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    #230047 - 05/02/16 05:08 AM Buzzwords
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4295
    There are old posts on the forum with buzzwords frequently used in gifted education but this topic may deserve its own thread, especially to showcase this new article introducing rigor as a buzzword:

    The Meaningless Buzzword that's destroying American Education
    Brian Stone
    Huffington Post
    April 26, 2016
    Originally Posted By: article
    Rigor. The Merriam-Webster dictionary says it means, among other things, “an act of strictness, severity or cruelty.” As horrible as that sounds, the word rigor has spread like a bad plague that makes up look like down.
    As educational systems in Asia are scrambling to find ways to have less repetition of tasks and more creative problem solving, rigor has become a way for our own educational system to erase whatever noble and creative virtues it had.
    Brilliant children are falling by the wayside in our schools, because rigorous programs put all the emphasis on meeting benchmarks rather than giving teachers the freedom to inspire unique talents and thinking. Gifted kids are receiving fewer and fewer opportunities to stretch their intellectual muscles. Decades from now, we may have lost our greatest minds to a system that taught them that there is nothing more important than a high mark.

    Following is a roundup of buzzwords... words which may sound good on the surface but which may have fuzzy, nebulous meanings... and therefore can be used to obfuscate the content and experience provided by a variety of gifted programs and services, when speaking with parents. The purpose of this list is to encourage parents to develop a BS filter, and look beyond the surface of statements made by a school... to learn what their child's educational experience will consist of. Many of these experiences serve to undermine the growth of gifted pupils and/or invalidate the academic needs and/or social inclusion needs of gifted pupils, making them collateral damage of the system. This post is an updated copy of an old list of buzzwords, with unofficial BTDT descriptions, from a post in Nov 2013.

    Cluster grouping. Originally called flexible cluster grouping to distinguish it from tracking. Also called ability grouping. May include pupils from different grade-levels. Pupils may be advanced in one or more subjects. Students may have single-subject acceleration (SSA) of one or more years. The ideal may be flexible cluster grouping by readiness and ability, regardless of age or grade level, therefore combining children of various ages, classrooms, and grade levels.
    These resources provide more information on flexible cluster grouping by readiness and ability:
    2- web search on Gentry Total School Cluster Grouping TSCG (one current link is,
    4- book: Total School Cluster Grouping (TSCG), 2nd ed, 2014, Gentry.
    5- book: School Cluster Grouping Model (SCGM), 2008, Winebrenner/Brulles.
    6- NAGC Position Paper on Grouping of Students, March 2009
    Unfortunately, the buzzword "cluster grouping" may be used (mis-used) to mean one or more gifted kids within a particular classroom, somewhat isolated, not necessarily being taught at a higher level but rather being treated as somewhat auto-didactic (often due to schools buying into the myth that because they are gifted, they will be fine on their own).

    Differentiation. The pupil's school experience is somehow different within the classroom. Differentiation may be the favorite buzzword, as it is sufficiently nebulous as to what is "different" for the student's educational experience. Too often the difference may be in work-products expected (differentiated task demands), possibly including more stringent grading criteria, rather than a qualitatively different instructional level and pacing. In general, gifted kids and advanced learners need and may benefit from "differentiated instruction" (not "differentiated task demands" which may seem punitive). Limiting repetition may be appropriate for differentiating the curriculum and experience for gifted learners.

    Enrichment. The pupil experiences additional material to provide depth and/or breadth in the area being studied. This may be done to help fill "wait time" while the other students catch up. A common example may be choosing a book to read more about the topic being studied.

    Independent study. The pupil experiences enrichment which extends beyond filling the "wait time" in the school day. This may be an optional or assigned research/report activity, building a project, developing a presentation, etc. This may involve exclusion from classmates, and social isolation. This may also divert time from preferred extracurricular activities.

    More-ferentiation. A term attributed to Lisa Van Gemert, Mensa Youth Specialist, referring to "differention" gone awry to consist of pupils experiencing quantitatively MORE work, rather than qualitatively different work.

    Pull-out. One or more pupils leave the classroom, often once a week, for 20 minutes. This experience may range from receiving advanced instruction to essentially "babysitting" these pupils while those remaining in the gen ed classroom receive instruction. Some students have reported receiving worksheets during pull-out, intended to be completed during wait-time the following week. A "pull-out" only tells that the gifted program/service is taking place outside the classroom... it is a vague "where". It does not tell who, what, when, etc.

    Scaffolding. Temporary support for a student to move up to a higher tier. This may often be provided by parents as after-schooling, a summer program, a university class, or may more rarely be an in-school support class providing instruction in study skills, note-taking, etc.

    Tiers. Providing various levels of educational experiences to students based on their departure from the norm in ability/achievement. This still does not tell a parent what the educational experience is... a worksheet?... two worksheets?

    Tracking. A rather permanent group consisting of age-peers moving together through the grade levels. Pupils are generally advanced in all subjects. Commonly receiving curriculum instruction one grade level ahead of gen-ed age-peers. For many HG+ pupils, this is not enough curriculum advancement for them to learn something new each day, remain challenged, and engaged/achieving. When kids get on the "track" they typically do not leave; Similarly, new kids may have a difficult time getting on the track, as a "track" is generally considered closed. A magnet-school-within-a-school may be a form of tracking: a student is either in it, or not.

    Tutoring. Unfortunately, the pupil may not be receiving tutoring as a means of individual or small-group advanced academic instruction, but rather may be assigned to peer-tutor other classmates or function in some other way as a teacher's helper. (Also known as "cooperative learning" or "collaborative learning".)

    In reading this list, parents may see that there may be quite a bit of overlap, and the same activity may be called several things. For example using a coloring book during wait-time may be called "differentiation", "enrichment", "tier 2"... it may be called a "cluster" even if it is a cluster of one pupil. If students move to a location outside the classroom to color during wait-time, this may be called a pull-out. Similarly, peer-tutoring may be called "differentiation" or "enrichment" as a euphemism for what is occurring. Buzzwords can be used by teachers/schools/districts to create a kind of shell-game, by re-naming the experience to make it seem new-and-improved without substantially changing the content or delivery. Point being, parents are wise to look beyond the program labels and buzzwords to ascertain the quality of their child's educational experience. Much of which may be busy work: A distinction without a difference.

    Many of these negative educational experiences (once termed "benign neglect" of the gifted, by the NAGC) serve to undermine the growth of gifted pupils. Invalidation of the academic needs and/or social inclusion needs of gifted pupils, can make them collateral damage of the system, and does not serve society well.

    To help get beyond gifted education buzzwords, this post suggests learning the 5Ws of a gifted program: Who, What Where, When, Why, and How.

    #237203 - 03/18/17 05:00 PM Re: Buzzwords [Re: indigo]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4295
    Adding the word "challenge" to the list of buzzwords which schools may use to misrepresent services to gifted children. When a teacher or school promises to "challenge" your child, a parent may wish to ask if they are referring to providing advanced curriculum, pacing, and instruction at the child's zone of proximal development (ZPD).

    This post explains the wordplay which may occur when a school may have a different definition of "challenge" in mind, rather than advanced curriculum, pacing, and instruction at the child's zone of proximal development (ZPD).

    #237299 - 03/22/17 07:22 AM Re: Buzzwords [Re: indigo]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4295
    The opposite of many of these fuzzy, nebulous, misleading buzzwords may be the type of learning experience described clearly and in detail in this post, which links to a report from 1997, titled What it Means to Teach Gifted Learners Well, by Carol Ann Tomlinson, Ed.D., University of Virginia.

    Kids need:
    - appropriate challenge
    - academic/intellectual peers


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