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    #6495 - 12/28/07 04:59 AM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: Dottie]
    kimck Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/20/07
    Posts: 1134
    Dottie's DD has an excellent point on the anti-bullying. The only private school in our area that we would consider going to uses a conflict resolution program. Kids are allowed to call a conference with an adult mediator if there are problems - and this is from a kindergarten level. So kids meet face to face about whatever is important to them. They say by the time the kids get to 5th or 6th grade, they rarely use this and work out social problems on their own. And because of this, there really is no bullying or cliques at this school to speak of.

    I tell you, I could have definitely used some of this type of social skill with my first college roommate or in my first "real" job after college. I think this is a life skill that every school should look at. Imagine if all our world leader's had gone through this!

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    #6501 - 12/28/07 08:03 AM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: SusieQ]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Originally Posted By: SusieQ
    I'd love to hear about characteristics of great teachers your kids have had.


    Hmmm...Teacher qualities...

    Well, training in gifted education is obviously a biggie. The school should be providing continuing ed in the field at the very least, I think. If the teachers don't have any sense of how a bored gifted kid looks or how to challenge him/her, they're not going to be effective teachers.

    Respect for students as whole people, not just as "walking brains" would rank high on my list. They can't be intimidated by the kids they're there to teach, but they have to respect the kids and their abilities and treat them with respect. (Too often this doesn't happen, even with kids who MG or vanilla GT.) Neither condescension nor awe work well.

    Allowing--even encouraging--the kids to make mistakes without fear of ridicule or even subtle pressure to be perfect seems to me to be part of this. "Safe" risk-taking and resiliance in the face of failure are important skills that HG+ kids rarely get the chance to learn, and they're vital skills. Teach these kids how to take a cognitive leap and fail and try again!

    The understanding that there's more than one way to find the answer to a math problem and more than one way to meet a writing assignment. Gifted kids often see things differently than other people, and that difference in vision needs to be respected, cultivated. Be clear about whether the point of an assignment is product or process, and respond to any deviations in the way the kids do the work accordingly.

    A respect for kids' bodies. They need physical activity every day or many of them get cranky and difficult. Taking away recess shouldn't be part of the disciplinary arsenal. Make them walk laps for all of recess, sure. But don't lock them up. That's just dumb.

    A willingness to use creative, unconventional teaching methods. I would think that mentorships from the wider community would be very important to these kids, especially as the kids get older, but from a lot younger age than most people would imagine. Think "resource guide" more than teacher, I guess. What I mean is that while it's nice to have a teacher who is an expert in the field, it's probably more important to have a humble teacher who is willing to *find* experts in the field as needed. One teacher won't be able to be all things to all kids, even in a single subject. These kids often like to specialize; the teacher has to be willing and able to go with that.

    A love of teaching. If they don't love teaching, nothing else is going to matter.

    A sincere interest in gifted education. This can't be just another teaching gig for them. They're going to have to care about the cause or they won't last.

    An analytical mind. The teachers I've liked best were able to look at what wasn't working in the classroom (or at what was) and figure out why. They were constantly making things better for the particular needs of the kids in that particular class that particular year.

    A willingness to try new things but not to innovate simply for the sake of innovation. Think "Make new friends, but keep the old": no yellowed notes from the turn of the last century, but also keeping the things that work.

    I'll keep thinking...
    _________________________
    Kriston
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

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    #6507 - 12/28/07 10:17 AM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: Kriston]
    Ania Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/07/06
    Posts: 802
    Loc: Home :)
    Quote:
    You touched on this with the no age based classes, but in my perfect school, each specific subject would be scheduled at the same time for all levels, ex. Math instruction would be at 8:00am for everyone in the school. That way each student could go to the class that matches their interest and ability regardless of age or grade. The next class might be science, where again the child woud attend the class that matched their ability. After that Language Arts, and so on. Each child's stranghts and weaknesses could be accomodated for that way.

    Our school (middle ) was doing it for two years and it did not work. But don't get me wrong, I thought it was a perfect scenario, however the practice have proven me wrong. First of all, there was just not enough top notch kids in the school to fill that highest level class with truly the highest level thinkers. For my son, whether he was grouped with random kids or with the highest achieving ones, the result was still very, very similar. Second, by doing this they had every teacher teaching every subject. Unfortunately, not all teachers are equally good, passionate about all the subjects. Not all were very good in Spanish (required in that school), not all were passionate about math. You get the picture.
    So while in theory this looked perfect, it proved to be not such a good scenario for my gifted child.
    My dream school would be for my kids to be sorrounded by the kids the same caliber. Meaning onl the top 1/2% for my son, only the top 5% for my daughter. Impossible to achieve. Buth think about it. There is a huge gap between the kid scoring at 80% (considered gifted in our school district) and the one scoring at 95%. There is even wider gap between 95% and 99%.
    So our dream school would have to be very, very small.

