SBISD GT Book Study
At the beginning of Chapter Eight, the authour pointed out that students need challenge to be motivated. It says that putting gifted students "in classrooms without opportunities for individualized advancement, work with mentors, or collaboration with similarly gifted peers may force them to underachieve" (193). I don'tknow the qualifications for students to have mentors come see them at school. I only know a few students who have mentors at school, I believe they would be considered "at risk." Do we have mentors to help bright students that aren't identified "at risk" reach their potential? Sounds like a good idea.It seemed to me that they compared te brain to a tree (194). Maybe they didn't, but I got the image of the brain being "pruned," it started to make a lot more sense to me. When I cut back one of my trees, it grows even greater in size and more beautiful. If you cut the tree at the wrong time, you might not get a desirable outcome. I guess I'll start to look at learning/the brain like a plant or tree that needs to be nourished, taken care of,soil tended to, stimulated by sunshine,... Not all plants need the same thing at the same time.I also liked the way they talked about praise and feedback (206-207). Verbal praise is valuable, but I like the way they stressed the importance of feedback for reinforcement.
Earlier I had another "ah-ha" moment, it just came back to me. On page 220, they say that the first two months of the school year are mostly review in middle school. It isn't that long at WAIS, but I can't believe I just realized that there was so much review at th beginning of the year.
The ah-ha moment for me was where the author dicusses that the key element that makes the computer games so captivating is variable player-ability-based challenge(page 201). " The most popular computer games take players through increasingly challenging levels as they become more and more skillful.As skill improves, the next challenge stimulates new mastery to just the right exyent that players can reach it with practice and persistence."When we teach a new concept we start with easy problems and gradually increase the complexity but as different students learn at different pace it becomes challenging to diffentiate at individual basis.These days we have lots of electronic quizzes for all subject areas. These quizes have a fixed number of questions asked in a serial order. It would be really good if the text book publishers could come up with some adaptive quizzes where the difficulty level of the next question will be determined by the response of the previous question. I know this concept is used in the COMPASS placement test used by community colleges and universites for placement of students in different Math courses.This would help students learn at their own pace and capabilities without being over challenged or under challenged.
Valerie Commenting on Elizabeth... I agree that the author uses the analogy of a tree quite a bit. I had not ever thought of it that way. Plants need sunshine and stimulation to grow... so do students.
Valerie Commenting on Shivani... it is interesting that the author used the comparison of computer games to learning. If the game is too complex and it is too hard to progress to the next level, people become frustrated and don't want to play the game, but if it is challenging, and possible to progress, then there is interest in the game because of the challenge. I agree with Shivani that it would be helpful if textbook companies developed a testing program where the difficulty of the next couple of questions asked depends on which questions the student has already answered successfully. That would help with differentiation and keeping a student's interest to keep going.
On page 207 it states, "The best student-centered lessons are those that are geared toward optimal brain stimulation and reasonable challenge for each learner. These lessons offer interesting problems for the students to solve or discoveries for them to make that encourage them to stretch their thinking and frontal lobe activites. They reach students through their learning strengths; varied approaches to open ended questions increase the likelihood that at least one of the metal stimuli will resonate with the students." This section was another reminder that I need to turn my lessons into more of a discovery for them, rather than spoon feed the information to them. This isn't easy for me, but having the students discover what they need to know, may, in the long run, save time and help them to remember better.
Commenting on Shivani's post..." The most popular computer games take players through increasingly challenging levels as they become more and more skillful.As skill improves, the next challenge stimulates new mastery to just the right extent that players can reach it with practice and persistence." This year I have found a few computer games to use as practice for grammar and punctuation rules. I was amazed at how they were intrigued playing these games. I didn't think it would work, because they always find grammar boring... but they would yell out, "What is an adverb?" hoping they could choose the right answer before they got "bombed." I would love to find more or be able to create them. There are a few templates out there, such as Jeopardy, that I have used for test reviews. The kids are always eager, ready to play, and with enough repetition...they will recognize an adverb.
On page 206 the author states, "It is the quality, rather than the quantity, of acknowledgement that is important to motivate gifted students. Teacher praise is far more effective if it is credible, contingent, specific, and genuine. It is also most effective if it is related to factors within the child's control." This statement wasn't a true "Ah-ha" but just a reminder of how feedback is needed and how it is best utilized. Later on the same page these statements were important to finding ways of motivation and value of work with gifted students. "It is also valuable for gifted middle schoolers to learn to give themselves approval and to derive self-satisfaction from achieving their goals and making progress rather than being dependent on the praise or approval of their teachers or parents for each sentence they write or each calculation they do." This is part of developing a self-determined learner and one that is reflective. The author goes on to talk about how to wean students of feedback and move them on to greater skill and confidence in their own reflection of work and motivation.
