This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
page 134 says "The goal of all teachers of the gifted should be to develop students' autonomy in school and in life--to help them become self-directed lifelong learners...While I want to support all my students to become lifelong learners, the support I offer GT students may look quite different. Sometimes a GT student will bask in the glow all day from a specific comment addressed to them in line. If I enter a room and find the GT student, and invite that student to sharing session on a topic of interest, then I am finding ways to meet them where he or she is.Sometimes the GT student is the absent minded professor, and I must find ways to give organizational support.
In chapter 9 there is a section (pages 138-145) subtitled Skills for Living. I think that giving students skills for living is the best way that educators can support and encourage whole learning for gifted students. Time management, priority ranking, planning downtime, and dealing with stress are building blocks for all of the academics that we, and the child, want them to succeed. With those skills the students can become self directed learners because they will be problem solvers.
In chapter 11, Creating Compassion, it talks about issues that can arise with gifted students. On page 159 it says, "If children do not receive the bolstering they require from significant adults, their social and emotional difficulties can make it very hard to exercise their abilities, focuse on academic achievement, and fully realize their talents." Basically, there is more to be a success than just academic success and a gifted mind. With societal pressures, we need to be sure to include compassion and nurturing while still setting high expectations for gifted children. They can be subjected to bullying and need to have strategies to be able to withstand it.
One way in which we can help educate the whole gifted child is to pass on what we know about the social and emotional needs of the gifted. Many educators believe motivation should not be a problem for the GT student. As we've said before, many teachers are also pressured to bring the low performers up to standard and don't concern themselves with a student who is already passing. They are not able (sometimes not willing) to take the time to find appropriate challenges or to allow the student to self-direct some of their learning.This quote equally applies to all of our students, GT or not. "To build commitment in gifted students, adults must demonstrate commitment to them. This commitment is of two types: personal and academic. Gaining personal knowledge of each student isn't an easy task, and it takes time, which is scarce in today's schoolrooms" (pg 156)
I think we support the whole student when we work as advocates on our campus. It seems as we have said before that the focus is usually on the bottom students that we are struggling to get to pass TAKS. Being informed on the characteristics of gifted students allows us to recognize students in our classes that are underachieving and need to be tested.I also support the comment on page 125 that when talking with gifted students, we need to encourage them to take risks. Rather than focusing on the negative, we can focus on the potential benefits from taking the risk.
In response to wonderweiss,I agree that we need to focus on teaching these skills. Modeling organization or just taking the time to help a gifted student with his binder shows them that we value good habits. In addition, teaching them coping strategies in our classrooms or conversations would go a long way in building our relationships with these students.
At the high school level, time management and prioritizing are key issues. I liked the section in Ch 9 on skills for living. Once the child can prioritize her activities (and understands which ones are non-negotiable) then everything else should fall into place. I think that downtime needs to be built into the schedule. Many GT students are so interested in so many different things that the activities and possiblities sometimes seem endless. The adults need to set limits and help the child understand which activities can/will be compatible with meeting the student's other obligations on their time.
Being compassionate + having commitment + being compassionate + having commitment= learning and success for the gifted child. Being compassionate…understanding their needs and wants…adjusting our way of always doing it to meet their way of learning. Having commitment to strive to teach them.. to spend the time to learn about their way of thinking. Compassion to love and understand the child and the commitment to teach them their way will support and encourage the WHOLE GT child!!
In response to J kohler:I agree with you on the aspect of encouraging the GT student to take risks. We need to move the focus from grades to goals and allow for creativity to show!
As the book states, acceleration works, more often than not, in favor of lessening the child's frustaration. However, encouraging parents to ensure time --perhaps after the school day-- with others of similar emotional age and social age, would be in the best interests of the child. Parent advisory meetings emphasizing physical outddor activity, appropriate balance, good diet and sleep habits would perhaps be helpful. We should not assume parents of gifted kids , often gifted themselves, think of everything. Some are very intellect-centered.
to Melanie: Your "absent-minded professor" has been in my class several times! It is so tempting to try to force him into the mold by taking off points for his absent-mindedness. This, we learn in time, does not change the child; it may turn him off completely and kill the FLOW. The teacher has to work hard to reach this child because the professor part is more important than the absent-minded part. Special ed. kids have modifications; absent-minded professors must as well--this is not ignoring the rules; it is meeting needs.
