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    #68911 - 02/15/10 11:24 AM Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT
    Mark D. Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/31/69
    Posts: 271
    The following is a synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech, "Thinking Big About Gifted Education", presented at the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented (TAGT) Conference, Dec. 3, 2009 in Houston.

    On Dec. 3, 2009, Jan Davidson presented the keynote address at the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented (TAGT) Conference in Houston. Her presentation, titled “Thinking Big About Gifted Education,” challenged the audience to think in different terms about how our country educates its youth.

    Jan spoke enthusiastically about how matching the curriculum to the student in each subject lets them soar in areas where they are strong and receive additional support where they need help. She showed a short video of interviews with students where they discussed the boredom, depression and lack of drive they experience when they are under-challenged. She then gave examples of 14-17 year olds who have performed graduate-level work because they were matched to appropriately challenging curriculum and found mentors who helped them excel. She went on to discuss The Davidson Academy of Nevada, a free public school for profoundly gifted pupils. At The Davidson Academy (www.DavidsonAcademy.unr.edu) the curriculum is matched to the student and the students thrive in this environment.

    A recent report by McKinsey & Company, http://www.mckinsey.com/App_Media/Images..._gap_report.pdf, states that current education gaps impose the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession, one much larger than the current recession. It also said that in 2008 our economy would have gained an additional $2 trillion if our high school graduates had attained the average skills of their peers in countries such as Canada, Finland and South Korea. Jan challenged the audience to think in different terms, to imagine the possibilities of matching the curriculum to the student at their schools. She recognized this will be a lot of work upfront, but it will save time in the long-run because you can teach to students’ zone of proximal development and discipline issues decrease.

    She concluded with a video showing the positive results of when students are appropriately challenged and encouraged the audience to “think in different terms for the sake of our students and the sake of our nation. The nation is hinging its future on us.”

    Your thoughts? Change starts with one person, one school, one district. What steps do you think we need to take to “think in different terms” and to match the curriculum to all students?

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    #68916 - 02/15/10 01:23 PM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: Mark D.]
    quaz Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/14/08
    Posts: 37
    What is the difference between this and just the advocation that gifted parents seem to have to do again and again? How is this in different terms to anything that folks with gifted kids have been trying to do for years?

    I mean, don't many of us as parents, over and over again stress the need for matching the student to a subject level they need to be at? Don't many of us run into the same walls again and again on this?

    I don't see this about being new and different, but the same fight we've been having for years.

    Maybe I'm missing something, but this seems to be preaching to the choir, and many of us do not make headway in our school districts on this.

    Tammy

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    #68926 - 02/15/10 03:47 PM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: quaz]
    matmum Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/06/09
    Posts: 195
    Loc: Australia
    Surely cost must play a part in the overall equation. By no means are private schools the be all and end all but a common thread through a lot of the posts is the inability for parents to continue in something approaching a satisfactory education due to the cost. Of course there are many parents that have found the private system unsatisfactory but how many have found it otherwise and simply couldn't afford it?

    This could also be a factor in the unsuccessful stories thread.

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    #68954 - 02/16/10 04:11 AM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: matmum]
    paynted28 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/06/10
    Posts: 33
    i think working against the schools will get us no where. we have to find funding and make people who have pull more aware of the situation. let's face it....most people with political power who could change our public school systems probably aren't able to figure it out so to speak. and most teachers i have known just want to get the basics done and get out. many people involved with public schools don't want change unless it makes their job easier. it sounds silly, but we need celebrity support. if you think about it many actors, scientist, artist etc. are probably somewhat gifted and can at least imagine if not relate to the fact that gifted children are held back in our society by either public schools or the inability to pay for private educations. we need to find a way to not only show the struggle of most gifted students but also highlight why these children could potentially make a sizable difference in society for the better if their thirst for accelerated learning was nurtured rather than prohibited.

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    #68957 - 02/16/10 05:10 AM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: paynted28]
    traceyqns Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/18/09
    Posts: 460
    We need to get on Oprah already before she is retired. I mean seriously we need some big media attention on this issue. I am so tired and too drained keep fighting and changing schools.

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    #70028 - 02/27/10 08:10 PM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: traceyqns]
    bk1 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/02/07
    Posts: 139
    I think what would work for gifted kids would work for all kids --Every child deserves material in their zone of proximal development. By showing how every child could benefit from this individualized approach, and getting it implemented, we would gain popular support for individualized teaching. Once adopted on a large scale, all kids, including and most especially gifted kids, would benefit.

    We need to think about the impediments that keep America from individualizing teaching. One impediment is the current version of NCLB, with its emphasis on annual yearly progress and measurement only on achieving grade-level proficiency, and acceptance of narrowly focused tests that allow schools to drill key test questions and drop social studies, music, art, and science to focus more on test prep.

    One way to change this would be to make schools accountable for teaching one year's worth of appropriately-paced and appropriately leveled material, varying by child.

    Perhaps we could start by having states replace their NCLB state tests that measure only proficiency in the grade level of the child being tested. From what I understand, a test like MAP can show a child's current achievement level, instead of just whether the child is proficient at grade level. The school could then place the child in the appropriate grade by subject area. At the end of the year, the school would be held accountable if the fourth grader doing 8th grade math is not ready for (at least) ninth grade math the following year. They could still also be evaluated on how many kids are proficient at grade level as well.

    Right now, the tests only judge proficiency at grade level. My older child probably would have passed the fifth grade proficiency exam years ago, but instead, each year all he got to show was that he was proficient at first grade skills, proficient at 2nd grade skills, etc. As long as he showed as proficient, no one really cared that he'd learned next to nothing all year in class and that almost all his learning was done outside of school.

