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    #243232 - 07/01/18 11:03 PM What's the Gold standard for gifted Ed?
    Chrisa Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 01/28/18
    Posts: 4
    I live in a school district that wants to dismantle the existing G&T program. Our district also does not recognize 2e students (the term isn't used in any district documents, and 2e students cannot attend G&T if they need SpEd services.)

    As I get more deeply involved in advocacy, I'd like to start from "lessons learned", and review some of the most acclaimed and effective gifted & 2e programs out there. What programs do you know that are equitable, meet the needs of gifted kids (from moderately to profoundly gifted) and service 2e students well? I realize that my question is broad and no system will fit perfectly the needs of all. I'm looking for the best known out there, not the perfect. smile

    Many thanks in advance!

    #243279 - 07/07/18 05:08 PM Re: What's the Gold standard for gifted Ed? [Re: Chrisa]
    ChasingTwo Offline

    Registered: 06/07/16
    Posts: 73
    Not sure on the best programs, but this might be helpful: It is illegal to prohibit students from participating in advanced programs if they would otherwise qualify except for a disability.

    #243281 - 07/08/18 05:15 AM Re: What's the Gold standard for gifted Ed? [Re: Chrisa]
    Pemberley Offline

    Registered: 08/07/11
    Posts: 738
    Not sure how much of a gold standard this will represent but I'm happy to share lessons learned for my VERY 2e kid.

    First as Portia says above flexibility is key. Allow for depth of investigation in areas of interest. In our experience child led learning has been the most effective. Let them sink their intellectual teeth into a topic and run with it. If this can't be done in school then do it after school, during extracurriculars or summer break. Give them the opportunity for learning with reckless abandon. For my DD learning is fun. If I can keep it that way she will keep learning no matter what obstacles are in her way.

    Finding the right school program can be very difficult. For preschool lab programs seem to work well for little gifties. My DD participated in one at the local high school that was play based. No structured lesson plans, no craft projects with adult models to be copied. Everything was entirely child led exploration with a dozen or so students studying child development or early childhood education supervising. Every time I've seen preschool discussed on this board the conclusion has been the same - play based lab programs seem to work best for our population.

    Next we tried multi-age classroom. The idea was she would be placed in a combo K/1 classroom. At the end of the year half the class would be promoted and the other half would stay in the same classroom for the next year. No stigma either way. IF you can find a program that does this well it can be a great solution for the social vs academic question. We have a local private that does it very well. The interdistrict magnet where we sent DD for K was unfortunately pretty awful. The concept is one thing, the implementation is another.

    Offer enrichment - both to feed that need for higher level learning and to help make everything else tolerable. I've seen this done several ways. My DD's severe LD issues meant it was years before she could learn to decode but had high school level comprehension by the time she entered 1st grade. A neuropscyh told the district she had to have twice daily "enrichment/anxiety breaks" to listen to high level audio books in 2nd grade. When she was placed OOD at a special Ed school starting in 3rd grade she recelved both radical exceleration in her area of greatest strength and was allowed to choose an enrichment project in any area each marking period. For a while this helped offset the misery of focusing so much attention on her areas of disability. As she got older the regular classwork combined with the behavior of the special ed population meant this wasn't enough. But it helped for a while.

    While our district had allowed kids with IEP's to participate in our TAG program DD was the first from OOD who was placed in the program. It meets one day per week for 2 years and spots are extremely highly competitive. No selection criteria satisfies everyone because every parent favors the one that would make their child qualify and parents whose kids aren't selected lead the annual budget campaign to end the program. It was great for my daughter and I took the position that the selection process needs to focus on the kids that would benefit most from the program as it is offered so no single selection criteria is sufficient. A portfolio that shows not only the child's giftedness but also their eagerness to learn, ability to work independently, to think creatively, to conduct themselves in a manner that doesn't disrupt other students, etc. Is this perfect? No. Is this the gold standard? No. But it works for the program as it exists. Some seats go to students who don't necessarily appreciate the opportunity and many who would benefit are overlooked or don't have enough seats offered. But for my DD the program worked well.

