SBISD GT Book Study
Pg 1- There is a large gap between the academic achievements of high level American GT students and those of other industrialized nations. I'm wondering why this is. Do other countries have better defined GT laws, support and programs? Do countries like China skew the data because not all of their citizens are free to pursue education past a certain level?Pg 17- I was surprised that so many gifted kids develop asynchronously. It just further goes to show how important it is to individualize education, difficult as that may be.
Pg. 2 "One Ohio district reported that 40% of the drop out population were identified gifted students." This statement shocked me, but then, we all know gifted students whose parents, teachers, and administration struggle to get the student to graduate from high school. The percentage did surprise me but then I wondered what happens to these students? Do they typically find a career or path where they are successful citizens with productive lives...or are they lost? In comment to Mr. Clouse's pg. 17...In middle school when I think of our gt students, I see many of them struggle with social and emotional development. Their response to this asynchroniztion is often one extreme or the other where the student over compensates and appears immature amongst his peers or the student is quiet and somewhat isolated.
I have often wondered why we still seem to identify GT students in the middle and hs years despite being tested (sometimes repeatedly)in elementary. An explanation of this was explained on p.9 where the author states: "Gifted adolescents who had opportunities in elementary shool for skill and strategy development (after their early ability tests) may reveal their extraordinary abilities in middle school retest situations, where their advanced conceptual and creative thinking is now fortified with these skills, as well as more comfort and/or experience in test taking."
The concept of GT students only became known to me when I came to the US. Coming from a country where there is no middle school and all classes are homogeneously grouped, I can see how GT kids sometimes don't get the support they need or are sometimes overlooked.Despite testing we still have students who are being indentified much later as Steve mentioned.
On page 6 Willis discusses identification of G/T students. In particular she mentions that gifted students who also have an LD may not be identified as G/T because the LD brings their achievement down to the average level. She then listed some of the thinking and reasoning characteristics to look for in a gifted student. This made me re-think about some of my students who may have had these qualities but maybe they weren’t identified as G/T because something (such as an LD or ADD/ADHD) was bringing them to an average level. I’m interested to see how this affects (or clouds) my perceptions of my students as I continue reading this book.I also liked the list on page 12 that gave some ideas and strategies for helping students through test-taking anxiety—particularly of achievement tests.
I like Mr. Clouse was surprised by the statement "the achievements of the most able students in the United States are far behind those of other industrialized nations-" pg. 1. We hear this alot but it is how we group our students? Is it when we test for GT abilities? Do we need to wait until they have more developed brains? Is it lack of stimulation in younger years from teachers who may not have the experience in fostering gifted students? What about our environment versus China,for instance? Does it matter if your parents are more directly involved with a child's education earlier in their life and not so much in middle school, as the author suggests? I am very interested in this because I would like to know how this "gap" is measured. I am also very interested in the GT designation as I have a child in elementary school who I think may be GT. Reading the characteristics of a GT child on pg. 16 was very interesting to me. I was also struck by the fact that it is mentioned many times how many teachers who have GT students just are not properly trained or prepared to work with these students. I am interested in learning how I might better help my students as we read through this book.
p. 1 "...funding for gifted education and support for teacher instruction in gifted educatiod has dropped relative to the allocation of funds to bring up the lowest student scores. Although the extra time and money funneled into projects such asa the repetitive drill of phonics-heavy reading instruction may result in higher standardized test scores, it is at the expense of higher cognitive functioning like reasoning and abstraction."p. 29 "What did you learn today?" This section talked about ways to speak to children/students that will lead to extended responses and bring about academic discussion in the home/classroom.
Like Mrs, Oxspring, I too was alarmed at the lack of funds allocated for proper GT training. (p. 5) The majority of public middle schools place an emphasis on teaching to the test so that schools can have all students meet minimum grade level standards. (p. 3) Therefore, educators are less prepared to meet the needs of the gifted students and these students remain increasingly under challenged. I am very alarmed by this because if educators are unable to provide high-level educational experiences for the GT student, we risk loosing these students altogether.
I also was suprised by the information "dock on the the bay" cited that 40% of the "dropoouts" were students who had been identified as gifted. I don't know if these people find a career or path either. I have seen so many students dropout simply because they were bored in school and it was too easy for them. Hopefully, they go on to get their GED and further their education, or do whatever they can to work in an area that interests them.
In response to Elizabeth p. 1 funding for gifted education and support for teacher instruction in gifted educatiod has dropped relative to the allocation of funds to bring up the lowest student scores. I too am concerned about the lack of funding and support for teacher instruction in GT education. GT students need to be challenged and supported in the school system. All too often, GT students perform below their ability due to boredom and lack of innovative experiences in the classroom.
