This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
I think that my biggest a-ha (and I have lots of stars and dog-ears in this section)was that we need to teach the students to ask for help. Page 145 (in the create control section) says that one of the easiest ways to alleviate stress for a student, especially a perfectionist student, is too teach them that asking for help is not a weakness, but a way to solve a problem. Everyone needs help, and we need to actually teach students how to ask for it.
The biggest reinforcement of my teaching style is on page 115, "The highest enjoyment-the state of flow-is not created by a teacher's being amusing....the best thing a teacher can do to motivate students is to continue learning in her own area of expertise and share her excitement with students..." If we want to create life-long learners, we need to be life-long learners. Isn't that why we take professional development, participate in book studies, and constantly try new methods that we learn to get our kids more involved?
I know I need to work on encouraging students to excel without expecting perfection (pg 124-125). I often do not take the time to recognize where my students are improving - only to show them where they went wrong. Another area that intrigues me is creating commitment by allowing students to choose their own project or activity to demonstrate mastery (pg 149-150). I have never read or seen how this can be done in an Algebra class. It seems obvious in language arts, social studies and science but I rarely read examples that would apply to my course. Finally, it was very reassuring to me to read about grading fairly. "Nothing kills commitment to learning in school faster than grades that do not reflect a student's learning" (pg 151). Because of our efforts to show that all students are learning, grades often do not reflect mastery - only effort.
page 126: "Gifted children are often very successful without much effort, and they need to understand early in life that this will not always be the case."This quote and the story of the invention of WD-40 really stuck with me. Our gifted children do not have a lot of experience with failure when they come to my class as 6th graders. In conferences with these students and their parents, I continue to stress problem-solving when they encounter failure. The concepts of tutorials and asking questions or retaking tests are often foreign to students not used to making a failing grade. Teaching them how to fail and turn that failure into success is one of the best skills we can give them in middle school.
In response to katie kavanagh:I agree completely with what you said about students witnessing teachers learning. I find that if I have a book on my desk for the book study, some of my students want to know what I'm reading and what it's about. They find it funny that I have assignments and deadlines too, but I think it also makes us more human to them.
My “A-Ha” moment that reinforced my teaching style was on page 138-142 when it discusses time management and the stress trap for a gifted child. I have learned from multiple mistakes that these two go hand in hand. I have found success when I have made roadmaps for children to choose the task they desire and options in case they hit a road block breathers. The road blocks breathers are activities that decrease stress such as jumping jacks, running in place, ten deep breaths, and chill with a friend for a minute. This allows the child to calm them selves, regroup themselves, and gives me time to get over there and calm the fire! When I’m there we discuss the issue and may even change the project up so that it is more interesting to that student.
The idea that these kids require choice was confirming: I do try to do this in matters of how to present, how to study, with whom to study, and even how to test. Sometimes my colleagues do not agree.
The subject of Acceleration. As a child, I was accelerated through two grades. When I learned about public school birthday cut offs, I was very surprised. It was interesting to read the book's assessment of this concept and the pros and cons of acceleration while relating it to my own experience. After my experience, I would favor having the child remain with his age group while having the opportunity to take advanced classes, rather than advance with older age groups.
I agree with j kohler's comment about dealing with failure. At the high school level we continue to work with them to help them analyze their failures and turn them into successes. However, this also ties into "commitment". Too often, the student is just focused on the grade and instead of learning from the failure, they are more interested in moving on and focusing on the next big grade.
I have to respond first, before my own thought...I so agree Katie K...we need to be life long learners. I know that I get positive feed back from students when they teach me something (which happens often), especially when I am working with older students. When students work with me to solve a problem (usually technical) it is great to show them the strategies from class that help us through it. I am hoping that as they watch me continue to learn..they will see how "they will never know it all."
Another comment that is so AHA to me is helping to teach students to fail...as jkoler stated. Many GT students never have to work at too much, and failure is not in their vocabulary...so the first time they don't get something easily, it can be a real set back. I have watched some students just give up, because they don't have the skills to try try again. The quotes on page 128 are some that I have used to help students as well as the book "mistakes that worked"...trying to help build resilience in the GT student.
A big aha for me was something that I used to really notice, but had let slide by...friendships. Many times, it is the GT student who spends a lot of time with me in the library. I used to have a "friends group" where students would come and play with GT games...I've let it slide as time has become scarce...but I realize after reading this chapter, that perhaps I should put this back in place to help the GT students work together and have a place to make friends and feel comfortable.
