What Should Be on the Tombstone of Gifted Education? Part 3: Classroom Activities for Gifted Student

In Part 2 of the series, the distribution of gifted programs in school districts was analyzed in terms of the allocation of this resource within a school district. In the vast majority of school districts, gifted students are segregated in dedicated facilities in which they have to apply for entry. While this method has advantages for both children and adults in the c=school setting, the major disadvantage is that students who are truly gifted or highly motivated are filtered out by a variety of statistical factors such as test scores, grades, and age. Not only are statistical factors used but having a dedicated facility opens up the possibility of filtering based on human factors such as race, culture, and gender issues. The best option is to have gifted programs in each school so that many more students who are capable will have the access they need to gifted resources.

One of the worsening factors of modern gifted education is the level and quality of classroom activities available for these students. The modern classroom is not geared toward gifted students but rather to the middle student who is perched on the edge of passing the state test. The second priority in the classroom is the lowest student who contributes to the failing rate of state tests. It is assumed that gifted students will pass state exams so they are at the bottom of the school’s priorities. For those teachers that are allowed to design their own materials, this forces them into a teaching mode that focuses on the middle and low-level students and to virtually ignore gifted or highly motivated students. Since most school districts force teachers to use their materials, the district itself sets the stage for ignoring the needs of the gifted student.

In terms of the individual classroom assignment, gifted students require a higher quality set of goals and objectives to meet. Most assignments are geared toward a lower quality set of objectives which hinge of meeting goals based on lower-level thinking skills. The majority of students are operating at the knowledge, comprehension, and application levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. This forces the assignment created by the teacher or district to be based on simple modes of vocabulary mastery and simple application to prescribed situations. Once this is done, the students and teachers move on to the next assignment. The gifted child, who is in need of further learning at higher levels, is left with an experience that only marginally stimulates their higher potential.

The assignments that are provided to gifted children are not properly designed for their educational needs. They are designed for students who are working at much lower levels on a daily basis. Gifted students require assignment and activities that stimulate their natural abilities to a much higher level of thinking. This is not to say that lower level assignments do not have value to the gifted student, but if the teacher stops at this point, then the gifted child to left with unfulfilled potential.

Coming up: Part 4- The Use of Extracurricular Activities as a Method of Fulfilling Potential.

What Makes a Great Teacher?

Some teachers regularly lift students’ test scores, while others leave their students with below-average results year after year. This can happen right next door from each other; same grade, same building. Results from dozens of studies point to the same most significant factor-a good teacher is the single greatest influence on a student’s chance at success.

Among the factors that do not predict a teacher’s ability? “A graduate-school degree, a high score on the SAT, an extroverted personality, politeness, confidence, warmth, enthusiasm and having passed the teacher-certification exam on the first try,” sites Elizabeth Green, writer for The New York Times.

“Parents have always worried about where to send their children to school; but the school, statistically speaking, does not matter as much as which adult stands in front of their children,” said Amanda Ripley, reporting on the statistical findings of Teach for America.

Teach for America data suggests two major traits that link all good teachers: setting big goals for their students and continually looking for ways to improve their teaching. “Great teachers constantly reevaluate what they are doing,” Ripley said.

A teacher needs to be constantly re-evaluating and paying attention to what is working for their students because every classroom is different. This takes patience and dedication, and a love for teaching, to do it right. Teacher Marie F. Hassett asserts, “Good teachers routinely think about and reflect on their classes, their students, their methods, and their materials.”

“Another trait seemed to matter even more,” Ripley says. Teachers who scored high in “life satisfaction” based on assessment tests were 43 percent more likely to perform well in the classroom. No surprise here, a happier person is usually the better teacher.

Doug Lemov, teacher, principal, founder and consultant for the charter school network Uncommon Schools in New York, has a different approach when thinking about good teaching. Lemov, who conducted his own research and published a “Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices,” believes that what often looks like “natural-born genius” is actually “deliberate technique in disguise.” He suggests that good teaching is not purely instinctive, but that good teachers can be made through acquiring knowledge of pedagogical techniques.

“Lemov’s view is that getting students to pay attention is not only crucial but also a skill as specialized, intricate and learnable as playing guitar,” Green explains.

In a study conducted by German researchers in 2010, Baumert and his colleagues tested 194 high school math teachers and found that although content knowledge is essential, teachers who possessed strong pedagogical knowledge as well as knowledge of mathematics were the most effective.

