More Funding For Gifted Education Please

I bookmarked an article a couple of weeks ago published on The Journal, entitled: “Is American Education Neglecting Gifted Children?”.  Being a gifted and talented elementary teacher I was immeadiately drawn into the topic. 

The article highlighted a report done by the National Association for Gifted and Talented; the report was “2008-2009 State of the States in Gifted Education.”  David Nagel highlighted the following points from the report:

  • A full fourth of states provided zero funding for programs and resources for gifted students last year;
  • In states that did provide funding, there was little consistency, with
    per-pupil expenditures ranging from $2 to $750 last year;
  • Only five states require professional development for teachers who work in gifted programs;
  • Only five require any kind preparation for these teachers;
  • Gifted students spend most of their time in general classrooms and receive little specialized instruction;
  • Key policies are handled at the district level, when there are policies in
    place at all, rather than at the state level, creating “the potential
    for fractured approaches and limits on funding”;
  • There is no coherent national strategy for dealing with gifted students.

I agree, there is a problem with America’s education and guidance of Gifted students.  There is a lack of funding and a flawed view of ways to challenge and nurture these students in order for them to develop their intelligence in ways that will truly benefit our great nation. 

This article reminded me of a piece done in TIME Magazine in 2007: “Are We Failing Our Geniuses?”  In the TIME article there is one paragraph that really stood out to me:

“But surprisingly, gifted students drop out at the same rates as nongifted
kids–about 5% of both populations leave school early. Later in life,
according to the scholarly Handbook of Gifted Education, up to
one-fifth of dropouts test in the gifted range.
Earlier this year,
Patrick Gonzales of the U.S. Department of Education presented a paper
showing that the highest-achieving students in six other countries,
including Japan, Hungary and Singapore, scored significantly higher in
math than their bright U.S. counterparts, who scored about the same as
the Estonians. Which all suggests we may be squandering a national
resource: our best young minds.” 

“In a no-child-left-behind conception of public education, lifting everyone up to a minimum level is more important than allowing students to excel to their limit. It has become more important for schools to identify deficiencies than to cultivate gifts.”

We need a change in thought, policy, and funding.  We need to nurture the gifted; we need to truly challenge them and allow their abilities to be flourish.  In order to do this we need to look at a systematic program in how we approach training of gifted teachers and requirements to teach the gifted. Schools are also so focused on meeting state requirements established because of NCLB legislation that they are often overlooking the gifted students in order to get others “up to speed.” 

With over 8 billion a year is being spent on special education in comparison to only 800 million a year on gifted education (Source).  Shouldn’t there be an equal per pupil expenditure between both groups?

One major key to fostering the gifts and abilities of GT students is to use new and inventive technologies to facilitate learning and foster an critical creative mindset.   Please consider writing your local state congressman to express your concern regarding the lack of funding for gifted education.  Also if you teach in a general classroom setting but have some truly gifted students embrace 21st century learning and teaching; not just for those students but for all your students! 

Writing Workshop Resources…And More…

I love teaching in the Carmel District!  One thing I appreciate about the district I teach in is the wealth of knowledge our staff has, collegiality among staff, and professionalism that staff take! 

I recently attended an in-disctrict workshop on tips for managing and maintaining a writer’s workshop.  As an elementary teacher of seven years, I have been using a reading and writing workshop model for several years, coupled with the implementation the model for gradual release of responsibility and a balanced literacy approach.  My students love having an environment where they feel they can truly practice and explore what it means to be a writer and reader. 

Carmel Clay Schools Literacy Coach Lori Harmas facilitated the workshop and did a fantastic job (I always enjoy walking away from a workshop with a few things I can immediately implement in my own classroom!).  Lori Harmas, Laura Chen, Anne Arroyo, and Jill Miller are all part of the instructional strategist team in our district, and have started blogging at http://teachersamongteachers.blogspot.com, these dedicated educators also helped organize materials and content for the workshop.  Below are my notes from the workshop, some resources that were shared, and some video clips that were used by Lori in the presentation.  Enjoy!

The Power Of A PLN Inspires My Elementary Students!

My 4/5 Gifted and Talented students recently published some of their own stories in writing workshop.  They were working collabratively on these stories in their writing circle group.  My students published them via Google Docs and then blogged the link on their individual blogs. 

On Friday the 30th we had a chew and view day.  So as the bubbles blew, and the laughter grew, my students intently read each others stories and had a grand ole time commenting on each others pieces.  As my students were reading I thought to myself (I know thinking on a Friday!), why not tap into my PLN for a little bit of quick inspiration for my students. 

I sent out a Tweet:

The tweet linked up my students most recent post (via a shared feed on Google Reader).  Within minutes I had 15 views of the Bit.ly link (I love the Bit.ly API!).  So I turned on the projector and popped up the Bit.ly screen for my students to see:

Cheers and applause rang out, and the occasional: “we’re famous.”  Needless to say a quick 2 minute Tweet inspired my students that afternoon and amplified their own pride and joy in their writing!  Thanks PLN!  Just think even a click can make a difference!

If you have a minute click this link!  And if you have a few more minutes leave a comment on one of my student’s blogs.

bit.ly/StudentBlogs