Will Schools of the Future Replace Textbooks for the Gifted?
I find it fascinating to watch the trends in education, especially gifted education. Perhaps the biggest trend I see right now is the movement toward all things technology. There is an increase of online classes
and a greater use of computers in the classroom. Some schools are carrying technological advances to the extreme.
In Philadelphia, one high school has partnered with Microsoft
to build a high-tech school that serves low-income families. Microsoft agreed to supply the brainpower, but did not pay for the school, which opened this fall. Every learner is provided with a laptop computer that they can take home. The laptops connect to the school’s wireless network for high-speed Internet access. The library has very few books because most reference materials are online. Classrooms don’t have blackboards; instead, they have electronic displays for Internet access, videos, and connecting with other classrooms around the world. Although students study traditional subjects, they do so in a project-driven curriculum. They are assigned issues to investigate and are expected to do original research.
In gifted education, we have searched for ways to differentiate education to meet the needs of individual students. We have also been concerned about the inequalities of educational opportunities between middle- and high-income areas and schools and low-income sections of town. Is technology the answer? Do computers allow students to work on different academic levels at the same time?
Students at Empire High School in Vail, AZ, started class this year with no textbooks; instead, they were issued laptop computers. Textbooks have been replaced with a combination of materials over the school’s wireless Internet network. Materials include digital formats created by publishers of traditional textbooks, subscription services, and free Web resources. Students are more engaged with the use of computers and teachers are able to make curriculum more dynamic. For example, lessons in social studies, which might previously have been done in summaries, can include links to full Supreme Court rulings or an explorer’s personal account of a discovery. Online groups and message boards keep students connected on weekends and ask them to comment on each other’s work.
The increase in the use of technology we are witnessing has great possibilities for varying curriculum according to student abilities, including the gifted. We will have to monitor the progress of this evolving teaching technique to see if it is used appropriately to accomplish this.
Meet Dr. James Delisle at TAGT
If you will be attending the annual conference of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented
in Austin, TX (November 16-18), I would like to invite you to a special book signing.
Dr. James Delisle, a popular gifted education expert, will be signing books at the Prufrock Press booth (booth #201) from 10:15-11:15 a.m. on Friday, November 17.
Dr. Delisle will be TAGT's Friday morning keynote speaker. After delivering his keynote address, "Highly Gifted, Barely Served: Being Gifted in an Era of Inclusion," Dr. Delisle will come to the Prufrock booth to discuss his ideas and sign books.
Dr. Delisle is the best-selling author of many books, including:
Please come by the Prufrock booth to meet Dr. Delisle and have him sign your copies of his best-selling books!
Dr. Delisle also will be available to sign copies of his book Parenting Gifted Kids following his Saturday morning keynote address to parents.
March 2 Success: A Free Online SAT and ACT Prep Course
Sandra Berger, the author of College Planning for Gifted Students: Choosing and Getting Into the Right College
sent me an e-mail this week to let me know about a free SAT and ACT test preparation site. She felt the readers of my blog would find it valuable, and I agree.
The site, March 2 Success, is sponsored by the U.S. Army; however, the resources available are "no-strings attached" (i.e., a recruiter will not contact users of the site useless a user explicitly asks them to do so) and are free. Given the site's quality and that the content was developed by Kaplan, a similar course would cost between $500-$700.
According to the site, March 2 Success "is a free, web-based program that makes high quality, test preparation instruction available to all. Designed by Kaplan and Educational Options and sponsored by the US Army, it is more inclusive than traditional college entrance test preparatory courses."
To see a demo of the site's features, visit the March 2 Success demo page.
What Are the Characteristics of Effective Teachers of the Gifted?
Knowing the characteristics of the best teachers of gifted students would be helpful for a variety of reasons. Understanding these characteristics could help in the training of teachers, in hiring of teachers of the gifted, and in helping parents assess who might best serve their children. Although it would be helpful to understand the characteristics of the best teachers of gifted students, there does not appear to be a general consensus of what those characteristics are. There have, however, been a number of studies that attempt to synthesize this information. An interesting discussion question might be how the characteristics of a teacher of the gifted might differ from the characteristics of an exemplary teacher of any type of student.
Based on questionnaire data and needing more thorough research, effective teachers of the gifted have the following characteristics:
- high degree of intelligence, intellectual honesty;
- expertise in a specific intellectual or talent area (mathematics, writing, etc.);
- self-directed in own learning, with a love for new, advanced knowledge;
- equanimity, level-headedness, emotional stability;
- a genuine interest in, liking of gifted learners;
- recognition of the importance of intellectual development;
- strong belief in individual differences and individualization; and
- highly developed teaching skills and knowledge.
Student responses suggest effective teachers of the gifted need to
- be patient,
- have a sense of humor,
- move quickly through material,
- treat each student as an individual,
- avoid being a "sage on the stage" all the time, and
- consistently give "accurate" feedback.