What about passion, and talent?

Author, educator, and activist Parker Palmer argues that good teaching isn’t about technique. After many conversations with students about what makes a good teacher, Palmer says, “All of them describe people who have had some sort of connective capacity, who connect themselves to their students, their students to each other, and everyone to the subject being studied.”

“Good teaching often has less to do with our knowledge and skills than with our attitude towards our students, our subject, and our work,” says teacher Teacher Marie F. Hassett.

To add to the debate I asked my colleagues for their input on what makes a good teacher, and these are the traits we came up with here at 360 Education Solutions:

Making it fun. Using different teaching styles, a hands-on approach, and being adaptive are all markings of a good teacher. Good teachers have to stay in tune and up-to-date on educational standards, while also keeping their students involved by making it fun and including activities in their lessons. If a teacher can keep their students engaged and constantly make things a discussion, they are doing well. A good teacher should challenge their students to think creatively, and influence them by being creative with how they teach.

Being invested. A good teacher is invested in the subject and their students. It is important to know the subject material well but also to understand how the students might understand or misunderstand it, and to be aware of them and what they need. Getting to know your students on a personal level-such as what is going on in their lives–is important not only for connection but to understand what they need as a student. Elementary school teachers and even high school teachers are often required to play the role of both teacher and parent.

Preparing students for ‘battle.’ One colleague gave me a very descriptive example of how he sees a great teacher. Their job is to give their students “the sword and the shield,” he explained, “so they can go into battle.” Because when they complete their challenges, it’s empowering, he says, and when they’ve done it themselves, they can claim ownership over it. “Good teachers are the ones that don’t give you the answer… they open the door for you but let you walk through it,” he says. “And the reason I’m saying this is because the stuff in my life that’s important happened because of teachers and mentors like this.”

Being tough. Nobody likes a teacher who is mean, spiteful or who over-punishes. But one co-worker likes a tough teacher because they challenge him. “It seems like the teachers everyone hates for giving the most work and not letting you get off easy end up being the ones you learn the most from,” he said.

Other qualities we recalled about our favorite teachers:

• Relate-ability

• Have respect for their students

• Have enthusiasm

• Present new perspectives

• Care about their students and what they teach

• Are wiling to go the extra mile

Most importantly, good teachers are the ones that have the patience to give their students the attention they deserve, and are dedicated to helping them go further than anyone else thought possible.

“Good teaching is not a static state, but a constant process,” Hassett concludes. “We have new opportunities to become better teachers every day; good teachers are the ones who seize more opportunities than they miss.”

Remember: good teaching means students’ success but this success cannot solely be judged based on test scores. Also, a student’s success is not only dependent on a good teacher but on their own motivation as well. A good teacher can only “show them the door,” the student must walk through.

Effective Classroom Management Tips and Tricks

Effective classroom management strategies can ensure a pleasant teaching environment for the entire year. Conversely, poor classroom management may lead to a difficult class and a year that drags on. These tips will get you well on your way to creating a positive environment in your classroom.

Post class rules

Students need to know what is expected of them from the very beginning. It is also useful to have visuals of the rules so that you can redirect small misbehavior problems by pointing at the appropriate rule poster. Since I have very little artistic talent I had my students create the posters for me. We went over the rules the first day of class and I had students each create a poster for two rules. We displayed all the posters for the first week. I later had the students vote on a single poster for each rule to leave up.

Post consequences

Students may occasionally break a rule. It is important that you have established a procedure for dealing with infractions. The consequences must be appropriate and clear so the student knows what to expect. Go over all consequences at the beginning of the school year and review if necessary.

Model appropriate behavior.

Since one of my rules is to respect everyone in the classroom, I make sure to be respectful to my students. Remember that you as the teacher must set the example. It will be difficult to get the students to follow your rules if you make exceptions for other students or yourself. If you also follow the rules it shows that they are important and will allow your classroom to feel like a community. Also be sure to thank your students when appropriate; we all like to be appreciated.

Develop a routine for beginning your class

Students often misbehave when they are bored or frustrated. You can prevent some of this boredom by beginning class immediately and in a predictable fashion. Students like to know what to expect. I prefer to begin immediately after the bell rings so students know that our class time is valuable. Try to avoid beginning with verbally taking roll as students will become distracted and talk amongst themselves during this time. Since my school requires roll to be taken within the first five minutes of class I take roll silently while the students work on a warm-up opening activity.

