September 19, 2013

Using Gifted Strategies With All Learners

I have a basic/core belief that good teaching has the same basic skeleton no matter who or what you are teaching.  Some of the elements that I would put into that skeleton are:  make the subject matter relevant to the learner (or teach something the learner finds relevant), appreciate and adapt to the needs/learning styles of your students, go deeply into subjects of interest and nurture the desire to know more, believe in the students' ability to learn.  I believe that teachers who engage their students and teach in the context of relationship with those students will be more successful in meeting the needs of struggling students and of academically advanced students.

Margaret Gayle and Sandy Darity have conducted real world research that shows that using methods designed for gifted learners benefits all learners.  On top of that, young kids who receive this kind of teaching are more likely to be labeled gifted later on.  In article by Camille Jackson, the researches tell us why.  "Darity and Gayle say the project works because it nurtures students regardless of their race, socioeconomic status, gender or learning ability."

It nurtures students.  That's why it works.  It sees each students as possessing the ability to understand the material, to learn and grow.  It allows them to use their strengths to accomplish mastery and expects that they will be able to do it.  I want to look into the methods used a bit more, but they also refer to students learning at their own pace.  Differentiation of some sort (I suspect through open-ended products) is also part of the formula.  When we respect the prior knowledge/skill level of each student and teach big, meaningful concepts to everyone, it's the perfect set up for growth and development.  You can find Camille Jackson's article here along with this video.