    One day a week the kids were pulled from their regular classrooms. Each selected a topic to study for the year ranging from science to history to geography to the arts. Whatever they were really captivated by. They researched for a couple of months and came up with 100 facts on the topic that were then used throughout the year to make various presentations in different formats. A poster project, an oral presentation, a brochure, a jeopardy game and a final topic in whatever format that child chose. Kids who like to write could do a magazine or a choose your own adventure story. Creative kids could make a movie or a board game or an elaborate model. While working on this all year the class also did smaller projects each week - again all to encourage creative ways of learning. Some individual and some group projects. Usually each project offered 5 or 6 options so every kid could explore the topic in the way that interested them the most and allowed their creative juices to flow. The general consensus has been that while the program content is not necessarily intellectually challenging it provides the opportunity for motivated kids to find challenging solutions to open ended questions. It helps them keep their sanity in an otherwise less than challenging school environment. It allows them to spend time each week with other smart, intellectually curious kids.

    We tried a couple of gifted/ 2e schools without much success. One eventually devolved into a reputation for "smart kids with behavior problems" and eventually dropped 2e from their focus. At the other I noted that the earliest kids enrolled were well matched to what their programs targeted but those enrolled in later years started moving towards that "smart but _____" category. Smart kids whose behavior, social skills, ADHD, anxiety, etc caused them to leave school after school ended up here. Desperate parents were willing to write checks so that their difficult, gifted kid would have someplace - anyplace really - to go to school. Meeting the needs of the true target population took a backseat. I think this is likely where many of these programs or schools go off the tracks.

    We found one private school that did a really good job with 2e but didn't advertise themselves that way. They say their population is 30% gifted, 30% sped and 40% NT with significant crossover between the gifted and sped populations. They focus intently on individualizing every student's program (apparently they really do it - no 2 kids in the school have the same class schedule or program) and offer radical exceleration as needed (we saw a 5th grader in an AP Biology class when we visited). Their gifted track used curriculum approximately 2 grade levels ahead. They were flexible (there's that word again...) with what workproduct would look like, especially for 2e kids. DD used part of their History syllabus to research on her own while we worked on putting together a program for her this year. She would spend a few days researching online for a topic that was covered in just one day (or even one of several covered in just that one day) so I don't think they necessarily provided the depth my particular gifted student would have wanted.

    Last year because we couldn't find the right school placement we did a combination program. My DD did one day a week in the district TAG program, one day a week in a nature program that allowed for minimally structured, self motivated learning in nature under the direction of amazing "naturalist educators" and eventually one day a week at a private that offers all 1-1 classes at the student's specific level. Before we found the 1-1 program she spent most of the year working independently (pseudo homeschooling I guess) following a history syllabus from a school we visited and doing HS level English on her own. She said it was the best year ever and she learned more than she had in the previous 7 years combined. Why? See the previous advice about flexibility, depth, child led learning, etc.

    Oh - another friend with a 2e kid took a different approach. Due to his combination of E's she considered it crucial to keep him in a mainstream setting as much as possible. He received radical excelleration in his area of profound strength by being bussed to other buildings in the district then returning to his regular elementary classroom for the remainder of the day. Other than his area of strength he was not motivated to work independently and creatively. He needed structure and social role models. Both 2e kids who needed and received radical exceleration but neither of their programs could have possibly worked for the other. That's the beauty - and frustration - of designing programs for gifted and 2e kids...

    Good luck. HTH

    Edited by Pemberley (07/08/18 05:21 AM)

    #243282 - 07/08/18 06:45 AM Re: What's the Gold standard for gifted Ed? [Re: Chrisa]
    Cookie Offline

    Registered: 05/28/14
    Posts: 599
    I think the difference is a school that has a philosophy “ how can we be creative and make school work for this particular child who is a unique individual?” vs. “I have a school with 1100 elementary kids who I have to get into and out of the cafeteria, I have to get them all to special area classes (art, PE, music, etc.)...I can’t worry about one kid and if he is happy or not and if I do this for him I have to do it for everyone. And if I start doing that there goes the schedule. Plus he’s doing fine I have tons of kids I need to worry about who are below grade level, now that’s where I have to focus my creativity.”

    So the gold standard to me is meeting the unique needs of gifted kids...sometimes group solutions sometimes, individual solutions and valuing their problems and challenges in getting an appropriate education as much as typical students and those struggling to meet grade level expectations (due to disabilities or ...language, poverty or whatever). Having on staff teachers endorsed with gifted education as well as administrators with the knowledge (not their own biases but know really a lot about gifted education)


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