Write a daily schedule on the board so students can see what is coming next. Having a visual guide to the class time will help the students make transitions between activities. A visual schedule will also prevent some questions about what time is break and “how long do we have to do this?”

Activities

Plan more activities than you think you’ll have time for and always have a back-up plan. Most behavior problems occur when students get bored. Be sure you have engaging lessons to prevent this for most students. Also keep in mind that overhead-bulbs die and other technical issues happen so be sure that the lesson can go on even if something goes wrong.

Prepare engaging enrichment activities for the students that finish early. No matter how much you plan, sometimes students will still finish early. You will want to be sure that activities that these students will enjoy are available. When I plan units, I include extra activities that could be used for these situations. Silent reading is also a good option as reading is always valuable. This could be a book of the student’s choice or a book you provide.

Reward good behavior

Many students are eager to please and will appreciate their good efforts. Small rewards also work wonders. I use “Thank You Tickets” to thank the students for good behavior and appropriate class participation. These tickets can be traded for small prizes such as candy, pencils, or homework passes.

Be fair

Since your rules and the consequences are clearly posted it will be easy to enforce them the same for everyone. It will also be very obvious if you make exceptions for any one student. This will cause you to lose respect from all of the students and will make it difficult to manage your class. Be sure the rules are the same for everyone in the classroom. Also be sure to avoid confrontations with any students. Singling out one student will make that student confrontational and will likely distract your entire class. It is best to deal with behavior problems privately.

Use a seating chart

At the beginning of the year, you will definitely want a seating chart while learning the students’ names. Seating charts also help a substitute or classroom visitor as students respond better when the teacher knows and uses their names. At the beginning of the year I create a random seating chart by numbering desks and creating a set of index cards with matching numbers. I give students a card as they walk in and that is the assigned seating chart for the first week. It is also important to change this chart once you know the students as some students will need to be moved or separated. I find it helpful to change the seating several times a year to keep things interesting. Depending on your class, you could also offer to let them choose their own seats if they behave well for a set amount of time.

Education Needs a Makeover

In the great poem by Prince Ea, “I Just Sued the Education System!!!” he says, “… here’s a classroom of today and here’s a classroom we used 150 years ago. Now ain’t that a shame. In literally over a century, nothing has changed. Yet you claim to prepare students for the future? But with evidence like that I must ask: do you prepare students for the future, or the past?”

If you have stepped into a public school classroom in the last… well, 100 years, then you know how dire the situation is. But let’s go a little further than that. If you have stepped into a Title I school in the last ten years, then you could quickly understand why we have thousands and thousands of teachers across the country out in the streets demanding better.

I’m going to leave teacher salary and school funds and budgets out of this and just focus on our education system itself- the structure of it. School in America today is pathetic compared to the immense breakthroughs and upgrades we have made in science and technology.

How is it possible that today, in 2018, we can hold an entire computer in our pocket, with access to all of the information ever published on the world wide web, not to mention enough space for 5,000+ pictures, and the ability to have a face-to-face conversation with someone on the other side of the globe? And YET our classrooms (especially the ones in low-income areas) are still using whiteboards, cramped with over thirty students in a classroom, sitting at desks that are falling apart, always without a pencil. Who even needs a pencil nowadays?

As a public school teacher myself, I can say that I have been really discouraged by the educational system and structure. It was so clearly created to keep minorities down and despite all of the innovative ideas and new, alternative types of schools opening up (in rich areas, of course), these schools just keep the pipeline-to-prison cycle going around and around. As Prince Ea discusses in his poem, we are not preparing our youth for a successful future.

Case in point, here are just a few of the top skills that employers currently look for (Careers NZ) along with explanations of how we are not helping our students build those skills.

Top 5 skills employers look for:

Communication- We demand that students raise their hands to speak, only speak when called on, and only respond to specific questions that the teacher poses. Students are seldom given the opportunity to have open conversations with peers where they have to professionally express their opinions, allow others to speak and find an appropriate time to respond, and respectfully disagree. This means that our students are basically never given a voice of their own.

