraph)This spoke to me, because no matter what, we can't change the fact that the kids have to take a test at the end of the year, but that doesn't mean we have to lose them or have them lose their motivation. This was an "aha" as well as a sigh of relief, because I have always tried to offer choices (within parameters) to ALL my students.
I have recognized in my own classes, students, that other teachers have classified as troublemakers or disruptive, as just students who are gifted and therefore bored with the current curriculum pace.
In response to e. vessali: I can totally relate to your post. I have a student in my room right now who is so outstanding, but has been on a behavior plan since Kinder.
Some of this section was a review for me, however, I really need to stress to my teachers and staff gifted children may not test well because their brains have been anesthetized by mind-numbing drill and repetition of sample test items and they have stopped listening and they stop learning(pg 11). So it is important to look at their data and the instruction we are providing to them so that this decline doesn't happen with their capabilities and we set them up for success.
On page 30 the author talks about the importance of giving students greater control over their lives and learning. When we give all students choices and some decisions over learning, they buy into the goals more. My class this year shows me that while all need opportunities to make choices, the choices may be entirely different. That may show the giftedness of a student.
In response to Cstrickland's reference to Mario, some are still not used to the work by the time they reach 10th grade. In our Chemistry courses, we find that this is one of the first high school classes that students have the hardest time with, because for the first time they must apply higher level analytical skills in order to solve problems. It's not a rote memorization class, such as biology, but is a class where they have to apply what they have learned in previous non-science courses (such as math) to a science class. Many students are thrown for a loop and do get frustrated when they realize that it actually takes work and practice to develop those reasoning skills. GT students go through a period of shock when they figure out that they can't just coast through.
sasha luther posted that we need to look at the dates of instruction and take that into consideration when examining reasons for testing poorly. Isn't that the truth?? A gifted child is just as easily swayed by a poor breakfast or domestic quarrel. In fact, they may have greater sensory input, and have a more difficult time focusing on a "trivial" test than the weather.
in response to e vessali and k kavanagh:My oldest son, who was later identified as GT in middle school, was told in elementary school (in SBISD)that the GT program would not accept him unless his behavior improved first. Most of his behavior problems stemmed from boredom but his teachers just rolled their eyes when we said that.
As a 6th grade GT math teacher, I was interested in the suggestions made on page 27. In a Midwestern school district, students were given a sixth-grade math workbook in 5th grade so that they were ready for pre-algebra (7th and 8th grade)in 6th grade. It seems that the 6th graders I get from different feeder schools vary quite a bit in preparedness. Perhaps an elementary teacher can tell me what math curriculum and differentiation is currently being used for 5th grade GT students.
My a-ha moment was experienced on page 39. “Are they underachieving or “demonstrating integrity and courage when they choose not to do required work that is below their intellectual level”? If the curriculum cannot keep up with the student, which one is underachieving?” This same section goes on to mention that “the only place the student is unmotivated is at school”. It seems that in the case described above, the curriculum/classroom activities are underachieving. This may not always be the case, but these definitely are questions we should be asking ourselves when confronted with this type of situation.
On page 7 is A Quick Look: About Identification~ a list of characteristics sometimes present in GT students. It reminds me of when my daughter was born and how much natural curiosity she had about exploring and getting to know the world around her. As parents, we try to provide opportunities for our children to develop into self-sufficient and productive young citizens. Unfortunately, sometimes when children get to school their natural curiosity for exploring their world and interests are crushed, and they become despondent and unresponsive students.
In response to E. Vessali and K. Kavanagh~I can relate to both of your situations. Currently, I have a student most considered disruptive and immature, the child is highly sensitive (likes his/her own space and no one in his/her space) and cries at the drop of a hat. In Kinder the child was considered a problem and teacher was unsure as to how to handle him/her sometimes. What I have discovered is that when you think the child is not listening, and you question him/her, the child can come up with the most incredible answers (insects have hexagons in their eyes and see in hexagon shapes…1st grade).