The A-Ha in this assignment for me was chapter 8 about Creating Challenge. I liked the parts about “excel, but don’t expect to be perfect” on page 124 and the section page 125-126 about taking risks and enjoying rewards. Some of the best science experiences the students have is when the lab doesn’t work the way they expected or the way it was supposed to work. The line on page 126, “well, that bombed, didn’t it?” is pretty harsh but if you can make them laugh when you say something like that and follow up with “OK, now what can you do to fix your problem?” I think that they will learn and remember more from that than from doing a perfect everything went exactly right lab. The only thing teachers need to be careful about is making work challenging but still doable on a student’s level. I really like labs that don’t work for GT students.
I saw an interesting comment from hassidg about testing GT students. They suggested allowing them to select the way they were tested. I have never done this. I usually try several differnt types of tests during the year but I would be interested in what they thought was the best way for me to evaluate them. I may try this.
Although I had been very aware of the tendencies of perfectionism in many gifted students, I had not honed in on the antidote of resiliency. I found the section on resilience building strategies to be very useful i.e. bibliotherapy, meeting and mastering anxiety, and surrounding them with unconditional positive regard.
I had an overwhelming sense of presence to not underestimate the balance that gifted students need at home and school. The importance of adults in their lives to facilitate this is reiterated again and again (pp.129-131,143, 162).
WonderWeiss' aha (first entry) is significant to me in that asking for help can be life-changing. Sometimes just realizing one needs help is significant as a first step. A certain awareness of it and in what capacity is a bare minimum. It just simply isn't always a single step operation.
On November 13, 2009 1:57 PM RCELibrarian mentioned the importance of gifted students having friends. With learning taking such an expansive jump with technology there opens additional opportunities to create relationships whose axis is of a technological nature, something fun, exciting, rewarding and educational.
My ah ha moment came when I read at the bottom of page 139 that,"Have them evaluate what they have accomplished. Did we chatter to friends during work time?" This may help me with all the talking and work not getting finished.
I agree with hassidg, gifted students need a choice of topics to study and choice of groups or even studying alone. They are happier when they can have this level of control over their time and study method.
On p. 129: "...a child needs at least one person who is "crazy about him"... reinforced for me to try to find something unique and special about each student and let them know that I appreciate that quality in them. It is very easy to love (and be crazy about) some students; others require a little more effort on my part. I try to show the kids that I'm proud of them, that I consider them "my" students and that I closely guard the time and interactions that I have with them. I try to "beam" at them each time I see them outside of the classroom. This passage solidified my view that I need to form personal relationships with my students.
In response to J. Kohler's post re p. 126: In high school we experience the same issue when students who "have NEVER made a B in their lives" suddenly are struggling to make their grades. They (and often their parents) do not have any experience with having to actually work and study to make grades or to deal with a failed test. I spend a lot of time encouraging students to attend tutorials if they need help, giving advice on study methods, etc. I also try to get them and their parents to understand that its okay to have a bad grade, as long as they understand where they went wrong and take steps to correct it and get the information or knowledge that was missing. I also enjoyed the WD-40 story and the quotes on p. 128, especially since I have a "Quote of the Day" for my students.
My ah ha moment was in Chap. 9 in dealing with the aspect of time management. " Choices must be made, and adults canshare strategies for making good decisions." I have many GT students who are highly overextended in their activities already in 5th grade. They are frustrated at this young age with the concept that a day only has 24 hours in it- what's wrong with this picture? As an adult, they should have issues come up- not 5th grade. Parents and teachers create the guidelines for their students use of time, but they must be flexible within the limits they set" I believe that teaching children how to manage their time is critical in 5th especially because they have to have it as a life skill in junior high and beyond.
In response to jkohler's comment about how things might be easy for GT kids in elementary level- they can't always bank of the fact that everything will always be easy. I have some students who are seeing that 5th grade isn't as easy as their previous years in elementary and the wake up call. Some are dealing with it and are resilent while others are saying" But I never made grades like this before?" Reality wake-up call is happening earlier than they had expected so I'm doing a lot of "modeling" of what to do when things don't go your way-
In response to Sasha’s post about her road map and road block breathers: This is a new idea for me – and sounds like a terrific one! From the onset the student will realize that part of the process is the possibility of meeting a road block, and is then equipped with a strategy to help relieve that frustration.
