Gifted In The Middle


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Presentation 2009
Gifted and Talented Middle Schoolers

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  • We have to remember that gifted children are CHILDREN first. They seem to connect with adults and older people easier than with children at their own age level but it is imperative that we remember these friendships may not always foster appropriate conversation topics, book content, etc. We must remind ourselves that while these children may be academically advanced, they are not quite ready for advanced relationships. When considering placement, be sure to ask yourself; when does it become more important to have your child placed academically appropriately versus emotionally appropriately?
  • 1. Ability to internalize everything. This plays a large role on emotional health2. They decide what is fair in their own way. It does not matter what others think. They come up with their own system3. Gifted students can be perfectionists. They are their own worst critics. No matter what others say, in their minds it is never good enough. They can not let go of their ideals. 4. Must consider personality traits. These are often misinterpreted or misunderstood by people who work with our gifted children. No IQ test can uncover or tap into this avenue. (Show examples of personality tests from Consortium) 5. Dabrowski and Piechowski’soverexciteabilities include psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational, and emotional
  • Positives: Surplus of energy can also be seen as a negative. This can seem as though the child is ADHD in the classroom. PHYSICAL movement and exercise is the best way to release this energy, break a sweat! Competitive sports may not be the best outlet, choose something your child can compete against him or herself with. Example Karate, Tai Kwan do, Jujitsu, Swimming, Track and Field. I enjoy yoga and pilates and find that it not only relaxes my body but my mind as well. It doubles as a way to deal with overwhelming stimuli. Negatives: Workaholism may be thought of as something only adults may have, but as we know, Gifted children become gifted adults! Watch for tendencies to overwhelm ones self- must have some down time every day. This also ties into perfectionism, if they have too much to handle, it gives them the opportunity to make mistakes because things become so last minute. Nervous Habits can develop as well. It is important that kids have a way to deal with stressful situations and have some strategies that they feel comfortable implementing.
  • Positives: Students are able to internalize how others feel and become sympathetic. Negatives: Nothing is ever good enough. Students can visualize the outcome and when they are unable to achieve their vision, they fell as though they have failed. They may not be willing to try it again, the frustration of being unable to achieve their ideals is overwhelming. This links into feelings of inadequacy, never feeling as though they can meet the expectations of other. When asked, what do expect from a person with your abilities?, a 14 year old girl answered “Perfection, with the normal amount of effort. I’m trying to stop thinking this, but I can’t.”
  • What do YOU expect from your child? What does your child expect of him or herself? What can we do to help your child to meet these expectations? Are they realistic and attainable? Help them to start small with something they can do. Gifted children feel like they are here to save the world. They look at the bigger picture. In a way they can change the world, start small. You are responsible for yourself and can not control the actions of others.
  • Your child is going through a monumental amount of changes at this time in their life. The changes of just switching the schools and schedules are just the beginning. Switching from an elementary school to the middle school time frame is difficult enough, now throw in the changes in hormones. Think about your middle school days; conflict, confusion, and drama are a daily disturbance. The Pre-frontal cortex in the brain does not mature until your mid twenties. This part of the brain helps people to make decisions. Children are unable to predict the outcomes of the decisions that they make. We are able to foresee the results of the decisions. It is our job to help them make educated and safe decisions. The delayed development also plays into their difficulty with executive functions which we will get into in just a moment. “My parents always tell me that I can do better (Like I haven’t heard this enough!). They also expect me to have common sense and to use it, forgetting that I am a teenager and that teenagers do stupid stuff. “ Girl, 16, PennsylvaniaAsynchronous development occurs when there is a disconnect between physical, social, and intellectual maturity. Everything happens at it’s own rate, there is nothing we can do to speed it up. PATIENCE, love, and support for your child is the best thing to give.
