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    #237202 - 03/18/17 03:17 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: madeinuk]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4230
    Originally Posted By: madeinuk
    Quote:
    ... when I asked about how she was being challenged in math a teacher replied, "Her handwriting is quite messy for a girl and perhaps she could work on working more neatly." I was stunned, since that had nothing to do with challenging her in math!

    I am stunned.
    Unfortunately, I'm familiar with frequent wordplay on the word "challenge"... where a teacher may be nit-picking, encouraging perfectionist tendencies, etc, rather than focusing on academic growth in the subject. This experience may 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.

    In the context of education, especially gifted education to meet the needs of gifted learners, "challenge" aptly refers to advanced curriculum, pacing, and instruction at the child's level of ability and readiness... some may say in their zone of proximal development (ZPD). In reading the Federal Definition of Gifted and Talented from the website of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), we see:
    "The term ‘gifted and talented,” when used with respect to students, children, or youth, means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in such areas as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities."
    In this context, "challenge" would refer to the advanced academic curriculum, pacing, instruction "services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop" the high intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership, or academic capability.

    Outside of the context of education (especially gifted education to meet the needs of gifted learners)... in general day-to-day usage, the word "challenge" can mean: (the situation of being faced with) something that needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person's ability (definition source: Cambridge dictionary online) or a variety of other things, according to other definitions of the word (such as challenge to a duel, legal challenge, etc). Using the definition from the Cambridge dictionary, a "challenge" can be a focus on a perceived deficit or the provision of any stumbling block or difficulty (which is the opposite of focusing on and encouraging the child's gifts/talents). Some may say that a focus on perceived deficits may encourage negative and debilitating perfectionism. For example, exacerbating gender inequality by focusing on a girl's penmanship in math class rather than teaching the girl at her ZPD.

    Possibly when working with someone whose response seems to indicate a bit of wordplay regarding "challenge", a parent may want to respond by rewording the question to incorporate the contextual definition of "challenge" rather than the word "challenge". For example: Instead of asking "How is she being challenged?" ask: How is she being provided with curriculum, instruction, and pacing in her zone of proximal development to support and encourage fully developing her high mathematical abilities?

    To further clarify, this is the type of challenge which kids need in order to learn work ethic, responsibility, coping with disappointment, self-worth stemming from the accomplishment of a challenging task, time-management skills, study skills, goal setting, decision-making and problem-solving skills, and sacrifice.

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    Other links for Federal definition of GIFTED AND TALENTED:

    1) NAGC Glossary of Terms
    Originally Posted By: NAGC Glossary of Terms
    The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act defines gifted and talented students as “Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.” [Title IX, Part A, Definition 22. (2002)] Many states and districts follow the federal definition. Find out more about how giftedness has been defined in the research.


    2) U.S. Department of Education, Title IX - General Provisions
    (22) GIFTED AND TALENTED- The term gifted and talented', when used with respect to students, children, or youth, means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.

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    #237208 - 03/19/17 11:39 AM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: indigo]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3640
    Particularly for girls, highlighting the soft skills (work ethic, study skills, self-efficacy, leadership/social skills) that are closely tied to and often dependent on appropriate instructional levels often communicates more effectively to teachers and school personnel the value and urgency of providing students with their zone of proximal development than a narrow focus on academic development may.

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    #237215 - 03/19/17 02:38 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: aeh]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4230
    Originally Posted By: aeh
    Particularly for girls, highlighting the soft skills (work ethic, study skills, self-efficacy, leadership/social skills) that are closely tied to and often dependent on appropriate instructional levels often communicates more effectively to teachers and school personnel the value and urgency of providing students with their zone of proximal development than a narrow focus on academic development may.
    Well said! smile

    I will add that this approach may be particularly effective at this time as we are in an era ushered in by common core, which is focused on equal educational outcomes. Both standardized testing and data collection are used to evaluate teachers on closing achievement gaps and excellence gaps among their students. Therefore parent advocacy for advanced curriculum which results in furthering advanced student achievement may work against the school's goals... but parent advocacy for advanced curriculum which results in a child building study skills, etc, may be more palatable.

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    #237217 - 03/19/17 02:47 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    mama2three Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/09/13
    Posts: 84
    aeh and indigo,

    Thank you both for your phrasing, which I hope will help me -- and others -- when talking about goals with teachers. smile

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    #237228 - 03/20/17 07:42 AM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    sunnyday Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/08/14
    Posts: 60
    Ditto! I really do need to keep developing a strategy to counter some of this gender-linked treatment of differently-skilled advanced learners. I'm fortunate that our teachers have really been well-meaning so far. I can't imagine any of them talking about handwriting as a math challenge. They might not always *see* the need for challenge, or recognize that the *student* would prefer more challenge vs. being at the top of the class, or recognize that whether she prefers it or not she *needs* more challenge for her educational development and mental health! But when it's brought up, teachers have always worked with me in some way. I think that if I get the chance for a quick conversation on portfolio night, I will ask DD's teacher to be on the lookout for new solutions for her.

    DS is already feeling a little better about math now that we have this agreement in place, so we'll see how this week goes for him. We listened to an audiobook presentation of quantum mechanics yesterday, and I think it stoked his already-fierce desire to get to the meaty math that will let him understand advanced physics equations. I'd kind of like to make the flipped classroom thing work.

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    #237298 - 03/22/17 07:15 AM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4230
    Thinking along the lines of phrasing, and talking about goals with teachers...

    It took me a while to find, but here is a report from 1997, titled What it Means to Teach Gifted Learners Well, by Carol Ann Tomlinson, Ed.D., University of Virginia. This report is on the website of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC).

    Unfortunately, it appears that much of what was known 20 years ago has been forgotten or pushed aside with the introduction of common core and the focus on creating equal outcomes for all students.

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