There were several "a-ha" moments, but one that really stayed with me was on p. 33 when it talks about gt students identifying themselves by just allowing them opportunities to extend their learning. What I really like is that is allows the non gt students the same opportunity to grow academically using extended activities, so you have all students challenging learning.
I agree with bratliff from July 7. I think it is important to not call special attention to GT students just as we wouldn't call attention to students that receive special education services. Offering the ability to differentiate to all students can be beneficial for all types of learners. It can create a very positive classroom environment where there is emphasis on learning for the sake of learning instead of learning to achieve a grade.
On page 61 – 62 it addresses how primary teachers can ease into learning contracts with gifted children. I like the idea of starting the year with two types of guided practice: entry and advanced. This sort of eases the children into working on different tasks then their peers, and makes it easier for them to work on extension activities and miss direct instruction time.
In response to Mrs. M’s Kinders on July 8, I also like the idea of using the learning contract. I teach older students, but I like the idea of easing the students into using the contract, especially if they have never used one before. I also like that it lists the expectations, so everyone is on the same page.
If a teacher allows a student to work on extension assignments, because the student has already shown they master the material, the issue for me has been, how do I grade that? Pages 67 and 71 address grading when gifted students have passed the pretest and are working on extension lessons. I had not thought about giving grades for their mastery of material instead of grading the actual work the student is doing. Since it extends beyond what other students may be working on, using the advice in this book solves the problem of having different types of grades for students (which does not work well in Skyward).
In response to Val HarelsonJuly 8, 2014 at 7:31 PM, I had the same question. I always have students ask if there another assignment i can do since i am finished and i have always wondered how i would grade the assignment..I like the idea of not grading the actual work but giving a grade for the mastery of the material. definitely another AHA moment for me too.
What were your "A-HA" moments while reading this session? My A-HA moment was the Study Guide method described starting on page 75. I have many students who make zeroes on many daily assignments because they know the information and don't feel like doing stuff the already know and then they ace the test because they knew the information and did not need to complete the practice assignments i gave out. The author says that this is another differentiation tool that teachers can use for students to become experts on another example of what the whole class is learning about. I am hoping to try this during the year. It will be a little more work for me but i think it will help some of my students.
In response to Helen Roberts on July 10, I am also interested in the study guide method. I like how it clearly states the expectations, but allows the students to move through the curriculum at a pace that is right for them.
In response to Helen Roberts, I also think the study guide method is beneficial for gifted students. It teaches them to make a list and check it off. This leads to a positive feeling of accomplishment that hopefully will lead to wanting to accomplish more.
my Aha moment since my last post referred to the wrong section would be the goal setting log described starting on page 19. I have used goal logs in the past but it was just to say this is what needs to be done and this is when it needs to be done..In this log the students are writing what they think they can accomplish and then there arre questions to reflect on if/if the goal is not reached, which i really like..i can't wait to try this and see if it is more effective than a plain goal log that i keep.
Response to Helen Roberts: I think this technique sounds like it would work well at the Elementary level. At the secondary level, I'm wondering how many students might intentionally set the goals lower so that they can maximize whatever reward may be offered. However, it's always worth a shot!
My A-HA moment was on pg.71 where it told me how to grade for mastery.
“The concept of teaching all students at their own challenge level is one with which most teachers agree is principle.” (page 37). I really like the idea of offering the differentiations to all students. I know this course focuses on gifted students, but if we only offer the differentiations to them, we are singling them out, as well as possibly holding other students back from more engaging and challenging learning.
I think my AH-HA comes from the discussion of standard deviations on pg. 4. Gifted students are really specialized learners on the other end of the bell curve. Because they rarely struggle with normal work and are unlikely to seek out their own challenges, they wind up underserved like students at the low end of the performance scale. It's as if they need their own IEP system.
I believe we own them that much. If the IEP is not possible, then a STAT should be done to ensure the GT student is making progress.
I agree with Jonathan (July 13) about the "Threes" on page 4 deserving their own IEP's. I knew at the end of this school year, I should have done more for these students. I believe teachers and administrators often tend to spend more time focusing on struggling learners than the other groups of learners. My goal is to create individual plans for all of my students this year.
I agree and ,though I have heard it at other GT trainings, its a hard realization that our GT kids are the ones that make the least amount of growth in the classrooms. The curriculum is just not set up for the kids that are on the ends of the bell curve (both sides).
In response to Jonathan: This is so true. We spend so much of our time as teachers in an urgency to bring struggling students up to standard that gifted students don't benefit from our expertise as often. The ideas in this section allow us to address these needs in a more effective way.
I don't really have any "A-HA" moments from this reading section. What I am taking away from my reading is lots of ideas about differentiating instruction which are very intriguing. I am trying to work through how I could apply some of these strategies (or parts of them) especially "most difficult first" and "extension activities/vocabulary" that would work with juniors and seniors in psychology (gifted or not).
Response to margaret goodwin-griffin: Completely agree- found this group of suggestions interesting, and I'll be adding to my arsenal of ideas.
My AHA moment came when I realized that my thoughts regarding GT students needing IEPs was logical. However, my excitement was dampened at the realization that while progress has been made in shining a light on this population so much needs to still be done. I think of the availability of professional development for special education teachers, the plethora of programs , and the commitment by the federal government, and I am saddened by how little is really done for the other 10%. I can only believe that fair is not equal but everyone getting what they need to be successful.