  • At a recent conference I attended, there was a presentation entitled “ Executive Functions: Another look at disorganization, meltdowns, lack of initiative, and focus. I will share some of the information I learned about how our gifted students react and think when it comes to school and everything that it encompasses. Executive functions are the brain processes that help us regulate what is going on around us. This includes using organizational and higher order learning skills. They are also responsible for creation of neurological pathways that help us to create decision making skills as well as reasoning skills. Kids who struggle with executive functions will struggle with effort
  • Students need to develop these skills in order to be successful later in life. When students are unable to manage everything, it is as though the conductors in the brain are unable to get to everything and CRASH!!!They may also undergo an information overload. Students may feel sympathetic to the ideas that were NOT picked for example, if they have chosen a five paragraph essay they are unable to choose a topic because they feel bad for the topics they do not choose.
  • In order to accomplish a task, students need to be able to plan, adapt, use time management skills, be externally and internally motivated, be able to self-monitor, and maintain attention and focus.
  • 1.Help students set goals but also evaluate them. What does it mean to set a realistic goal? Students may not “know” how to study. They have EXTREME difficulty with written expression or math problem solving because the answer just pops into their head. Unfortunately, the world and school don’t understand or accept this. These kids do not easily fit in the school box.
  • Learning styles- show survey from GT Consortium, everyone should complete it. Personal strengths and weaknesses: GT Bill of rights – You have a right to not be gifted at everything. Students who excel in certain areas may find links to other areas that they excel in as well. However, at some point they may not excel. The pressure that they feel regarding the fact that they can’t do everything well may be overwhelming. It may also come from an external source, someone who thinks that they should excel at everything. GT Students need to be familiar with where to draw the line and to know their limitations. On the other hand, the areas that they do excel in need to flourish with support from others as well as from within. Some people may not understand the difference between cerulean and blue, or why someone would like to spend a sunny day inside reading a book or analyzing data, but to a gifted child it is their life, their passion, what they live for. Reducing Stress: Have a plan in place. Again Physical Activity can help, but also other outlets such as writing, music, breathing exercises, etc may help students deal with stress. Create a list, prioritize, make a visual so that students can see EXACTLY what they have accomplished instead of focusing on what they have not accomplished.
  • Linguistic Intelligence = word smartlogical-mathematical Intelligence= number/reasoning smart,Spatial Intelligence= picture smartBodily Kinesthetic Intelligence= body smartMusical Intelligence= music smartInterpersonal Intellegence= people smartIntrapersonal Intelligence= self smartNaturalist Intelligence= nature smartProduct Examples
  • GT students need a set of age peers(maturity physically and socially) as well as a set of intellectual peers(intellectual maturity /interest related) Students were expected to get good grades, behave, and live up to the expectations placed on them by parents and teachers. 3. What used to inspire children to do their best now may actually cause children to rebel4. Expressing interest in certain things may be considered “uncool”. Students may instead express a lack of interest or underachieve to appear less intelligent, also known as “dumbing down”. The pull out program may instill feelings of social burdens. The program at Riverview is different in that ALL students have a chance to show where they excel. It may be one chapter or it could be a particular subject area. They are coming together as a group, it is not just one or two students at a time (majority of the time) It is a group setting. A challenge to test out. 5. When asked if students ever hide their giftedness, a 14 year old boy from Iowa responded with this quote. Another student, a 16 year old girl from Indiana, responded as follows: “Yes, sometimes I hide it. I’m lazy, so if I underachieve, teachers expect less of me and I have a lot more time to do what I want, whether that be sports, drawing, or learning about autoimmune diseases.”
  • We may be able to get the placement correct, but not always the pace. This is where the testing out option really works well with our gifted students. If they already know the material, we let them expand their knowledge horizontally or to study something that they have a high level of interest in that they would not normally get to explore in school. For example: Metroid, Legos, and Sonic the hedgehog. (show product examples) The may take the mentality that if they can not get an A, they will not do it at all. Results of perfectionism include procrastination, fear of failure, workaholic syndrome, paralysis (just can’t do it!), dichotomous thinking
  • Riverview’s Pegasus Program is really quite different from other Gifted and Talented programs. With the ability to pretest, we are able to extend the thinking and knowledge of our students. Core Curriculum is designed to create a rich framework of knowledge, understanding and skills related to the content. It is built on key facts, organized in a coherent manner, focused and organized to achieve essential outcomes, taught in a meaningful context, creates creative and critical questions and ideas for students, is engaging and mentally satisfying to students, and results in evidence of worthwhile student production. The Pegasus program allows us to extend this information and allows students to interact and encounter the key concepts in a variety of settings, timeframes, and circumstances. It allows students to apply key concepts in a variety of ways. These include across disciplines, across locations, across cultures, through varied perspectives, as impacted by various conditions (social, economic, technological, political,etc) and allows students to create their own links between concepts and development of the disciplines. Take Event Based Science for example. In a module I am currently using, students are studying global warming from the perspective of a scientist, environmentalist, politician, and industrialist. They are also exploring the impact of global warming on other regions, not just in North America but South America, Australia, Asia, etc. I also try to implement the use of Blooms Taxonomy when creating lessons. I aim to meet the criteria that show the higher levels of learning. Often times I resort to my own tools to create these lessons. These include the IIM research question cubes and the Blooms Taxonomy word charts I have with me tonight. In using Blooms Taxonomy, I can spend the majority of time in the higher levels. These include analyze, evaluate, and create. Typically, most students will spend the majority of their time in the remember, understand, and apply zones. By “speeding” things up, we are better able to meet the needs of our gifted students.
  • Choice means giving kids a chance to speak their opinion in what they will study, the pace and methods, and how they will share itChallenge has three components, acceleration, depth, and complexityAs a gifted and talented teacher, I must also have evidence of mastery that relates to the standards of their grade and subject area. Hence the pre testing. What is normal to some gifted students (doing two things at once) may come off differently to a general ed teacher. They may view it as challenging authority, perfectionism, or lack of organizational skills as a learning disability, a psychological problem, arrogance or a behavior disorder. That is why it is so important to have an advocate for gifted students, it can be a parent or a teacher.
  • This in turn helps me to plan lessons that are active, engaging, and stretch their knowledge. If it so happens that there is a “hole” in one particular area/concept from a chapter, I can fill it and move on quickly to help meet the pacing needs. This is sometimes called Compacting. When you compact something, you are using pretesting, eliminating drill and practice for those students who do not need it, provide streamlined instruction on concepts that may be somewhat unstable, and you are offering opportunities for enrichment and acceleration; these may include extensions, projects, and connections.Example of an open ended questions: Who do you think the most influential US President of all time is? Why? What major policies did he create that are still in use today? PBL’s: In a PBL, students are coached by teachers in order to clarify and define a problem, gather, evaluate, and use information, develop and evaluate possible solutions, and creatively present the best solution to an audience. Sometimes the most challenging aspect of any type of enrichment is the timeline. Gifted students may have not developed a way to monitor independent work and they need to be taught how to manage and create good work habits as well as to stick to the timeline. A work log or pace chart may be helpful in this case. It helps students to stick to the plan and to not become overwhelmed with all the components of a project. Remember…perfectionists may be looking for a reason to not do their best!
  • We often forget about the creatively gifted. They like to explore the arts, social roles, and the “edge” of academics
  • Ask yourself, when did it become unacceptable to earn a grade that was not an A? If the student is working up to his or her FULL capabilities, they are doing their best. That is what is important. I often encourage students to not give up when working on a difficult problem. This ability or skill to persevere is important. I can relate to their frustration at times. I will tell them that I have worked on a problem for over an hour, then come back to it wondering, “why didn’t I get it?” They have all the knowledge and skills to complete the task they set out to accomplish. I also ask kids how it feels when they do achieve a result they have been working toward. How does it make you feel? What are your families expectations of you as a gifted child? What are your expectations of your child? “Because of my abilities, my parents expect me to be very responsible and to always keep my grades high. I sometimes feel they have asked me to grow up faster than normal. I just wish they wouldn’t have such high expectations for my future. They tell me they just want me to be happy, but at the same time feel that is only possible by engaging in high-paying, high prestige careers.” ~ Girl, 15, IowaWhen are you happiest at home? “At home I like to do something I can do nowhere else; have time to myself. To relax, play with my pets, jump on the trampoline, of just listen to music. “ ~ Boy, 16, New York
  • Think about your passions. How long have you had it? How did it start for you? Do you share this passion with anyone else, or is it more private? Did someone support this passion? Are you living it now?
