How the Title “Gifted” is Hurting ALL Children No ratings yet.

How the Title Gifted is Hurting All Children
How the title "gifted" is hurting all children within our school system, and what we as leaders within the classroom can do about it.

How the Title “Gifted” is Hurting ALL Children

As a former “gifted” educator, I didn’t see it at first.

I’d say it was hard to understand how the title of “gifted” could be hurting children.

It’s only when you’re knee-deep in living it out that you realize the damage it does.

Incorrect Usage

When children are called “gifted,” it neglects every child not excelling in the four core classes.

We use this word incorrectly and in a way that is beyond limiting.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… “1 Peter 4:10

Setting apart a small group of the whole population as smarter than the others lies to our children.

We are setting them up, yes, all of them, for failure.

“Non-Gifted” Effects

Those that don’t brandish the “gifted” label cannot be tricked into believing they’re in the same classes as everyone else.

For some reason there was an odd belief going along with tracking.

That if we didn’t tell them we’d separated them by ability, they’d never know.

They would be able to flourish under any condition.

The truth we actually see developing within the classroom is the complete opposite.

Why even try if you’re already in the “dumb” classes?

Why put forth effort if you’re already labeled as the ones who’ll never get it?

That’s a feeling that permeates like a disease at a lightening-fast pace within these “lower ability” classrooms.

Soon the “low” or “regular” classes start to verbalize their inability to “do school.”

And what have we given them to believe they’re worthy of the “good” education like the others are clearly getting?

“Gifted” Effects

I think it’s worth repeating:

“Gifted” in schools only means these children are gifted in one or more of four areas.

Those children are then placed in gifted classes across the board unless their parents pull them.

But why would a parent take their kid from a gifted class?

There’s entitlement and a belief their child is now in the group of “good kids,” and on the better path.

Why wouldn’t they believe the school’s gifted letter to be anything but truth?

Another huge issue, at least in our state, is the rule “once gifted, always gifted.”

This mindset creates elitism.

It also has stopped growth.

Why try if you’ve already been deemed the smartest?

What can my school give to me if I’ve already got it?

“Gifted” children are positioned for disastrous outcomes because of this fixed mindset.

When told they’re “good” at school, they don’t know how to handle anything that requires deep thinking.

We set them up to believe they don’t need to learn in school.

In the 8th grade, some of my gifted students were harming themselves.

Why?

Because they couldn’t perform like they did when they were tested “gifted” in the second grade.

What If…

What if all abilities were in one classroom?

Where all students were told they could learn anything and that all human beings learn at different paces naturally?

How about we include into curriculum some ways to add in other gifts?

When do all students get to add to the ecosystem of their classrooms?

When do all student gifts and voices matter?

What if we designed learning to look more like the children it’s meant for and less like the decision makers?

New Language

We must adopt a different language as teachers first and then with our students.

First, we must tell ourselves that school as we know it simply isn’t working, but that doesn’t mean it can’t.

We have to remember we have much power within the walls of our own classrooms.

Learn. Grow. Apply. Change.

Then, what words can we use with students to approve of their hard work, dedication, no-quit attitude, and overcoming?

How do we speak about areas where they need to work harder?

Team up to push forward?

Dig in with the grit it takes to learn something new?

What if our language within the classroom normalized learning instead of having it or not?

And what if our actions told a different story than, “You’re not smart enough for this room. Head on down the hall”?

Deconstruct to Reconstruct

Let’s take off the labels.

Stop the ridiculous “gifted” letters.

Teach based on children’s needs and what they can learn.

Then, we’ll have students who are able to understand instead of cram for tests.

We’d have life-long learners instead of bubble-fillers.

We’d have citizens who know they’ve all been blessed with a gift.

Even if they can’t get a grade for it.

What if we told students with our words and our actions that their God-given gift matters to this world?

That they matter and are worthy of learning?

Final Thoughts

I don’t have all the answers, but it’s a place to start.

Treat teachers like the educated leaders they are.

