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 personally think the LOVE of learning is the most important thing. If they WANT to learn, I can’t stop them.As an educator, we must support the whole education of each child – labeled gifted, special needs or no-label! I found a lot of answers reading Garder’s Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (p112). It made a lot of sense to me, personally, as a learner. I knew I ‘saw’ things differently than my peers and teachers and just thought I was weird! • I, of course, think my class is the most important one in the school (Cough! Cough!) However, if they process information kinesthetically, and I keep them in a chair while I lecture for 90 minutes, I have totally lost them. Not only have I not supported the whole learning of that student, but I have destroyed any love of learning for that student in any of his classes (boredom and bad attitudes are contagious.)• I think one of our jobs is to help the students learn in the other styles (or at least be aware of them) to help them become well-rounded. As an extreme example, several years ago, I had a very spatial/logical-mathematical student in class with no intrapersonal or intrapersonal tendencies (he had Asperger’s Syndrome). One of my goals was to have him participate appropriately with the linguistic/musical students in the class. I can’t say they became friends, but by the end of the year, they could be in a lab group together without a disagreement! By contrast, the logical-mathematical students increase their interpersonal skills and boost their (often lagging) leadership skills by having them in lab groups with spatial/linguistic students. I have found my kinesthetic students make excellent lab leaders for the logical-mathematical students! • Finally, I think they need to go into the world and be decent human beings, not just well educated! The last thing I do each year is give each student a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘If’ (I know – poetry in a physics class!). I used to read it at graduation, but now I just give a copy to each student and read it, making comments specific to each class about ‘If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;'(each student can think of at least on instance of being accused of something they had not done) and ‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - ’ (they stayed in class and finished, took the AP test, etc!). I usually wind up in tears. To me, all of these things increase the whole education of the students.
In an attempt to create an environmnent which respects learning differences without competition, I am once again drawn to thinking about "readiness or ability level" (Chpt.7 p. 113-114) in order to plan "whole" learning opportunities for my students. Since "giftedness" is found in a variety of modalities, considering multiple intelligences (Chpt. 7 p. 112-113) is important in assessment of new learning. When given choice of activities, students can explore various strengths and demonstrate a deeper understanding of subject matter. As a professional educator it is my reponsibility to create "more challenging" and diverse activities (Ex. Chpt. 7 p. 121) to support the "gifted" students in my learning community.
Allowing the student to make decisions about how and what they want to learn, having intentional goals, purposeful lessons, pre-assessments, modifying, and differentiating by using multiple intelligence concepts (pg.111) all assist in teaching the whole child. Permitting the GT student to move on and advance in content (pg. 57) allows an “array of learning experiences” saving valuable time and minimizing boredom. While not part of the curriculum, instructing students on study skills, self discipline, organization, planning and persistence must also be fostered in order for the student to be successful.
I believe we have to give the students choices in their learning. Giving them choices to choose which direction they take to further their learning of a concept will motivate them to learn and benefit them greatly. I think we, the educators, also have to understand that the students are still learning, and we can still assess them, it is just done in a different way. I like the examples given on page 107 about how a think-tac-toe menu gives a young man gifted in the visual arts a chance to show you what he’s learned in a medium that suits him best. It also gives the example of a “young woman who happens to be a techie” is able to give a PowerPoint presentation or a design a Web page on the content that she learned. I feel like we should be moving towards differentiated instruction and rubrics for all students to motivate them and let them showcase their strengths. It also gives them a chance to explore and try something new. I also liked the statement at the very beginning of chapter 7 on page 103. “Differentiation is not simply giving students choices. The educational professional must be very intentional about the options provided.” Teachers can’t just let students do whatever they want. We have to provide some boundaries so that we can ensure all academic needs are being met. I think rubrics provide those boundaries so the student knows what objectives and goals they need to meet.
The whole learning of a gifted child could be partly addressed through activities such as the Think-Tac-Toe where you incorporate different learning styles such as verbal, visual, and kinesthetic into your assignments (p. 110-112). You can also include multiple intelligences and expand interests using activities with music, art, linguistic, mathematical, etc. in your products (p. 112-113). Extra points can be given for completing more of a variety of projects. Consideration can also be given to alternate ideas for completing a project as long as it meets the criteria for the important concepts that were taught. I think gifted students would love to help the teacher create Venn diagram and Think-Tac-Toe activities after experience with both.
I agree with tjensen that gifted students need to learn to be decent human beings first and foremost. Anytime we as teachers can provide material that encourages moral thinking and helps students evaluate the good/bad and right/wrong of an issue, will benefit them for life.
"We are celebrating the differences in our students." (p. 131) That includes all differences: learning, social, emotional...That's what good teachers do. We teach the whole child, not just the learning part. If we are to prepare students for the real world we must expose them to different challenges as well as provide them with the tools they'll need to meet those challenges. The strategies in this book along with strategies they'll come up with themselves along the way is what will help them be successful.