On p. 221 the author mentions that "Learning contracts can be opportunities for teachers and students-jointly-to define goals and agree on what the student will learn, by what date, and under what conditions. Learning contracts can be especially helpful for gifted students who are working on individualized learning projects and extensions of the regular classroom lessons." I find this very intriguing as a way to challenge those gifted students to further their understanding on a topic or concept. It would also teach them as the author points out how to manage their time to reach their goal. This allows the student to be responsible for their own learning with the teacher checking in periodically to offer feedback. It might also be motivating for other students to observe that they too can work on an independent project once they have mastered the objectives at hand.
In response to Elizabeth h and her comments on mentors. The few mentors we have at WAIS do indeed work with at-risk students. Their involvement with them is not directly tied to academics, but rather working on building a relationship with another caring adult. This is based on reseach and is one of the 40 developmental assets. The hope is this relationship would help see an improvement in the academic areas. It had never really crossed my mind that gifted students have mentors as well, but for the purpose of having them stretch their academic understanding I think this is an excellent idea.
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In response to Steve's post, I too liked the intrigue of finding the use of a learning contract which includes learning to manage time to meet a goal in the contract. In the Design Cycle, MYP Technology, students are supposed to begin to develop skill at setting task deadlines to meet the project goal. This is hard for them, they are much more comfortable with us setting the deadlines- I think this is partly because it releases them of that responsibility when the deadline is missed. I will work more on this with my students.
on pg. 222, I connected with the authors statement that simply assigning more work punishes gifted students. My husband grew up in rual North Carolina where there were few options for gifted students, such as himself. Instead he was in academic classes and was assigned more work as a method of differentiation. I recall him telling me how unfair he felt it was and how he wished teachers didnt already know he was G/T.
Steve mentions that the idea of contracts is intruging and I agree. As I was reading that section I was curious as to how dedicated students would be to them. That was another ah-ha moment for me.
I liked how the author, on page 222, said to allow the students who have mastered the basic material to not just move on at a faster pace, but to truly go in depth to develop their higher thinking abilities. I found that sometimes it was just easier to move the GT to student at a quicker pace, but I realize that acquiring a deep knowledge of the material is what will truly motive them.
In response to Shelly Horne, this section of the book caught my eye as well. I found it completely unfair to have to do extra work just because I was a quick worker. So I remember faking my way through assignments so I would not finish until the end of the class. I found that through years of this behavior I turned into an underachiever.
In response to Steve's post on "Learning Contracts". It is a great idea. I have never done this before but would like to try it with my GT students.
I really liked the section in Ch. 8, pg. 213, Turning Assessments into Learning opportunities. I have a hard time getting away from the traditional run of the mill tests that lack creativity and imagination. So reading about all the different ways that you or rather the students can make assessment more imaginative and creative was very interesting to me and gave me lots of ideas. I am always saying that our students do not critically think enough or can really creatively problem solve. I like the ideas of planning your assessments from the start, pg.214, having pre-assessments, and making expectations clear, were all great ideas and sections. I was surprised that the author said that GT studets often score low on tests that focus on rote memory. (pg.217) Mainly because they read into short-answer questions too much and have a hard time with even minute parts of multiple choice questions. They may also excel in math or science but have low reading skills to take say a standardized test that has lots of reading. (pg. 218)
To Amy and Shelly, I felt the same way you two did about that part of the book too. I always thought that it was ridiculous to give extra work to the kids who actually knew what they were doing! It really discourages you to work ahead or quickly because you finished first and well you might get more work just because you understood what was going on. It seems like a punishment more than anything!