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    #6512 - 12/28/07 01:48 PM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: Ania]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Originally Posted By: Ania

    My dream school would be for my kids to be sorrounded by the kids the same caliber. Meaning onl the top 1/2% for my son, only the top 5% for my daughter. Impossible to achieve. Buth think about it. There is a huge gap between the kid scoring at 80% (considered gifted in our school district) and the one scoring at 95%. There is even wider gap between 95% and 99%.
    So our dream school would have to be very, very small.


    Well, correct me if I'm wrong, but the school we're "designing" in our heads here is going to be only for PG kids, right? So I don't think it is imposssible to achieve in this particular, highly specialized case.

    Or did I misunderstand the point of this thread?
    _________________________
    Kriston
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

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    #6513 - 12/28/07 02:09 PM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: Kriston]
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    Interesting thought experiment. I like a lot of the things others have said already.

    Right now, I prefer learning that is clearly related to the world outside the school and that is highly interconnected. Maybe what I mean is learning skills within a context that is meaningful because it is of interest to the learner. At the upper levels, encourage kids to do a big project each year (write a book, if they have an idea for an invention then make a prototype and look into the patent process, engage in scientific research) something that will require some stretching and will require skills that they may not already have. That type of work would require teachers to act as mentors/guides/support. At the lower levels, explore as much as possible within a context, one example from K would be the mammal study DS’s class is doing. Each child picks a mammal and completes several projects related to that animal – makes a book of facts they know and one of questions they have about the animal, paintings of the animal, making a stuffed animal of that type (designing and cutting out the pattern, sewing it together…), read books about the animal, etc.

    Some amount of group project work is also good, working in a group is a skill that needs to be learned like any other. There are things that a group can do which an individual might not. For example, I think my DD learned a lot when her school designed and built a natural playground. All the kids learned about and engaged in the design process, creating specifications and models, the 5th graders measured and created detailed drawings of the existing play area, then met with a surveying crew and learned how they did the same job and compared final drawings. Many of the kids helped build the playground during the summer. And of course using the playground allowed them to really see the results of the process!

    I’d like a school that taught life skills early – I do think conflict resolution and respect for others is important – also the ability to focus. Every child deserves to have a good connection with at least one teacher each year, in a truly perfect school that would somehow happen. I’d like teaching that allows students the thrill of discovering things for themselves instead of only feeding in information. I’d like a school that let kids get outside to engage in the physical world – Tammiane’s DD’s request to let there be horses doesn’t sound half-bad to me! If not horses, at least trees, dirt, and water, a lot can be done with those things.

    Possibly I am just feeling unusually earthy-crunchy-granola-y though. Some time probably does have to be spent sitting in a seat and listening to the teacher, there may be things where that is the best or only way to communicate what is needed. Some kids may prefer that mode of learning. It's just not what I'm thinking about right now.
    _________________________
    kcab

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    #6520 - 12/28/07 06:57 PM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: kcab]
    bk1 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/02/07
    Posts: 139
    Hi Suzie Q:

    I really hope this comes to fruition!

    My dream school:

    Located in my city in location near train/bus lines. LOL

    Admission:
    PG in any one area, verbal or math or spatial relations. Free testing, so fewer $ obstacles to admission.
    2E kids given appropriate modification/differentiation and services on campus. Achievement testing to determine placement in classes. No age discrimination, but a case-by-case evaluation of when a child could start classes. Entry throughout the school year.


    For courses, in addition to what's mentioned above:

    Several foreign languages, taught from the earliest grades (ages) on, in an immersing sort of way;

    Creative problem solving;

    Coping skills, such as how to relax, how to prioritize, organize, tidy, how to study, etc.--- Kids pick the coping skills they'd like to learn about;

    Keyboarding; and

    Computer science.

    Facilities/orientation:

    A huge library;

    Lots of recess/free play time; and

    Sports skills and sports.

    Teaching style:
    Math:
    I like the idea of keeping all math classes at the same time, so kids can sort into a class at the appropriate level with appropriate pacing. Classes that teach problem solving at each level of math.
    Reading/literature:
    For the early grades, a literature-based system that doesn't hold kids back and gives them a chance to talk with others about the books they have read.
    Mix of assignments that allow students to process the material they are learning, instead of just regurgitate.
    All classes: Fast pace, with lots of information for my knowledge sponge!

    Lots of flexibility in learning -- mix of classroom, lab, real life, reading and independent study.

