From the desk of Michelle…
By now we’ve all heard about this new little movement called the Common Core Standards. According to the Council of Chief State School Officers, The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce. If you have been unpacking these standards within your district and school you will quickly notice that quite a bit of rigor has been added to the curriculum. Every student will be pushed to think outside the box and higher order thinking will be a must. These new standards will be an adjustment for all of us in the field of education and so far the changes are welcomed in most classrooms I’ve visited this past year. Most teachers actually seem excited about what’s on the education horizon and that is wonderful news especially for their students. Beware though teachers, as promising as these new standards look to improving our education system there is still a lot of work that needs to be done for your gifted students.
If you have had any type of gifted education training or you’ve worked with gifted students you know that the changes in which the Common Core plans to implement is the same approach we have been using to educate the gifted child for years. Open ended questions, higher order thinking, problem based learned, and Bloom’s Taxonomy are just some of the tools used by gifted education teachers daily. Gifted learners are well able to meet, and exceed, the core standards on a faster timetable than their age peers. With this being said, teachers should use an array of differentiation tactics to ensure all students’ needs are being met within their classroom walls.
Depth and complexity are key to engaging the gifted mind. Approaches such as; flexible grouping, creative and critical thinking opportunities, problem based learning, and curriculum acceleration and compacting are just some of the ways differentiation can occur for these learners. Keep in mind that while your school may or may not have a gifted program, these students will still need to be taught on their level. Some of you teaching in K-2 may be dealing with a situation where you have a student who performs at very high levels. In most schools the gifted education program doesn’t start until 3rd or 4th grade. Therefore, the gifted child will be dependent on their regular classroom teacher to meet their educational needs. A critical component to understanding the abilities of gifted students are assessments. A simple pre-assessment of a skill will indicated how much time and material you will need to give to that learner. There is no need to waste your time or the student’s time in re-teaching material that has already been learned. Save that time for something else, I’m sure you can think of a million things to do with it!
Remember, while the Common Core Standards are strong, they are not sufficiently advanced enough to meet the needs of most gifted learners. So, in essence, things will not change a whole lot in our responsibilities to encourage higher level reasoning and creative production with these students. As educators for the gifted we should always strive to provide rich learning experiences for these bright minds in order to challenge and elevate their level of thinking and knowledge.
B.S., Elementary Ed. K-6,
M.Ed., Gifted Ed. K-12