In response to tjensen on July 4: I agree that we do need to expose students to different learning styles. When they become adults and are working in the real world, they will be in situations or working with people that may not learn/problem solve the same as them, but there is still a goal that needs to be accomplished. This also helps with creating a well rounded person because students will learn coping skills so that they can work through a problem and still get the job done as opposed to throwing a tantrum or saying it can't be done thus isolating themselves from their peers and not performing as expected for their occupation.
In response to kimberlym on July 6: I agree that although we should give students choice in their learning, we do need to provide structure at the same time. This helps us as teachers make sure students are truly showing what they know, but the choice gives them that independence they need to take more responsibility for their learning.
I believe we can support the whole learning of a gifted child by encouraging and celebrating the individual interests of each child. By getting to know his/her learning styles, interests, readiness levels, and encouraging each student to let these guide his/her learning. Also, by encouraging students to find and collaborate with others who share his/her interests will make learning more fun and hopefully foster a spirit of life-long enthusiasm for learning. This concept is addressed in Chapter 8 in the discussion of the problem with tracking children into a "narrow path" (p.134) of learning. Encouraging students to explore different mediums through choice of product and collaborating with others who share their same passions through flexible grouping will help students try new things rather than to be pigeon-holed into what they've been told they're good at.
Re wattb: I totally agree that students need instruction on “study skills, self discipline, organization, planning and persistence.” In school, sometimes we keep things so structured and narrow; the students learn only how to pass the test – not to think and take care of themselves. I have so many students come in with papers sticking out of their notebooks, without homework or even needed supplies - all due to a lack of planning and organization. I tell them that being organized actually reduces their work load. They spend less time ‘doing schoolwork’ if they are not wasting time hunting for assignments or rushing through and making mistakes then having to redo. Also, since we are on block schedule, my assignments for a unit have to be completed with half the number of class meetings, so they often must plan to come to tutorials on days our class does not meet.
I definately think that providing an environment where there is a balance of structure and choice is a starting point. Also, it is important to keep in mind our student's interest, ability levels and their talents to show their learning are other important factors to consider so that our students can be successful. In response to kimberlyn on July 6, I agree that it is important to have structure so that students will know the expectations but it allows for teachers to be able to monitor student progress so they are not always doing the same thing over and over again and never try something different.In response to NLopez on July 8, I agree in your statement, "choice gives them that independence they need to take more responsibility for their learning." It is vital that students take ownership of their own learning. In the manner that education is changing especially now where some of the skills students will need in the future is to take initiative and be problem solvers facilitating opportunities for them to become independent is crucial.
In response to (nlopez~July 8, 3:06), teaching to the whole child requires providing them with a variety of challenges along with a wide-range of tools to meet the challenges is important to note.
I think we help our GT students to be whole learners by giving them "flexibility, choice, and challenge" (p.120). If we allow them and ourselves to flexible in how they learn then they have all the opportunity in the world to learn anything and everything. As for the choice part, by allowing them the flexibility to choose their topic of learning or method of learning lets the gt kiddos go above and beyond what they are trying to accomplish. By doing this we are challenging them to learn something new they might not have has the chance to learn if we the teacher were not flexible in allowing them to have choice.
in response to tjensen... Well said! if they love to learn then there is no stopping what they can accomplish. We have to allow them to continue learning about things that interest them. We cannot put these learners, nor any other learner in a learning box and expect them to soar.
in response to solorzano...I agree we can give them choice and flexibility, but they are still kiddos and need some sort of structure. Without classroom structure students tend to get side tracked and off track.
I believe we can support the learning of gifted and all students by offering purposeful and meaningful choices. Anyone can hand out different assignments and say they are differentiated, but the key is making sure that those assignments meet your students needs. I think the introduction of chapter 7 states it well. " the options (for the student) mist purposefully selected so that needs, interests, or abilities of students are taken into consideration" (page 103). It all comes down to the teacher making smar choices to meet the students' needs and motivate them to learn.
In response to ratliffb on July 11th I totally agree that you need structure. The students will need clear expectations and accountability. Choice alone is not enough to ensure the whole student is learning. I like the way you thought of that aspect as well.
We need to make sure that the child has continuous progress. We need to challenge students but not to point of frustration. I like what is stated on page 86 in chapter 6. "In a differentiated classroom, students experience a climate that encourages and celebrates differences. The key to differentiation is not more but different."This goes back to preassessment and knowing our students. As stated on page 103, regardless of the intent, we must take into consideration our students' needs, interests, and abilities.
In response to msgio on July 8th, I like how you were talking about encouraging students to try new things by using flexible grouping with peers that can motivate and challenge them. It is so important for te student to be challenged and not just satisfied with what they can complete easily.
