10 comments
  1. This is both a shallow and a dangerous view of gifted education. Would you suggest that we teach all students as if they were MIMR? How about autistic? Gifted education is special education. It's there for a reason.

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    1. Since John is doing everything badly, I hope you soon start your own blog so that I can learn how to do everything properly.

      Actually, as a human who is probably "shallow," I would probably have to shoot for the middle between your lofty approach and John's approach because I could not meet your standards.

      By the way, I can see why combining critical thinking with play might be dangerous. Who knows what could happen if students used Sun Tzu's principles to get out of doing homework?

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    2. Thanks, LK. I laughed aloud at the Sun Tzu reference. Very nice.

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  2. All education should differentiate for the learner. To this extent the anonymous comment has a point. I think it speaks to our systemic economy and pragmatism though. Educational resources are "limited", we need to exploit economies of scale: large classrooms, mass media, standardized assessment, uniformity, time management. Give most learners their limited share of the available resources, then allocate additional resources that those who "really need it." We are triaging our students, and when you have to do that, your perceptions and expectations of each group are affected.

    I see it so clearly. When I taught in a small rural school with two-three grade splits and enrolements as low as twelve students in a class, and rarely more than eighteen, autonomy was essential. It seemed natural to listen to individuals and negotiate differentiation and individualization. I miss those years. I think I have carried that approach with me down the years. I teach in an urban school with a single grade at the moment, but treating each student as someone with gifts and self directed interests remains important to me. When the year ends, many of them have just not gotten it together. That is okay, they all had some moment when it did feel autonomous and uniquely appreciated.

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    1. You're right. It really is about differentiation and freedom. Triaging. I hadn't thought much about it, but I think that's the right term. I love the notion of negotiating individualization and differentiation. Hopefully, I can pull that off this year.

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  3. I heartily agree with your approach. You aren't talking about teaching them exactly the same as your gifted students, just using some of the same approaches with differentiation for the needs of the ELL students. I am an ELL teacher (and a graduate school instructor of future ELL teachers) and all of the ideas you talked about fall under best practices for ELL students. Adjustments will, of course, need to be made for the individual language levels of your students, but in a good ELL classroom, there lots of differentiation with the ELL population. Deep thinking is often neglected with ELL students, and they need it desperately. In addition, many ELL students are, in fact, gifted. Every year I have recently exited ELL students from my classes get tested for our school's gifted program and qualify.

    The individualization helps students connect what they're learning with their background knowledge and culture. This is often neglected in a traditional classroom, and this leads to identity problems and a disconnect between their lives and school. In addition, ELL students are often behind other students on technology due to language barrier and financial hardship. Giving them the opportunity to master technology is especially important for them.

    Some things I think might help are differentiated sentence frames (depending on the levels of the students) and frequent and varied cooperative structures with more language support. You will need to do in-depth vocabulary instruction. I like the Frayer Model for that, myself.

    I am looking forward to hearing how your teaching goes this year. Excellent post.

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    1. Thanks. I really do believe in using language-sensitive approaches. I'm just suggesting that ELL kids be given some of the same opportunities as gifted kids.

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  4. The one thing I was perpetually frustrated with in my teaching when I was in AZ, was the assumption that if a student's reading level was low, that their ability to critically think was also low. Sometimes there was a correlation, but certainly not always. Recognizing that students of all abilities need to be engaged in relevant, interesting and compelling learning opportunities ... is wonderful. Love it.

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    1. You're right. That assumption is pervasive and the system needs a paradigm shift. The attitude of "these poor kids" goes alongside it. We need to see their potential and help them work toward that.

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  5. I love this. I teach physical science to 9th graders and I get most of the spec ed kids. This is how I teach. Expect more and they will deliver. Dixie

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Please leave a comment. I enjoy the conversation.