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This result was consistent for all types of schools sampled and for classrooms in various parts of the country and for all types of communities. Systematic observations were conducted in 46 third or fourth grade classrooms identified by school superintendents and principals. The observations were designed to determine if and how classroom teachers meet the needs of gifted students in the regular classroom. Two students, one high ability student and one average ability student, were selected as target students for each observation day and the types and frequencies of instruction that both students receive through modifications in curricular activities, materials, and teacher-student verbal interactions were documented by trained observers.

The results indicated little differentiation in the instructional and curricular practices, including grouping arrangements and verbal interactions, for gifted students in the regular classroom. The daily summaries of these observations completed by the trained observers were also examined. The most dominant theme in this content analysis involved the use of identical practices for all targeted students.

She appeared to be sleepy, never volunteered, and was visibly unenthusiastic about all activities. No attempt was made to direct higher order thinking skills questions to her or to engage her in more challenging work. She never acted out in any way. The work that is eliminated is content that is repeated from previous textbooks or content that may be new in the curriculum, which some students already know.

Over teachers participated in this study, identifying students as gifted and in need of curriculum differentiation. In science and math concepts, students whose curriculum was compacted scored significantly higher than their counterparts in the control group. And in some content areas, scores were actually higher when this elimination of previous mastered content took place.

Teachers also identified additional students who had not been identified as gifted in their classrooms who could benefit from curriculum compacting. The application of gifted program know-how to general education is supported by a variety of research on human abilities Bloom, ; Gardner, ; Renzulli, ; Sternberg, This research provides a clear justification for much broader conceptions of talent development, and argues against the restrictive student selection practices that guided identification procedures in the past.

Some of the pedagogy used in gifted education programs can be extended to students who are not usually included in special programs for talented students. During these cluster programs, everything in the school changed.

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Students left their classrooms and in a minute or two sped joyfully down the hallways to another room and another adult, to a cluster they had selected because of the topic being covered and the adult facilitating the cluster. Clusters are open-ended opportunities for students to work with an adult facilitator to learn new material and produce a service or product. Enrichment clusters in this study were offered in areas such as creative writing, inventions, historical studies, scientific studies, drama, and the arts.

The use of advanced content in their enrichment clusters was a byproduct of the nature of clusters, the opportunity to delve into advanced issues and content based on the mutual interests of both children and adults. The frequency with which these advanced strategies were used within the clusters indicated that some transference would occur from cluster to classroom.

Many teachers reported that they began using the strategies used in their cluster in their classrooms. It appears that classroom teachers who have received appropriate professional development can implement differentiation strategies suggested in gifted education. The more time that teachers had to work on their clusters and to experiment with this more inductive way to teach, the more advanced the content and the more diverse the products and services became.

Based on previous findings of classroom practices studies by Archambault et al. The implementation of enrichment clusters may then provide a dual opportunity: high end learning Renzulli, , more advanced opportunities for all children, and professional development for teachers in differentiation strategies.

Reconsidering basic premises within our field results in a series of beliefs emerging from my more than two decades of work in gifted education. The following propositions have emerged from my thoughts regarding these issues.

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Including the Gifted and Talented: Making Inclusion Work for More Gifted and ...

Proposition One. We must systematically overhaul the ways we define and identify high potential students, and question whether formal identification is warranted if current systems continue to fail to identify so many students. In the past, the general approach to the study of giftedness has led some observers to believe that giftedness is an absolute condition that is magically bestowed upon a person in much the same way that nature endows us with blue eyes, red hair, or a dark complexion Renzulli, This position is simply not supported by current research.


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For too many years we have pretended that we can identify THE traits of gifted children in an absolute and unequivocal fashion. The misuse of the concept of giftedness has given rise to both criticism and confusion about identification and programming. The result of this criticism has been mixed messages sent to educators and the public at large, resulting in a justifiable skepticism about the credibility of gifted education and the inability of some educators of gifted students to offer services that are qualitatively different from those offered in general education. Most of the confusion and controversy surrounding characteristics of giftedness can be placed into proper perspective if we examine a few key questions.

Do we use specific characteristics of one group of people to identify another group?

Educating the gifted child | The Good Schools Guide

Are the characteristics of giftedness reflected in high ability Puerto Rican students in Willimantic, Connecticut the same characteristics of giftedness as those demonstrated by above average Mexican students in Texas? Do common characteristics exist within each group? If so, how are they exhibited? What happens to a child who consistently manifests these characteristics in the primary grades but who learns to underachieve in school because of an unchallenging curriculum? What curriculum adjustments can be made for an intelligent child with a learning disability whose disability masks the talents?

Are characteristics of giftedness static i. A fundamental change should be considered in the ways the characteristics and traits of giftedness are viewed in the future. The characteristics of any group of advanced learners must be identified within the specific population group.


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  8. That is, we should attempt to identify the characteristics of talented students in both the educational context and within the population group, and use this information to help us differentiate between all students and those who need different levels of service in school to realize their potential. These different levels of services may result in a wider range of students being served by a continuum of services that is broader and much more inclusive.

