Tag Archives: advocate

Gifted Education as a Civil Right

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Really, when you stop to think about it, gifted education is a civil right  for those who need it.  Just as special education and bilingual/ESL education are a civil right for those learners.  Unfortunately, gifted learners are often the last group of students to receive either positive attention or funding.  And when there are cuts, often gifted education is a victim to the decreasing budget before the any other special population services.  And right now we are in the perfect storm where the educational rights of gifted learners are at an even greater risk, thanks to NCLB ($1.1 billion indsutry since 2001), current economics, competing priorities, and thirty years of myths concerning gifted learners.

Thanks to Deborah Mersino who led this session and made the audience think about what our role as gifted educators really is.  Our responsibility is far more than the students sitting in our classrooms right now.  Our responsibility is to advocate for the the gifted so that our sparse funding is not cut anymore.  While we might not be able to make the progress we want to during a lean times, we certainly don’t want to lose the ground we have already gained.  Since competing priorities and NCLB will not be going away, as advocates, we have some pretty amazing tools at our disposal that we must embrace.  Though the digital age can be overwhelming for those of us who are not digital natives, it also has the potential to be a great ally.  With tools like Skype, Twitter, various blogs and wikis, Facebook, and YouTube, there isn’t a valid reason for us not to get our message out.  All of these tools can be used to network with other advocates, as well as share resources and strategies.  Even better, the internet can be used to educate those who don’t understand what gifted is all about and debunk all of those myths that have been out there for an entire generation.

A couple of YouTube videos that illustrate this point are Telenor The Essay Commercial  and NB3 21C Education in New Brunswick.  They are both so powerful that I don’t even need to comment on them.  I’ll leave that to you, the reader.

Whether you are a parent or an educator, I encourage you to embrace the digital age and find a way that you can support gifted learners through online collaboration.

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The Rights of Gifted Learners When Life-Long Learning is the Goal

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Last Thursday, Dr. Bertie Kingore was the keynote speaker at TAGT.  As always, Dr. Kingore was a very motivating and inspirational speaker.  Her topic?  The Rights of Gifted Learners When Life-Long Learning is the Goal.  A topic, that as educators and advocates of the gifted, we can never hear or spread too much.  Because it’s such a vital issue, I thought it was  important that I share Dr. Kingore’s words.

Right #1: Continuous learning

Gifted learners have the right to experience continuous learning.  Preassessment is a strategy that allows us to eliminate redundancy in learning, just one of many ways we can continue to motivate gifted learners to achieve their potential.  Other strategies that allow for continuous learning?  Acceleration, curriculum compacting, and cluster grouping are all cornerstones of gifted education.  Dr. Kingore says that when making instructional decisions, there are some key questions that must be asked:

  1. Is this an appropriate learning experiences?
  2. Can all kids do this?
  3. Should all kids do this?
  4. Does it promote critical thinking, as well as depth and complexity, beyond grade level?
  5. Is the pace of instruction appropriate?

Right #2: Uniqueness

Gifted learners have a right to their uniqueness.  And the culture in a gifted classroom should respect that uniqueness and the ideas that come from gifted learners.  Dr. Kingore posed the following question the group:  What is the worst thing you can do for gifted learners?  The answer?  Nothing.  Think about that for a minute.  Feel free to reply to this blog with your thoughts.

Right #3: Unconditional Encouragement

Gifted learners need to be reminded that it’s struggle that pays off in the end, so instead of recognizing the finished product all the time, let’s take the time to discuss a student’s effort, including any mistakes made in the process.  Take note when a student selects a difficult task or utilizes various strategies and discuss the value in learning and inquiry.  Model how to reflect and assess, and expect students to do the same.  Encourage GB, XL, and 4Me.  That’s going beyond, extending the learning challenge, and what will help me learn more.

The key to success is a teacher who likes gifted kids and is quite accomplished at differentiating instruction.  Definitely a tall order, but one that can be obtained with committment. 

Right #4: In-depth Study and Long-Term Learning

Gifted learners deserve the right to be experts before their time (or before the timeline dictated by state-mandated standards).  In fact, Dr. Kingore shared a quote from Nodding (2009), which I think warrants further conversation:  “Over-promoting teaching to standards and tests reduces content to Cliffs Notes for everything and forecloses learning to think.”  Anyone care to comment? 

 With the focus on state standards and testing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find time for students to particpate in in-depth study.  But there are a host of strategies that allow for continuous learning that support in-depth study as well.  In addition to the strategies mentioned above, Expert Quest (student-developed learning stations) permits students to read, write, research and create about topics that interest them.  Consider using replacement tasks in your classroom.  If a student is already proficient at something, why torture him or her by making him/her do the activity anyway?  Replace the activity with something more appropriate, rewarding, and challenging.  A possible resource that would further a student’s learning?  Any one of the thousands of instructional videos found at the Khan Academy.

While I’m not nearly as eloquent as Bertie Kingore, I hope I have gotten her point across.  Our goal, as gifted educators, is three-fold: 1) be an advocate, 2) make a difference, and 3) maximize potential.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some work to do. Read the rest of this entry