In response to Sasha Luther~Unfortunately, we get so immersed in the scores from tests that we forget that there is more to teaching and learning then drilling the students. I often ask my students how they feel they are doing academically, not what is reflected on a test or report card, but how they truly feel about their learning, successes, and misunderstandings.
3. An Ah-Ha in this section would be the area speaking about motivation and gifted students needing to actually be challenged instead of taught to recall important ideas just to get a high score on a test, Page 36. If they are not stretched and given meaningful demanding work their self motivation suffers and they will never reach their potential. They need to be allowed to fail, they can’t think that everything in life is going to be a snap.
In response to Sasha Luthers comments, I agree that the Drill and Kill routine won't work with the GT students. They do well when they see that the lesson is actually meaningful and challenging. They need to be allowed to wander from a set curriculum and explore some of their own ideas and interests. Testing is simply not important to many of these students.
An "Ah ha" moment for me in chapter 2 was "A child who is nearly desperate to learn and is given nothing but a standard curriculum will be frustrated, then bored, and may become angry and defiant or anxious and depressed."- I feel pressured to make sure all my kids are doing the exact same thing"staying on the same page if you think, and that is not the best practice for GT students. I need to think out of the box when planning activities/extensions to tap into their needs plus challenge them with things that they are curious about to learn. What happens when their passions and interests don't correlate with the curriculum that I am supposed to teach for that week? It's puzzling to me- is there a better way?
K Harrell - I didn't really have an "aha" moment in this chapter..I see this daily with students who "turn off" and I have had to work hard to make sure that students see a revelance in the work we give. Many of the GT can see right through the busy work...this whole book so far has just confirmed what I already thought.
KHarrell - in response to CStrickland...I agree that many of our behavior problems can be a response to "boredom". I work hard at school to make sure that students can be actively engaged. My students know that I have activities to keep them busy and learning. Helping GT students to develop strategies for staying engaged is important.
kHarrell - In response to Melanie M - I so totally agree with giving the GT students more control over their lives...and giving choices...I notice that when I give students the ability to make choices they usually do a better job.
For me it was not so much an aha as it was affirmations of things I have learned regarding gt in past trainings I have attended in the past. Also the points made reminded me of past gt students I have had in my teaching career and situations that have emerged while I taught them in my classroom. I definately agree that gt students deserve the opportunity to excel and be given choices like working on independent study project and also have a chance to work with other gt students and not just with their average peers. I feel they can be a model for others, but also they have needs that have to be addressed in order for therm to be successful in the school.
I had an "oh yeah, I knew that" but had forgotten about it, on p. 25. Many g/t kids are pulled in so many directions because they are so curious and passionate about so many things and excel in almost everything, so its difficult for them to choose a direction. This is especially true in high school when its time to choose a college, which means to most of them that they need to focus on either language/history/fine arts type classes or math/science classes. Some of my best chemistry students ever are fabulous musicians/artists and have a hard time choosing a college because different schools emphasize either one area or the other.
The second chapter on types of motivation was an 'oh yeah' kind of thing. I strongly believe that people today rely too much on extrinsic motivation and don't do anything to build intrinsic motivation. I read an article last week about ways to foster intrinsic motivation in classrooms--the types of tasks that students do and the kinds of questions that teachers ask can play a huge role in moving kids away from the extrinsic. Alfie Kohn has published a lot of (controversial) work on this topic.
In response to Shasa Luther I had to agree with the "drill and kill routine" so popular for the sake of scores (TAKs, etc). I dislike so much these type of worksheet. I come from a country where the mayor emphasis was not in worksheet but in how to think and applies those skills. What about exploration, curiosity, try and error. Some teachers just do not get it.
in response to e.vessali I had some students in the past that were considered trouble makers.One year I had child that the teacher wrote" GT very curious and special but needs to be remind to work on task. NO WONDER probably he gave her mindless, boring TASKS. he did not tap on the potential of this child I discovered she had a different learning style.
