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:
- Is this an appropriate learning experiences?
- Can all kids do this?
- Should all kids do this?
- Does it promote critical thinking, as well as depth and complexity, beyond grade level?
- 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