    Every student learns the basics but has a chance to delve into one or more subjects in greater depth. For example, three-hour block of time each week to independently study what you like, whatever it is. Student doesn't have to choose or commit to a topic in advance and can move on to something else as his/her interests change. Doesn't have to produce any thing from it, but can make presentation or product related to study to show his/her cohort.

    Real feedback on work done -- right now DS just gets a check on work. Encouragement to take risks and try to learn something that doesn't come easily.

    Connection to a local university for more advanced, college-level classes for students at higher levels.

    GL with your endeavor.

    bk1

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    #6522 - 12/29/07 12:25 AM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: bk1]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Ooh! Yes! Foreign language from the start! Definitely!

    And I love the block of time for independent projects without restrictions. What a joy it would be for them to be able to follow their passions wherever they might lead.
    _________________________
    Kriston
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

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    #6563 - 12/30/07 09:49 PM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: Kriston]
    Grinity Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    FAvorite teacher qualities - a life long learner, for real. Charisma. Humor. Self Confidence. Love of each individual child. Deep, deep knowledge of their subject material. Less of a desire to fill kid's heads with knowledge, and more of a desire to add kindling to the fire that keeps the child's internal desire to activly learn. That means keeping the child at their readiness level, and "just in time" introduction of new ideas and challenges. If the spanish teacher has to teach Math because everyone teaches Math at 9am, well, is is willing as a life long learner to really embrace math, even if it's only at a 3rd grade level, and get into the why's and not only the procedures.


    Also, ability of the teacher to understand that gifted in Math may be only bright in FOK (fund of knowledge) Wonderful at reading and understanding stories may come with writing bottleneck or spelling difficulties. Math fact memorization trouble may come hand in hand with a deep love of Math Ideas, and shouldn't be a bottleneck.

    So yes, CFK's block scheduling.

    Also gym daily, if not more. Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists making regular visits to help with uneven development for those who need it, handwriting, core strength, vision muscle development. Asnychronous Development is a reality for many of these kids.



    And since we are on the subject of "PG" which kids are you thinking of exactly? Ruf Level IIIs or only Ruf Level Vs. I do reccomend involving the parents on the level of curriculum planning to the extent that they are interested - particularly for Level IV and Vs.


    Seems to me that working with one of the northeast's existing boarding schools or universities to use as a base is an excellent stratagy. Expect children to be ready for college level work, perhaps with support, early in High School, if not middle school. Find a way for the families who want to keep their age-based identification to keep it while getting access to those college classes, while the families who want those credits can get them.

    I like the idea of weekend classes, to keep the pipeline full. I like the idea of very well done enrichment classes in the afternoons for kids whoes parents are working till 6pm. I like the idea of study halls so that homework can be done during the day, the children learn to work independently, but with the support of the school environment. I also think that offering half day programs for partially homeschooled kids is a blessing. A school pitched to Level III kids may be great for a few hours for a Level V kid, but then they may just need to be home for some peace and quiet, and to do their real work. Or stay on campus with a tutor doing an independent study.

    Flexability and Communication are the keys. Thanks so much for your efforts on behalf of these children.
    Love and More Love,
    Grinity
    _________________________
    Coaching available, at SchoolSuccessSolutions.com

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    #6591 - 12/31/07 10:00 PM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: Grinity]
    Grinity Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    Happy New Year -
    Another big question is school philosophy, and teacher perspective. Are we meeting the needs of an underserved population out of fairness? Or are we training tomorrow's saviors? Will the teachers have a "these children are our most valuable resource" mentality? I just hate the "the world needs these kids" tone that some schools carry. I'm a big fan of the "we are out to serve children with special learning needs who can't find a place to fit in and grow to be their full selves any where else."

    I think that a key has to be helping children to develop a healthy perspective on their talents, not as something that sets them apart from other people, but as something they can bring to friendships once they develop maturity and a sense of themselves.

    Thanks again for your excitement and leadership,
    Grinity
    _________________________
    Coaching available, at SchoolSuccessSolutions.com

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    #6594 - 12/31/07 10:33 PM Re: Help to visualize perfect school! (for some) [Re: Grinity]
    Grinity Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    And here's another thought: What about those dear little ones? My son did daycare from the time he was 7 weeks old, and I think that if we had been thinking Gifted back then, and had him placed with other likeminded agemates, or older children, he'd be a calmer more secure guy now. We'll never know of course, but those years between 2-5 make a big difference. But of course, identification issues are pretty tough. Perhaps a 'sister school' for the preschool aged kids to start with, and then reshuffle around the time that kindergarten choices will start?
    _________________________
    Coaching available, at SchoolSuccessSolutions.com

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