While reading a book for personal growth, I find myself with a highlighter in one hand and a pen or pencil in another, thus creating personal dialogue and colorful patterns through out the chapters. This habit applies to this book as well. The second paragraph on page 44 was continued validation for my belief and knowledge indicating, “that when teachers expect students to do well and grow intellectually, the students meet those expectations”. It can be said that the opposite is also true. This is not to say when a gifted student reaches a “learning wall” in their “everything is easy” pathway that it is because of the teacher’s lack of expectation. When gifted students are in a learning environment that is seen as compassionate and allows for these students to have some say in the rigor and commitment in their learning …then intrinsic motivation is well on its way.
My aha moment and " Oh I remmeber that was in page 42/43 The 3 C: Challenging,Commitment , compassion and the constructivism classroom where students respond well to this type the environment. Where the focus and emphasis is on real-world problems where the teacher is a coach and a guide. The model of a constructivism classroom is opportunities to work and reflect on what is being learn. Where the teacher is there to help the student to make the connection. Where the feedback of the teacher is honest, no phony and where the expectactions are high.
I could not pass up responding to the comment of hassidg regarding this being the first time hearing about GT students receiving mods. I agree that higher education courses which included GT were part of Special Education studies. It makes one wonder...would having mods for students identified as gifted be a bad thing?
I had an ah-ha moment when I read on page 15 about the different learning styles. Working with underachievers for many years, it makes sense that gifted students benefit as well when you plan a lesson to appeal to their different learning styles. It makes the lesson more enjoyable too.
My "a-ha" was also about learning styles. On page 16 the authors talk about differentiating for learning styles not being enough for gifted students. It may be great and wonderful for the students who do not already know the subject matter, but for a student who already knows how to do what you are teaching, and probably much more, sitting through a lesson will be boring no matter how many learning styles you hit. I found this section important also because when I differentiate it tends to be in one way only, so I need to make sure that when my gifted students are given a chance to do something interesting and challenging, they are given the chance to stretch their learning style wings.Comment: I also agree that it would be beneficial for gifted students to have mods. I try hard to meet my GT kiddos needs, but hear some horror stories from parents (and from teachers who don't realize they sound horrible). Having mods would ensure that gifted students would get what they need.
I agree with burke, n. that students need to reflect on their learning with the teacher guiding them to make connections. Learning needs to be meaningful to them with a teacher who is honest and not phony with his or her praise. I remember when I start a recycling center in college for a sociology project. It continued for decades after I left college.
I read through several parts of the text with an oh yeah attitude, but when going back over it there are many areas that deserve more reflection. Taking a collegian approach, I look again at attribution theory and goal theory(pp. 26-39)and realize I could internalize them better while in the classroom. This could be an area to help alleviate one of many brain drains that contributes to day's end's exhaustion.
Melanie m (9/29 4:38)notes that students buy into the goals more when given choices and that students vary in the choices they make. I think they also have entirely different questions for their teachers when it comes to going to the next level in whatever choice they have made. I imagine their questions can get pretty insightful. Not the kind of questions that frustrate teachers because the questions are repeated and low-level.
Oliverl (10/1, 7:54) values the statement that drill and kill doesn't work for gifted students, but that meaningful instruction does. I agree. This necessity however can frustrate teachers with all the other tasks to be accomplished, but it can also be a reminder to teachers that differentiated instruction is what keeps all kids moving forward. We should take varied approaches to keep the environment stimulating. The degree of stimulation should vary according to what the student can handle.
In the first chapter it discusses how "giftedness" also encompasses creativity, this is how I see true GT kids. Always looking at problems in a different way than others around them. In my classes at UH we learned about motivation and how GT kids see things, of course this isn't true for all kids, but it seems to fit the couple of kids that I have met that seem to be truly GT.
Like several other bloggers, I didn't have an aha moment, but a few reminders. There were also several points that stuck out as not just a teacher of gifted kids, but also the parent of one. The learning styles section on pages 15-17 reminded me to think about differences when I am teaching. Page 24 has a statement about motivation that made me think. "true motivation awakens and sustains actions that propel a person closer to a goal ". I think about the things that I am willing to work for and am highly motivated to achieve. My goals aren't the same as others, so why should the students be motivated to learn the same material the same way? Differentiation becomes more and more important as we learn more about learning. Lessons and activities need to be tailored to meet every student's needs.