    My younger child reads, but his pre-K teachers don't seem to know it. I don't think they're evaluating that in class, and I don't think they've ever been trained to check for anything beyond grade level. He hates going to pre-K, and I can imagine that everything other than playtime is torture for him. I can only imagine what next year will be like, when kindergarten, the first academic year in our state, begins to spend even more time on things he already knows.

    My observation of local gifted classes is kids who tested well move in lock-step through a curriculum, at a slightly faster pace, with slightly more depth. It is still very frustrating to a PG child.


    Another impediment to the individualized teaching approach is our traditional elementary school, which strictly segregates by age, requiring kids falling within the one-year age group to stay with each other all day, whether for reading, math, science or social studeies. We could be less strict about starting ages and we could evaluate kids for grade placement based on academic readiness. No one-time test, but guided evaluations from pre-school or pre-K teachers based on what we know about how gifted kids may manifest in class and how to tease out how ready a child is.

    We need much more fluid grouping and regrouping throughout the elementary school day, across grade levels and changing up by curriculum segment. Imagine an elementary school where all math classes occurred at the same time, and kids changed rooms or tables to join group A, B, C, D... X, Y, Z, with other kids who were ready to learn the same things they were ready for. We need to have plans in place for kids to have access to their curriculum level even if it's at a middle school, high school, or college. It seems like we should be able to take greater advantage of internet, interactive classes. Perhaps DOE could fund them!

    Once at middle school, kids should take readiness tests for placement in each course they take, instead of following lock-step through the curriculum.

    Teachers and school leaders lack training on this method of teaching. States should mandate gifted education training and training on individualizing instruction for all teachers. Principals should get training on reading and understanding various testing measures, including measures of giftedness (so they could better understand a child's needs) and statistical skills that could be used to analyze all these NCLB tests. They did need training on how to re-organize their school days and staff to allow flexible appropriate grouping based on readiness, not age.

    When America allows individualized education for all, gifted education won't be something different or special. It won't require hours of parent advocacy and fights with teachers and administrators. It won't cause teasing or jealousy from other kids or parents. It will just be the individualized education that a gifted kid gets.

    Thank you, Jan, for talking about the issue and for all you have done to help highly gifted kids. I am so grateful!

    bk1
    mom to DYS 11

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    #70076 - 03/01/10 04:37 AM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: bk1]
    Grinity Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    Well said, bk1.

    I would also ask - who accredits the programs that educates teachers? If we could convince that body that methods that are good for gifted kids are good and important for everyone, then they could set a reasonable amount of training in this important area.
    ...
    Answered my own question - perhaps correctly:
    http://www.ncate.org/

    I found http://www.ncate.org/documents/standards/NCATE%20Standards%202008.pdf
    page 59
    outlines the Standards of 'Educatior of Gifted Children' and it's lovely, but my next step is to see what the standards for K-8 educators who aren't specifically trained in Gifted, but have gifted children in their classroom year after year.

    Love and More Love,
    Grinity

    _________________________
    Coaching available, at SchoolSuccessSolutions.com

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    #70144 - 03/01/10 05:48 PM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: bk1]
    EastnWest Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/12/08
    Posts: 302
    Originally Posted By: bk1
    I think what would work for gifted kids would work for all kids --Every child deserves material in their zone of proximal development. By showing how every child could benefit from this individualized approach, and getting it implemented, we would gain popular support for individualized teaching. Once adopted on a large scale, all kids, including and most especially gifted kids, would benefit.

    Originally Posted By: traceyqns

    We need to get on Oprah already before she is retired. I mean seriously we need some big media attention on this issue.

    I agree with paynted28, how do you influence the people with political power? A combination of "big media attention"; making it about meeting all childrens needs and emphasizing the economic impact.

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    #73899 - 04/13/10 12:44 PM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: EastnWest]
    alexfamtx Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 08/03/09
    Posts: 43
    BK1 nicely said. That age thing is a huge factor. Both teachers and administrators are terrified to move children up because of the age difference. They are afraid of the social and emotional implications that could arise from these different ages interacting together.

    When my ds went to public school their where Kindergartners and 2nd graders on the play ground at the same time. I was visiting with my son that day and he wanted to play with the 2nd graders. The Vice principal came over and told my son that he was to young to play with the 2nd graders even through they had already accepted him and he was having a blast. He then started playing by himself b/c he couldn't relate to the other K's.

    When teachers and adults start telling children not to associate with kids younger or older then themselves that is what leads children not wanting to socialize with kids beside their ages and when they have to they don't know how and this is what causes the problems that teachers and administrators are afraid of. But if it was the norm for a 5 year old to be with 8 year olds then there wouldn't be any problems.

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    #73903 - 04/13/10 01:06 PM Re: Synopsis of Jan Davidson's keynote speech - TAGT [Re: alexfamtx]
    Grinity Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    Originally Posted By: alexfamtx
    When teachers and adults start telling children not to associate with kids younger or older then themselves that is what leads children not wanting to socialize with kids beside their ages and when they have to they don't know how and this is what causes the problems that teachers and administrators are afraid of. But if it was the norm for a 5 year old to be with 8 year olds then there wouldn't be any problems.


    I think that the adults in the school environment encourage kids to identify themselves by their Grade. It reminds me of buying eggs - do I want 'Grade A' eggs? I've seen teachers who inspire their students by harping on all the privaleges the children will get as they advance through the 'Grades.' Talk about seeing our children as 'the product!'

    Sing it AlexFamTx!
    Grinity
    _________________________
    Coaching available, at SchoolSuccessSolutions.com

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