She offers this opportunity to all students, not just those identified as gifted. Students who successfully complete the five problems are excused from that night's homework. If classwork is involved, the teacher simply needs to have a few extension activities on hand—tasks that carry the concept to the next level—for students to work on quietly while others complete the regular assignment.
With compacting, students get to "throw away" the part of the curriculum that they already know, while receiving full credit for those competencies. This frees up students to work on more challenging content. Let's say a teacher is teaching two-digit multiplication. He might do some direct instruction for 10 minutes, then offer students the end-of-chapter test, saying, "If you get 90 percent or higher, you won't have to do the homework or practice work. You'll have different work to do. Susan Flores, a 2nd grade teacher in Paradise Valley, meets a range of student abilities by using the standard as her baseline.
I have several piles of activities there that take a concept up or down. For example, when the class is working on the distributive property in math, those "piles" might include differentiated worksheets, word problems, and task cards. Depending on how students grasp the concept, Flores can either reteach, offer practice, or enrich. Flores also uses "choice boards. They jump in where they want to jump in," she notes. All students in Flores's class can choose whether they want to take their learning to the next level.
Janice Mak, a gifted cluster teacher and 7th and 8th grade STEM teacher in Paradise Valley, gives students a menu of options in her computer science class.
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After stu-dents learn the basics of programming—perhaps through an online course from Stanford University or work with Google CS First clubs—they work in teams to create a robot. Students choose the level of complexity, from designing dogs that bark to building miniature disco rooms in which a record plays and lights flash. Students can also tailor a project to their interests. In a module on architecture, some students designed a playground for Egyptian students using Legos, Build with Chrome, or Minecraft.
One student opted instead to recreate the White House using Minecraft. The Ignite presentation format offers another way for Mak to differentiate work on the basis of student interest. The presenter has exactly 5 minutes and 20 slides, which auto-advance every 15 seconds, to discuss a topic of interest aligned to the unit.
This activity allows students to share their passion with their peers, be it nanotechnology and its role in medicine, the physics of roller coasters, or the latest advances in virtual reality. According to education expert Jenny Grant Rankin, knowing a student's emotional intensities—what Polish psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski called "overexcitabilities"—is also key to teaching gifted students.
Dabrowski identified five areas of sensitivity that are strongly related to giftedness: psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional.
Overexcitabilities will often appear as quirks, such as compulsive talking or organizing, heightened sensitivity to smells or tastes, insatiable curiosity, or daydreaming. Knowing a student's overexcitabilities can help teachers shape engaging—and personalized—learning experiences. An imaginational student will benefit from an assignment that he's free to complete in a unique way.
An intellectual student will prefer to investigate why certain areas of the world struggle with starvation rather than simply listing those areas. Although we tend to see overexcitabilities negatively, they are often accompanied by great creativity, imagination, and drive.
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According to NAGC, research shows that enabling gifted students to work together in groups boosts their academic achievement and benefits other students in the classroom, as well. When gifted students work together, they challenge themselves in unexpected ways. They bounce ideas off one another and take a peer's idea to a new place. They also learn that as smart as they are, they, too, must exert effort with challenging content—and that they'll sometimes fail along the way. That said, gifted kids need to work both in and out of their group.
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This approach relies on planning lessons or units at different tiers of difficulty. But does this require teachers to add to their already full plates? Teachers have to plan for their lessons, so why not develop deep and complex activities for high-ability students at the same time? This one way of planning—providing work at the entry, advanced, and extension levels or at varying Depth of Knowledge Levels—offers a multiplicity of ways to learn. It may take more time in the planning stage, but it is ultimately more efficient because bored students aren't acting out or zoning out in class—they've got challenging work to do—and struggling students are getting support.
Once teachers create these tiered resources, they can use them again and again. Author Carol Ann Tomlinson advocates teaching up —"a practice of first planning a lesson that's challenging for high-end learners and then differentiating for other learners by providing supports that enable them to access that more sophisticated learning opportunity. All students have the right to learn something new every day, whether they are in regular classrooms or in special education, language acquisition, or gifted programs. And every student will benefit from being pulled up to go beyond the curriculum at times.
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But as Tomlinson points out, "Learning should be joyful or at least satisfying, rather than just hard. Is this challenging for educators? But according to Flores, "Any good teacher can do these things well. It's just good teaching. Pre-assess your students. CTYI is the only organisation in Ireland providing challenging academic programmes for young people with high ability.
Accepting children from age 6 up to 16 years, the Centre runs enrichment courses in subject areas ordinarily unavailable at school. Eligible students typically function in the 95th percentile. The Centre was established in and has seen more than 30, students through its doors.
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Young people who wish to take part in the programmes on offer at CTYI, must first establish their eligibility through assessment. Eligibility can be found in a number of different ways. Primary schools regularly use standardised assessment tests to measure a student's performance. That is, their evaluation can more sensitively discern children in the average range, but is less precise at discriminating the abilities of children at either end of the curve purple areas.
Essentially these tests have a specific number of easy, mediocre, difficult and complex questions. Few children will be able to answer the very complex questions, and for those who can answer these with ease, a small number of complex questions is not enough to allow clear definitions of their ability to be drawn. For example, a given test contains five very complicated questions. There is one gifted boy taking the test along with seven bright children, and all eight children get all five questions correct in the test.
With this test there is no way of distinguishing between the gifted and bright children in the class. If the test had 20 increasingly complex questions it is more likely that the bright children would be able to answer, say, of the questions, while the gifted children would be able to answer of them. This approach is called out of level testing. It is generally accepted that out of level testing is the most appropriate way to assess the academic potential of high ability children.
This involves administering a standardised test that is geared for children years older than the child being assessed. Scores are then compared against the norm chart for that age group. Usually children must fall into the 50th percentile or above of the standardised test group, to be placed in the 95th percentile of children their own age. The Centre runs a regular programme of courses for primary and secondary school students throughout the year.
Autumn Term: October to December 8-week Saturday programme. Summer Term: July over four weeks 5-day Programme. The courses typically present material at a pace and level above that which students are used to at school.
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Courses are designed to challenge and stimulate new interests. Students will learn about their chosen subject from an instructor who is currently studying at PhD level or works in that field and are therefore at the cutting edge of developments in the area. Students will also be challenged to think in different ways, through the courses at CTYI.
In the writing courses, students are encouraged to explore new ways of expressing themselves and try out new ways of approaching their writing. The courses at CTYI allow students to learn at a level that is more appropriate to their academic ability. All students need to be challenged, and gifted children are no different, just that their level is much higher than what you might expect. It is important for them to access a learning environment that is motivating and challenging, so that they can learn the tools of scholarship.
They can quickly and erroneously learn that everything should come to them with ease.