The aha moment for me was page 46 where the author discusses pruning. The whole chapter 3 on "Neurology of Adoloscence" was very interesting. When I was reading page 46, I could easily relate to my experience at school. Unless concepts are strengthened through spiral reviews and spiral tests, they will be pruned out from their brains by students. It reaffirmed my belief in spiral tests and reviews to ensure students are still connecting with the concepts that would otherwise would have been pruned out.
In response to Elizabeth's comment about GT kids dropping out...Some kids just find another path to success, not that I'd push a kid towards dropping out. However, some kids don't succeed in a traditional environment. Whether this is because their needs aren't being addressed or because they are young iconoclasts, I don't know. In any case, the over all structure of our education system is very rigid and a significant number of people who have affected the world for the better have found a more flexible, personal route to meet their educational goals.
P. 20 "It is unfair to have the same expectations for all students." While this seems so obvious, the amount of standardized testing we have sends the opposite message. Our expectations should vary from student to student. I think, after awhile, when a child has performed well on that standardized test from year to year, he/she can easily slip into complacency, thinking their performance is "Good enough". This stops them from reaching higher. As teachers, I think our goal should be "to allow students to work in their zone of proximal develpment...just beyond what a student can accomplish alone". Our challenge is to know our students well enough that we can challenge them at that level. This is a reminder to me that I need to differentiate instruction more, and meet with my students with like needs and levels, including my students that are high achieving and/or designated as gifted and talented.
I agree with Travel Bug that "it is unfair to have the same expectations for all students." If eoc's were available at the beginning of the year, it would be interesting to see how many of our students could test out...especially if they knew they could go on to something else. It would be interesting to let them run with a project. Part of me says, "Well, why not?" The other part of me says, "How do I handle that?"
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I also agree with travel bug with EOC's becoming more and more prevalent in the next few years, we are expecting all kids to pass these exams to show proficiency but is this enough? Does a high score on these EOC's translate to kids really understanding the material? Or are they just good test takers?The results of the state benchmark Algebra 2 EOC from last year are not published by TEA. So the kids took the EOC but there was no feedback given.page 24 " The goal is to allow students to work in their zone of proximal developmentBut not giving teachers the feedback from the EOC benchmark doesn't help the students or the teachers find that zone of proximal development.
I had several "Ah-ha's" when reading these chapters. The first one was on page 2."Without appropriate services, gifted students regress to the mean, and the top 20% of student populations make at least amount of academic growth." I think that this is becoming more apparent as we notice that more of our really capable students are OK with work quality or performance that is no where near their abilities. The second one was on page 28. "Think of your child as a frustrated two-year-old who is hungry and overtired and who mostly needs a hug and a few minute of your attention." This was written in the parent information area. It really demonstrates the changes and needs many G/T early adolescents need. (There are several students over the past several years that I have seen this behavior in.)This awareness can help us guide them and being empathetic with them but not sympathetic and enable them.The third one was on page 40. "Active brain tissue consumes more of the body’s metabolic resources, such as glucose and oxygen, than any other organ on the basis of mass." I never really thought about the way our brain must acquire the energy it needs to be able to process the learning and experiences that teens require. It makes one want to push for healthier lunches and snacks but still provide variety with things such as a salad bar rather than a pre-made bowl of vegies.
Kelly A. said: "On page 6 Willis discusses identification of G/T students. In particular she mentions that gifted students who also have an LD may not be identified as G/T because the LD brings their achievement down to the average level..."I really believe this is so true in so many places. Students with LD or ADD/ADHD will have a very hard time completing many testing requirements for G/T.There are many times that you can hear other teachers say things like when you talk to them you can tell how brilliant they are but when you look at their work it's like two different students- and usually they are students identified with LD, ADD, or ADHD.Maybe this continued awareness will help us offer more to the students that we see/hear the giftedness and help them find the way to show it.
As C. Wegs stated "I never really thought about the way our brain must acquire the energy it needs to be able to process the learning and experiences that teens require," I too have not given this much thought. I think we have barely just begun to understand how the brain works, as educators it is important to know what brain research is telling us whether the child is identified as GT or has been diaganosed with a learning disability. Each student has different needs and they both deserve to have them met. Sadly I think too often the needs of the GT student are not met because of the tremendous demands on teachers to bring up the skills of the lower ability students in the class.