In response to hassidg:I totally agree with your comment about acceleration, but keeping in mind the whole child, not just the "intellectual age".
response to hassidg: I noted you said the professor part is more important than the absent minded part...and what jumped out at me was how important the professors are to the world. We depend on them to invent, devise, and provide connections between the past and the future. Surely we can help them organize to best use their talents to benefit all of us.
I believe that the key, as stated on p159, is creating Compassion. "Compassionate classrooms that balance understanding, high expectations, and constructive discipline are critical elements...because the world at large isn't particularly compassionate to them." And the other main idea to pull out of that is balance. First and foremost we need to identify the gifted child and then be able to create a balance where they can feel sevure enough to pursue their interests and succeed.
I agree with what Lguidry said. In high school, one of the big obstacles is a student over extending their schedule and not learning how to prioritize between academics and multiple extracurricular activities. Students are also not aided in choosing or narrowing down their choices and therefore, instead of excelling in a couple of areas, they tend to do mediocre or even fail in multiple areas. The question then becomes - are they really learning anything? or just stressing themselves out?
I think that sometimes we forget that a GT child still needs instruction. In the skills for living section on page 138, it talks about how students need help in learning to manage their time and handle stress. Watching GT students work, I can see how they are easily side tracked, have multiple talents and don't undertand how to prioritze their lives. This is something that we need to help the students out with. Helping students to learn strategies to help them manage their time, set goals, and decide priorities is important.
I agree with Katie K about bolstering up students....we need to work with the students and help nurture them along to being successful citizens. The highly sensitive nature of a GT student makes it even more important to spend that little extra time.
jkoler is right on about encouraging GT students to take risks. Many times they are able to do the work with little effort and take few risks, they need to take the risks, and learn how to work through situations where they are not comfortable at a time when they have supportive teachers to help nurture them through the experience.
As educators I think that our job with the GT students is to facilitate not dictate what they should learn. We just need to “keep them somewhere between the fence posts” of a general curriculum outline. Page 113 list ideas for giving students more control and I think this also gives them more responsibility for their own learning. I have had parents complain that this is the 3rd time a teacher has had my GT students do this same project. Fine, if that’s the case the student should say something, suggest an alternative to the project or an alteration to the project t that will make it challenging. Teachers see a lot of students and we don’t know everyone’s detailed history. The other thing I liked was page 151 about not giving non-academic factors too much weight. Liking GT students doesn’t mean an automatic A. You can care, empathize and nurture but you need to be fair and honest with students. If they do well tell them they did well. If they make mistakes they need to know this too. Honesty with grades will make them realize what is important and what it means to actually earn a grade.
I like what jkohler said about taking risks. I think both the teachers and the students should be encouraged to take risks in a GT class. It is a safe environment for the students and lets them search for their interests with an adult around to help.
The Skills for Living section (pp 138 – 144) provided some good examples. I was reminded that they are children first. Time management is a continually evolving skill, and we have a responsibility to help mold that skill in our gifted children. I particularly liked the aspect of asking the child to assess the effectiveness of use of time, (p 139) again gaining some control and ownership of the process, and helping to develop the habit of reflection. The habit of assigning task priorities is key in this process. The authors indicate it is one of the most important lessons a student can learn, and it is a lesson that will be used throughout their life.
I agree with Katie Kavanagh’s comments on creating compassion. Interactions with peers can be a significant source of stress for the gifted student. As Eric Jensen says . “In influencing the ‘nurture’ aspect of our students, we must. . start by removing the threats from the learning environment. No matter how excited you are about adding positives to the environment, first work to eliminate the negatives. These include embarrassment, finger-pointing, unrealistic deadlines, humiliation, sarcasm, lack of resources, or being bullied.” (Jensen, E. (1998). Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. P 30.
In question two I mentioned the strong presence of the need for a balance in gifted students' lives. The book chapters emphasize this by providing numerous suggestions for meeting academic needs (pp. 120-121)by structuring and restructuring arrangements for learning new material. There is discussion of building resiliency (pp. 128-129) to help GT students with sensitivity, anxiety and fears. I love the discussion on including the importance of a sound body, with stressing how critical exercise (p. 135) is to the whole picture of working with the whole child.
On November 10, 2009 8:27 AM WonderWeiss identified Skills for Living as valuable for gifted students. That is what I am saying in the posting above, I think. I wouldn't want to overestimate students' intuition and ability to resolve all their internal conflicts without specific investigative skills.
