Ability Grouping – Has Its Time Returned?

gtchat 04262016 Ability Grouping

 

Students can and should be grouped to learn in a way that best meets their individual needs, and regrouped at reasonable intervals during their progression along a curricular continuum. This grouping may transcend age, homeroom, and grade level if it allows the student to be more successful.” ~ Ellis School, Fremont, SD

 

A discussion about ability grouping must inevitably begin by explaining the difference between it and the more controversial concept of tracking. Generally, tracking separates students into separate classes, whereas ability grouping occurs within classrooms. Today, most ability grouping is considered to be more flexible than in the past.

“Without ability groups future Olympic swimmers would have to paddle in the shallow end of pool till all were at same level.” ~ Jo Freitag, Gifted Resources

However, ability grouping like tracking has  garnered a lot of negative attention even in the face of recent research which presents many positive outcomes; especially for gifted students (see links below). One issue which seems to accompany any new practice being introduced into education is the lack of adequate professional development and training for teachers. It’s also important to consider the feelings and well-being of all children when changing the way they are grouped in classrooms.

“We confuse potential with need. Ability grouping meets a need, but it is seen as predicting who will succeed and who won’t.” ~ Shanna Weber

Of course, it was pointed out that ability grouping already exists in most schools that have athletics. In fact, without being able to develop athletic talent, sports would eventually cease to be what they are today. Sport talent is developed through identification of top athletes, providing the best coaches, and training. Some U.S. colleges seek commitments from top athletes while still in middle school. So why do schools turn their backs on their top academic talent?

“Ability grouping is “legal” in everything except academics. No one wants to admit someone else is smarter or better in academics.” ~ Carolyn K, Hoagies Gifted

Historically, schools grouped students based on factors other than ability; relying on observations only. The selection process or identification was often tied to human bias. An easy solution would be to screen all children. Flexible grouping and regrouping which responds to ongoing assessment of progress could be used rather than the inflexible system of strict tracking.

Preparation matters. In communities across the country, pipelines are in place to nurture and develop promising young athletes. Not so with academic stars. Why not? In a word, because singling out advanced students for special coursework involves tracking. But tracking is controversial. By definition, it involves differentiating students in terms of their skills and knowledge. Recent research on tracking that employs techniques to minimize selection bias and other shortcomings of previous research, has documented examples of tracking being used to promote equity.” ~ Brown Center on Education Report 2016 Section 2

We then turned out attention to recent research on structuring ability grouping to promote equity in high-ability tracks. States with a larger percentage of 8th grade students in tracked math classes have a larger percentage of high-scoring AP students four years later. Heightened AP performance holds across racial subgroups—white, black and Hispanic. (Loveless) Equity has a better chance to occur when the ‘human’ factor is reduced. Research suggests tracking high-achievers across the board boosts performance for all. (Card/Giuliano 2014) A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

 

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

2016 Brown Center Report on American Education Part 2: Tracking and Advanced Placement 

AUS: Ability Grouping and Mathematics: Who Benefits?

Ability and Instructional Grouping Information

Should Schools Rethink Reluctance to Track Students by Ability?

Instructional Management/Grouping

Final Recommendations Fremont S.D. Strategic Plan Future of Education at Ellis School Committee (pdf)

How “Tracking” Can Actually Help Disadvantaged Students

The Resurgence of Ability Grouping and Persistence of Tracking (YouTube 4:08)

Effective Grouping of Gifted Students

Grouping Without Fear: Effective Use of Groups in Classrooms 

Amazing Classrooms: Engaging the High Achievers (YouTube 14:35)

Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom

Sorting Kids at School: The Return of Ability Grouping

Effects of Within-Class Ability Grouping on Academic Achievement in Early Elementary Years (Abstract)

In Search of Reality: Unraveling Myths about Tracking, Ability Grouping & the Gifted (pdf)

Tracking in Middle School A Surprising Ally in Pursuit of Equity? (pdf)

Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives & Impact of Tracking: Evidence from Randomized Evaluation in Kenya (pdf)

The Effects of Grouping Practices and Curricular Adjustments on Achievement (pdf)

Education for Upward Mobility – Tracking in Middle School: A Surprising Ally in the Pursuit of Equity? (pdf)

Helping Disadvantaged and Spatially Talented Students Fulfill Their Potential: Related and Neglected National Resources (pdf)

INEQUITY IN EQUITY: How “Equity” Can Lead to Inequity for High-Potential Students (pdf)