- having insights into the cognitive, social, and emotional needs of gifted students;
- having skills in differentiating the curriculum for gifted students;
- employing strategies that encourage higher level thinking;
- encouraging students to be independent learners;
- providing student-centered learning opportunities;
- acting as a facilitator or "guide on the side";
- creating a non threatening learning environment;
- being well organized;
- possessing in-depth knowledge of subject matter;
- having broad interests, often literary and cultural;
- having above-average intelligence;
- being a lifelong learner;
- thinking creatively;
- possessing excellent communication skills;
- being willing to make mistakes;
- possessing a sense of humor; and
- being enthusiastic.
- preference for teaching gifted children,
- businesslike teaching behaviors,
- promotion of student independence, and
- training in the needs and characteristics of gifted students.
CNN to Air Special Report on Genius
On Sunday, September 17, 2006, CNN will air a special report on the subject of genius.
Being gifted and being a genius are not the same thing. Geniuses are a small subset of the total gifted population. Although "genius" is probably the more popular phrase for this subset of individuals, most gifted education professionals choose to use the phrase "profoundly gifted." I think the latter phrase is less loaded with implication, expectation, and bias. However, I don't get to name CNN programs, so I'll use the term "genius" in this post.
The following is excerpted from the CNN press release titled "CNN’s Gupta Unravels Mystery of Genius for Prime-time Special."
In the new Dr. Sanjay Gupta Primetime Special, CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta examines the mysteries behind genius and attempts to answer the classic nature/nurture question of whether high intelligence is inborn or the product of environment. The one-hour program, “Genius,” premieres Sunday, Sept. 17, at 10 p.m. (ET)
A practicing neurosurgeon, Gupta starts with a look inside the brain and a discussion with scientists who are using cutting-edge brain imaging to find remarkable differences in the brains of highly intelligent people. Gupta’s quest takes him from the physiology of genius to the links and differences between intelligence and creativity. Along the way, he meets savants – people with severe mental limitations who possess breathtaking talent – and gifted students, whose educational needs are often unmet.
"As a new parent myself, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best ways to nurture intelligence and creativity, especially in children," Gupta said. "From that starting point, we’ve met all sorts of remarkable people, from those you might call geniuses or prodigies to the people who study the concept of genius from all sorts of perspectives. Hopefully, we’ll shed some light on the meaning of genius and the way great ideas are born."
Child Prodigy--One Form of Giftedness
Like all aspects of gifted education, the topic of child prodigies is controversial. Adequate research seems to be lacking.
According to Wikipedia, “A child prodigy is someone who is a master of one or more skills or arts at an early age. One generally accepted heuristic for identifying prodigies is the following: a prodigy is someone who, by the age of roughly 11, displays expert proficiency or a profound grasp of the fundamentals in a field usually only undertaken by adults.”
According to D. Feldman in Child Prodigies: A Distinctive Form of Giftedness, a child prodigy may have a reasonably high, but not necessarily exceptionally high, IQ. Prodigies tend to be unusually focused, determined, and highly motivated to reach the highest levels of their fields. They are often marked by great confidence in their abilities, along with a naive sense of these abilities.
The Myth of Prodigy and Why it Matters summarizes a talk given by Malcolm Gladwell at this year’s convention of the Association for Psychological Science. The best-selling author of Blink and The Tipping Point was considered by some to be a child prodigy. Society often assumes that great ability in any given field that is manifested early on is a predictor of the continued success in that field when one becomes an adult, but Gladwell questions any evidence of that.
Another way to look at precocity is to work backward—to look at adult geniuses and see what they were like as kids. A number of studies have taken this approach and they find a similar pattern. Gladwell cites a study of 200 highly accomplished adults that found just 34 percent had been considered in any way precocious as children. He also read a long list of historical geniuses who had been notably undistinguished as children. The list included Copernicus, Rembrandt, Bach, Newton, Beethoven, Kant, and Da Vinci. We think of precociousness as an early form of adult achievement, and, according to Gladwell, that concept is much of the problem. “What a gifted child is, in many ways, is a gifted learner. And what a gifted adult is, is a gifted doer. And those are quite separate domains of achievement,” Gladwell notes.
I would like to add to the list of Other Gifted Blogs that I recently posted here. The Boy Who Knew Too Much: A Child Prodigy is a blog written by the father of a young boy in Singapore, deemed to be a scientific child prodigy. It is interesting to hear about the development of the child and the reaction of the parents and other adults.
In Celebrating the Child in Child Prodigy, J.K. Ward cautions parents of highly precocious children to help them find balance in their lives—including just being a kid. Because the focus is often so strong on the strength of the child, it may be easy to forget to teach the child basic ways to take care of himself. Also, because a prodigy is often told how wonderful she is, she may actually stop trying to develop her talents further.