This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
One a-ha moment in Chapter 13 was that the brain is always changing. It is plastic, adaptable, and constantly in flux (pg 191). It goes on to state that the brains in girls mature more quickly in most areas except mechanical reasoning, visual targeting and spatial reasoning. I found this interesting because the areas that mature more quickly in boys are some of the areas that are tested in a gifted student. Maybe that is why more boys are classified at a younger age then girls.
My "aha" was being reminded about the differences in male and female brains and how they process information differently as well as the varying maturity rates of the brain among girls and boys--pages 190-194. It's not that I haven't student current brain research. But sometimes I forget to take that information into consideration and pay attention to those implications for learning and classroom placement and composition, particularly for the GT student. This information provided me with reminders that I am needing at this point. I also found the section entitled "A Quick Look: Does Race Matter?"(pages 188-189) regarding the gifted African American student particularly insightful and enlightening.
In Chapter 13: My "aha" moment came on p. 190 describing that children from more family oriented cultures are "not as individualistic as American students." I had not thought of that before, eventhough I have taught many Asian students. The text points out that this "group consciousness" is not a weakness, just a cultural difference. I have not really noticed this in my Asian students, but now that I am aware, I will try to accomodate this difference.
On page 186, it says that “Although native-born American students tend to view teachers as somewhat equal partners in the learning process, other cultures do not. In many countries, all elders are respected, and teachers are revered.” Those two sentences say so much about the state of education in America today. On the one hand, yes, I want to be a facilitator of my students’ learning. On the other hand, however, it would be lovely to be respected as a teacher. Teachers in the United States used to be respected and revered. Parents used to work with teachers much more readily than they do now. Nowadays, many parents see their child as a “little grown up” and side with their child (especially in classroom management issues) against the teacher. Granted, that happens in some places more than others, but often, things get downright combative which is unfortunate for the student most of all.
The section on how boys and girls learn differently was very interesting. My cousin's sons go to a school (I think private) and she was telling me how the teacher has done enormous research in this area and only teaches boys. She said instead of desk chairs, they have the exercise balls to sit on. A lot of learning is based on movement. She spoke very highly of the school and they way her son was educated. She is going to put her other son in her class when is is old enough. She told me this about a year ago and basically this section sort of cemented that idea. I wonder if that would be possible in a public setting?
In response to Sasha Luther: I thought you brought up a very intesting point about why more boys may qualify earlier...I hadn't ever though about that. There's another aha moment for me.
My AHA in Ch. 13 was in the section on page 193 that addressed gender playing a role in brain function. This info could serve is a bit of a break through in a project that I am currently working on with my classes. It had not occurred to me to differentiate presentations/instruction based gender. I particularly like the quote “with boys, show, don’t tell. Keep instruction short and to the point.” The moment I read that I immediately saw the faces of some of my male students who I know wish they could tell me to “shut up” or “alright already Miss, you talk too much” and get away with it.
My favorite section in Chapter 13 was entitled “Boys and girls together” on pages 190 – 193. Researching the brain and genders has continued for years. One of my first recollection of the research was on a talk show and the person speaking shared a scenario regarding how boys and girls reacted differently to the same situation…thus concluding that the thinking process of each was quite different…stating that the genders were “wired” differently. The scenario described one child in a room with toys and he/she was asked to pick up the fire truck…which of course was under numerous other toys. All of the girls went through the same process of looking at the situation and then proceeding with moving toys off of the fire truck before picking it up as directed. The boys on the other hand immediately reached into the pile of toys to find a part of the fire truck to grab in order to lift the truck from the maze of toys. I have found the brain research fascinating and this section a delightful read. The “A-Ha” statement was the fact the chemical secretions by the pituitary gland promotes bonding and empathy in which girls seem to produce more.
Katie Kavanagh, I enjoyed reading about your comparison to the reading and the teacher who had exercise balls in her classroom instead of desk chairs. How smart to use other available resources to met the needs of students …in a positive way!
I really enjoyed the section of the chapter entitled " Boys and girls not together" pg. 193 because it totally summed up many of the difficulties that these two groups have when they are put together. When the majority of my boys are out of the room- the whole climate and personality of my girls comes out and they feel more comfortable and I get so much more out of their responses. It seems like the minute the boys(certain boys) come back in the room- we go back to "deer in the headlights" look- I encourage my girls to branch out and be the best they can be no matter what the "boys" think- but they are starting to get to that age where they don't want to seem too smart.
I enjoyed Katie Kavanagh's sharing about the teacher who had the exercise balls for chairs- What a neat idea to meet the needs. I want to try that with some of my antsy students to see if they do better. I bet it takes more concentration to stay balanced than we think!
I thought the section detailing the difference between the structure of the girls and boys brains was interesting. There is a difference in how girls approach a science problem and how boys work, especially on group projects. Girls simply are able to function better as a team, apply their skills for the good of the group and get the job done.
Re: Patricet: I appreciate your sharing you thoughts on the issue of defensive parents. I do not have any experience with that, but I know it happens quite often. Wow, I think you are so right in stating that those situation can result in significantly more unfortunate consequences for the student involved than the adults"!