My "A-Ha" moment came when I was reading about compacting the curriculum. I feel like we teach so many of the same things each year... Texas, plants, etc. that some of the kids already know this information and it would be best to let them move beyond the grade level TEKS and to differentiate rather that complete class requirements before doing something more extensive. I could also see the possibilities using the "Pretest for Volunteers" (pg. 48) in regards to spelling and word work in first grade.
I agree with moneyj. I think we need to validate the learning that students already come to us knowing so that we can continue to move deeper into the curriculum.
I didn't really have an AHA moment, as I've been teaching GT students who filter down into GL for years, so I'm definitely aware that their needs are just as important as the needs of kids at other levels. However, each idea that I've read about has inspired me to be more creative with my teaching so that I can differentiate well. I'm definitely inspired.
In response to Charlotte McHale on July 22-I also believe that the needs of the GT students are just as important as the other students in the classroom. This book has some great ideas to use in the classroom and I feel like they are actually ideas and activities that I am excited to try out with all my students.
One area that I might call an "A-HA" moment is on page 42 when it discusses grades on compacting and extension activities. I feel that this is a very important aspect of understanding that mastery of a 90% or more you would enter the grade when the lesson was given. The extension activities are really only extension activities for the student to show mastery and no grade should be given.
Like Stacey L (July 22), I also found the grading explanation helpful. In the past, I offered compacting and extension activities in spelling. Usually, if my students did not make a 100, they wanted to do the weekly activities and take the test so they could make a 100. For many of these students, a 90 would not satisfy them. I am interested in how other teachers would handle this. I really do feel it is wasting their time to do all of the spelling activities and retake the spelling test with everyone else. Would you give them a 100 for mastery and move on with extension activities?
As I was reading, I was having difficulty figuring out how I would take the time to do more pretesting and how I would make this work with my existing routines. In the past, I created a weekly or biweekly "Centers Menu" with activities in different areas. The menu tells the students how many activities they are expected to complete from each area. My "aha!" moment was when I realized that I can easily change my menu into a learning contract. I can also allow students to pretest out of certain required activities. I usually have a variety of choices on the menu (to fit different learning styles) and now I know to make sure I add more challenging and creative extension activities for students who test out of the required activities. I'm excited because I can see how this will all come together!
Kkibbee...I like your idea of changing the menu into a contract. I think that is a solution that is manageable and effective. The added challenging and creative activities will grab the students' attention and keep the student focused.
My "A-Ha moment" was when I was reading the section on praise on page 18. I really liked reading about the experiment they did with the groups of students who were praised differently and how they selected their next activity accordingly. I will now make sure to praise the effort students make rather than the product.
Catherine Roth:I really liked the ‘Q & A’ section of Chapter 2-it addressed several of the questions that were floating around in my head. The idea of where to find extension activities and how to manage the ‘Most Difficult First’ strategy. Good answers to difficult questions. I will admit, I am still a bit leary of the logistics and managing a class of kids with everyone doing something different. Sounds good in theory but I would like to see it in action. I am wondering if SBISD has a model classroom set up that is using several of these compacting the curriculum strategies that I could visit. I also liked the primary section that shares how to make these techniques work with very young students. And, the two charts on pages 43 & 44 about the expectations of extension task work and the essential rules for independent work looked great. Definite pre-teaching and pre-discussion with gifted kids in the regular classroom will have to happen.
To Catherine Roth, I liked the question and answers also. However, I most agree with the thought that seeing this work in a regular classroom of about 24 including: SpEd students, ESL students, average students and unmotivated students would be highly beneficial.
I was surprised to see how accurate the characteristics that were listed for the various types of GT students were. There were many characteristics that I have seen in the GT kids I have had in the past. I also got several ideas to use in this section like the differentiated activities by colored block on page 62. I use a version of the "name card" technique but I found some neat was to tweak it and improve it in my classroom.
I liked the compacting one week at a time by using a pretest for spelling and vocabulary(page48).I have used pretests before in spelling but not for vocabulary. I like the extension activities for spelling and vocabulary on page 52 and plan on using the extension activities in my classroom for those who score 90% or higher.
In response to Becky (08/01): I too was intrigued by this section on "praise" though I am very much aware of the differences between praise without specificity and praise for effort alone and praise that just reinforces innate ability. Teachers need to understand the attribution theory so that we all can develop the "growth mindset" in all students but particularly gifted students.
I like the learning contracts. The book gave several examples of what they looked like (pages 54 and 56). Seeing the contract and reading how to incorporate them in my class was definitely an A-Ha moment for me. I am looking forward to introducing them in my class.
I guess my aha came on page 47 when the expectations are set for completing the most difficult first. I love the idea that the checker can not provide any help to their friends and that students who get more than one wrong have to complete the entire assignment. I love that it will save time while allowing the students to get immediate feedback.
My Aha moment came as I was reading the suggestions on how to manage these ideas in the regular classroom.(60 - 63) Making everything works together, being sure it doesn't interfere with teacher time with struggling students, and ensuring that gifted students are actually learning and becoming more proficient within the objective is a difficult and time-consuming task. These suggestions helped me visualized how it could work.