This is a professional development blog. We'll be discussing books we read as a group. Our discussions will be focused on gifted children.
Academic success must be defined by more than just good grades (p.15)Underachievemnet can persist through adulthood and professional careers (p.16).Honor differences in a classroom and help students see that differing assignments help everyone move forward with their learning (p.23-24).Equity doesn't mean everyone receives the same education, but everyone receives what they need (p.34)
I love the way they introduce and explain to the class that students may have different projects. This is something that my students ask me and I always have problems explaining. I love the activity (pages 21-26) of placing the four pages on the walls and having the students see how they may have a strength and interest in one area, but definitely not interested in another area and that is fine. I teach third grade and plan on using this activity the first week of school with my students. I think it is also a great character education lesson!
In response to kimberlym, I too like the four sheets of paper activity. For younger students I would probably choose different activity choices that I know some of my students would have experience doing, but not all like ping pong or origami.
A fresh thought that I had from Chapter One through Three was "to create a climate of differentiation, it takes three values in your classroom: respect diversity, maintain high expectations, and generate openness (Page 20)." I have always thought of my classroom as respecting diversity with our International Food Day where we read "Yoko" by Rosemary Wells and share food from each other's cultures. But I never thought about respecting the exceptionalities in the classroom. We have our daily G.T. creativity activity, even though I do not have any recognized Gifted Students. This is a great way to expand all minds in learning but am I uplifting and respecting that special diversity? How can I do that? Reading Chapter Three made me think about how can I respect the diversity of exceptional abilities of Gifted Students? I thought about learning styles and menus for choice of assignments. A menu that touches on different learning styles would allow for all learners to participate. It can help build an understanding that everyone learns a different way and thus students respect others' learning styles.
Page 15, "support the child if she finds ...an assignment takes time and hard work...support her in reaching high academic standards." Not neccessarily a new thought for me, but this can definitely be a challenge. Many students on my campus, unfortunately, don't like to rise to a challenge. If something doesn't come easily, they prefer to just give up and make excuses. I always tell my students that it's good when something is challenging, that's how we exercise our brain. Our brain is like our body, if we don't exercise we are not healthy so if we don't exercise our brain we don't get "smarter" or learn how to solve problems. I find this a challenge too often.
In response to kimberlym on June 4th: I liked this activity too. Usually I just have a class discussion and we talk about how everyone learns differently, so they'll be seeing and doing different things throughout the year. This activity is a much more interesting way to bring it up and to get the class more involved in the issue.
In response to amitch on June 4th: I like your idea of using menus to help your students understand and respect each other's learning styles. They're already excited that they have choice in their assignment, but this is also a way for them to respect other's choices and appreciate differences.
Implementing interest surveys struck me. I use them at the beginning of the school year and sometimes feel they are just fluff or a waste of time, but if done correctly by asking the right questions, they could really be a great guide to helping students pursue their own passions in learning.
I love the idea of asking the students, "If you could talk to any one person from history, who would it be? Why? Think of 3 questions you would ask the person."(p.28)I teach Texas history and am looking forward to pose these questions to my students as well as finding out their interests and steering their projects in the direction that interests them the most!
In response to Ms. Gio, I also thought the interest surveys were just a “fun” activity to do with the students and that I needed to use activities that would benefit the students more. After reading the first three chapters, I think it will be a great use of our time, and hopefully, answer some of the questions the students ask about why some of their other classmates have different or shortened assignments.
I found the “inventories” ideas discussed on pages 21-26 to be quite interesting. It would be a fine experiment for the students to delve into possible areas of interests or strengths that they never really gave much thought about. Prior to teaching a particular subject, an interest inventory (page 28) could serve the teacher well before beginning that unit so that she/he can structure the lessons around the interest inventory survey taken by the students. Based on the (inventory) diversity, students’ instructions will vary from their peers which is truly exercising differentiation. When reading Chapters 1-3, I truly agree on page 35 with the statistics and that which I have read over the years: “We must prepare young Americans to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. Too much is at stake for us to aim for mediocrity.” Our students must reach above and beyond proficiency. They must strive for excellence if they are going to compete in the global world. Throughout my reading of Chapters 1-3, I have concluded the following: It is our responsibility, as teachers, to provide a learning environment which has high expectations combined with differentiation strategies giving each child an opportunity to develop to their level of excellence. One of my favorite ways of teaching has always been to incorporate humor and the discovery approach to learning. If you make learning “fun” then you will see that students will retain the knowledge longer and may be inspired to branch off of that learning to something new and exciting for them.