In response to Kimberlym who wrote on July 6th at 8:12PM. I agree it is important for students to have choice when showing what they have learned. When students have choice their motivation level is increased. That said, we as educators must make sure the options are purposefully selected so students' needs, interests, and abilities are taken into consideration.
One important thing that hit me was, "don't limit students' learning by setting the learning ceiling at proficiency." p. 165. It is vital that we help the students learn to challenge themselves, not rest on their laurels, and not be discouraged by setbacks. "High grades alone will not prepare a student to do well when he eventually meets an academic challenge; but perseverance, study skills, responsiblily, and problem-solving abilities will. A child only learns these skills and values when confronted with challenge." p. 13. We want to build creative thinking skills, "fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration as key skills used by creaive thinkers." p. 65 Appendix A, What a Child Doesn't Learn, made me think about how I can address all these other aspects of education that are not tested on the state test.
In response to anonymus, "We teach the whole child, not just the learning part. If we are to prepare students for the real world we must expose them to different challenges as well as provide them with the tools they'll need to meet those challenges." It is so easy to lose sight of the fact that the students' continuous progress and learning is the goal, not the scores on the state test.
I think the key to meeting the needs of the whole child is that the "key to differentiation is not more but different" (page 86). Gifted students should not be punished by having to complete more assignments. They should be challenged by appropriate assignments that meet their needs and motivate them. "Each child is getting a challenging assignment that stregthens her brain and provides continuous progress." (page 86)
On page 92, it encourages us as educators to remember how important it is to give our students choices. Whole learning of the gifted child takes place when we, as teachers, apply the best teaching techniques that will meet the needs and interests of our students and assure their continued, successful progress. With assessment, we must have students working on their own level yet challenge the gifted child to the higher levels of thinking. Whole learning takes place when the student is motivated, interested, and is seriously putting forth their best effort to be successful.
In addition to the "structured choices" offered by the various tools (Think-Tac-Toe, Venn diagrams, etc.), I know I have spent a reasonable amount of time teaching some of my GT kids (not all, but many), the requisite social skills for working in a group of mixed learning styles. It seems that I have had at least two or three students in my GT classes over the years that struggle to interact with their peers, some of which I've had to directly teach how to share their ideas, concerns, etc. with respect. Given that the 21st century learner will be expected to work with others collaboratively in various environmnents, I believe we would be remiss to ignore the social learning of our students.
We can support and encourage a child's "whole learning" by allowing choice based on individual students' interests. I really liked the Tic-Tac-Toe approach for this reason. Students can focus on the content and the process, but they can present their learning in their choice of products. As long as the Tic-Tac-Toe choices includes "multiple product options that appeal to different kinds of learners," students will likely be more successful and focused in their learning (110).
In response to sermonsl, I also appreciated the point that "we need to make sure that the child has continuous progress. We need to challenge students, but not to point of frustration (86). I think it's important to focus on each individual student's level. After all, in an ideal classroom, "everyone tackles the same concepts, but on his or her own level--that's differentiation" (85).
I agree with angelam that "the key to differentiation is not more but different" (86). Students should not feel like they are being punished for working at a higher level. Instead, they should be working at their own level. It's not quantity but quality.
As an educator it is my responsibility to make sure whole learning does take place for my gifted students. To accomplish this, the gifted child is experiencing whole learning when differentiation strategies are being taught. When they are given tasks that meet their special needs (based on pre-assessment) and are given the opportunity to make choices, and are being challenged, and they are actively engaged, you’ve got the right ingredients for successful learning.
I think that the best way that we can ensure the WHOLE learning of the GT child, or any child for that matter, as stated on pg. 85, is to always keep a "climate that encourages and celebrates differences" and that "the key to differentiation is not more but different".Students should feel safe to take risks in their learning. Students should also be encouraged to stretch their thinking a little further. By doing these things, we are able to watch our students grow as learners.
In response to what ratliffb said on July 11, great point! When students are excited about their learning, they work harder and often put in a lot more effort. It's important for them to break out of their rut and allow them to try new things. In response to cpetrich, thanks for cueing in on how as professional educators, it is our reponsibility to create "more challenging" and diverse activities (Ex. Chpt. 7 p. 121) to support our learners. This is certainly what our focus should be.
We need to encourage the “whole learning” of a gifted child because students are not gifted in just one area. Although most school districts identify children who are high academic achievers, we may have students gifted in leadership, creativity, sports, art, music, etc... If we don’t provide outlets so students can explore different aspects of their personalities and talents, we are doing them a disservice. We should also foster other aspects in their lives such as play, imagination, responsibility, love of learning, affection, and fun. Many truly gifted children have a difficult time in social situations. It is our duty to help them learn ways to cope in the real world doing activities that will be expected of them when they are part of the work force. Parents are a resource we can tap into for the benefit of their child. They can help enhance their child’s learning by sharing an appreciation of culture, the arts, the environment, exploration, science, government, and community by visiting museums, parks, conservatories, theaters, aquariums, libraries, and concert halls. Sometimes pressure or overload can cause disinterest, but children can tell when teachers and parents show their love of the child--wanting to provide the best opportunities for them
In response to rpiccolatx on July July 12th, yes-- our classrooms should be a safe haven for children.
