During our last Twitter chat of the year, #gtchat tackled the subject of myths about gifted children and what can be done to challenge them. Myths can have wide-ranging effects on these children; some of which can last a lifetime.
Exactly what are some of these damaging effects? Myths can prevent children from receiving the services they require at school and this can leave them vulnerable, feeling neglected and discouraged, or worse. Myths can also cause unrealistic expectations. Gifted children are usually not gifted in all areas. When adults repeat the myths, young gifted children can believe them and begin to question their own abilities.
Myths can affect teacher’ perception of students labeled ‘gifted’ in the regular classroom. Due to little or no undergraduate classes in gifted education, many teachers lack knowledge about gifted students. Myths too often become perception and this influences interactions with these students. A gifted student may not always be a ‘straight A’ student. Asynchronous development – many ages at once – can complicate their academic life as well. As Justin Sulsky, GT teacher in New York, pointed out, “Myths cause teachers to think that the “wrong” kids are in GT programs and that the “right” kids are not being served. ”
Why does the ‘all children are gifted’ myth still persist? It is particularly disturbing and misleading. Failure to adequately define what ‘gifted’ is and is not perpetuates this myth. The ‘all children are gifted’ myth is often used as an excuse to deny services to this special population of students. A misunderstanding of gifted as meaning ‘better than’ rather than ‘better at’ cause some to view gifted children as elitist. Lisa Aguilar, special education teacher, explained, “I think we want to see the best in all children, that we overdo it and confuse giftedness with strengths. All students have strengths that can be built on, but giftedness is a different way of thinking.”
“The myth that all children are gifted is an attempt to justify whole group instruction. All children may be blessed, unique, and valuable, but their academic, social and emotional needs vary by their ability.” ~ Ellen Williams, Ed.D, consultant and author
Many educators are resistant to accelerating students – what myths cloud their thinking? Not all children will successfully accelerate – many times for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the child’s abilities; but one misstep should not obscure the benefits for students who need it. Acceleration is one of the most researched strategies used for challenging gifted students. Myths persist when decision makers fail to read the research.
“Educators don’t accelerate because: 1. “it’s just not done that way”; 2. It will complicate a child’s trajectory down the road. (e.g. What will they do in 11th grade of HS if they already took the whole math sequences?); and 3. They wrongly worry about student’s social development.” ~ Justin Sulsky
The myth that twice-exceptional students’ disability be addressed before their giftedness is a myth often faced by parents of 2E kids who are required to ‘prove’ their child be seen as gifted first. Currently, researchers are providing exceptional research reported in papers and books. Parents need to share this information with their child’s teachers. (Please see links below.) They need to be vigilant in documenting their child’s progress when challenged and then share it with school officials.
Finally, we discussed the myth that AP classes constitute a gifted program for secondary gifted students. Recently, a few states in the U.S. have recognized that AP classes can be ‘part’ of a rigorous program, but simply do not address all the needs of gifted students and are attempting to change direction. AP classes may address academic needs, but gifted students are a diverse population expressing many different abilities and talents.
For more information, a transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2 PM NZST/Noon AEST/1 AM 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 and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
TAGT: 5 Myths about Giftedness (pdf – p. 25)
10 Myths about Gifted Students (YouTube 5:13)
Differences, Disregarded (Michael Clay Thompson) *response to “all children are gifted”
Gifted Children: Myths and Realities (Amazon)
Is it a cheetah? (Stephanie Tolan)
Top Ten Myths if Gifted Education (YouTube 8:10)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad
Forming a gifted parents group is one of the first steps in forming a community within a school district; one of support as well as advocacy. The needs of the students in the community will determine the type of group formed. Parent groups are a great way of networking and sharing information about the local school environment for gifted. They can lend support to other parents or even teachers who may need help in finding resources. Parenting gifted children can be a lonely and challenging experience without this type of support.
Parent groups who choose to act as a support for parents can provide resources such as speakers, book studies, and educational resources. They may decide to offer enrichment for students outside of school such as sponsoring academic competitions or activities like Super Saturdays, family weekend retreats, or clubs for chess or robotics. Advocacy groups are needed when a school does not provide adequate services for gifted students; if any at all.
There are organizations who seek to support parents in various ways. Many state gifted organizations have local affiliates for parents. The NAGC (U.S.) provides online resources in the form of information on starting parent groups. SENG is perhaps best well known for supporting parents with their SENG Model Parent Groups. Links to these organizations have been provided below.
How can parents find other parents who might be interested in joining a group? Your child can be a great resource; they will know who is in the gifted program at school. Many school districts will send home flyers (provided by parents) or mass emails to parents of their gifted students. As a reminder, Psychologist Dr. Gail Post of Gifted Challenges pointed out, “Either type of group needs to have goals – otherwise [they] can turn into social group. Goals also help with group dynamics and reduce potential for conflict.” Social media is another way to meet parents and even form online groups.