Barbara Clark’s quote in Chapter 3, on page 43 hit home for me! Students do become more responsible when they know they have choices, when they know their expectations, and when they have an opportunity to self-evaluate themselves. In reading Chapters 1-3, differentiation can occur in an open classroom where high expectations are maintained and the diversity of the students in the class is respected. On page 26, the inventory idea is a great way for students to own their own learning and take pleasure in finding out what they may excel at or have an interest in. On page 20, the principles of differentiation are stated as incorporating diversity and high expectations. There is no question that considering an individual child’s interests, needs, and strengths is essential to knowing what and how to teach that child. For each child , it is the teacher’s responsibility to uphold high expectations and hopefully, the child will intrinsically acquire this same high level of expectation. Combining these 2 principle of learning does create an openness in the classroom where students are comfortable with learning their individual assignment and appreciate being taught in a learning style that they can relate to and be successful with. I agree with Theo when she says that American have to step up with our game and become more competitive in the global world – maintain expectations of excellence for our students, not just being proficient at something. Our students will grow up to be adults and maintain mediocrity in their professional work and will not be competitive with those who have learned that true excellence is required in order for you to acquire the best of the best and get to the top of the top!
In response to a mitch on June 5, menus work great! We use them to give students choice when completing research projects...all of the menu items encorporate higher level cognitive learning styles. It is a great way to "raise the bar" for all learners in your classroom.
When I teach the Greek Mythology unit, I am going to try and use the Interest Inventories in the way Mrs. Caufield did for her unit on Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. It is a popular unit with the students, but allowing those with extensive Greek Myth knowledge to expand beyond the group book to individual research could be an exciting turn.
I agree with Theo, June 6th, and his quote that “We must prepare young Americans to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. Too much is at stake for us to aim for mediocrity." The standards for excellence by which students measure themselves are sometimes misconstrued when they are actually just "passing or proficient." This is seen with the "high five" and the surprised look..."then I passed?" in achieving a 56 and passing TAKS. In the classroom perhaps pride and a quest for excellence may be better observed if the student has some ownership in the work through differentiation.
Developing students who share in the responsibility of their own learning is our charge as teachers. Barbara Clark's quote in Chpt.3 p. 43 makes an important point. Students who are provided choices with known expectations and an opportunity for reflection have the scaffolding necessary for success. A student's ability to honestly and accurately reflect on their learning increases both motivation and life-long learning.
On page 20, ‘..we are sensitive to our own issues, but we also empathize with those who share those issues. But…Problems arise when we encounter people with other issues. We lose that sensitivity.” I wanted to add: We also become insensitive to issues we have worked through a long time ago. I walked into college without the necessary math and even embarrassed myself by asking what ‘integration’ meant in a calculus based physics class! Next year, half of my classes will be 10th graders who do not have the algebra skills my students in the past have had. It reminded me of all that I will need to do for those students (like my professor did for me) and be sensitive to their skills levels.
I liked the "Levels of Academic Success" on page 14. Isn't our goal to have all students become lifelong learners? Figure 2.2 is important for teachers to understand. The quote from McCoach and Siegle on page 16 states that it is hard to reverse underachievement. We as educators need to help parents understand that academic success is more than good grades. Students need to develop interests in and out of school.
In response to kimberlym who posted on June 3rd at 6:53 PM. I also like the way the book explained how to create a class that respects diversity. I will be teaching 4th grade this next year and plan on using the "How Do You Learn It? activity the first week with my students.
Although I have heard these ideas before, seeing the chart on pg. 16 made it easier to understand. Assisting your students moving through the levels of academic success - 1. Don't rescue the child from a challenge. Instead support him/her.- This is the one that I tried to implement in my classroom this year. Some of my students have trouble thinking for themselves when they are put in a challenging situation. I have tried to get my students to ask themselves questions, figure out possible solutions, and think for themselves. This will be a continual process every year that I teach, but a really important tool for our students.
In response to nlopez:I also tell my students that it's ok to find an assignment challenging. They sometimes feel the need to give up when they don't "get it" immediately. I like how you used the term "exercise our brain". I'm definitely going to use that next year.
RE: nlopez: I more than understand the idea that they want to give up when there is a challenge. I think my kids fall into two categories: The first, they have so many other challenges in their lives; they just can’t deal with the ones I throw at them. I had a senior last year who barely spoke English and decided to cut my final. After repeated calls to home, he came in and we had a talk. He had assumed he had failed and saw no reason to take the final as he had more stressful things in his life. Once I showed him he was passing and gave him a pep talk – he passed and graduated with my class on his transcript!The second category is those who are really bright but have never been challenged – so they don’t know how to deal with a challenge. I get this mostly in my AP classes. These kids are most at risk of failing in real life situations, since all of adulthood is dealing with stress and challenges. My band director used to tell us: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
In response to Ms. Gio:I agree on your thoughts about Interest Surveys. This is something we should come back to throughout the year and not just at the beginning of the year. I would like to find out ideas and topics my students have throughout the year.