Cybraryman’s Assessments Page

The Relationship of Grouping Practices to the Education of the Gifted and Talented Learner 

Photo courtesy of  Pixabay     CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Disciplining Gifted Children

gtchat 04192016 Discipline

 

For a multitude of reasons, disciplining a gifted child can be difficult at best and nearly impossible at worst. Whether you are facing a ‘little lawyer’ or simply a child wise beyond their years, it is important to remember that they are still children who need guidance from time to time. Discipline should be construed as a means to teach, instruct, impart knowledge, guidance; rather than to punish. When adults confuse discipline and punishment, it’s hard for a child to learn from their mistakes. Children learn to fear failure when discipline is only conceived of as punishment for mistakes.

“Asynchronous development: false narratives around “maturity level” clashing with “IQ expectations.” ~ Tracy Fisher

The role of asynchronous development cannot be minimized when considering discipline for the gifted child. Asynchronous development defines a gifted child as experiencing many ages at once. Although they may possess an intellect that allows them to argue their position, they lack the maturity to accept reasonable limits on their behavior. Parents and teachers must be diligent not to succumb to arguing with children; consequences need to be enforced when established rules and conduct are not followed.

” Asynchronous behavior can make it tricky because the same kid who can manage calculus can’t make himself take a shower.” ~ Lisa Van Gemert

Gifted kids may experience academic success at an early age; later may revert to behavior deemed inappropriate for their age. Adults who don’t understand asynchronous development often misinterpret behavior; resort to punitive consequences.

How do we help gifted children cope with emotional intensity which may lead to bad or poor behavior?  Adults need to understand the role emotions play in the life of a gifted child; they may become overwhelming. All children experience emotions; it is the intensity of emotion that can lead to more serious concerns with gifted kids.

gtchat Discipline Photo courtesy Angela Abend

Graphic courtesy of Angela Abend

Society’s perception of conformity can affect how many view a gifted child’s behavior. Mis-perception of gifted behavior may lead adults to believing gifted kids are ‘too’ sensitive; ‘too’ perfectionistic. Some view gifted children as socially awkward; the gifted child begins to feel something wrong with them; self-doubt creeps in.

Sometimes misbehavior can be a sign of a more serious condition such as anxiety or depression rather than a discipline issue. Often a child may become withdrawn; being ‘quiet’ (beyond introversion) due to disengagement. Other signs which may signal a need for help include self-harm; aggressive behavior; threatening comments.

” Tackling misbehavior starts and ends with relationships. Talk to your kids. Treat them with respect. Teach strategies. Start with engagement. Give students a reason to be riveted, engaged, excited about learning. ” ~ Mary Phillips

What measures can be taken to prevent or reduce misbehavior in the classroom? Teachers should look for signs of disengagement and consider differentiation and/or personalized learning plans. Recognition and understanding that misbehavior may stem from boredom; early intervention with a more challenging curriculum can often be the answer. An appropriate response to misbehavior at school should coincide with a child’s age development stage. Valerie King, a teacher from Atlanta, GA, suggests, “More choice for students. More voice for students. More engagement!”

How to deal with misbehavior in the classroom? “Having reasonable expectations. Create a class culture of safety and acceptance. Anticipate. Intervene privately with kindness.” ~ Lisa Van Gemert

A transcript of the full chat may be found at Storify.

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

When Did Discipline Become a Bad Word?

Discipline for Different Ages

AUS: Raising Gifted Children

School Discipline: Standing Up for All Children in the Public School System

School and Learning Issues: A Closer Look at Giftedness

The Wildest Winds

Discipline and the Gifted Child

Gifted Children At Home (Amazon)

Meeting the Special Needs of Your Gifted Child

Monitoring Anxiety in Your Gifted Child

Four Ways to Reduce Behavior Problems 

How (Not) to Argue with Gifted Children

Sprite’s Site: Boredom Bingo

8 Ways Discipline and Punishment are Not the Same

Image courtesy of morgueFile  Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Developing Social Skills in Gifted Children

gtchat 04122016 Social Skills

 

“The day a child is identified as a gifted learner life changes for them and their families.” ~ Angie French

Social skills are necessary skills that allow children to get along with others; especially age-peers. These skills include self-control, good manners, and being able to cooperate, communicate and engage with others. These skills are not innate; they must be taught and gifted children are no exception. Too often adults mistakenly think all gifted children can develop social skills instinctively.

