“There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people” -- Thomas Jefferson
The idea that gifted students need less teaching and school resources is pervasive in American society. Parents and educators who lobby for the creation of gifted and talented programs generally receive little sympathy or support from the parents of non-gifted students, as well as from educators who already face tight school budgets. Yet the problems inherent in under-challenging students are of equal importance to the problems faced by special needs students who require additional support and resources in order to learn the curriculum. Students who are under-challenged in school often exhibit the same behaviors as students who are struggling academically – they become bored, lose interest in school, and may exhibit signs of depression and behavioral problems. Gifted students, because they are academically advanced, are also frequently assumed to be advanced in all areas. Instead, gifted students may struggle socially, desperately wanting to bond with classmates, but often rebuffed because they are perceived as “geeks.” Gifted students can also exhibit an inability to communicate at grade level, causing further isolation from their peers.
Most public school teachers will experience the pleasures and the challenges of both special needs students and gifted students at some point in their careers, and often in the same class. It’s extremely difficult to meet the needs of all students in a heterogeneous classroom, especially without teaching aides. But teachers should resist, as much as humanly possible, the temptation to just teach to the middle, leaving both high-achieving students and those who need more support floundering at the periphery. Creating a repository of challenge problems and assignments that require higher-thinking skills ahead of time can help address the gifted students, and keep them engaged and challenged in class.
This week’s Joann’s Picks column on the Gateway’s home page, www.TheGateway.org is featuring three resources written specifically for gifted and talented students. Peggy’s Corner examines how we can encourage students to dig deeper and how we can make topics engaging for more students. Both columns stress the value of presenting topics throughout the disciplines. In addition, we will be featuring several new lessons, activities, and other resources on gifted education each day for the next week on the Gateway’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Be sure to visit those pages regularly.
Discussions continue on last week’s theme of Public Speaking on both pages. All of the weekly Gateway columns and resource selections are archived on the following blog site: http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/.
Resources covered in this week’s columns include:
Not Just for Gods and Goddesses: Greece Enrichment
Subjects: Language Arts, Geography,
Gifted This unit is designed as an extension of a second grade Ancient Greece theme. The students will learn vocabulary using the alphabet and words of Greek origin, enrich their research and creative writing skills, create topographical cookie maps and perform original theatrical monologues. This lesson was produced by the CoreKnowledge Foundation, an independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan organization that publishes educational books and materials for educators.
The “T” in Art is for Thinking
Subjects: Visual Art, Research skills
Gifted This lesson provides fourth through eighth grade gifted and talented students with a research-based project, and can also be used with art and language arts students from sixth through ninth grade. Students will design and create a slideshow presentation as a vehicle for analyzing a painting. Using the art criticism process, students will describe and analyze the art elements and principles of design and provide an interpretation of a painting of their choice. Biographical information about the artist and contextual knowledge concerning the art period/movement and the associated historical times may be included. This lesson is a product of ALEX, the Alabama Learning Exchange, which is an education portal that provides lesson plans, best practices, and Alabama professional development activities. This lesson is aligned to Alabama state content standards.
To Be Or Not to Be: A Lesson Plan Written for Peter L. Fischl's Poster Poem: "To the Little Polish Boy Standing with His Arms Up"
Subjects: English, Research skills
Gifted In this lesson, students will read, analyze, and discuss the poem “To the Little Polish Boy Standing With His Arms Up” by Peter L. Fischl. Some topics of the lesson include identifying victims, bystanders, and perpetrators in the poem, analyzing the author’s use of music, painting, sculpture, and repetition in the poem, and to speculate about the author’s desire for revenge. This lesson is offered by the Holocaust Teacher Resource Center, an organization which strives to combat prejudice and bigotry by transforming the horrors of the Holocaust into positive lessons. This site is sponsored by the Holocaust Education Foundation, Inc.
About The Gateway to 21st Century Skills
The Gateway has been serving teachers continuously since 1996. It is the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repository of educational resources on the Web and the oldest continuously operating service of its kind in the world. The Gateway is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by over 700 quality contributors. The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is the cornerstone of the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) which is a JES & Co. program.
About Joann Wasik- Author of Joann’s Picks
Joann is the Metadata Cataloger for The Gateway for 21st Century Skills. Her primary responsibilities for The Gateway include locating and cataloging standards-based K-12 lessons and activities for The Gateway, as well as writing the “Joann’s Picks” weekly column. Before joining The Gateway in 2006, Joann had been involved with numerous projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University, including virtual reference with the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) project; virtual reference competencies and education with the Digital Reference Education Initiative (DREI) project; and metadata cataloging with the Gateway for Educational Materials (GEM). Her previous experience also includes technology training and positions in academic libraries. She also conducts freelance research for business and educational clients. Joann holds B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from Boston College, and an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University.
About Peggy James- Author of Peggy’s Corner
Peggy received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from The University of Arizona, and continued on to earn her M.Ed. from the U of A as well. She has taught Physical Science and Chemistry at the high school level. She is working toward her endorsement in Gifted Education, and has been actively involved in coaching and volunteering in Odyssey of the Mind and Academic Decathlon. She has a passion for teaching critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. She has done work evaluating and aligning lesson plans to standards as a curriculum consultant with the National Education Association Health Information Network. She is very excited to help create a collaborative environment for educators to discover new resources that will enhance their teaching!
About the GLRC
About JES & Co.
JES & Co., a publicly funded 501(c) (3) education research organization, is a leader in research and deployment of education programs based on open standards. With 20 years of experience in interoperability and portability of educational resources, organizations around the world come to JES & Co. for leadership and guidance on education programs and initiatives. Since its establishment in the early 1990s, JES & Co. has led and managed The Achievement Standards Network (ASN), The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, The Gateway to 21st Century Skills (formerly known as GEM), the Dell Academy, the Intel Student Certification Program, and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning. For more information about JES & Co. or the Global Learning Resource Connection, visit www.JESandCo.org.