Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Meeting Federal Goals Constitution Day

Meeting Federal Goals Constitution Day: Schools Need Activities on September 17

While Congress legislated Constitution Day, there is not funding for Constitution Day activities. According to its notice, the Department of Education, "is aware that there may be other public and private resources available that may be helpful to educational institutions in implementing Constitution Day." Whatever activities schools decide on, they need to be done on September 17th.

Constitution Day Activities

The federal government has provided a Constitution Day activities that provides Constitution Day activities, and even if districts do not use these activities, they may help answer the potentially overwhelming question of, "What do we do if we can't get a guest speaker?".

Based on the government website, schools may want to provide activities that allow students to:

  • learn about the original signers of the Constitution
  • examine the motivations of the writing and signers of the Constitution
  • understand the evolution of the Constitution
  • discover how the Constitution provides unity for the states
  • explore the boundaries and flexibilities of the Constitution.

To make the Constitution more accessible, schools might want to offer simplified versions of the Constitution, word-searches, crossword puzzles, games, and create classroom consitutions to help students understand significant concepts relating to the Constitution.

Monday, September 7, 2009

How Schools Determine Giftedness

How Schools Determine Giftedness: Teacher Compliments Are Different From District Assessments

It is always nice to hear a teacher or friend compliment a child by saying, "That one is gifted!", but placement into a district program requires more than compliments.

In general, students are given an assessment of intelligence (I.Q. test) by a qualified person, such as a trained gifted teacher or guidance counselor, a district psychometric tester, a psychologist, or a contracted tester from a university. School districts offer these services, but many accept recent private test results if the district uses the test. It is important to check with specific districts to see what tests are accepted before contracting private testing, because most children need to wait a specific amount of time before re-testing.

Common Intelligence Tests Used for Gifted Education

While I.Q. testing is not the only method of placement, it is usually an important factor in the evaluation of the assessment team. While different schools accept different tests, these are the most commonly used tests. They are given to a child individually (as opposed to a group of students testing) by a qualified tester

  • CTONI (Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence) tests children aged 6 and up. It tests non-verbal cognitive ability.
  • KBIT-2 (Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, 2nd Edition) tests children aged 4 and up. It tests verbal and non-verbal cognitive ability.
  • NNAT-I (Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test - Individual) tests children aged 5 and up. It tests non-verbal reasoning ability.
  • SBIS-V or SB-5 (Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, 5th Edition) tests children aged 2 and up. It is a test of cognitive ability.
  • SPM (Raven Standard Progressive Matrices) tests children aged 6 and up. It is a test of reasoning and perception. It is sometimes given if confidence intervals on a previously given test are low, of if a child has limited English skills.
  • WISC-IV (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th Edition) tests children aged 6 and up. It is a test of general and specific cognitive abilities. There is also an integrated WISC-IV that is more specific.
  • WJ-III (Woodcock-Johnson III NU Tests of Cognitive Abilities) tests children aged 2 and up. It is a test of general intelligence and cognitive ability.
  • UNIT (Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test) tests children aged 5 and up. It is used for general intelligence and sometimes given if other tests had questionable confidence intervals.

Parents should not let a test or a school district be the sole definition of "giftedness", because all children have some special gifts to offer. However, for academic placement and optimal services, school districts should not let parent and teacher compliments be the sole definition of "giftedness". Using testing and team evaluations, schools can offer students placement in programs that allow them to work with teachers who are trained in working with students who are, for lack of a better word, "gifted".

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Creating Effective Quiz Bowl Questions

In scholastic quiz bowl competitions, the questions are as important than the answers, because a player can't answer a muddled question. Good questions equal good games.

Nothing frustrates quiz bowl players as much as a confusing question. Players look at their coaches, wondering if they should risk an answer on a poorly worded question. Coaches frown at each other, wondering if the poor word choice is worth tossing the question. Soon someone buzzes in and gives a possible answer, only to find that the question was misleading. The question is tossed, time is wasted, and everyone wonders, "Who wrote these questions?".

Write Open Questions

Even though any question that has limited answers is technically a closed question, in the world of quiz bowl, a closed question has two answers, such as yes/no or true/false. These questions should be avoided because if one team answers incorrectly, the other team will automatically get it correct. This is frustrating because it amounts to gaining an unearned point.

Clear Questions Have Clear Answers

Questions need to be short and pointed. Long questions or questions that include unnecessary detail are harder to understand. An example of differences in phrasing can be found in these two questions: "George Washington is famous for having wooden teeth. However, his false teeth were not actually made of wood. What were his teeth actually made from?" and "What were George Washington's false teeth made of?". Players might buzz in with the incorrect answer of "wood", but they also might buzz in with the correct answer of "bone". Quiz bowls are competitions of knowledge, not competitions of focus.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Rules and Guidelines for Gifted Classrooms

Students who leave the regular classroom for gifted classroom often discover they are in a distinctly different learning environment.

Creating and maintaining a positive learning environment in the gifted classroom is essential for student success. Gifted classrooms are often a haven for g/t kids; they are able to reveal sides of their personalities in the increased comfort that is borne of being in a homogeneous group. However, the group is only homogeneous to a degree, and soon conflicts abound. It is important to establish rules and visit them frequently, as new students are often identified and placed mid-year.

Developing Classroom Rules With Student Input

Because many gifted students stay with the same teacher for several years, it is to the students' benefit if the teacher makes broad rules that can be adjusted as time goes by. Some teachers like to involve students in creating classroom rules, but because gifted education involves frequent additions after the start of school, it seems unfair to create rules without some of the participants. It may be better to have student input on procedures related to rules, and revisit those procedures on a regular basis. For example, if one rule is that students must bring supplies to class, the class may vote on procedures to deal with students that do not bring supplies. Should the students bring extra supplies to loan out to one another? Should the empty-handed student have to return to his or her locker to get supplies?

Developing Classroom Rules Without Student Input

Having rules established when students walk in, and posting rules on the wall, helps establish boundaries for students. The rules of the gifted classroom can be discussed with parents during placement into the program. To create rules, the teacher should consider the duration of the program and activities in the classroom.

Duration Impacts Classroom Rules

If students are coming to a pull-out classroom once or twice a week, the classroom rules need to be easy to remember. A lot of rules will lead to a lot of overwhelmed students. If they are allowed to use their pencils in their other classes but only pens in the gifted classroom, the teacher should have a supply of pens. It is not easy for children to remember rules of a class they attend infrequently. Classes that meet daily are able to have more rules, but again, any rules that are atypical for the student's general experience should be highlighted on a regular basis

The copyright of the article Rules and Guidelines for Gifted Classrooms in Gifted Education is owned by Alex Sharp. Permission to republish Rules and Guidelines for Gifted Classrooms in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.