    This shift has implications for our considerations of the characteristics of giftedness and the ways in which we should structure our programming endeavors. This change may also provide the flexibility in both identification and programming endeavors that will encourage the inclusion of diverse students in our programs, therefore addressing the critical issue of widespread underachievement of high potential, economically disadvantaged, and culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Proposition Two: The lines between gifted programs and regular education must become less defined and gifted education specialists should serve a dual role, providing direct service to students and professional development and consultation services to classroom teachers.

    The widespread issues relating to dumbing down and a lower degree of challenge both in gifted programs and in regular education programs provides a superb rationale for why some gifted education practices and principles should be infused into regular education to upgrade the challenge level for all students. To some extent, this has already begun. Renzulli l believes that two reasons explain why practices that have been a mainstay of gifted programs are being absorbed into general education to upgrade the performance of all students.

    The first reason concerns the limited success of remedial-oriented compensatory education programs and practices, and the second reason is the success of practices developed in gifted programs and the need for these practices to be included in the regular curriculum. All students should have the opportunities to develop higher order thinking skills and to pursue more Not all students can, of course, participate in all advanced opportunities but many can work far beyond what they are currently asked to do.

    It is clear that our most advanced students need different types of educational experiences than they are currently receiving and that without these services, talents may not be nurtured in many American students, especially those who attend schools in which survival is a major daily goal. What is seldom discussed is whether and how these different types of educational experiences can help improve education for all students.

    Efforts to change and improve education have been around for decades, but many of them ignore talent development in our schools. Time must be provided in school to enable students who want to work to be able to learn at an appropriate and challenging pace. Unless proactively addressed, the result of the dumbing down of the curriculum and the proliferation of basic skills practice material may result in the creation of the largest percentage of high ability underachievers in the history of public schools in.

    In our relatively short history we have achieved a rather impressive menu of exciting curricular adaptations, thinking skills applications, methods for teaching independent study and numerous other innovations. Specialists in the area of education of the gifted have concentrated on identifying student interests and learning styles and providing relevant and challenging curricular experiences to individual students instead of identical experiences to 30 students in a classroom without consideration of their previous knowledge or background.

    Specialists in the area of gifted education have also gained expertise in adjusting the regular curriculum to meet the needs of advanced students in a variety of ways including: accelerating content, incorporating a thematic approach, and substituting more challenging textbooks or assignments.

    The range of instructional techniques used in most classrooms observed by Goodlad and his colleagues is vastly different than what is currently recommended in gifted programs. It seems clear that gifted education can help to bring creativity and innovation to regular education by challenging conventional practices and offering stimulating alternatives. The flexibility in grouping encouraged in many gifted programs might also be helpful in other types of educational settings. For example, interest groups, achievement groups, grouping based on preferred styles of learning are often used in gifted education programs, and could be used in regular education programming efforts.

    We can, therefore, make every attempt to share with other educators the technology we have gained in teaching students process and thinking skills, modifying and differentiating the regular curriculum, and helping students learn advanced reference skills, and independent self-directed work.

    We can extend enrichment activities and provide staff development in the many principles that guide our programming models. Yet, without the changes at the local, state and national policy making levels that will alter the current emphasis on raising test scores and purchasing unchallenging, flat and downright sterile textbooks, our efforts may appear insignificant. Proposition Three: We must maintain our identity as a field while continuing to ask difficult questions causing us to reexamine and reconsider basic tenets in gifted education.

    Because of fiscal constraints in many geographical areas, gifted programs are being eliminated Purcell, and many above average students remain unchallenged by the regular curriculum encounter each day. While sharing our technology is, indeed, one of our goals, we must continue to create and maintain exemplary programs and practices that serve as models of what can be accomplished for high ability students.

    Through our professional organizations we must continue to advocate for the different needs of high ability students. We must argue logically and forcefully to maintain the programs, appropriate grouping practices, and the differentiated learning experiences that the students we represent need. To simply allow these youngsters to be placed in classrooms in which no provisions are made for their special needs is an enormous step backwards for our field. To lose our quest for excellence in the current move to guarantee equity will undoubtedly result in a disappointing education for our most potentially able children.

    Although the use of gifted program pedagogy has been suggested as a way to improve the challenge level of content for all children, very little research exists on the extent to which this suggestion can actually be implemented. Which strategies used in gifted programs can be extended to benefit more students? Can students who are not traditionally identified as gifted benefit from some of the innovative curriculum being developed for gifted students in Javits projects such as those developed by Susan Baum, Steven Owen and Barry Oreck ; Joyce Van Tassel-Baska, , James Borland and Lisa Wright and Sandra Kaplan ?

    Can we make adaptations to gifted program strategies or instructional materials to make them more meaningful and appropriate for all children? How much advanced content can be introduced when these opportunities to participate in these classes are made available to all interested students? Can parental attitudes about school be changed by the implementation of strategies advocated by gifted education specialists, such as differentiation of content and instruction?