My ah-ha moment came when I nearly laughed myself silly at the bullet point on page 197 that suggested we give "brief syn-naps" to refresh the brain.What a laughable notion. While I understand the authors intentions and the reasons behind her position from a strictly anotomical sense, I feel like she lost a lot of credibility with me, because I realize that her end goal of the learning process is complete opposite my own.For her, learning is a journey, not a destination. The joy and the benefit is found in teaching the student to love learning and to be proficient at it. I agree wholeheartedly with her sentiments. However, I would make one caviat: learning for the sake of learning is wasted learning. She shuns a competitive spirit in the learning system, she believes that it should be individualized and tailored to the learner's needs, and she believes that assignments should be varied and adaptive. Each of these claims is entirely in contrast to the great world of business at large.While it's admirable to be a free-thinker and submit my tasks in a form and format that best suits my creative spirit, I'd lose my job pretty quickly if I started taking naps to refresh myself, or if I just decided to submit my lesson plans in a photostory presentation since I'm not good at memorizing and adapting the TEKS.Sometimes, as ideal as it may seem, I think we do a disservice to students by making them believe that the world is going to change for them, while expecting them to change very little. The greatest lessons I learned in high school were the most taxing ones.While allowing gifted students to progress on to higher levels to avoid boredom and burnout may seem beneficial to them, all it takes is one kid with low self-esteem to look over at what the gifted kid is doing to feel completely inadequate because they can't keep up and don't understand. I find that it's often unrealistic to avoid repetition assignments when teaching foreign languages, considering almost 90 percent of what we do is memorizing new vocabulary.Like I said, I can appreciate the author's point of view, but I think that with the state and federal mandates as they are, our hands are pretty well tied on certain things.
In response to C. Weg's comments on April 10th, 4:13pm-I noticed the same thing that she did. I know that a lot of kids come from some rather challenging situations and backgrounds. I never really understood the effectiveness of true, honest, sincere praise until I became a teacher.Writing "good job" at the top of each A+ paper isn't nearly as effective as shaking a child's hand as the walk in to your class the next morning and telling them personally that you enjoyed their responses.Every child likes to be remembered, they like to feel that someone notices them and cares. It makes me sad that not everyone has that at home.
I agree with all the people who wrote that assigning more work (of the same type) is not an effective way of reaching the gifted student. It seems unfair and like a punishment for finishing before the others. It would be good to let a gifted student explore a subject that they are interested in more deeply.
Reading Andrew's post made me sad to think that some students are not noticed at home. I too think children like to be noticed and remembered (for positive things too). I think I do this already, but will think more about it now.
On page 201 having students create questions to be included for their test. I do this however, it will be interesting if I would actually have them write test questions for them to take instead of the class as a whole.I agree with Shivani about electronic test should be adaptive instead of just running a number of preset questions. The COMPASS test is an adaptive test used by some colleges to place students in Math courses. There are plenty of online practice tests available but none are adaptive in nature.
I found the note taking strategy listed on page 202 very similar to the Cornel note taking method my students are taught to use for note taking purposes. I think it is a helpful way to recall information you've read as well as helps during review time before an assessment.
I thought it was both interesting and surprising that a study showed that "when students were passively, independently reading, they experienced little metabolic brain activity". I believe this shows how important it is for our students to have continuous conversations with one another about what they are reading. Perhaps this has ramifications for how we do our Drop Everything and Read time in our Middle School. Perhaps, at the end of the time, they should talk to partner(s) about their reading, connections, questions, etc.
In response to Steve's comment about mentors, I agree that it makes sense that our GT students could really benefit from periodically meeting with someone who serves in this role. I think it would be good for both the younger and older student. I think the mentor could help encourage the younger student and work with them on time management with assignments, which is a struggle for some of our GT students.
I like and agree with what "dock on the bay" said about allowing students to discover more and spoon feed less. This is very true and fits nicely into the CCP activities I try to implement into my classroom daily.
Valerie H... I was particularly interested in the information on interactive notes on p.203 and p.217. In social studies, some of us have students do interactive notebooks and have them reflect on what they are learning. I also like to do graphic organizers and charts, both ones I create for students to complete and ones students complete themselves. I liked the activity mentioned on p. 217... write down the main point or concept then create a graphic organizer to make connections. I would want students to make connections with past learning, what we are learning now and what students hear outside of school or in news.
My "ah ha" came when reading about intrinsic motivation. The author states that most gifted children are driven by intrinsic motives. One thing I would like to incorporate into my classes are more open ended student discussions to help motivate gifted students to participate more in class discussions. In a beginning Spanish class, I try to incorporate open ended questions, but it is difficult due to the lack of communication skills and vocabulary.
In response to Mr. C, I too have had my students write their own test questions to prepare for a test. I would like to explore the option of having students write their own test questions to be assessed on.
As Steve, I also think that the learning contracts are an interesting idea on page 221. If we evaluate our students on certain criteria and have conversations about our observations. We could help them to become meta-cognitive about their abilities and their desires to reach new achievements in that domain. Setting goals and evaluating our progress to that goal could be beneficial.
In response to Srta. Kirklin, I agree that intrinsic motivation plays a lot in the way GT kids learn. They are the ones who end up in IB or AP classes since they are self motivated.