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Spotlight on Giftedness – December 2011

January 3, 2012

A collection of news articles regarding gifted children and education for December 2011.

December had fewer articles, but there were some real gems, including a two-part article on how many traits of gifted individuals are both positive and negative.  There is also an interview with Professor Miraca Gross on structuring a school by ability instead of age.

This month’s featured article is about differentiated instruction.  This appears to be the instructional fad sweeping the schools right now as a means of meeting the needs of all students, from struggling to gifted, in the standard classroom.  The promises are outstanding, but the results often are not.  Jeffrey Bennett explains why in his article Differentiated Instruction: Easier in Theory than in Practice:

The idea behind Differentiated Instruction is beautiful: instead of teachers teaching to the mean of the whole class, teachers “meet children where they are,” and teach all children based on their individual pre-existing skills or learning styles.  It’s a theory that holds promise for low-achievers who need more structure and basics and for high-achievers, who need that push and enrichment to reach deeper conceptual knowledge.  The concept itself is so attractive that it’s hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with it.  In fact, despite the criticisms of Differentiated Instruction that are about to come, I still support it as one of the many tools schools should use to reach students.  In elementary schools where leveling is philosophically unpalatable, I think Differentiated Instruction is more than good, it is absolutely necessary as the best method we have of educating students of varying readiness.

My critique is that Differentiated Instruction is no substitute for upward-pushing leveled classes.  Even in the writings of Differentiated Instruction main theorists it is not supposed to be a stand-in for in-class leveling.  In practice Differentiated Instruction is so time consuming for teachers that they often are unable to do it.  My belief is that there is no either/or between differentiation and leveling and using the two in combination is ideal for that ideal “thorough and efficient” education.

Surveys of teachers show ambivalence about Differentiated Instruction.  Although many teachers use Differentiated Instruction enthusiastically, a greater number have issues with it.  A 2008 nationwide survey of 900 teachers by the Fordham Institute, over 80% said Differentiated Instruction was “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to implement.   A very high 76% of teachers would like to see the nation “relying more on homogeneous classes for advanced students so that they learn faster and in greater depth.”

Read the entire article at Patch.

Many more great articles are provided in the links below!

The Double-Edged Sword of Giftedness: Part 1
How gifted children’s cognitive traits both help and harm them

The Double-Edged Sword of Giftedness: Part 2
How gifted children’s affective traits both help and harm them

Gifted Kids with Learning Problems: The “Twice Exceptional” Child
Can gifted children have learning disabilities?  Certainly!

Group kids by ability and subject not age, says gifted-education professor
Schoolchildren should be classed by intellectual ability in subject groupings rather than lumped together according to age, says Miraca Gross

Closing the achievement gap, but at gifted students’ expense
Placing students not ready for AP and honors curriculum in those classes will harm the students who should be there.

Pressure on college resources sees flight of talent
Increase in students needing remediation in college leads Ireland’s top scholars to go overseas for education

The Excellence Gap
No Child Left Behind leaves the United States behind

Parents have nothing to fear from fast-tracking kids
Professor Miraca Gross’s survey demonstrates acceleration is beneficial for advanced learners

Multipotentiality: When High Ability Leads to Too Many Options
Being great in so many subjects often makes choosing a career or college major tough

Mom wants to establish support group for gifted children
Mom working to create local chapter of Association of Bright Children

Learn How to Fail

Many people regarded as successes failed many times first

Smart Kids Face Challenges Too
How to cope with some of the challenges gifted children will face

Why gifted students can be so challenging
Gifted children often become problems in the classroom when not given proper support

Higher IQs Welcome Highs on Drugs?
Gifted children have higher incidence of drug use

Gifted Boys and Gender Issues
How does giftedness uniquely affect boys?

Gifted Girls and Gender Issues
How does giftedness uniquely affect girls?

You Know Your Child is Gifted When…
A phenomenal free book that touches on many areas of giftedness

Teen Survival Smarts
An interview with Jim Delisle and Judy Galbraith regarding their latest book

Did I miss any great articles?  Please post them in the comments below!

Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE!  Together we can make a difference for gifted children!

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