I started this blog my freshman year in high school. It was the product of my frustration with school, an attempt to voice my grievances, offer solutions, and reach out to other students in similar situations. The posts reflect the struggles I was going through in high school, from trying to advocate for my own education to trying to fit in socially during a difficult period of my life. It also allowed me to stretch my intellectual muscle in outside of a school environment.
I’ve been getting weekly emails on the blog’s page view stats and it has been getting over 150 page views a week for over a year now. I hope that the people that found this site found it informative and helpful, and thank you to those who commented to offer support, dissenting opinions, and to ask for advice.
This chapter in the story of my life has a happy ending. I was accepted into the University of Southern California a year early through our Resident Honors Program. The program allows high achieving high school juniors to apply early for college. I was enrolled as a full time freshman in 2009. After brief struggles with my former high school I was able to receive my high school diploma despite leaving school early. Currently I am studying History with an emphasis on the Middle East with plans to go to law school. College has by far been one of the best experiences of my life. The intellectual environment is stimulating and challenging, I’ve met friends for life, and gotten involved around campus. I’m continuing to advocate for student’s as the president of Blacks in Social Science, a club for African American humanities and social science majors pursuing a liberal education through the College of Letters Arts and Sciences.
I hope that my story inspires other students to persevere through the struggles of the rigid and sometimes unforgiving education system.
The blogger Scott Young recently published a free eBook that is available for download from his blog. The title of the book is, Holistic Learning: How to Study Better, Understand More and Actually “Get” What You Want to Learn. Scott Young has posted before about his concept of holistic learning, both on his blog and in a guest post on the Riran Project. Both posts are highly informative, and go a long way towards explaining Holistic Learning. I think that many gifted students use holistic learning without realizing it, and it is one of the differences that separates gifted students, from high achieving students.
Scott says that most people learn by filing away small packets of information. They have separate files for science, English, history, and so on. When they take a test, these people look into their files, and hopefully find the packet of information that pertains to the test that they are taking. This style of learning has given rise to studying strategies such as cramming. However, Scott says that a holistic learner can go into the same test, with minimal preparation, and perform the same or better than a student who uses the filing method. How is this possible? Scott says that the Holistic Learner can perform better because they can understand how different concepts are interrelated. Where as a student who learns by filing keeps Math subjects separate from History and Science, a Holistic Learner understands that Math, Science, and History are all connected. The visual that Scott uses is a web. A Holistic Learner has a web of knowledge for History, Math, and Science. Withing these webs the individual concepts of the subjects are connected. For example, the Pythagorean Triangle is connected to rectangles. In turn, the Math web is connected to the History and Science webs. This means that the Pythagorean Triangle is connected to Pythagoras of Ancient Greece as well as the way the right triangle supports can make a building more sturdy. In this way, even if the Holistic Learner does not have a perfect grasp of the Pythagorean Theorem, they can still string together the individual ideas to complete a problem.
If the concept of holistic learning sounds interesting to you, make sure to get the eBook, and check back here for a future post that details Holistic Learning.
A feature that I wanted to point out, the comments section seems to be overlooked by many of my visitors. I am not sure of the reason for this, but I would like to encourage the discussion of the topics that I post here. Part of this falls on me, as I am not sure that I have extended the invitation to comment. However, I would like to hear your feedback both positive and negative because I believe that discussion is an essential part of learning.
To comment, click the speech bubble under the title of the post, then scroll down and write away. Click submit to finish the process.
So, now that you know what Bloom’s taxonomy is, your next question is probably how it can be used in gifted education.
There are a few obvious uses for Bloom’s Taxonomy and some not so obvious ones as well.
Differentiate the Curriculum: One of the more obvious uses, if a student is not being challenged with a question that is asking him or her to summarize a passage (the second level: Comprehension) then the teacher could revise the question to ask the student to analyze the passage (the fourth level: Analysis). This would allow the student to delve deeper into a subject with minimal work for the teacher because no special material needs to be taught or gone over. Of course, it is not practical to revise every question on a test to challenge a student. However, if there were a reading assignment such as a book report, instead of summarizing the book, a student could analyze the book.
Independent Study Programs: In this model a student would be allowed to choose between a variety of questions, all about the same level in Bloom’s Taxonomy. Independent study programs often are discredited because they often give more work for the student. However, by substituting work that is done in class with the independent study program’s work, the student does not have to worry about taking on extra work. The work in class can be incorporated into the independent study program by using Bloom’s Taxonomy to modify the questions and type of work done in class to complement the work that is being done in the independent study program.
As you can see there are many applications for Bloom’s Taxonomy that can improve a gifted child’s learning experience. I hope this post has inspired you to think of your own ways to use Bloom’s Taxonomy in the classroom. Feel free to post comments on how you use Bloom’s Taxonomy in the classroom or how you think it could be applied to give more challenge to a gifted student.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a way of categorizing questions that often occur in an educational environment. Though Bloom’s Taxonomy was not originally created for gifted education, it can be applied to this field in numerous ways. The Taxonomy progresses with 1 being the most shallow and 6 being the most depth.
