SBISD GT Book Study
I found this chapter interesting. We are back to where we started from...grouping by like ability. The statement that "The typical seventh grade mixed-ability class includes a range of student reading comprehension from approximately third grade to college level, making it incredibly difficult for teachers to develop lesson plans that will be interesting and challenging for all student in the class."(pg. 138) describes quite a few WAIS classrooms. The author goes on to describe how most classrooms that do differentiate, are actually gearing themselves towards the "moderately gifted" leaving the needs of the exceptionally gifted unmet. She comments that the best type of grouping is by ability with scheduled reassessments...noting schools that offer three levels for math. (pg. 142) This type of grouping was always denied at WAIS, due to older studies. We have all seen a population of incredibly lazy gifted students. We have watched them plod from middle school through high school. Would their interest (and production level) be peaked if put into a class where they were challenged by "like minds?"
Dock on the bay: I too found pg. 138 to be an interesting statement. As I agree with that this does describe many classes we have at WAIS. I find this to be challenging for me to differentiate to so many types and levels of learners. I have observed that in my Geometry class of all 8th graders (26 of them) who are advanced in math and many are GT, that they do very well. They are motivated by each other (for the most part) and when given more freedom and an outlet for creativity, I have received some very quality work and some amazing projects! So I would have to agree that grouping them by ability is working for this group!! It is somewhat easy to adjust for the different levels in this class because almost everybody is achieving on a higher level and is motivated to work hard and do well. I wonder if this would work for other students to be grouped like this class??? However, when I taught low level Algebra 1 and we put all of the low kids together this was not the case. There was a sense of "being a loser" because they were in the class and mediocrity often set in quickly. So I have to wonder if grouping the gifted does actually help them. Didn't we use to group the kids and call the class Geometry (GT/Pre-AP)??
On pages 133-134, they talk about how great gifted student groupings are. Then, on page 152, the imortance of maintaining classroom community is stressed. Middle school students are aware of the abilities of others, especially if they not in the "average" range (more than one standard deviation in either direction).Once again, I spoke to my nephew. He would rather work with a mixed group of kids (but with at least one other smart person). He doesn't want to be singled out and "feel like a dork," (this is coming from a 14 year old who participated in the "Math Bowl" this morning).
Maybe the lazy gifted students commented about avove have turned to drugs and alcohol as mentioned in Chapter 6. I guess I need to let the drug/alcohol thing go.
Mrs. Oxspring: I identified when you described how when the lower level Algebra group considered themselves the "loser" group. It is difficult to take "academic" courses and to not find yourself in what others would consider the loser group. A student who makes straight "A's" in high school but takes only academic classes, is in the lower half. I guess that is okay, but the scholarships aren't there for them or the automatic acceptance to a state school. If you don't have the finances, it puts you at another disadvantage.
I spent the majority of my focus on this particular section, Ability Grouping, and found myself thinking about my own teaching methods and my own students.Her comparison between heterogenous groups and homogenous groups seems very lofty, but I shudder to think about how some of her conclusions would play-out in the "real world," the world outside of academia.On page 143, she begins a discussion praising the merits of gifted student grouping, pairing students of similar gifted natures together for a greater learning experience and for social interaction.However, I submit that after watching several of my own gifted students work in partners or in small groups, ego seems to play a larger role than she gives acknowledgment. She presumes that the students would enjoy the social interaction among their peers, and that they feel the need to dumb their responses down for the sake of their inferior peers.This idea seems deeply flawed to me. I watch my own students, and their social interaction seems to be based very little on their level of intellect. I see special needs children interacting with GT kids all the time. The students form bonds of friendship in more ways than we can imagine based on the most trivial of foundations.I've also seen fellow GT students fail miserably at projects, because they create a competitive stance, a need to assert dominance rather than commaraderie. My personal opinion is that, while they are certainly advantages to challenging like-minded individuals by pairing them together, I find that greater results are yielded when grouping along the lines of creativity. The author spoke well when she mentioned mixed-ability grouping on page 144.I think mixed-ability groups more realistically resemble the world in which we actually live. Differently-abled individuals all coming together, working as a team, to reach a shared goal, each employing their own particular skills and talents to acheive.In my classroom, I more readily and more willingly incorporate mixed groups rather than gifted groups.
In response to elizabeth h's comments on March 19th, 8:29pm-I have had similiar conversations with my students. Universally speaking, the projects are always better when they enjoy working with the people involved. I find that the projects are also better when a GT student is mixed into the group, though that doesn't always mean that that student takes the lead.I also find that most of my students are fully aware of which kids are the "smart kids" and which ones struggle, but I've noticed recently that they're also starting to realize how many students are smart in different ways.
I also saw many connections between chapter 6 and WAIS. I can see how higher level kids can help their lower level peers, but how fair is it to those g/t kids? I agree with dockonthebay that the studies that our school model is based on are older and dont address the needs of all learners.
I agree with DockontheBay and Shelly. SBISD does identify by Math/Science and LA/SS. Our math students can move ahead and make the gains that Kathy Oxspring mentioned. BUT our LA/SS students are still sitting in the grade level class with all other learners. There should be a way to better balance these opportunities by focusing on the areas they need the advancement and honoring the areas they don;t which provides them an opportunity for a more heterogeneous grouping.
I do agree Andrew Maddocks about the authors' words on page 144. There is much value to having time for mixed ability grouping and building collaboration, empathy, and strong communication skills. These are skills very needed in our world. I disagree with E. Hermann's comments about drugs- if we just assume our disengaged or unmotivated students are that way and it must be due to exploring/playing around with drug use then we really have not done what we say we should in being a teacher. We should be looking at what others ways could we try to engage our students in a still least restrictive environment- what have we not tried????