I agree with melscales and others that differentiation is so important. It takes a lot of work and much self-reflection on the part of the teacher, but I firmly believe that it will make things easier for teachers and students in the end in lots of different ways.
One of my “a-ha” moments was when reading the section on underachievement in Chapter 2 on pages 38-40. I have always known the GT student can frequently “shut down” when not consistently challenged instructionally and academically, thus appearing at times to be underachieving when the root of the problem is really an instructional issue. But I hadn’t recently thought about the fact that parents and teachers frequently expect the GT students to perform at a high level across the entire curriculum, thus ignoring the fact that these students frequently have areas of specialization and do not excel in every domain. Therefore, the students may appear to be underachieving when they in fact are performing quite appropriately in particular subject areas. It appears to me that when students excel in sports and in the fine arts areas, less generalization is made in expecting those students to excel all curricular areas as is noted when students are identified as GT in core curricular subject areas.
Regarding angele bressler's comment regarding her daughter's natural curiosit--- I also see so many little ones, even once they start to school who are so curious and excited about coming to school and just can't wait to learn. They want to explore everything and they exhibit so much curiosity in so many areas. In many cases, we see this curiosity rapidly subside as they start to fit the mold of the school setting with its sometimes narrowly-defined expectations. Many of the areas that these kids were once curious about either leave them completely or are submerged for another time in which it's OK to explore--somewhere other than school. How sad to me. I know this experience is frequently compounded for the GT child.
In reading this section I made two more notes about my current GT students.- I have two students that I am not motivating much currently. They were still in the coasting mode where when I did ask them to do something, they did it, but it was not a challenge. -- and my current problem of CBQ's and being in lock step with the team. I might have a pure GT section, but the "general rules of the team" still apply. I could do more acceleration if they would let me.
re: Hassidg.Before I started teaching the GT students I heard the Eng/SS teacher referring to them as the Special Education type students and I did not realize how that could be, until I started working with them. My first Tourette's student was a GT student that ended up at the TAMS program. Since that year I seem to have several students a year that are GT but with other items in their folders. And, other teachers who see you picking up MOD folders comment, "how can that happen" you have the -- students. And currently there is a push to get them out of the AP classes and that is where they need to be to get the higher intellect, but they are not allowed since they do not conform to the AP requirements of note taking or something else.
In response to S. Acevedo's post, these lines from the book do make me think: “Are they underachieving or “demonstrating integrity and courage when they choose not to do required work that is below their intellectual level”? If the curriculum cannot keep up with the student, which one is underachieving?” I often wonder if I am doing enough to challenge and motivate my G/T students. So often my G/T students are also high achievers, so motivation issues do not surface, but every couple of years I will get a gifted child who does not have that same level of motivation. It really is my job to try to find ways to differentiate for those students.
In response to s. henderson, I agree that it is a challenge to find time to properly challenge G/T students when there are so many hoops we have to jump through. I do find, though, that when I see my G/T students truly in action and responding to a challenge in a creative way, it motivates me to do whatever it takes to find the time for this to happen more frequently.
I completely agree with RCELibrarian that helping GT students to develop strategies for staying engaged is important. To me, this goes back to the personal relationship with the student. If the student knows you are truly interested in her as a person and as learner, she will be much more likely to ‘work through’ some of the discomfort of boredom. This would also apply to the need for prolonged effort when none has been needed previously as mentioned by E. Vessali.
I found the list of myths associated with acceleration on pp 17-18 to be interesting. The authors tell us they are unconfirmed by research, and I would be interested in reading some of that research. The deciding factor seems to be ‘congruency with the child’s specific needs and social and emotional readiness.’ My question is, “What are the guidelines to make that determination?”
How closely the ties are between perfectionism and procrastination…Chapter 4 …especially pages 74 – 80 …”The consequences of fear”.
It is easy to agree with Sasha Luther and oliverl as well as other about “Drill and Kill”…we are killing the brains cells of our gifted when the loss of motivation to learn kicks in!