“Social skills is a huge area encompassing all the ways we get along with other people – parents, peers, teachers, etc. [They] include a vast array of “hidden” and “zero order” skills – things only noticed when they fail. GT kids may need extra help with social skills, as their peers might be few and far between ” ~ Dr. Peter Flom

Academic placement can affect social competency. Poor and inappropriate placement exacerbate its development. When gifted kids enter school without social skills, behavior can be misinterpreted as being spoiled rather than being bored and unchallenged. (Ruf)

Who should be responsible for teaching social skills – parents, schools, or both? Although both parents and schools need to teach social skills, it initially starts at home. Basic social skills need to be in place long before the child enters school. For gifted students, schools need to differentiate instruction taking asynchronous development and individual needs into consideration.

“Parents can be their safe place of acceptance. GT kids often feel different – being OK with self can help with social anxiety.” ~ Shanna Weber

The conversation then turned to where and how should social skills be taught in schools – regular classroom; pull-out sessions; with intellectual peers? Social skills can be incorporated into all phases of school life. Pull-out classes can deal with issues associated with giftedness. Regular classrooms provide the opportunity to practice social skills with age-peers. Particular skills may need to be taught when gifted kids are working with older intellectual peers; new circumstances. Margaret Thomas added an important reminder, “GT kids don’t want to be singled out, condescended to, or lumped with label of lacking emotional intelligence.”

“Let kids problem solve social issues. Don’t rescue them but guide them. Nudge them to get comfortable with uncomfortable.” ~ Valerie King

What are some things parents can do to teach social skills at home? Modeling good behavior at home is an important part of parenting. They can be vigilant in discussing the importance of other’s feelings (empathy) in response to one’s own behavior. Jo Freitag of Gifted Resources and Sprite’s Site suggested, “Parents can role play possible situations with their children to try various outcomes.” Parents need to set clear rules and family standards; have high, but reasonable expectations. (Pfeiffer) They should look for signs of aggressive or anxious behavior; consider professional help when necessary. Carol Bainbridge, gifted expert at About.com, added, “Responses children get from parents, peers, and teachers helps them learn what is and isn’t appropriate social behavior.” A transcript of the chat can be found at Storify.

“Final thought: Just as we never stop learning, we never stop building social skills. Everyone can develop confidence with others.” ~ Jeremy Bond

 

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Highly Gifted Children & Peer Relationships

Raising a Well-Adjusted Gifted Child: Value of Promoting Social Intelligence

Social Skills

Social & Emotional Issues 

Teaching Social Skills to Young Gifted Children: Why & How

AUS: Behaviour, Emotions, Social Development: Gifted & Talented Children

How to Teach Social Skills to Gifted Kids

The Psychosocial Concerns & Needs of Gifted Students (pdf)

Tips for Parents of Gifted Children: What Most Parents Wish They had Known

How to Help Your Gifted Kid Thrive

The Relationship between Placement & Social Skills in Gifted Students (pdf)

Practical Strategies to Enhance Gifted Students Social & Emotional Skills

Turkey: A Qualitative Study to Understand the Social & Emotional Needs of Gifted Adolescents (pdf)

Develop Non-Cognitive Skills to Assure Students’ Success

Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners Role of Non-cognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance (pdf)

Early Identification of High-Ability Students: Clinical Assessment of Behavior (pdf)

Socioemotional Competencies, Cognitive Ability & Achievement in Gifted Students (pdf)

Sprite’s Site: Socialization

Sprite’s Site: Making Connections

The 7 Habits of Happy Kids (Amazon)

Humanoid Robotics and Computer Avatars Could Help Treat Social Disorders

Hoagies Gifted: Social Emotional Aspects of Giftedness

Cybraryman’s Mental and Emotional Health Page

Cybraryman’s Social Skills Page

Living with Gifted Children from Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

Writing Your Own Script: A Parent’s Role in the Gifted Child’s Social Development from Gifted Homeschoolers Forum

Photo courtesy of morgueFile.  Graphics courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Strategies for Teaching Critical Thinking

gtchat 04052016 Critical Thinking

 

“Critical thinking is not to be devoured in a single sitting nor yet at two or three workshops. It is a powerful concept to be savored and reflected upon. It is an idea to live and grow with. It focuses upon that part of our minds that enables us to think things through, to learn from experience, to acquire and retain knowledge.” ~ Paul Hurd, State of Critical Thinking Today

Research indicates that having a standard definition of critical thinking can enhance its teaching. (Choy/Cheah 2009) According to Hurd (2004), “Critical thinking is the art of thinking about thinking with a view to improving it. Critical thinkers seek to improve thinking, in three interrelated phases. They analyze thinking. They assess thinking. And they up-grade thinking (as a result).”

