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Friday, January 1, 2010

Depth and Complexity





Many people think teaching a GT class is much easier than teaching a "regular" classroom. After all, the students already know everything, right? First of all, many times GT does not mean the student is working above grade level-it simply means they have innate abilities. I still have students now in January who cannot read yet, but I have no doubt are truly GT. I have the complete spectrum of academic levels in my class. It's actually more difficult if they are above grade level-I have to teach reading backwards. They already can call the words, but they still don't have phonics, spelling or comprehension abilities. I truly believe it's so important not just to touch upon as many topics as possible, but to go as deeply as possible into those topics.

Perspective is a tough concept for the little ones. If you have ever walked down the hall opposite a Kindergartener, they typically don't get out of your way. The world revolves around them. So at every opportunity I have them write about life from another perspective. If we are studying homes-they write from the point-of-view of a mansion or a hut. They pretend they are penguins, snowmen or even the Grinch. I ask them to consider what those things feel, hear, see, do, dream, etc. We compare perspectives (and that is what the picture is of)-there it was city vs. country. My favorite is comparing the perspective of a butterfly to that of a caterpillar or the moon's perspective to the sun's.

When we do fairy tales I will literally jump up on the table (a la Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society) and have them tell me how my perspective has changed. Last year when I did this one very observant student said "oooiiii, a teacher just walked past and saw you". I tracked the teacher down later to explain and I do have that teacher's daughter in my class this year-despite the theatrics. But I do think it gave the kids an opportunity to visualize what I was talking about. So no matter what your theme or objective-have them put themselves in someone else's shoes-it's not as easy as it sounds.
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