Talk to all children as though they’re able.

Show students we actually believe because our actions show it.

Then we can focus on learning.

There will always be outliers in these scenarios and homes we cannot change.

However, within the power schools do have, a growth-mindset is key.

Because of this, gifted classes are anything but helpful to all children.

What do you think could make our schools serve the children in them better?

Do you work for a school, or are you a teacher working hard to be growth-minded within your group of children?

Has your school turned away from labeling? If so, how has it worked?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

How the title "gifted" is hurting all children within our school system, and what we as leaders within the classroom can do about it.

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How State Standards Can Be a Tool for Your Homeschool No ratings yet.

Your state standards can provide a few good things for your homeschool, and in this quick read, you'll find it's easier than you may think.
Your state standards can provide a few good things for your homeschool, and in this quick read, you'll find it's easier than you may think.

State Standards are a Tool

While I know it may not be the popular homeschool mom thing to say, the state standards can actually be of use to you.

I’m not implying you should drop what you’re doing and follow these “rules.”

However, I do think it’s important to take a look at them, and here’s why:

One day your child will enter the work force with people who have this as their base minimum.

In my opinion, it only makes sense that my children, while under my homeschool teaching, would get this as a minimum as well so they can be even more of a contender for a job one day.

What You May Not Know About State Standards

Here are some helpful tips I came to learn after eleven years teaching in a public school:

  • They’re fairly minimal and not overly challenging
  • They’re super repetitive from year to year
  • At times, they focus on small pieces of information (i.e. nouns). It’s up to the educator to make sure they’re learning how to actually utilize them in real life and not simply memorize what they are.
  • They are somewhat difficult to read. Google is your friend here.
  • They’re available online
  • Looking at earlier and later years will help you get the scope of where the standards are going
  • You’re likely doing these in your homeschool anyway

How I Use Them

I print them at the beginning of each school year.

Cross out any that I know my child has mastered.

Highlight any I’ve seen him almost master in one color.

Then, I’ll highlight any I know he hasn’t learned in another color.

Teaching those highlighted areas in organic ways where it’s easy to see real world application, is where we keep kids engaged and learning.

Final Thoughts

My case for standards is simply for knowing the whole picture of what’s happening in the world of education.

I’d never endorse sticking to these state standards and making them your end-all-be-all.

As a former educator, I saw my students bored out of their mind with them by the 8th grade.

They’d seen the same ole narrative seven times before, and they get it, already (insert teen eye roll). And they did.

What they didn’t get was how to write.

And this is why I take state standards lightly.

As a frame of reference.

If my child can’t form coherent sentences, who cares if he can spot an abstract noun from a mile away?

I wholeheartedly support organic learning where these standards of education happen naturally.

Some of my favorites are Readers and Writer’s Workshop, amazing classes around town, traveling, playing sports, etc.

I want all of those amazing perks for my children and I want to know what’s happening in the school system.

It’s my job to do what my children cannot. I have to take a look at the peripheral vision of education and focus on where we need to learn.

Most importantly, it’s my job to create an exciting learning experience that creates lifelong learners.

Your state standards can provide a few good things for your homeschool, and in this quick read, you'll find it's easier than you may think.

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Multi-Age Writing No ratings yet.

Multi-age writing
One way to teach one text for writing across multiple ages in homeschool or during summer while you're trying to stop gaps from happening is easy!
How to teach multiple ages writing, grammar, and punctuation in one simple text.

Multi-Age Writing

In homeschool or during the summer for public and private school kids, we’re faced with multiple ages learning and writing around one table.

How do we make it fit without making a new lesson for every kid?

One of the most successful writing times in our home is when use one text and stretch it to fit the ages and learning levels of both boys (ages 6 -kindergarten and 8-third grade).

Showcase the Text

The first step is to write out the text on something big.

We like to use our chalkboard.

I chose the lead of a book for this particular lesson.