1. Knowledge: Memorization. This level of questioning involves questions that ask for definitions, lists, and descriptions.
2. Comprehension: Understanding. This level of questioning involves questions that ask for summaries, discussion and comparison.
3. Application: Use. Involves questions that ask for demonstrations, illustrations, and experiments.
4. Analysis: Recognize. Involves connections, classifications, and inferences.
5. Synthesis: Conclude. Questions that ask for modification, substitutions, and generalizations.
6. Evaluation: The highest level of question asks for recommendations, rankings, and convincing.
One of the best ways to get involved in gifted education is to join a local gifted advocacy group. These groups often consist of parents, teachers, and administrators who discuss issues relating to gifted education. They can be of any size, from your school’s gifted parent meetings to a nationally recognized and influential program such as The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). Many states have their own programs which work for gifted students at the state level and many counties or school districts have their own one as well which influence their own areas. The scope of influence is varied. Programs such as California Association for The Gifted (CAG) even have their own lobbyist. Similarly for each program their are different positions to fill. There are different ways to become involved, from going to a meeting to becoming an president of the association to participating in a comity. If you want to get involved furthur in Gifted Education then joining a gifted advocacy group is a good path to take.
Benifiets of An Advocacy Group:
Community- Each of the groups has people who are experienced in the area of gifted education, by getting to know these people you will expand your knowledge and influence in the world of gifted education
Learning- Many programs offer seminars and workshops which will enhance your knowledge of Gifted Education and allow you to become a better advocate for your gifted student.
Tips and Tricks- Many of the people who you will meet through a gifted advocacy group will have gifted students who have been through what your students are going through. They will be able to offer tips for your situations and for your students.
Other Perks- The programs may offer a newsletter or magazine which contains even more information, often written by the leading names in Gifted Education. I also know of groups that give away books and other resources for Gifted Education.
By joining a gifted advocacy group, you not only gain access to a support system for you and your gifted student, but also you will gain valuable information and experience that will help to guide you through the gifted education process. Keep advocating, it is the best way to bring about change!
List of Advocacy Groups:
National Association for Gifted Children
California Association for the Gifted
Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted
Tri-County Gate Council
The next book that is on my list is Barack Obama’s autobiography Dreams From My Father. The book outlines Obama’s life and tells of his struggles growing up as a half black half white child. His book is inspiring, I am reading it now, and it is an all around good read. Obama is a powerful writer and the humanitarian issues that he discusses in his book will be sure to allow your gifted student some good material for deep thought. The book does have some mature content though, and I would say that it is not suitable for students under high school level maturity. This book could also be a good one to read with your gifted student because good dialog could easily result from reading Obama’s book. Look for more segments from Books on My Reading List coming soon.
I was recently featured in the Education Carnival. There are some interesting topics there, so you might want to check it out. The one that caught my eye was the article about the MIT Distance Program. Though I did not get a chance to read it, it seems like there is an opportunity for some differentiation. Distance Programs as a whole are a great way to add to your students education and it also allows them to receive a challenge that they might not find in schools.
Today is the fifth anniversary of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) the bill that holds schools accountable for their students and enforces yearly testing to evaluate how each school performs. NCLB has been a target of the gifted community since it was signed into law five years ago. Many in the area of gifted education say that NCLB, and its focus on testing, has left gifted students with no challenges and has kept them in lower and less challenging classes when they could move ahead. However, the law does have some good points. It has raised test scores and has held schools, and therefore teachers, accountable for their students. Many gifted educators agree that the law does have merits, but many organizations and leaders in the field of gifted education have lobbied for a reform that would allow gifted students to be able to be challenged in context with NCLB.
My perspective as a student is different. I believe that even though NCLB may be bad for some gifted students, I can not see that even without the law there would be any difference in the way that I receive my education. I think that I would have the same problems and challenges that I have faced, and that I am facing now. I do not think that the removal of a few tests would have changed the experiences that I had during my elementary and middle school years. My opinions aside, I would like to see what the rest of you think about NCLB, whether it be bad or good. Leave your comments and then we can discuss them later.
As many of you know, the Gifted Niche is extremely small. If you Google giftedness or any other relating terms, you often come up with the same websites. You get the same good sites and they all have similar information. I was searching around the blogoshphere looking for some other blogs on Gifted Education and I was presently surprised when I stumbled across The Gifted Exchange which is written by the co-author of Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting our Brightest Young Minds. I have seen the and have heard various raves about it as well, even though I have not yet read it. The Gifted Exchange is filled with long and in-depth articles ranging from Vacation Homework to Gifted Adults. The site has a wonderful archive with posts from as far back as September 2005. I have looked over many of the posts and I have found them both entertaining and informative. It is always nice to have different perspectives on Gifted Education, and the articles on the site are relevant to the challenges facing the Gifted Community today. If you have some time and would like some interesting material to read, make sure to check out The Gifted Exchange