On November 13, 2009 2:01 PM RCELibrarian sees the importance of "helping students to learn strategies to help them manage their time, [and] set goals,.." because, she adds of sidetracked thinking and talents, and a need to prioritize their objectives. With the Web2.0 internet links in their hands as learning tools it will be REALLY necessary, right?
Sometimes we need to back up and guide them through smaller chunks of activities for the larger projects. They sometimes get overwhelmed by what they think is too much and then shutdown.
continue :On page 138, it says, "They may require considerable help in learning to manage their time and handle stress.
In chapt. 11 it states " Since friendship is such a critical need for children, one of the most compassionate things we can do for young people is to provide direction as they attempt to manage peer issues". This is my second year to teach 5th grade, and building friendships for my students is an extremely important step to learning for GT kids especially. In the Spring when they are starting to see their possibilities for middle school, and making decisions on where to go- my students want to go where they have the largest pocket of friends, not necessarily where the best academic program is. We need to constantly review strategies for building friendships for students in the upper elementary levels.
I totally agree with rcelibrarian when she said that teachers need to help GT students learn strategies to manage their time, set realistic goals and establish some priorities. I have several students who are so overwhelmed with extra-curricular activities that every free second on their out of school lives is planned for them- they are just running through it like puppets almost. When asked if they enjoy it- none have really said "Yes" quickly- that's sad to me!
In response to lguidry regarding downtime and the high school student: Research is showing us about the implications of sleep deprivation as well as the adolescent need for adequate sleep and later awakening internal time clock. Sometimes the school schedule does not merge with these needs. When you combine that with all the interests and obligations of the gifted student, we are reminded once again of the importance of those significant adults who can point the way to balance and life long health.
The most insightful part of this section for me was the skills for living section starting on page 138. I've done these kinds of things with kids who were really struggling, but never really thought about how they would benefit the other end of the spectrum kids. The traps and the ideas of how to deal with each one were very well done!
As an educator, I believe that the best thing we can do for the gifted learner is to give them instruction in life skills. Teaching the student time management, stress management and problem solving skills will enable the gifted learner to feel a sense of control over his/her life.
I feel like the beginning of Chapter 11 does a good job of answering this question: "Challenge, control, and commitment are critical to the growth and development of gifted students' academic motivation, but these unusual children are more than the sum of their cognitive attainments. They are children first, and they require understanding and support as they work through the social and emotional issues that may arise because of their giftedness and asynchronous development" (159). This chapter goes on to explain how the fourth C-compassion- is equally important to a gifted child's development. A child's "social and emotional difficulties can make it very hard for them to exercise their abilities, focus on academic achievement, and fully realize their talents" (159). I see this balance as being essential to the development of the whole learning of a gifted child.
I agree with sharon g and rcelibrarian. Gifted students really do need help with managing their time. When I talk to former students who are in high school, it seems like they are so overwhelmed with their activities that they are just going through the motions. They are surviving and even excelling, but I don't know how much fulfillment they are able to get out of life at that pace.
To hassidg and melanie: I was interested in your comments about the "absent minded professor" types since I have known many of these over the years. Any suggestions on how to help them get organized and to meet their deadlines without just doing the usual point deductions, which you are right, do not work?
p 156. Modeling committment as personal and academic. If we can do it, then we can help/enourage their whole learning. Let them know you care. In my smaller GT class this year I am getting to know some of the "loner" students and they are coming to me to help with projects and other issues. In a few years they will probably be the leaders of the school, but getting started right now from some of the private schools they do not have all of the "social friends" that have grown up in the area. Plus, by showing you have an academic interest in your subject matter and are constantly updating your teaching material by going to conferences keeps them ready to be ongoing learners.-- motivated for life
Re: hassidgI too have an absent minded professor and he is entertaining. Plus, the comments made about Risks made me put together how he is comfortable to show some weaknesses he has with geography/ and take some risks since he is in a totally GT environment, but then the class I have that is about 2/3 gt 1/3 others I do not see as much "safe" risk taking. There are more students in there that keep quiet unless they are totally sure of an answer.
In supporting and encouraging the GT child's whole learning, I believe that we must really focus on their social-emotional development and needs while not neglecting their academic and intelluctual needs. Page 159 states that they are children first and they must work through social-emotional issues that may arise because of their giftedness and asynchronous development. In this area, it is imperative that we suppport them in learning both how to receive and accept compassion as well as to offer and share compassion with others. I feel that educators tend to focus mainly on the instructional and academic needs of the GT student--which of course is critical. But in trying to meet those academic needs, it is quite easy to ignore the social-emotional needs of the GT student. I believe that this practice is such a disservice to these students. As we know, relationship building is a key part of all human endeavors. Many GT students need guidance in developing, establishing and maintaining relationships. Learning how to deal with the perceptions of others toward giftedness, how to cope with bullying and taunting and how to cope with being an introvert are also all areas that many GT students need support and modeling.