In order to be recognized as a formal group by the local school district, parents need to know who and how to approach school officials. School administrators should be contacted first; then, gifted coordinators, principals, and special education directors depending on how gifted education is organized in the district or state. Having the support of an organization such as SENG can validate the existence of parent groups in some schools. It was also mentioned that PTA groups on occasion will form committees to serve the gifted population within a school. As with any communications between parents and schools, the conversation needs to be respectful and helpful to both parties. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.
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 2 PM (14.00) NZDT/Noon (12.00) AEDT/1 AM (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 atStorify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad. Image courtesy of MorgueFile.
Recently, the U.S. Congress reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA). Replacing the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, the new legislation is commonly referred to as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). A $21 billion appropriation of federal funds to states and school districts, it proclaims to reduce the overuse of standardized testing and one-size-fits-all mandates.
This week, #gtchat reviewed the positive and negative aspects of the new bill for gifted students and their education. According to NAGC Executive Director M. René Islas, “ESEA Re-authorization marks the first time that Congress makes clear that Title I funds may be used to identify and serve gifted students, which will ensure that high-ability students from low-income families and other under-served populations receive the challenging instruction that they require to achieve their potential. In addition, the law retains the authorization of the high-impact Jacob Javits Gifted Education Grant program, which has yielded numerous strategies to identify and serve academically talented students.”
Many participants at this week’s chat expressed doubts that the new legislation will make any difference at all for most gifted students and were leery of comments coming from the NAGC. However, the importance of having gifted students even acknowledged in the ESSA was considered a victory by most. The ESSA also specifically mentions types of services; such as acceleration, enrichment, and dual enrollment. Only time and a commitment to advocacy will tell if it will be effective.
Much of the law is about ‘allowing’, but there are several important ‘requirements’ that pertain to gifted students. For Title I, the funds are allowed to be used to identify and serve gifted students. When reporting student achievement data on low-SES, race, ELL, gender and students with disabilities; states must now include data on students who achieve at the advanced level. All identified gifted students may participate in programs funded by Title 1; regardless of socio-economic status.
For Title 2 funding, schools are required to provide PD which addresses needs of gifted students. “In applying for Title II professional development funds, states must include information about how they plan to improve the skills of teachers and other school leaders that will enable them to identify gifted and talented students and provide instruction based on the students’ needs.” (See “Q&As about the ESSA” from NAGC below.)
Gifted Education will continue to be at the discretion of the local school district. Although it is important legislation, advocates are being tasked with ‘getting the word out’; the ESSA is over 300 pages. In the end, it will be incumbent upon advocates for gifted education to educate local districts on provisions for gifted students in the ESSA. A transcript of this week’s chat may be found at Storify.
This week also marked the 6th birthday of #gtchat on Twitter! Thank you to all who have and continue to support us!
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 1 AM (1.00) in the UK, 2 PM (14.00) NZDT/Noon (12.00) AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found atStorify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
Q&A’s About the ESSA (pdf)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad
This week marked our 4th Live chat from the Annual Conference of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented. As with many live chats, most of our regular participants were not available at the time of the chat. However, we were thrilled to have many new faces at the chat and we hope that the first timers will be back in future weeks.
First, we considered some attributes that define high quality gifted programming. They should include differentiated instruction delivered at an appropriate depth and breadth; curriculum that involves abstract, complex, higher levels of thinking; and programs that identify twice-exceptional, culturally different, and underachieving gifted students.
What steps should be taken by school personnel when evaluating & implementing a gifted program? School personnel need to prepare for evaluation, design data collection and analysis, conduct evaluation, and follow-up. Steps should be taken to involve all stakeholders: students, parents, educators, admins, school boards, and community. Evaluations should identify outcomes, create a written plan and establish a timeline.
It’s important to match student strengths with appropriate gifted programming. Student’s abilities must be assessed including present levels of performance. Effective identification procedures will ensure a student is challenged but not overwhelmed. Also, a gifted student’s progress needs to be assessed appropriately. Out-of-level testing is essential; grade level achievement tests are inappropriate. Identification should be continuous beginning in kindergarten. Classroom teachers should assess transference of skills and knowledge from gifted programs to regular classroom.
What questions should parents ask when considering a gifted program for their child? Initially, they need to ask if the school has a systematic procedure for gifted identification in place. Also, does the gifted program offer a continuum of educational services based on assessed abilities. Ideally, they could ask if counseling related to giftedness is provided for students and parents. A transcript of the chat can be found at Storify.
During the conference, we also announced our intention to change the time slot for #gtchat. Although there will never be a perfect time for everyone, Friday night is a difficult time for a multitude of reasons. Look for a link to a poll from @gtchatmod on Twitter in the near future.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7E/6C/5M/4P in the U.S., Midnight in the UK and Saturdays 13.00 NZDT/11.00 AEDT 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.
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.