Have you ever heard the saying, “He/She treats me like a stepchild?” Of course, when it is used, it is not meant to be a compliment. It meant that the stepchild was ignored, while all the biological children were fawned over by the parents.
I started thinking about this after I read an article in the Holiday 2011 Instructor magazine entitled, “Challenge Your Top Students”. Soon after reading the article I had a conversation with my sis-in-law who runs a home daycare. She complained that the students she taught before they went to kindergarten were not being challenged. They were given the same work as the other students, who are not close to their level of instruction.
This is how I see the gifted child, like the stepchild in that saying. I realize gifted is seen as just another label by some, but I think it is a label with merit. You can call them what you want, but you know who I mean. That child(or children) who stand out from all the rest academically. The ones who exhibit higher order level thinking every day, in almost, or all, subjects. They shine brighter than the other stars in your room.
I fear that our gifted children are being eclipsed. Thanks to standardized testing, and/or the incessant demands placed on us,these students are often ignored. Worst of all, they are not being challenged, their talents are dulled. They are no longer given the opportunity to stretch, because they have received high scores on standardized tests.
We have 3 levels of reading, Red, Blue, Green. We are told to meet in small groups with Red, who also get pulled for interventions, and the Blue group, who just need a nudge to meet on state testing, every day. The Green group, once or twice a week. Which group do you think represents the gifted students?
I have found a way around this, and I make sure that I challenge all of my students. There are schools that offer gifted programs to meet the needs of these students. However, I am sure, there are a number of classrooms where gifted students needs are completely ignored.
At a meeting I attended, a third grade teacher stated that she was not teaching cursive because it was not on the state test! I wonder what happens to those students who had no problem passing the state test? Are they getting the same content as all the other students? Are they being forced to sit through the inane testing material that we are supposed to drill into our students? What happens to that bright child who is subjected to that type of classroom environment?
In an era where so many children are dropping out of high school, we need to make sure that we don’t lose the ones least likely to drop out. Put yourself in that child’s position, where day after day, you are given worksheet after worksheet. Or your main assignment is to help the students that don’t get it. How boring!
Fortunately, I have access to technology that allows me the ability to create lessons and/or projects that give my gifted kids a chance to be who they are, smarter than average. And as difficult as it is to differentiate instruction, along with all the other requirements we have to fulfill, we owe it to our gifted students to provide lessons and/or projects that engage and challenge!