Teamwork- Yes, students still occasionally work on group projects, perhaps they create a poster board or PowerPoint presentation. However, there is no room in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for discovering your own personality type, learning how to work with different personality types, learning how to brainstorm ideas together, collaborate and take advantage of each team member’s strengths. In case you’re wondering, we still do old school quizzes, end-of-chapter tests, standardized state testing, all of which students can’t peak at their classmate’s work. What we deem as “cheating” is what we later demand that they have: the ability to work well with others!

Self-management- Whether or not you choose to believe the claims that the education system was created and implemented specifically to brainwash our youth to think and behave in a way that benefited us (specifically young boys in modern-day Germany to become obedient soldiers), anyone can walk into a school today and see that everything is black and white, set in stone, strictly structured and students are highly micromanaged. Assigned seats, bells (even minute bells!), waiting in lines, etc. Students are not taught to manage their time, to make decisions about how they complete tasks, or even just how to choose what environment they work best in.

Thinking skills- Teachers, and adults in general, are constantly jumping in to solve problems for kids from birth to eighteen years old and then suddenly, they are adults and we just expect them to know how to figure things out. Whether it’s conflict resolution and how to get along with peers, how to find a solution to a math problem, how to complete two homework assignments on time, how to coordinate their schedule with classmates to finish a group project… we do all of these things for students! Or their parents call in and excuse them from solving their own problems (which shows that school is not the only culprit in this). It is okay for our kids to have problems, it is okay for our kids to be stressed, it is okay for our kids to fail. It’s how they solve those problems that matters, which is why we need to be teaching them thinking and problem-solving skills early on.

Resilience- Speaking of failing, where in the CCSS curriculum does it cover how to bounce back from failing? Where in the CCSS curriculum does it cover how to overcome personal obstacles to be successful and create a better future? If you are over the age of twenty and have had at least one job interview in your life, you have most definitely had to give an example of when you made a mistake or failed at something and how you recovered. But when do we teach that?

In a world where the iPhone is updated every six months (or less), where we can order our coffee from our phones before walking into the coffee shop, where we can essentially collaborate and create a project with five strangers in five different countries, we absolutely need to upgrade and update our education system. We need to think more long term. Students do not need to be memorizing maps, or practicing alliteration, or reciting Shakespeare, unless it directly ties in to their life and the skills that will help them have a better future. Let’s be real, almost every fact is easily accessible on Google. Even maps are accessible on Google (including virtual tours of places like Taj Mahal and the Amazon Rainforest)! What our students need to be learning, practicing and mastering are the soft skills that their future employers will demand of them.

Tips To Help You Choose The Best Assignment Help

Assignment help is something that can provide assistance to the students in the best ways for sure. Students these days have a very busy schedule with the projects, exams, assignments, and so much more. With such added pressure, they aren’t really able to focus on every single aspect of education.

As a result, the students will not score good marks in their exams as well. However, with the help of the best assignment writing provider, the students can easily make sure that they have all the help that they need with the assignment. That way, they can also concentrate on all the other aspects of education as well.

Choosing The Best Provider Of Assignment Services

However, finding the best assignment writing service provider is not that easy of a task. The students need to take care of some important factors. We all know that there are some fraud assignment services providing companies. These companies would take all the money and then not provide the important results that the students expect. Hence, it is important to choose the services in a careful manner. Here are some of the tips to help the students.

  • Do Your Research Well

Research is one of the most important things that you need to take care of when you are searching for the service provider. As we said, there are many different service providers that are providing services of assignment help. However, not all of them are genuine and authentic. So, you need to research and find a reliable service provider.

  • Reputation

When you are looking out for the service provider for the best assignment writing service provider, one needs to see if the service provider has got the reputation to handle the task or not. This is something that you will be able to see on their websites. So, keep that in mind always.

  • Academic Authenticity

When it comes to hiring the writers, you need to make sure that they are authentic as well. Some of the writers might claim to be authentic but will not be able to provide you with the services. So, choose the ones that suit the needs and requirements that you have and you will be fine.

  • Technicalities

The writer needs to make sure that they are able to properly implement all the different technicalities that are required for preparing the assignments. This is in relation to the essays, thesis, and other case studies as well. So, the writing service that you hire should be able to have all the knowledge of the technicalities.

Conclusion

When it comes to hiring the best assignment writing help providing services, you need to make sure that you always consider these important factors. Another one of the important things to consider would have to be the price of the service provider. There are many companies that provide services which are higher. So, most students might not be able to afford the services. Hence, having a reasonably priced service provider will definitely be a great start for the students.