“Critical thinking is the ability to conceptualise, analyse, synthesize, evaluate information and challenge assumptions.” ~ Jo Freitag, Gifted Resources 

In light of the importance of teaching critical thinking, we turned out attention to discussing whether or not teachers are being prepared at the undergraduate level or subsequently during professional development opportunities to do so. Most were in agreement that not only are teachers not prepared, but their time is preoccupied with test prep. Also, they lack incentive to promote thinking which doesn’t support support standardized testing and is difficult to assess. Only one teacher at this chat reported working in a district that actively supports and expects the teaching of critical thinking.

What strategies work best for teaching critical thinking? Educators need to act as facilitators of discussions that may not result in ‘right’ answers. One strategy involves writing essays based on prompts that adhere to Bloom’s Taxonomy of  Higher Order Thinking. (Smith/Szymanski 2013). Another is to have students create a wiki about subject they’re studying or analyze existing wikis; enhance tech skills. (Snodgrass 2011) Other strategies offered included teaching students questioning techniques, problem-based learning, identify the ‘big’ ideas, and stepping back to listening to student-voice. For more ideas, see links below.

Assessing critical thinking skills can be difficult, but it can be done. Assessment of critical thinking instruction can include course evaluation; analyze students’ understanding of critical thinking Teachers can assess whether students can reason between conflicting viewpoints. Educators should continually provide valuable feedback to students before considering assessment. One school mentioned during chat experimented with newspaper blackout poems, and analyzed each article for bias to practice critical thinking here.

“Critical thinkers know how to ask the RIGHT questions.” ~ Stacy Hughes, a Texas teacher

What are some intellectual traits of a critical thinker? Critical thinkers have ability to realize personal limitations; recognize personal bias; willing to work through complexities. They are willing to change when faced with evidence contrary to their own beliefs.

“Whether enrolled in preschool, elementary, middle, or high school, the integration of critical thinking skills into the daily content and lessons is essential for achieving …(Tomlinson, 2003). This infusion, along with also taking into account student interest, readiness, and learning styles, provides the foundation and walls for raising the ceiling of students’ scholastic growth and intellectual stimulation.” ~ McCollister and Sayler in Lift the Ceiling

The benefits of learning how to think critically can extend throughout a student’s life. During their school years, in-depth focus on enhancing critical thinking increases rigor & standardized test scores (Van- Tassel Baska, et al. 2009). By tracking patterns in information – seeing info as a process; students develop skills of recognition and prediction. Students who can think deeply, make relevant connections and reasoned decisions; value and respect ideas of others. They can think independently; consider multiple perspectives; go beyond surface learning. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.

gtchat-logo-new bannner

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at  Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered        by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at  Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Links:

Teaching Gifted Kids to Explain Their Thinking 

When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges

Preparing Leaders for Deeper Learning

Assessing Deeper Learning: A Survey of Performance Assessment and Mastery-Tracking Tools (pdf)

6 Entry Points for Deeper Learning

10 Great Critical Thinking Activities That Engage Your Students

Tech That Spurs Critical Thinking l

Applied Disciplines: A Critical Thinking Model for Engineering

The State of Critical Thinking Today: The Need for a Substantive Concept of Critical Thinking (pdf)

Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life (Amazon)

The Question Game: A Playful Way To Teach Critical Thinking

6 Rules to Break for Better, Deeper-Learning Outcomes

How Do We Raise Critical Thinkers? (Infographic)

The Importance of Teaching Critical Thinking

Lift the Ceiling: Increase Rigor with Critical Thinking Skills (pdf)

Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools (pdf)

Intellectual Growth, School, and Thriving of the Gifted (pdf) in TEMPO Page 9

Infusing Teaching of Critical & Creative Thinking into Content Instruction for Elem Grades (Amazon)

Teaching Critical Thinking in Age of Digital Credulity 

Critical Thinking Pathways

What It Means To Think Critically

Using a Question Building Chart to Provoke Student Thought

Sprite’s Site: Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking Testing and Assessment

Cybraryman’s Critical Thinking Page

Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners (Amazon)

Defining Critical Thinking

Orientation Lecture Series: Learning to Learn Developing Critical Thinking Skills (pdf)

How to Foster Critical and Creative Thinking

Photo courtesy of Pixabay. CC0 Public Domain  Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,902 other followers

%d bloggers like this: