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    #202592 - 10/02/14 12:30 PM Differentiation within Gifted Program?
    Loy58 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/11/13
    Posts: 816
    I have a question for those of you who have schools with gifted programs: is there differentiation WITHIN your school's gifted program?

    I suppose it seems obvious to me that all kiddos who meet the minimum testing requirements for a given G&T program will not always learn at the same pace or be in EXACTLY the same place (rather, they are in a range, with varying strengths and weaknesses), but I think where we are at...the school is kind of hoping that they ARE all the same. At least, that seems to be the approach to instruction...just curious if this is common.

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    #202593 - 10/02/14 12:47 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    slammie Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/14
    Posts: 161
    In our school, there is some differentiation in math in the upper elementary levels. For example, starting in 3rd, the class was split into two groups but they all learned grade level math, but at a different pace. From 4th, they split the group into two separate grade levels.

    In the lower elementary classes, they are grouped according to ability, but in all honesty, there is really is no individual differentiation since the classrooms are so project and group based, this would be difficult. Kids were tested for reading proficiency prior to acceptance so we have no centers for ELA, just math.

    My DD is the only child being subject accelerated to another math grade (1st grade to 2nd ) because we advocated for that. We had to sign an expectation contract and was warned not to discuss the acceleration with any other student/parent. She is still not placed appropriately and even worse, she is expected to make up for work she has missed since the classes are not held at the same time. The days she is not in the 2nd grade class, her group is encouraged to use higher level math to complete classwork. For example instead of using addition, use multiplication/division. She is not being taught new concepts and is very frustrated.

    I am discovering that in our experience, the gifted school has a much more rigid, inflexible view on educating gifted kids. I think schools that are set up to try and meet an individual's learning pace tend to have similar schedules for most grade levels. Our school does not.

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    #202595 - 10/02/14 12:50 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    slammie Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/14
    Posts: 161
    I'm curious, how is differentiation being handled for your DD? Do you mind sharing?

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    #202597 - 10/02/14 12:55 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    There is for math (which I think I already told you), and they actually mix kids from various grades, but I'm still trying to figure out what they are doing for language arts. They are asking for a lot of parent volunteers for things like reading groups and testing geography (kids work at their own pace memorizing the world map) so I'm guessing they are doing ability grouping for reading at least and a lot of the material seems to be kids working at their own pace, including math. Which is fine because DD is slow and I don't want her feeling pressured or like she has to rush through work to keep up with those gifted kids who are "fast".

    I hear you on your concerns. Last year (different school) each kid identified as gifted got the "same" enrichment packet for math. Didn't matter how they tested. I think they want to feel like they are doing something without actually doing something. It's not well thought out with each kid's unique needs in mind.

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    #202601 - 10/02/14 01:13 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    Zen Scanner Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    Yes, definite differentiation from level of reading materials, to math instruction and external math resources, to direct instruction. They seem to use the full range of nuancial information from MAP to target weaker areas and nurture stronger areas. It isn't 100% all day long. There are group activities and group instruction for completeness. But it is much of the time.

    This is in a magnet with full gifted classrooms.

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    #202603 - 10/02/14 01:23 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    Loy58 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/11/13
    Posts: 816
    I am trying to figure out what they are actually doing, too, blackcat. Up until last year, I was silly enough to just assume that the school would know what to do with my DD when she got to 3rd/4th grade, when the G&T/advanced classes start.

    Well, we're there. She's in the programs (you have to get into math and English separately). In fact, she's now a DYS. At least in some areas, though - if not all, they have a "set curriculum" that all the kiddos are taught. This is a bit of a problem for my DD, who doesn't always "fit the mold." Some of her test scores are "out there" and I guess I just assumed the school would be prepared to handle this and would adjust accordingly (I don't discuss test scores with other parents, but I am guessing there are others that are "out there" at our schools, too). Some of what I see, however, suggests otherwise. I hope that I am wrong and we start to see something at a more appropriate level soon, but things right now don't look good.

    DD says she is bored and has learned almost nothing yet this year.

    At the same time, I realize we are lucky by even having a program. Many of our neighboring schools have had to close these programs because of a lack of funding. So things could be worse.

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    #202604 - 10/02/14 01:36 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    slammie Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/17/14
    Posts: 161
    Loy, our school, which is a magnet with full GT classes have the "set curriculum" too. I might may be wrong, but like I posted before, I really don't see any differentiation for outliers (and I volunteered in my DS's 3rd classroom quite a bit last year). I also get the feeling that most are happy to have gotten into the school and don't rock the boat too much and tend to supplement at home with Kumon, etc. This is what I gathered from chatting to many parents. I often feel like I am viewed as a crazed tiger mom by the school when requesting advocacy for DD and advocacy is not something I am entirely comfortable doing.

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    #202606 - 10/02/14 01:37 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    That stinks. Yes, it's better than nothing, but still, you want her to make academic progress. This is what we were dealing with last year. It's almost like the schools put a program into place and then check if off their list saying it's done, without evaluating the effectiveness. All I can say is try to find like-minded parents and make a fuss, go to the school board, whatever. Do you have open enrollment there? What helps here is that parents can enroll somewhere else if they want to (assuming there is space). So that keeps all the schools feeling somewhat competitive with each other. They don't want to be the district that is way behind. So when one district opened a "magnet" here, for instance, or started cluster grouping, a lot of others copied. They are trying to keep the kids they have, plus attract kids from neighboring districts.

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    #202615 - 10/02/14 02:32 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    Loy58 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/11/13
    Posts: 816
    blackcat, moving within our local schools would not help much, because this seems to be how they are all run, as sort of a "master system."

    No gifted magnets, here, unfortunately. As I said, we are lucky compared with others in our state to have anything at all for G&T. Zen, what you describe sounds wonderful.

    Very interesting to hear the different approaches.

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    #202619 - 10/02/14 03:00 PM Re: Differentiation within Gifted Program? [Re: Loy58]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    Do you mean schools within the same district are run under this sort of master system, or even between districts it is like that? And yes, I hear you, if your school is one of the best in the area it's going to be hard to convince admin to change anything. Is there a decent private school around? Maybe that's going to be your best bet at this point. Sometimes not, though. One of DD's classmates transferred over from one of the better private schools in the area, with her parents saying that the school refused to do anything for them in terms of acceleration/differentiation, etc. You'd probably have to find one that focuses on gifted kids. Or maybe Montessori.

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