Re:To J. KohlerI agree that many GT students do not have much experience with failure and are "often very successful without much effort" as mentioned on pg. 126. I am observing some of our GT students experiencing greater difficulty with maintaining their usual very high grades. In most of these cases, it's not that they can't maintain their grades because the academic level is too demanding; it is that they are now having to put forth greater time and effort to make the same grades. In some cases, this is the first experience that some of these GT students have had with even having to actually study or put forth much effort to maintain high grades. Some of these students are experiencing failure for the first time in their academic life. Stressing problem solving and retaking tests, etc. as suggested by J. Kohler are effective strategies to provide the GT student in learning how to cope with new experiences of failure.
The one thing I keep coming back to on page 116 is the first sentence in paragraph 3. "The chief impediments to learning are not cognitive in nature. It is not that students cannot learn; it is that they do not wish to." This goes back to the components of flow. If a child has those components, then they will truly learn. If they don't, they won't. Our overwhelming task as educators is to make the flow work for all of our kids to ensure their academic success.
in response to the "wake-up" call commentsOne of my kids is very bright, but very seldom goes "outside the box" in her thinking. She becomes very frustrated when presented with a true challenge. All her life, she's been told how smart she is and she's been sort of babied. When something is a true challenge, it's a wake-up call for her. How she handles it varies from one challenge to the next, but I find myself trying out new activities that will stretch her without being threatening. A new challenge for me every day!
My “A-Ha” moment was in Chapter 8, page 123….”Encourage students to excel, but not be perfect.” My one and only GT student is hung up on the fact that her sister (5th grade) and brother (middle school) are very smart, she feels a constant pressure, need and competitiveness to be perfect and smarter. I have witnessed her break down crying because she was challenged and wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. So, I have spoken with her about comparing herself to her siblings, reminding her that no one is perfect and that we must ALL work hard to achieve a goal or to finish a task.
In response to rcelibrarian's comment about friends: This section reinforces my practice of creating relationships in the classroom. I always insist that all the students know one another's names and I like to have some casual banter going on during class, so the students can get to know one another, even if only through me. I make a conscious effort to find a character trait or something personal with which to compliment each student and that way everyone in the class will learn something positive about his classmates, even if it is indirect.
I felt like the section on the 4 C's has been the most interesting section of the book so far. It was hard to choose which part to discuss because I felt that all of it had merit. In the "Creating Control" chapter, this was significant: "The goal of all teachers of the gifted should be to develop students' autonomy on school and in life-to help them become self-directed, lifelong learners, such as those described in the Autonomous Learner Model developed by George Betts, Ph.D. An autonomous learner is a student 'who solves problems or develops new ideas through a combination of divergent and convergent thinking and functions with minimal external guidance in the selected areas of endeavor'"(134). I will keep striving to provide my students with the opportunities to be autonomous learners. I'm still learning how to facilitate this, but I'm trying.
In response to lguidry: It may seem so simple, but we can always use the reminder about taking the time to form relationships with our students. There is so much pressure from above to move forward in the curriculum and that limits the amount of time we have to get to know our students. I need to remind myself to take a deep breath and make time to get to know my students better.
kandel's fan mentioned that technology is opening up doors for students to forge friendships. I have noticed that the use of technology in my class has provided new opportunities for my students to collaborate with each other.
Hand's down, the Ah-ha moment was the Time Trap on page 138. Do note by the way that I am one of the late entries on this blog. My high school students as 9th graders are so overwhelmed by the choices of things that they can do they are totally lost some weeks when the A/B schedule and their Tennis, Debate, and other activities cause them to miss class and then they need to make it all up. The idea of having some down time, white space, is not in their agenda, but instead they are signing up for everything and are doing a massive amount of juggling. I wish that the students that are good with so many things would whittle the list down and focus more to specialize in a few to become great.
re:hassidgI agree with you on choice totally. I do find it interesting that your colleagues do not agree with you on the topic. Choice is a part of our lives.
My "A-Ha" moment was on page 152 in the section proposing that teachers "Resist Averaging Grades". When I first read this section, it was like my brain was getting an "error" message..."error, error, does not compute". My "teacher" brain is wired to gauge a student’s performance/learning via averaging. After the initial shock, I think the authors made an excellent argument against grade averaging. However, I think the system of grading propose by the author may be problematic for some subject areas. History is one of these subject areas. Each unit is a different era in history so "evaluating later in the learning cycle"(p. 152) is not really an option. Hmmmm?