In response to becky on July 12th, yes, we can’t forget the social/emotional aspects of our children. Our jobs are multi-level, multi-faceted, and differentiated.
In order to teach the whole child we must reach further than what is expected. I received a note last year from a student that really got me thinking. He said that I took the time to get to know him in and out of the classroom. I hadn't even thought I was doing anything special, but this student did. He then had the confidence to know that I was on his side and wanted the best for him. Never underestimate the power of a simple conversation.
In response to ms.gio:I agree with your thoughts on grouping with different levels, abilities, ideas. Some students may not know they are strong in one area b/c they were "pigeon-holed" into a specific task.
In response to solorzano:Great thoughts! Yes, structure is huge in the classroom. Students need to know there are boundaries, there is a schedule, etc. Giving them a choice is a huge responsibility and they know they can handle it.
We as educators can support and encourage the whole learning of a gifted child by understanding their learning style and interests for one. I try to get to know each of my students well on an individual basis so I know what drives them or motivates them. There is not one day in my classroom where I do not connect with several students on an individual basis so they know they are not just part of a group of students. Holding each student to high expectations with a ton of redirecting and offering assistance freely give each student in my class a sense of self-worth and open communication with me. My high expectations are a continuous strand including; class assignments, behavior, and daily responsibilities that students are held accountable for. Differntiating work and how I work with each student is evident from the beginning and students are very accepting of different assignments or ways to learn concepts.
In response to brookec on July 12 @ 7:55;I love your story! I had a very behaviorally difficult, very smart child in my class this past year. I made sure that the child was always busy and challenged. If we had any issues throughout the day I would talk to him privately just to see how he was and what might be driving his behavior that day. It does take you the educator giving more of yourself, being very observant of each student, and taking the time to have small conversations. There were times that his behavior was due to not being challenged or the assignment did not meet his interest level. As a teacher I have to respect this student and assess what I could do to meet their needs more consistently.
In response to susand on July 12th @ 5:55;Your ingredients for success are very precise. Our district has been very keen on SEL, differentiation, and small group teaching. These elements are essential to support our students of all skill level, not just GT.
I think Ms. Gio said it well, "I believe we can support the whole learning of a gifted child by encouraging and celebrating the individual interests of each child. By getting to know his/her learning styles, interests, readiness levels, and encouraging each student to let these guide his/her learning. Also, by encouraging students to find and collaborate with others who share his/her interests will make learning more fun and hopefully foster a spirit of life-long enthusiasm for learning."
One way to support the whole child is to give the students choice in their learning. For example when we are learning about force and motion, students can use Tic-Tac-Toe boards. The ones in the chapter is definitely more effective and useful. I was thrilled there were great examples the author's provided. I really enjoyed the less challenging and more challenging options in case one area is a strength and/or struggle. The author's kept stating that "the product is not our goal...we are more concerned with the content and process." (pg.103) What a brilliant concept! I admit I always looking for a polished product and rushing through the progress. I really enjoyed how the author gets you back on track about content, not so much on the product. Instead of pressuring for a perfect product, students feel supported in the process of their actual learning.
In response to tjenson...ABSOLUTELY!!! When kids want to learn and have obtained that "love" there is no stopping them. I teach an entire class of GT students who want to be there and are thirsting for knowledge and more importantly sharing with other GT kids there love of learning. When this is going on in class it is the greatest thing to see - kids who want to be taught, want to learn, and appreciate being there in the classroom.
Do you know when the questions for July 26th will be posted?I would like to work on them today, if possible. My sister's birthday is tomorrow and I'm not sure I'll have time to post my responses tomorrow.Thank you!
I agree with angelam when she states that the gifted student should not be punished with an additional work load ... it should never be about quantity, but about QUALITY! Give students every opportunity to pursue that which interests them and let them go. Throw out the worksheets. Allow them the freedom to research, investigate, and discover on their own.
Giving students a choice with assignment difficulty as well as product encourages the "whole learning of a gfted child by allowing them to draw on their strengths.Using menus allows students more control and responsibility for their own learning. "In an attempt to create an environmnent which respects learning differences without competition, I am once again drawn to thinking about "readiness or ability level" (Chpt.7 p. 113-114) When pretesting students we are separating them into readiness or ability groups which you need to do in order to differentiate.
I totally agree with a mitch when she said using Tic-Tac-Toe menus help students feel supported and not pressured. July 13th.