Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Using GT Strategies with All Students

Teaching At-Risk Kids as Though They Were GT

When I first went through the certification process for Gifted and Talented, I was teaching in a "regular" classroom. I went to work the next day and began putting those strategies to work with my kiddos. We used the depth and complexity concepts. I asked them deeper questions in comprehension and science. They started learning how to identify patterns in everything-literature, social studies-making those connections. I truly believe that all students can benefit from being taught from the standpoint of high expectations-and this study proves that point.

I have worked as a tester for 4-year olds in our district for the GT program. I've tested kids that didn't qualify, but it wasn't because they didn't have any innate ability-it's just they had never been taught. I'll never forget a student I had, I'll call her "Alicia". The 1st week assessment she couldn't count past 3, she didn't know what an "A" was (1st and last letter of her name). About 3 months later she was adding, writing about the "reflection" in the pool. She had just never been taught. Sometimes you have to bring those talents out! She qualified in Kinder with very high scores.

I attended a workshop years ago where they shared research that had been completed in an inner-city school system (I wish I could remember who published it). But they compared the criteria of specific assignments and grading rubrics of the classes designated as a "regular" class and what was considered the "low" class. It was the same work, same objective, same lesson-but the expectations were very different-low students were given low expectations. I think this is the reason I am against tracking students and separating them into different classes based on ability. I think many teachers will start with low expectations for those struggling kids and keep that mentality all year.

I feel like my blog is in such an in-between place. On one hand I know people in the GT community read it, but I also hear from teachers of "regular" classes who find opportunities to implement some of the activities into their daily activities to challenge their kiddos-which of course, I think is just wonderful. In my humble opinion, all kids can benefit from learning how to "think outside the box" and be creative thinkers-it was nice to read an article that solidifies that school of thought.

But that's just my 2 cents! :)
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  1. I am a "regular" classroom teacher and I agree with all you said! I believe all children will rise to the level you expect and if you give them a chance, they will amaze you!

  2. I so agree with your philosophy. I have been a teacher of the gifted for all of my career, except these past 2 years. I have to tell you that I don't teach these students any differently than the students I have had in past years. I am still the person who tests for the gifted program and my students all do very well on the test because they have been taught using the only strategies I know. Of course, when you have that "low" student who struggles, you just change it up a bit. I still, however, expect these "low" students to use their critical thinking skills no matter what. Thinking outside of the box should be the norm, it is the only way we can get all of our students competing in the global community at large.

  3. I teach in a "regular" classroom too - our gt kids are pulled out once a week for gt class so everyone is mixed up together. I completely agree - every student benefits from high expectations because they absolutely will rise to meet them! I went to a 30 hour gifted training a few years ago and immediately thought: I can teach all of my kids this way!


  4. I have taken a couple of classes toward my GT endorsement, but honestly, it's mostly because I love teaching the way GT teachers are encouraged to teach. I love using more concept-centered, project-based, critical and creative thinking lessons, and I think the same things that motivate and encourage GT kids can encourage all kids.

  5. I just want to thank you for your blog! I'm a "regular" teacher as well. However, I've began to implement some of your ideas. Thanks a ton for sharing.