Just the first few sentences of a book my son loved called A Cricket in Times Square worked well to analyze some basic reading points and start a new story in our own Writer’s Notebooks.

Read the Text Multiple Times

The oldest read the text aloud, so I could get a sample of where he was at in his fluency.

I then read it aloud again as he followed along, so he could hear how it should sound.

We can talk about how his voice should sound both in his mind and aloud as he reads when we do this.

For my emerging reader, I put my finger under each word as I read, so he could be immersed in words new and already known.

Stopping to let him read the words he’s already memorized to help me out makes him feel like a big helper, too.

Find What’s Right, Not What’s Wrong!

In Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson, he teaches that the old idea of fixing up broken sentences like we experienced in school is the backward way of learning.

I found this to be a much better way to teach my 8th graders years ago, and I still find it to be true with my boys in homeschool.

For today, A Cricket in Times Square was the text, making George Selden what we call our “mentor.”

Someone who is published.

A great writer we can learn from.

Just like how every major leaguer once watched his favorite MLB star swing a bat over and again, we watch our authors.

What do they do that’s amazing?

How can we create that in our own writing?

I asked each boy specific questions.

For my oldest I asked about possessive nouns. Why is this apostrophe different than a contraction? Why did Seldon need it here?

What do words like, “Times Square, abandoned drain pipe, and subway” give the reader in the beginning of the book?

For my youngest, I asked questions like, “What did Seldon do at the start of every sentence?”

What did he do when he was finishing his sentence?

Why didn’t he use an exclamation point or question mark instead?”

Link it to a Writing Piece

For my youngest, I grabbed one of his blank books.

If you don’t have these stock-piled somewhere in your learning space, grab them fast! Your kids will LOVE becoming authors in their own bound books to put on the shelf!

His mission was to draw the cat and mouse he visualized in his mind’s eye as we read.

He told me what they were doing, and we worked together to write simple sentences to help tell his own version of the story.

It was fun to see how his mind saw the words we just read.

While my six-year-old started drawing, my eight-year-old and I looked at the key pieces of the text we were examining.

“What are the words ‘mouse and Mario?'”

Characters.

“You get to create two characters!”

My little non-writer panicked.

“Let’s play a game to decide. I’ll name a kind of character, and you name a kind of character on the count of three. No matter what kind they are, you’ll make them both a part of your story. Even if they don’t seem to go together. We’ll make it fun! Got it? One…two…three!”

He said inventor. I said troll.

“What words did we say were giving us setting?”

He answered the words he saw on the board from the text. I circled them.

“Okay, let’s choose your own setting. You pick the specific kind of place, and I’ll choose the big location. One…two…three!”

He chose an underground laboratory. I chose Alaska. He changed it to an underground Alaskan ice lab where an inventor creates a troll that helps him make his creations.

At this point, he was excited and ready to go!

Keep It Small

One way to keep your writers loving the art of writing, is keeping your lessons and the amount they write small.

Realizing it didn’t all have to happen today (and shouldn’t) was one of the best things that happened to me as a teacher.

Just write this starting point.

Just get going.

Tomorrow you can look at how an author crafts his characters. Then later in the week, his plot, another day his problems, next week his solutions, and even later his conclusions.

We can slowly investigate writing with our author’s eye looking for the genius behind our favorite authors.

But what’s best…we can be successful because they showed us how.

Celebrate!

Writing should be fun and exciting!

In this house, I have one who likes to write and one who really really does not.

So, whenever we finish even one small part of writing, we read it aloud to everyone.

We celebrate.

Laugh.

Do immediate quick fixes (editing) because that’s what great authors do.

Read, we write, and we do it all together.

One former English teacher, one kid who can’t read yet, and one kid who’s an avid reader but avoids writing like the plague.

We enjoy this process.

In its beauty and craft, it can be shaped, molded, and shared.

No matter what age. What interest. What ability.

Writing is for everyone.

A way to teach one text for writing across multiple ages in homeschool or during summer while you're trying to stop gaps from happening is easy!

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