On page 126, the paragraph about the perfectionism snare rang bells for me. I have always tried to get my students to focus on process rather than product, learning rather than results, effort rather than potential, and failure as a bridge to success. It is not easy, especially when there is so much competition and self-centeredness in the world, but if we can help the kids down this path, we are helping them to develop a necessary life skill.
A big thought for me was on page 120 describing what a gifted cluster would look like. I have not heard of this type of group but think that it would be very beneficial. Of course one thing that I have a very difficult time understanding is how you would apply this in our real life? Would you create an after school group? Or would you somehow do this during your regular classes?
S. Acevedo said... My "A-Ha" moment was on page 152 in the section proposing that teachers "Resist Averaging Grades". I agree with S. Acevedo and what the book says. But once again how do you do this in real life? We have to take so many major grades and they have to account for so much of their average...
How can educators support and encourage the whole learning of a gifted child???...let me count the ways! Located on the bottom of page 114,”All four C’s have a critical impact on students’ social and emotional development and response to school” this conjures up thoughts of the awesome responsibility educators have in taking the time to (1)learn about each gifted student’s intrinsic motivation, (2)modeling and (3)guiding learning where skills for their future become embraced.
karend… your post on November 19, 2009 @ 10:56 PM took the words right out of my mouth! ;-)
Okay, so one of my “A-Ha” moments was I discovered I pasted and posted my answers for Question 3 into the Question 2 posting. The best reinforcement for me was Creating Compassion, Chapter 11. My favorite sentences were found on page 159, “Nurturance and rigor must coexist in relative equilibrium. Gifted children’s minds must be honed by demanding, relevant learning experiences, while their social and emotional development must be tended to with sensitivity, tact, and kindness.” Every concept in Chapter 11 resonated within me… from issues of friendships, socializing, and dealing with taunting and bullying. I found the study funded by the SENG Foundation most interesting indicating that from their survey of 432 gifted eighth graders that 67% reported during their first eight years of school they had been targets of bullying (page 169). The last paragraph on page 172 (before the summary) is incredible…a must re-read for everyone!
Several areas of reinforcement for me include the discussions re: perfectionism beginning on page 124 and sensitivity to environmental stimuli beg. on page 142. Both of these topics regarding the GT student are ones that I actually have not thought much about in quite some time and ones that I feel that I need to revisit as I am supporting several GT students who are experiencing difficulties at this time. As I think about these particular kids, I feel that these two issues are possibly ones I need to explore in relation to several of these kids and their current difficulites. I am glad that I have been reminded of both areas.
I really agree with Katie K that we need to be lifelong learners. My kindergarten students thought it was great that Miss Tucker had homework or had to go to school on Saturdays. I figure that if I ever stop learning, I must have died or something.I also like Sasha's road block breathers. How simple--get them to take a step back to regroup! I think I might try this.
RE: Wonderweiss and Kandel’s fan’s thoughts on the significance of helping gt students that asking for help; especially WonderWeiss’s description of this teaching being “life changing”. It seems that this is not wanting to “ask for help” could cause significant unnecessary stress and failure in their adult lives, which is what we are preparing them for.
For me the Aha moment was when I read about "adequate and appropriate Challenge"age 113 I need to make sure that I am providing my students with a challenge that is appropriate for the grade level and their motivation behind. I work with students that come from impoverish background and I need to keep on mind that.
Comment: Mary P. I like that you mentioned having them evaluate themselves after the work is done. I am constantly begging them to be quiet and listening to complaints about due dates. It is time to let them take control--thanks for the reminder.
The aha moment for me was on page 152 regarding grading at a later part of the learning cycle but the challenge is how to implement this in the classroom. As educators we need to have a way to measure student progress but at the same time not let the grading penalize the students by not reflecting his or her true potential. That is always a challenge because at times students show more potential through participation but not necessarily on paper.
responding to katie k I believe that everyone is a lifelong learner and that is our ultimate goal as educators so if we allow our students to see that we are constantly learning and share with them the details that teachers also attend classes besides teaching them it might help them see the connection a lot better.
responding to patricet, it is important not to ignore the factor perfectionism because I believe that it is necessary to let children know that they don't have to be perfect they just need to do their best in everything they do always. I have had children who are perfectionists and sometimes they don't make much progress because they are focused on every detail instead of looking at he big picture and therefore it can become a big obstacle for them.