My a-ha moment in Chapter 13 was in the "Does Race Matter?" section on page 188. I never looked at this issue from the viewpoint of the non-white student in a gifted program. I was shocked when I realized that those students may not believe that they belong in the program, and that they will fail at any moment. It brought me back to high school, when several black students who had gone through elementary and middle school in our gifted program suddenly dropped out. I didn't think much of it then, but looking back I remember seeing them hanging out with other black students, and think that perhaps they were just trying to fit it and didn't want to be seen as different or a "traitor" to their race. I wonder if the pressure finally got to them?
I'm pretty familiar with cultural differences (in theory) because of a class that I took at UH. But there was one part that I found very interesting. The section on girls being able to multitask and think more holistically was very interesting. I also found the part about boys brains interesting. The part where it says to "show boys, don't tell" they need to move. I will try to remember this more often.
As mentioned on p186, my a-ha moment was when reading about teacher diversity. I try to actively reach out to the minority students and to ensure that they feel included. However, as a white teacher, sometimes I wonder whether they actually feel that I am a legitimate role model for them - how can I really know what they are going through? Do they think that we share a background?
Two ah'ha's of this section. One was that my travel is valuable and it does help with - motivating the students. I they know you have travelled somewhere and not have not just been a tourist they respect your teaching more. Second, that boys do go through a period of that they totally do not know what they are doing for a while. But then later on, they will remember the strange things that they did and not understand at all why they would do something so ridiculous.
I enjoyed reading about homeschooling GT students on page 195. Parents I saw when I homeschooled my son were active learners and quite interesting, willing to sacrifice all kinds of things for further education in the areas of interest. I also noted that not everyone is equipped, as it is so taxing to be there for those GT students all the time.
response to S Henderson: I also noted on page 187 that sharing a background with a child creates an intimacy...knowledge of the vocabulary used and examples of what life is like from that place is so valuable.
I am confused by the "Does Race Matter" section on p.188. The gifted African American woman who stated many people believe that only "rich" black kids would qualify for the program. She went on to state that the forebears of the AA students were of African kings and queens and they had forgotten where they had come from. So does being "rich", really matter? It seems that she is contradicting herself. Is the high IQ just a random fluke of DNA, or does the apple not fall far from the tree?
In response to Lguidry's statement, I think the woman was trying to say that in reminding the students of their heritage (African kings and queens) you eliminate their "excuse" for it being ok to not try a preap class or being ok to not succeed. Once you take away their excuse then you leave them no choice but to take responsibility for their performance and then help open the door for them to believe that they can succeed.
Comment: I found the girls vs. boys section interesting too. I glazed over look is very familiar to me, but I never knew what it was really attributed to. Very interesting chapter!
An aha for me is the description of how the brains of boys and girls differ and the implications it has on planning differentiated activities in the classroom. Also it confirms why girls develop language faster than boys which facilitates girls exceling in the language arts area in school versus the slow progress of the boys. I have read several professional books on brain research but some of the details I did not know.
responding to shenderson, I agree that sharing a cultural heritage with students can be an advantage but also learning and being surrounded by students from different cultures and backgrouns expand our knowledge and theirs as well. I have found through experience that the stronger the connections are with students the more willing they are in trying new things in the classroom. I work in one of the schools where children are surrounded by teachers from around the world since we have many from south and central american and some asian teachers besides american teachers too therefore the children have an opportunity to learn from all of us.
responding to wonderweiss, I agree that the section about the brain is very interesting because we really have not grasped how marvelous our brains are. The fact that the brain has this neural plasticity opens the door to rethink how to teach in the classroom because it means that the brain has the opportunity to create new connections to enhance learning through experiences.
(p9-10) I found the discussion on the differences in boys and girls’ brains to be fascinating. I did not know the male brain requires a rest state to renew itself. I also did not know that ‘boys tend to notice an object’s motion, while girls are more likely to aware of its texture and color.” I was also glad to be reminded that “most generalizations are riddled with exceptions.” Again, this points out that while we have a responsibility to be aware of the latest research, we must merge that with truly ‘knowing’ our students.
In response to SharonG regarding boys and girls not together: For the past 6 years my sister-in-law in Kentucky has taught 6th grade language arts in same gender classes. It has been her contention that it is much easier for her to meet the needs of these students, and she is able to employ very different teaching strategies. However, as the book states, the test scores have not reflected significant improvement.
My a-ha moment was at the end of the chapter:"Wherever and however the child learns, it's the adults who either fire the student's enthusiasm or quash it. There is no substitute for the combination of a loving, actively involved parent and a nurturing teacher who understands and values intellectual giftedness and the challenges it presents" (196). I found it very interesting to read about all the differences in students that affect their motivation, but these last two sentences reminded me that different students have different needs, but they all have the need for a classroom that engages them and teacher who nurtures them. If a teacher can do those two things, I think they will be taking a big step in the right direction.
In response to sueellenm:I was also interested in reading about the differences in the brains of boys and girls and did not know the male brain requires a rest state to renew itself. It makes sense, but I don't think I had ever read that before. There is so much I still need to learn about the human brain.
In response to Sharon G.I agree that the "Boys and Girls Not Together" section really interested me. As an 8th grade teacher, I also see many girls who seem like they are shy about speaking up or hesitant about seeming too smart in front of the boys. My mother went to an all girls boarding school and raves about her experience. As a member of a Girl Scout troop throughout my school years and a Girl Scout leader now, I have seen first hand what girls can achieve. It does make me wonder what an all girl or all boy classroom would be like.