Definately on p.15, "Academic success must be defined by more than just good grades." The other one is on p.20, "to create a climate of differentiation, it takes three values in your classroom: respect diversity, maintain high expectations, and generate openness."
In reponse to Brooke, I was glad to read that she expresses to her students that it is OK to find some of the work challenging because I really feel that communicating with our students is a good thing. Also, in reponse to Nlopez, I like your phrase of "exercising your brain" because I can see how that helps students see that our brains need to exercise to become stronger just like the other muscles in our body. The more exercise the stronger our brain becomes.
Working at a school where the parents are competetive and compare student work poses a great issue for truly differentiating. I have been urged to send home the same products as the other classes to not stir up a flurry of parents wondering why their child brought home something different than another child. I am very frustrated by this, as it goes against the grain of what we are suppose to be doing as educators which is to serve each individual student's needs for learning. I love the part where "Level one is gets good grades with ease", this is what parents truly in my school demographics believe is success. I have a lot of work to do in communicating how rhis is not the case. I will use the surveys this next year in an attempt to communicate why differentiation is important for my students.
In response to brookec on June 7 @ 9:42, I totally agree with you! Many of my students would try to give up on something if it was challenging to them. I would support them in working the objective out, but I would never "rescue" them because I knew that would feed into their learned helplessness. I wanted to empower my students to realize their full potential and that they could do anything they set their mind to.
In respnse to susand on June 6 @ 4:38, I really enjoyed reading your post. This part of chapter 3 really struck a cord in me, as well! If we give students the opportunity to give input and truly listen to them, we open a new door for mutual learning. It is not just the students who learn on a daily basis, we as educators do, as well.
I was happy to see they listed several inventories so teachers could choose the one(s) that they prefer to discover important information about their students. The book suggests the possibility of using different inventories throughout the year to help teachers design instruction and assignments that stem from an interest inventory. [pgs 26-30]Using the “How Do You Learn It?” activity that was used with students as a way to convey/communicate the need for differentiation in the classroom to parents. [pg. 21-26, 29]“In a classroom focusing on continuous progress, each student needs the opportunity to add equally to his or her knowledge, to make at least a year’s gain in achievement. Only when each student is making continuous progress can each one be academically successful.” [pg. 31] Often times those who are functioning above grade level are not challenged on a continuous or persistent basis because we are so focused on those who are working below level. This is a good reminder that all students need to make “continuous progress.”
In response to Susand on June 6th, I also liked Barbara Clark’s quote on page 43 and your thoughts “There is no question that considering an individual child’s interests, needs, and strengths is essential to knowing what and how to teach that child.”Our actions are based on what is best for the child. We have to be aware of the interests, needs, and strengths of the children; students need to be aware of the expectations and their responsibilities.
In response to sermonsl on June 7th, I am in agreement with your posting. ~Life long learners where academic success is more than good grades. ~Helping students reach excellence with hard work and persistence.
In response to bbielik on June 7th, I can totally understand what you are talking about and can relate to your post. In an elementary school setting, (where I work) parents are always talking about what happens in the classroom. It definately does stir things up when they hear about different material coming home with different kids. I am going to try and really explain this at the beginning of next year and stress that each child's assignments are "just right" for him/her.
On page 26, the idea of inventories is discussed. I would love to try this idea with my class. I have always know that student choice and input is important, but the idea on page 40 about student choice and motivation got me thinking about all the different kids of choices that a teacher could give a student. "Choices include content, activities, assessments, products, or even working situations." I also hadn't thought of the relationship between gives choices and Love and Logic. The connection on page 41 saying that choices help to create a positive self concept and prevent discipline problems makes so much sense.
"That the teacher must maintain high expectations tailored to individual students in order to remove the learning ceiling for all students..." (p. 37) This struck me because I have thought in these terms with regards to GT students, but not all students. I don't want the students to think, "O.K. I did that I can stop now." I want them to think, "O.K., cool, what's next?"I also like the idea of discussion of the interest/learning inventories to help the students become self aware that they learn in different ways, at different speeds, and that that is O.K."Establishing and honoring a respect for diversity sets the stage for differentiation as it becomes the climate of the classroom." "It falls on the educator's shoulders to deliberately and carefully respect and celebrate those differences. Those differences....can be capitalized on so that all students learn a variety of content on a variety of levels in a variety of ways." I love the word CELEBRATE. Not just acknowledge and respect differences, but celebrate them. This seems to tie in nicely with Love and Logic.
In response to susand's comment: "For each child , it is the teacher’s responsibility to uphold high expectations and hopefully, the child will intrinsically acquire this same high level of expectation." The quote on p. 43 really struck me also..."Students can learn responsibility and an inner sense of control.." These are things we hope we can guide all students to and I hope that studying this book will better enable me to do it.