From pages 138-39, the chapter talks about grouping students by ability levels...the chapter/section goes on to discuss this mindset. I am not completely sold on either side...grouping students together based on ability or mixing them within a class. I can certainly see the benefits of both sides as well as the downfalls too. I like the idea of GT students leading their small groups discussions, for instance. I also think mixing the GT learners in with other students is a way to mix them socially as well. However, the chapter brings up the statement, "when gifted students are not always in the genral groups, other students have more opportunity to participate without feeling intimidated and may rise to their greatest challenge levels." This statement really hitsw home with some students and is completely true. Both sides to this idea have very valid points that I agree with and explore in my class.
I tend to let my students find their groups on their own rather than group them. They will regroup themselves when needed. From page 138-139 when the author discusses homogenous grouping, and myself living my whole elementary to high school with homogeneous ability grouping, I would say there are advantages and disadvantages. I remember in all my classes through high school, there were always bonus problems not necessarily discussed in class but related to the material. This gave GT students the challenge they needed. But at the same time verbally excellent GT students will stumble in math. ( page 139 )This is why I allow my students to choose their groups as needed for the task at hand. I agree with Andrew Maddocks about mixed ability grouping. In my experience with my students however, the GT kids seldom form groups exclusively composed of other GT students but they do figure out which kids have the abilities that will help them complete the task.
After reading chapter 6 about "Ability Grouping" I don't necessarily agree with the author when she states that on page 144, "gifted students need opportunities to work with peers who are similar in intellectual ability and achievement." In my own classroom, I have found that gifted students work well in mixed ability groups and enjoy working with students from all ability levels.
I agree with Mr. Maddocks in that I am more willing to incorporate mixed ability groups as opposed to grouping according to gifted abilities. I also agree with E.Hermann in that gifted students do not want to feel "singled out."
I feel that ability grouping helps each student learn in depth at their own potential. Schools providing three different levels -- Academic, PreAP ant GT are able to cater student's learning needs more effectively.
Cheryl, please do not think I meant to imply that GT students who were not engaged in the classroom were "on drugs." I was referring to a study by Gross that was cited on page 140. I think this research indicated that gifted students feel lonely and isolated and turn to drugs or alcohol to self medicate. I think the author/researcher made a very broad statement and I disagree with it.
I think we need to provide challenge and rigor to our GT students by giving them assignments and projects in which they can work on in a like-ability group. On p. 147, it said "When doing cooperative work, it is often beneficial for gifted students to collaborate with complementary-ability partners. With projects that are open ended and allow for student choice, we can meet all their needs better, and at the same time have a higher expectation from our students who have a greater ability. However, I also feel that it is important that they also learn how to work with others who are different than themselves. When they have a job someday, they will also need to have the social and interactive skills to work with others who may be different than themselves.
Valerie H... in chapter 6 the author seems to be more in favor of ability grouping for GT students (p.142-147). However, I agree with Andrew that students choose group partners based on more than the academic grades of the partners or whether the partners would make a homogeneous group. However, GT students will not be students all of their lives and learning the skills to work with others in a variety of types of groups is important, as Travel Bug has stated.
Valerie commenting on Mr. C... I agree that letting students choose their own groups provides a lot of advantages, which includes learning how to handle problems if the group is not working out as planned. It is easier to turn that into a learning opportunity than if I had put the students with someone with whom they did not want to work, because my arrangements become the problem.
I sorta commented on this question in response to the first question (guess I should have read all the questions first). I do agree that there are times when students should be put in groups with students that are at the same ability level, but they must also be given opportunities to be with students of other ability levels.
I found Mrs. Oxspring's comments very interesting in regards to her low level Algebra I students in comparison to the higher level mostly GT students. When students have had difficulty in a subject such as math, one can understand that they would settle into a pattern of not really trying. I am not sure that putting them into a group of gifted students would make them feel any better about themselves or want to try harder. If anything I think it would reaffirm their inabilities. So what is the answer in this situation?
I feel that challenging GT students, by giving them rigorous work and placing them with their peers, will help students to “activate their high abilities.” (p. 142) I have some hesitancy to this though. I have seen a “better than you” mentality from some GT students when they are together. I do not believe that this type of thinking fosters the kind of classroom environment that will encourage all students to feel successful. I also think that GT students struggle with communicating their thought processes with others. I think that placing them in groups that help them acquire better communication skills would be just as important as grouping them according to their ability.
In response to Travel Bug, I agree that GT students need to learn how to have the interaction and communication skills to work with all kinds of people. These children can grow up to do wonderful things, but if they cannot get their point across to communicate effectively in their jobs they will be at an extreme disadvantage.
Posted in my ah-ah moment.Are we modeling the real world when we ability group. Did Einstein work with his equal? Again, what level of GT are we talking about.
I find ability grouping for the gifted learner to be helpful. Pg. 142 says that grouping the GT students will "activate their high abilities". I have observed that in my Geometry class of all 8th graders (26 of them) who are advanced in math, many are GT, that they do very well. They are motivated by each other (for the most part) and when given more freedom and an outlet for creativity, I have received some very good,quality work and some amazing projects! So I would have to agree that grouping them by ability is working for this group!!It is somewhat easy to adjust for the different levels in this class because almost everybody is achieving on a higher level and is motivated to work hard and do well. However, when I taught low level Algebra 1 and we put all of the low kids together this was not the case. There was a sense of "being a loser" because they were in that particular class and mediocrity or lower was often the accepted norm. So I think grouping the GT students together is helpful but I am not sure it works well for others. Didn't we use to group the kids and call the class Geometry (GT/Pre-AP)??