One of my "Ah-ha" moments from chapter one was that a student could have a high IQ but low subtests scores. This makes sense when their giftedness varies depending on their verbal and nonverbal abilities (chapter 1, pages 7-8).One of my "Ah-ha' moments from chapter two was when it talked about asynchrony (chapter two, pages 17-18). Now it makes sense that I should not expect maturity from a gifted child just because he is intellectually advanced. Kidwatching on pages 24-25 caught my atttention as well. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed thinking I have so much to do how can I ever get it all done. This makes me realize that I need to honor the "dynamic process" if I want to become an integral positive part of it. One of my 'Ah-ha" moments in chapter three was when it talked about plasticity and pruning, specifically with the gifted and talented delayed frontal pruning (pages 48-49). It was interesting to note that this was because cortical neural networks were being developed before pruning resumed.
I don't know that I had any "ah-ha" moments, but some of the strategies that were described to be used with GT students I think are also good to use with all students. One example is the Visualization discussed in Chapter 2 p.32. This is in a section about out of school activities that parents can do with their GT children, but it can also be done in the classroom. I think this is something that can be used that allows differentiation and individualization, without making extra work or even different assignments that may make a GT student feel "different" from the other students in class. When students draw a picture of how they visualize or interpret a concept, the picture or drawing can be as complex or as simple as the student wants. This allows GT students to show divergent thinking and intellectual curiosity in the choice of drawing or diagram they create. They can also show vivid imaginations and connections that they see. All the other students are doing the same assignment, so the GT student isn't doing "more work". They also are not doing something different because they are GT. They are doing the same assignment like everyone else, which can sometimes be just as important to a middle school student.
For chapter 1: It was always my understanding that it was against common practice to sk the gifted student to do more work than other academic students. On page 6, par. 4, the author claims that "gifted students often like to extend regular classroom assignments"... Extention often seems like "extra" work and I have found that most gifted students do not wnat any additional work. I guess that could mean that when they identify anoter path in approaching a desired learning, we should let them take it. As for the body of this chapter all to the ideas are good for all students
My ah-ha was throughout Chapter 1 but pg. 10 especially notes the problems with identifying GT students. I've often wondered why certian students were not GT even though they clearly displayed gifted qualties.dockonthebay made reference to the fact that 40% of drop-outs are identified as GT. This fact reminded me of a remark my GT trainer made when I was doing my initial 30 hours. She had recently been at the juvenile detention center and was amazed (and appaled) by how many obviously GT students she encountered. Makes you wonder...elizabeth h commented on how funding has been cut for GT education. I'm curious to see how GT education is affected by the current money crunch which is about to get worse.
I found the statistics on page 2 very interesting. I knew that if we didn't challenge our GT students, they would get bored and lack motivation. However, I wasn't aware that there was a large drop out rate for gifted students. The Ohio district that was studied reported that 40% of their dropout population were identified gifted students. This put a very quick perspective to my reading, and the realization that we do not always focus enough attention on these students.
Like On Dock of the Bay I was also surprised at first with the dropout rate of 40% for the GT students. I know people in my personal life that have always been socially and professionally lost. They are really bright people but they have never really found theri niche in life.
I was interested to read in chapter one "the needs of gifted students are underrecognized and underdeveloped". I agree with the findings that state most schools focus on bringing up the lower achieving students and neglecting to challenge the GT students suffiently.
My "Ah-Ha" moment came as I was reading pages 28-33.While I was reading the discussion on using out-of-the-classroom techniques in order to generate higher cognitive levels of learning, I couldn't help but take a self-inventory of the techniques that I already employ and the techniques I SHOULD employ with my middle school classes.Novelty and Humor is my chief 'go-to' technique, because I'm constantly trying to maintain that relaxed, but supportive environment in my classroom.Geography is one that I've always wanted to try, but finding a way to incorporate pen-pals in foreign language instruction, in a reliable and consistent way, is surprisingly difficult.Emotional-powered learning is a must, because of the constant social and political issues happening in Houston all around us, and in the world at large. I can take things right off the front page and use it in my class.Visualization is always fun for me, because I get to see the artistic side of many of my students, whether it be in slide shows or posters, or acting out scenes.Priming, especially the use of movies, is always a challenge for me. The balance between educational and entertaining, while keeping in line with district standards, is a circus act to say the least. I've begun my own personal collection of foreign language films that are meaningful and high quality, adding to the collection a little each year.Play together was an easy one for me to recognize in my daily routine.Math skills made me think about the horizontal integration, and how much fun it would be to see students act out grocery store or restaurant scenes involving purchases.Needless to say, as I was reading through each of the methods and suggestions introduced, I thought long and hard about things I might try in my own teaching. For me, that's always the hardest part of training. While many people seem to be able to identify various problems in teaching styles, I eagerly await suggestions and practical methods that people can share. I too was a GT student when I was younger, and so it's enjoyable to recognize so many of those GT characteristics in myself, and how my own family/school upbringing has shaped me.