In reference to the ladder of academic success (p. 14), what a great visual to illustrate where kids often stay (level 1), and where they SHOULD stay (level 3). To have a student operating consistently at a level where they experience joy and satisfaction is where the deepest, most meaningful level learning occurs. The statement about parents being happy with their child at level 1 because their grades are good, yet this is not preparing their student to be any more than just status quo. Shouldn't we want our students (and children for those of us that are parents) to strive to operate at a level of not just status quo, but rather their absolute best? All the while in an environment that is supportive and encouraging?
Brookec - I agree about Figure 2.2 on page 16. It's interesting - over the past few years, I have, for whatever reason, had more students than usual who have made it very clear to all around that because they are GT, they are "smarter" than most people (which suggests, to a certain degree, a certain lack of intelligence ;) ). However, when these same students experience the slightest challenge, they either (a) declare the challenge stupid (or some variation thereof ) or (b) faulty (since they can't find a solution/understand the issue). For whatever reason, these students have been given the wrong message (that they are smarter than others), and therefore don't know how to work through a challenge. This is especially troublesome since in today's current market, being a problem solver with good social skills is highly prized. On that note, point #1, "Don't rescue the child from a challenge." resonates with me because it suggests letting the child struggle through with support.
kimberlym, I love the part about creating a differentiated environment where everyone feels respected. By emphasizing the differences, and their value in the learning process, through such activities as How Do You Learn It? is the perfect way to start out the year.
Page 14: Levels of Academic Success - So many people simply consider grades. I feel like it is even more important for me to foster a love of learning by making each child feel successful and respected in my classroom.
It sounds like I work in a similar environment as bbielik, where the parents (and students) are very competitive. There were seven classes in my grade level last year and there is a lot of pressure to send home the same products. The parents deem good grades to be true success rather than consider the lifelong learning potential of their children. It is frustrating and I hope that I am able to truly differentiate for students with parental support.
It was interesting to read about how interest inventories can be used throughout the year. I also like how much of what is discussed helps the learner determine their own individual needs. Also, I appreciate that there is actually a realistic strategy given for communicataing with parents the importance of diversity in the classroom and how to respect the needs of each of the learners. I also loved how it spoke of how all students felt comfortable and appreciated in the learning environment. Choices are offered. It's sometimes hard to plan the choices for the students, but I was reminded of the importance of taking the time to help guide my children's learning by means of these choices.The preassessment piece is interesting to me because as a teacher we preassess, but often have a hard time using this preassessment piece as a tool for planning the learning. It's hard when there is such a diverse range of learners in the classroom, but it is definitely a vital pieace of the planning process.
In response to brookec, I had a hard time this year with 2 students in particular; when activities were challenging to them, they truly felt like failures. This was a huge obstacle in my classroom this year. So many tears were shed because they had a hard time accepting challenges as a positive experience.In response to sermonsl, you are absolutely correct about us needing to educate parents that successful learning is not just about a grade. I wish that more parents were able to buy into this philosophy.
In response to amitch, I think that you have an interesting ponit about the menus. It made me think of how important it is for learners to know and understand their learning style. I think that the menus offer a chance for them to explore other styles and see that they don't always need to choose an activity based on the fact that their friend chose that particular activity. Also, I don't like when teachers dictate to the child every activity that they will do for the year. I like that the students have choices and are given more of a chance to explore their interests and focus in on their own needs.
The ideas of how to create a differentiated classroom are great. I could see myself setting this up the first day of school. I really like the "How Do You Learn It?" activity. I'm not sure if it would look the same in primary grades but I am visualizing how to tweak it. To see that everyone differs in their own way and people have certain strengths on certain topics, helps to establish a safe classroom climate right away. I can see this helping to establish a community of life long learners. I like how chapter 3 includes parents too. We need to make sure parents are aware that differentiation means diversity which means that their kids assignment will look different from another's and it's ok. That their childs work is based on their own individual interests!!! This is something that is easy to say but I'm not sure if parents will understand where we are going with it?!
on p. 43 I liked the 5 most difficult questions activity. I am familiar with most of the other suggestions, but this one I haven't heard of or tried. Using this as a way of "testing out" p.44 is a great idea and maybe they are not testing out of the content, but taking it to another level of learning. The statement about students becoming lazy when they are studying content they have already mastered is very true (p.44), I am sure we have all experienced that type student, which then challenges us as teachers to meet their needs.
in response to ms. gio... I teach US history and I think that this a wonderful idea. What a great activity for students to do and it stretches their thinking on top it.
in response to illgl... "Honor differences in a classroom and help students see that differing assignments help everyone move forward with their learning (p.23-24)." By teaching students to honor each others differences in when comes to learning styles flows over to the idea of honor each students individual personality. When this happens can you imagine what the climate of the classroom would be like! Students would so in sync with each other and then the teacher's job of differenciating becomes so much easier.