I think the goals in the Autonomous Learning Model on page 134 as well as the Skills for Living on page 138 are excellent guides for teaching the whole gifted child. They are intellectually prepared in so many ways, but if they are going to make it in the world, they have to have these skills in place, too. As a teacher, it is imperative that I help parents to realize the importance of these life skills. That is another way I can help these students--by educating their parents!
I believe that by providing them with compassiona (pg 160) and assisting them on the path of friendship is essential. If the child can feel safe and accepted, at least by a couple of other kids, then they can feel it is ok to be WHO they are!
Kandel's fan said... In question two I mentioned the strong presence of the need for a balance in gifted students' lives. The book chapters emphasize this by providing numerous suggestions for meeting academic needs (pp. 120-121)by structuring and restructuring arrangements for learning new material. There is discussion of building resiliency (pp. 128-129) to help GT students with sensitivity, anxiety and fears. I love the discussion on including the importance of a sound body, with stressing how critical exercise (p. 135) is to the whole picture of working with the whole child.I really couldn't agree more with the above statement! I also like that the book mentions not just organized sports (because everyone doesn't have the money) but family activities, like hiking, walking and biking.
We, as educators, can support and encourage the whole learning of a gifted child by helping them to develop the tools to be a productive and contributing citizen in a world that isn’t “particularly compassionate to them”(p.159). We can do this by doing providing these students with information about what it means to be gifted. "...gifted children often experience more stress than other students. They may be tense, anxious, and fearful, and if they do not develop the skills to cope with stress they may feel helpless and hopeless.(p. 141)" Understanding themselves and why they are so markedly different from those around them in terms of thoughts, feelings, awareness, and emotions (even if they hide this truth) could a powerful force in their lives. It could save them from feeling like something must be wrong with them if something as simple as a “no” response from someone brings them to tears. Moreover, think of all of the amazing advances/benefits/accomplishments our society would gain if all students who were gifted truly understood giftedness and were equipped with the skills necessary to live life in a manner that allowed their gifts to flourish.
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 on my mouth! ;-)
I agree with jkohler that we have to be advocates for our gifted students. That shows through in so many ways when we work with them on time management or prioritizing or how to make and keep friends. I work with lots of teachers and kids around my building, and these chapters have helped me to bring the gt students 'top of mind.'
RE: Angela Bressler thoughts on teaching "life skills" are right on! I really believe that if we are to teach the GT child to focus on the big picture in overcoming some of the issues they face...we, too, need to focus on the big picture when interacting with them in the classroom/school environment. This means us equipping them with the skills necessary to use their gifts in a manner that is postitive/productive and to be socially/emotionally healthy in their adult lives!
We can support our gifted students by helping them to to have skills for living. "Time management is often a thorny issue for gifted children" page 138 Sometimes gifted children grades fall due to different interest they may have. We need as teacher help them and guided then in the right path. Sometimes they try to do so many things and not become effective.
Comment: Sasha--I love this line from your post--"Being compassionate + having commitment + being compassionate + having commitment= learning and success for the gifted child". I agree that we need the extra compassion and commitment, we need to take it to another level. I have heard so many negative comments, such as "I already did _____, what else do they want from me?" This is not having compassion and commitment squared. Doing whatever we can do to make sure that our gifted students thrive is.
I feel that one way to encourage is by implementing the 4 c's as stated on pages 113-117. I try my best to challenge my students, but at the same time not be so hard on them that they feel pressured to be perfect on always. I share with them my experiences and love for language arts and social studies so they can see how learning can be exciting and fun, but sometimes it is a challenge with all the demands we have as educators.
responding to bressler, I agree that children need to be taught and modeled life skills besides the academics especially if we want them be independent critical thinkers the rest of their lives so that they can continue learning outside of the classroom and problem solve in many situations.
In response to lguidry on time management -I know this has been a big focus in recent years - students have too much to do outside school and too much homework. I can't remember way back when I was in school but I have raised three children who were very involved in sports, theater, choir, church, and other activities. Somehow they managed to graduate near the top of their classes and excel in extracurricular activities. I think it has helped them now that they are in college or working. They know how to get things done on time.