What’s the Big Idea?


So, what’s the big idea going on in your classroom? What are you doing new that’s challenging to your gifted students? We need to continue to challenge these students in the regular classroom, and when they are being pulled out to a resource room, or however your District services Gifted students. Many Districts continue to put most of their time and energy into students who are stuggling to make AYP (average yearly progress). Which is fine, but we need to put the same amount of time and energy into our gifted students. They are constantly getting left behind in many school districts.

I often get asked by fellow teachers, “I am struggling with the gifted student in my class. They are giving out bursts and not finishing any work. What can I do?” I answer my fellow teachers that they are not giving that particular student a challenge. They are finding the work mundane and pointless. To be quite frank, they are bored. As the conversation continues it will often come out that they had read a work sheet or portion of a book and answer simple questions. That works for many average students, not for Gifted students.

So, I ask again…what is the big idea that you are posing to your Gifted students? They need to have activities that are more open-ended, and not predictable. They need to see a point to the project. They want to be challenged. They want to learn, and will learn at faster rate than the other students. They will have the capibility to have more divergent thinking than the average student. It’s a bit more work on your end, but it will definately give your Gifted students a chance to grow and learn.

One thing that I do in my classroom, is start with a simple senario where they have to think of multiple answers to fit the senario. For exmaple:

Tom is running late from school. His mother is worried, becuase he is over an hour late. What are some reasons Tom might be late?

This allows my students to get their brain moving and get their thoughts in order. Their answers are quite interesting. Sometimes they need some poking, but they will  not disappoint.

Another thing that I am starting to offer to students to do is a Personal Learning Plan (which I was inspired by Mr. C’s Blog) . I have a form that students can go to that’s on our class website, and on our blog. What I tell my students is that they can take the topic that we are covering and expand on it in a different way that what we have been doing in class. I believe that this ownership of learning is important. If they have a vision, and a big idea of they would love to learn more about the topic than what I cover(ed) in class, then I let them go off into that idea and bring something back to share. The only reason I limit it to the topic we covered is becuase the resources are readily availible for students that I may have in my room. Since I am just starting this for the 2010-11 school year I want to get it going and off the ground first. Once it is up and running I plan to expand it to whatever my students would like to learn. The purpose of this idea that I am implementing in my classroom is to give students an option, or an outlet use their interests to expand their knowledge of a given topic.

I know that Gifted children can be a handful in and out of the classroom. I want to challenge you, as I am challenging myself, to be a better teacher, role model, and facilitator to them. I challenge you and myself to give them something they can bite their teeth into. Give them lessons, ideas, and concepts that will challenge their intellect and abilities; by doing this you are gifting the Gifted student. By challenging the Gifted student, you are changing the face of education. If you are a regular education teacher, as I was, please do a better job than I did at teaching to the top of the class, and not the bottom middle. Every student wants a challenge, and not to be a challenge in class. By teaching to the top of the class, you can raise all of your students and hopefully meet AYP.

So, what’s the big idea in your classroom going to be?

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5 thoughts on “What’s the Big Idea?

  1. Lisa Conrad

    2014 AYP levels will never be reached by most schools. Hopefully, they will become history. I often wondered though about what the effect of challenging high-achievers would have on a schools’ overall test scores thus benefiting the school as a whole.
    We need more gifted teachers like you! You have a tough job – educating your students and teaching your co-workers. Does your district provide any professional development in gifted ed? I am convinced that this is key to changing the mind-set of teachers about the gifted. PD can lead to understanding and the dispelling of myths that surround gifted education.
    Thanks for what you do. Each day you touch the life of a gifted student,the world becomes a richer place!

    Reply
    1. Jeffrey Shoemaker Post author

      You are so right. AYP is not a great measureable tool for schools. AYP needs to be changed to something that can be met, and used. I believe (and I heard this from Ron Clark, founder of the Ron Clark Academy) that if you teach to the top the rest will follow. I think this is where we teachers need to get in gear and teach better, and create more meaningful lessons. The lower children will struggle, so we need to learn to teach in a way that brings these child along with the upper children. You know what I mean.

      Thank you for the gracious compliment. I am trying to do my best. My district doesn’t offer gifted ed PD. I wish it did. Normally we go to the OAGC conference in Columbus, Ohio. We do get a lot of PD in teaching styles, learning styles and other topics. The gifted ed staff has given some PD to regular ed teacher though. It works out.

      Reply
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