  • Gifted In The Middle

    1. 1. Gifted in the Middle<br />
    2. 2. Maturity<br />Being gifted does not imply emotional maturity<br />Academic vs. Emotional needs<br />“For the past eight years, I have been trying to make people understand that I have the same kinds of feelings and needs as other kids my age. Yet, people continue to think I am “beyond that.” ~ Girl, 15<br />“ I think people forget that even if someone is labeled “gifted” they’re still a kid.” <br />
    3. 3. How are gifted middle school students different from typical students?<br />
    4. 4. Psychological Differences<br /><ul><li>More deeply introspective
    5. 5. Higher sense of justice and fair play
    6. 6. Heightened self criticism
    7. 7. Able to focus more narrowly on ONE specific topic
    8. 8. Heightened sensitivity and intensity</li></li></ul><li>Positives<br />Negatives<br />Surplus of energy<br />Enthusiastic<br />Rapid Speech <br />Compulsive talking<br />Workaholism<br />Nervous Habits<br />Psychomotor<br />
    9. 9. Positives<br />Negatives<br />Feel other concerns<br />Ability to identify concern<br />Intense self criticism<br />Inadequacy<br />Guilt<br />Loneliness<br />Anxiety/stress<br />Emotional<br />“Perfection, with the normal amount of effort. I’m trying to stop thinking this, but I can’t.”<br /> ~ Girl, 14, England<br />
    10. 10. “The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: a human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him…<br /> A touch is a blow,<br /> A sound is a noise, <br /> A misfortune is a tragedy,<br /> A joy is an ecstasy, <br /> A friend is a love, <br /> A lover is a god, <br /> And failure, is death.” <br />~ Pearl Buck <br />
    11. 11. Perfectionism<br />Waiting until the last minute gives an excuse to be imperfect<br />Pressure to achieve- from parents and society<br />Rejection from peers<br />Confusion due to mixed messages about their talents <br />Increased expectations<br />“ I expect a person with my abilities to always be reaching for the next rung on the ladder. However, this should only go so far. You shouldn’t be expected to be stressed out all the time. Nonetheless, I feel that way quite often. “ <br />~ Girl, 15, Iowa <br />
    12. 12. Physical- CONFUSION!!!<br />“ I am a teenager before I am gifted, so while I understand certain things at a higher level than the normal student, I am still experiencing many things in the same ways as my friends. I am still going through the late stages of puberty, my mind is still maturing as well as learning, and I still lack many of the skills I shall need for college and beyond. In fact, some of my friends have already taken their positions on adult issues like religion, sexuality, and government that I lack.” <br />~ Boy, 18, Tennesee<br />
    13. 13. Physical<br /><ul><li>Hormones impact the body, new emotions, new moods
    14. 14. Unable to use problem-solving strategies because of the new body chemistry
    15. 15. Go through “asynchronous development”
    16. 16. PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES TO RELAX ARE ESSENTIAL!!</li></li></ul><li>Executive Functions<br />The ability to manage emotions in order to:<br /><ul><li> Achieve goals
    17. 17. Complete tasks
    18. 18. Control and direct behaviors</li></li></ul><li>The Funnel Model<br />Planning<br />Organizing<br />Prioritizing<br />Shifting<br />Memorizing <br />Checking<br />Requires use of short term, long term, working memory in order to complete the task<br />
    19. 19. Functional Tasks<br />Implications<br />Completing long term assignments<br />Prioritizing Emotions<br />Staying Organized<br />Turning in homework<br />Planning a Project<br />Organizing<br />Finding Homework<br />Beginning an assignment<br />Staying Focused<br />Managing Frustration<br />Executive Functions Continued<br />
    20. 20. Poor Working Memory and Recall<br />Affects the present: Can’t remember directions, math facts are difficult, difficulty summarizing<br />Affects the past: Repeat misbehavior, doesn’t learn easily from past behavior<br />Affects sense of time: Difficulty holding events in mind, difficulty judging passage of time, difficulty estimating time to finish a project<br />Affects self awareness: Does not easily examine or change own behavior<br />Affects sense of future: Live in the present, difficulty preparing for the future<br />
    21. 21. Kangaroo Logic<br />Jumping to Conclusions<br />