In response to Srta. Kirklin's comments on Jan 30th, 8:32pm - I too was alarmed, but not the least bit surprised. We seem to find ourselves in a world that is increasingly concerned with rewarding mediocrity. We've become so concerned with making sure that all students reach that bare minimum, that we've forgotten to focus on excellence as well. We find ourselves, as educators, spending most of our time trying to treat symptoms while over-looking the underlying causes of the ailment itself.Hopefully, like the author suggested, we might be on the upswing of that pendulum, and that might be changing in the near future.One can hope.
In response to Mr. Clouse's comments on Jan 28th, 1:08pm-I too wondered the same thing. I saw a report on the nightly news, not too many days ago now, where they did a comparison of the educational rankings. However, rather than simply adding up the tallies, they thought a little deeper, as did you.Their findings were rather uplifting. Given that America has one of the largest ratios of children to students, our success shouldn't simply be measured against other countries. There are definitely countries who do not require, and at times even discourage students who are not intially gifted or high achieving from pursuing paths of greater education. It's seen as a waste of resources to invest the time and money on students who would need a little extra help.'No Child Left Behind' may not be perfect, but at least it's a noble endeavour.
Comment on Elizabeth H… One of her "ah-ha" moments was asking a student "what did you learn in school today?" I learned a long time ago not to ask my daughter that question. Instead, I ask her "what was the best thing that happened in school today" or "what was a good thing that happened today." The caveat is that the answer cannot be lunch, recess, activity period. When she tells me, I can extend the conversation and get her to tell more about the event. It could have been a science lab or something she did in LA class. There are days when she tells me nothing good happened, then I just let it go.
One of my "ah-ha" moments was the fact that the constant repetition of material can acutally be detrimental to gifted kids. (pg. 24) I thought that was interesting since a lot of what we do in schools, particularly math and even science, is repetition.
The brain function is quite interesting….especially page 54 regarding Einstein’s brain. There were several questions embedded in this reading that were food for thought and I found them intriguing. Some are as follows: (1) the last sentence on page 4 regarding what legislation and policies are needed for the gifted (2) page 49 in the first paragraph (4) page 56 located in the third paragraph dealing with cause and effect of genes on intelligence and brain volume. I believe there is still much to learn about the brain and how to best meet the educational needs of gifted students… especially during their middle school years.
The best part was confirmation of research indicating languages are best learned prior to age 13. We're still starting children too late as other research has already noted.
In response to Doris, I agree with you. The ideas of best practices that are listed in this book are good for all kids. While there are different levels of "gifted", I believe all of our children have gifts. We need to help all of them discover these strengths and talents. Last year, I had a student who is designated as "GT" remark to me that he thought the label of gifted and talented was wrong. When I asked him why, he said we should think about what that says about everyone else who does not have a "GT" label. It made me stop and consider the messages we send to our kids with these labels. While I do believe we need to challenge our "GT" students, differentiate instruction, and provide opportunities for them to accel, we need to work to make sure that all of our kids know that we believe they are capable of great things. Who knows what talents may emerge as a result.
I too was just as suprised as Doris, Amy, and Dock on the bay, that the GT dropout rate was so high, at 40% of the students population. Did they never find an area where they could excell? Where they never stimulated? I wonder what other needs in their life weren't met as well. Did their parents play an active role in their life? In school? And I was also surprised with what Shelly Horne said that her trainer had found many kids in juvy who were GT. What happened to those kids? I guess there intelligence in one or more areas did not replace the need to act out or do something that crossed the law. Perhaps these students just did not get the attention they need and their extreme development was never fostered or supported. So instead maybe when they were bored they chose other ways to act out.....hmm??!!
In response to Kelly A on 1.30.11I am now realizing as well that there are gt kids not identified because of LD/ADD/ADHD issues. The training I attended this past Saturday mentioned that there ae gt kids not scoring well because of the composite score. They score several deviations above the norm on the nonverbal but average or below average on the verbal.In response to Srta. Kirklin on 1.30.11I agree with you that it is a shame that kids who can't pass a minimum skills test get funding but gt kids don't get funding and their needs are just as real.In response to Shivani Agrawal on 1.30.11After reading about the pruning spiral reviews sound great!
Steve S.,I have often wondered the same thing about identifying students as GT in the later years of their education. This section of the book really helped shed some light on that topic and will help remind me pay more attention when it comes time each year to identify students.
Christina,I also found it interesting that repetition is detremential to a GT student. I had no idea about this. Time to brainstorm new ways to get all students to achieve!
Like Amy and Doris, I was very surprised to find out the drop out rate for GT students is so high. I also agree that not enough focus is given to them to retain them in school. My Uncle is highly intelligent however was always extremely bored in school due to not being challenged. As a result did very poorly until he found his niche.