    22. 22. What Can We Do? <br /><ul><li>Help students understand their learning styles
    23. 23. Help students become aware of their personal strengths and weaknesses
    24. 24. Have a plan for reducing stress</li></li></ul><li>
    25. 25. Social and Emotional Needs<br />Gifted students need more than one set of peers<br />The “rules” were clear before middle years <br />Teacher/Parent approval is now second to peer approval<br />Negative social stigma/lack of appreciation for unique abilities<br />“Yes, all the time to fit in. I don’t even do extra credit anymore and I don’t ask if I can work ahead.” <br />~ Boy, 14, Iowa<br />
    26. 26. On the flip side…<br />“No, I can’t hide who I am. It’s something I used to do and it caused me immense stress. I was always afraid that they would find out that I really liked to read and learn. Since then, I’ve learned otherwise and am proud of who and what I am. “<br />~ Boy, 15, Kansas<br />
    27. 27. Academic and Intellectual Needs<br />Repetition is not only boring, it can be deadly to gifted students<br />Perfectionism<br />Dichotomous thinking- good or bad, black or white, all or nothing. Each and every thought or action may be perceived in this manner <br />“…We distort things…because we are trained neither to voice both sides of an issue nor to listen with both ears…It is rooted in the fact that we look at the world through analytical lenses. We see everything as this or that, on or off, black or white; and we fragment reality into an endless series of either- ors. In a phrase, we think the world apart.” ~Parker Palmer in The Courage to Teach<br />
    28. 28. What can we do to help our students?<br />Encourage Creativity<br />Encourage Independent<br />Help smart kids not feel alone<br />Make academics as important as sports<br />Eliminate “nerd” attitude<br />Respect individual learning abilities<br />Push students to reach their limits<br />Allow students to learn at own pace<br />
    29. 29. At School<br />Give them a choice<br />Give them a challenge<br />Provide the students with a continuum in order to meet the varying needs and talents of gifted students. This includes independent study projects and differentiated assignments. <br />“ During adolescence, the brain will decline in plasticity but increase in power, and a boring environment will have a thinning effect on the cortex than the thickening effect of the enriched environment. During this period, gifted students are susceptible to losing mental ground when not challenged.” ~ Clark, 2002 <br />
    30. 30. Pre-testing<br />Pre-assessments help us to see what the students already know and if they have any areas of weakness<br />The curriculum that is created includes higher level thinking, real-world applications, and challenging concept based material. <br />PBL’s allow for cross categorical learning as well as developing research skills<br />Open endedness allows for pressure to be relieved. No right or wrong answer, what do you think? Prove your opinion, back it up! <br />
    31. 31. Creatively Gifted <br />POSITIVES:<br />High Energy<br />High Motivation<br />Risk Taking<br />Complex Personality<br />NEGATIVES:<br /><ul><li>Impulsive and Overactive
    32. 32. Willingness to act or look foolish
    33. 33. Voices Non-conformist views</li></li></ul><li>Family Relationships<br />Students may not want to spend as much time with parents<br />Parents expectations for success may be felt by the child as pressure for perfectionism<br />Internal pressure is enough, they may be unable to handle the external pressure<br />Need to relax and be themselves at home<br />
    34. 34. Passions vs. Interests<br />Interests are small<br />Passions are what you live for<br />Intensities are what you would consider doing with your life<br />“ Interests come and go. Passions stay and overwhelm you.” ~ Girl, 13, New Jersey <br />
    35. 35. Resources<br /><br />More Than a Test Score: Teens Talk About Being Gifted, Talented, or Otherwise Extra-Ordinary by Robert A. Schultz, Ph.D and James R. Delisle, Ph.D<br />Educating Gifted Students in Middle School: a practical guide by Susan Rakow, Ph.D<br />When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotinal Needs by Jim Delisle, Ph.D., & Judy Galbraith, M.A. <br />
    36. 36. Questions?<br />Transition to Riverview?<br />Program Questions?<br />Changes? <br />
    37. 37. “ To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest human battle ever and to never stop fighting.”<br />~e.e. cummings<br />