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In Their Own Voices

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So what do the KIDS think?

This year I am President-Elect of Montana AGATE, our state’s gifted & talented assocation. In that capacity, I’m in charge this year of organzing our annual conference, which will take place in a couple of weeks. The past few weeks I have been putting together the program and schedule, and decided to use the opportunity to give voice to gifted children. Actually, my first idea was to “sprinkle” some thought-provoking quotations (like the ones I included in a post a while back) throughout the program, but then I thought, “why not include some statements from the kids, too…” A couple hundred teachers will be reading the program as they select which sessions they want to attend, and I figured this might be a great opportunity to prompt some thinking…

I created a survey of sorts for my students to fill out and gave them the option to contribute. I told them how fewer than half of Montana’s schools have gifted programs and how many of the teachers coming to the conference will be coming from schools that don’t yet have gifted programs but are in the process of trying to get one started. “There are kids like you at those schools. This is a chance for you to let their teachers know what school is like for kids who learn like you do.”

The survey was simply a series of sentence beginnings and the kids finished the statements. (They each chose their own psuedonym, too.) These are their contributions that I included in the conference program:

“I like to be challenged because it makes my mind think really hard and I end up learning something.” Judie, age 8

“I like to be challenged because it makes me feel like I’m actually doing something instead of sitting around going, ‘Dur!’” Jelly, age 9

“I like to be challenged because that’s when I do my best.” Addeline, age 9

“I like to be challenged because if it wasn’t challenging I would probably not learn anything and I would drop out of high school.” Binary, age 10 (age in base 2: 1010)

“I need to be challenged but I’m not good at everything.” Mindy, age 10

“I like to be challenged because I like to be all that I can be.” Nicole, age 11

“I like to be challenged because it helps me not have to learn things I already know.” April, age 11

“I like to be challenged because I want to know more about things so that I can help people.” Moe, age 12

“I like to be challenged because I like to know that I can do more than what I thought I could.” Jadey, age 13

“I like to be challenged because it makes me think harder and gives me obstacles.” Daisy, age 13

“You’ll never learn anything unless you’re challenged in the first place.” Di, age 15

“I like to be challenged because then I am able to learn more. I retain knowledge better when I have to work hard for it.” Locke, age 17

“I like to be challenged because it stimulates my brain.” Britney, age 17

“I like to be challenged because it makes me feel like I will be able to progress the human race.” Thor, age 17

“I like to be challenged because when I overcome a challenge, I feel proud of myself. I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and the best part is that I’ve acquired more knowledge in the process!” Mariposa, age 18

“My teacher teaches fun science.” Nate, age 7

“My teacher is inspiring.” Cotton, age 8

“My teacher is the best!” Tina, age 8

“My teacher barely ever calls on me because she knows that I know the answer.” Pudge, age 9

“My teacher cares and helps me when I am stuck.” Maddison, age 9

“My teacher helps me strive to do my best.” Madaline, age 9

“My teacher understands that I need a challenge sometimes.” Mindy, age 10

“My teacher challenges me but has trouble with such a wide range of students.” Troy, age 11

“My teacher tries to challenge people as much as she can.” Nicole, age 11

“My teacher expects me to be good at everything.” Zell, age 11

“My teacher can tell when I need a challenge and she gives me alternative assignments.” Maniac, age 12

“My teacher doesn’t understand that some of us are on a whole other level.” Ivan, age 15

“My teachers are supportive.” Britney, age 17

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I feel like I don’t have to listen.” Shane, age 7

“When my teacher teaches something I already know, I just listen and do it again.” Laura, age 7

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I sit quietly and try to listen politely.” Scott, age 9

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I have problems paying attention.” July, age 10

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I ask if I can do something else.” Mindy, age 10

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I just try to not go crazy.” Ronald, age 11

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I ask deeper questions.” Troy, age 11

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I try to not blurt out the answers.” Mack, age 11

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I do all the stuff she wants me to do, but later I tell her I’ve already learned it and I need a challenge.” Shilah, age 11

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I read and get in trouble for ‘not paying attention.’” Zell, age 11

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I sit back, relax, and finish it at the last moment.” Moe, age 12

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I take a rocketship to the moon with my best friends and only come back when the teacher calls on me.” Juho, age 12

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, it is okay the first couple of times, but then after about the seventh time I start to get mad.” Caboose, age 12

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I usually start my homework because why waste time on something I already know.” Ivan, age 15

“When the teacher is teaching something I already know, I am annoyed and furious. If it is a slight review to bring to life new curriculum, I am obedient, but otherwise I am likely not to do the repeat work and then receive punishment for my excess knowledge. Curse bureaucracy!” Dantey, age 16

“School is best when it is time for Math.” Tina, age 8

“I like school best when my teacher understands me.” Percy, age 9

“School is best when I actually learn.” Binary, age 10 (age in base 2: 1010)

“School is best when we take the CRT’s.” Sofie, age 10

“School is best when I’m challenged.” Nicole, age 11

“School is best when we are taking tests because the room is quiet.” Mary, age 11

“I wish school was all day until dinner.” Wallis, age 8

“I wish school was a little more challenging.” Donald, age 11

“I wish school was only learning new things.” Colton, age 11

“I wish school had more programs for the faster kids.” Waldo, age 12

“I wish school was full of humans that didn’t care so much about nonsense like sports and celebrities.” Thor, age 17

“I want to learn algebra in school.” Fred, age 8

“I want to learn how to teach teachers to make school harder.” Zebriska, age 9

“I want to learn how to run an aquarium, drive a rocket, and dig up bones without completely destroying them.” Jelly, age 9

“I want to learn how to be an obstetrician.” Rosebud, age 9

“I want to learn how to play the electric guitar.” Pudge, age 9

“I want to learn more about strategic thinking.” Addeline, age 9

“I want to learn how to make electronics.” Shilah, age 11

“I want to learn quicker than the teacher teaches.” Albert, age 11

“I want to learn about my Native ancestors and the past.” Azeakia, age 11

“I want to learn the way that’s best for me.” Nicole, age 11

“I want to learn how to build a computer.” Charlie, age 12

“I want to learn how to be successful but not socially awkward due to my intolerance of certain humans.” Thor, age 17

“I want to learn more than what my school has to offer.” Locke, age 17

“Other kids don’t understand that I skipped a grade.” Brandy, age 8

“Other kids don’t understand my way of learning.” Alan, age 9

“Other kids don’t understand me.” Nicholas, age 9

“Other kids don’t understand why I try to challenge myself.” Troy, age 11

“Other kids don’t understand that I am my own person and am proud of that.” Gregory, age 11

“Other kids don’t understand that I don’t care about their domestic problems, like popularity and image.” Thor, age 17

“Without GT, I wouldn’t have some hard work in Life.” Laura, age 7

“Without GT, it would be a sad, lonely world.” Brandy, age 8

“Without GT, I would be bored to the gourd.” Madeline, age 9

“Without GT, my brain would melt.” Patricia, age 9

“Without GT, I would most likely die of boredom rather than of old age or a disease, and I wouldn’t learn anything new very often.” Jelly, age 9

“Without GT, I would go berserk I would be so bored.” Zell, age 11

“Without GT, I wouldn’t be able to vent and de-stress.” Roxy, age 12

“Without GT, there would be a greatly reduced potential for learning.” Locke, age 17

“I like it when my teacher winks at me.” Laura, age 7

“I like it when my teacher compliments me.” Alma, age 9

“I like it when my teacher does funny stuff.” Karan, age 10

“I like it when my teacher lets me learn.” Binary, age 10 (age in base 2: 1010)

“I like it when my teacher gives me something HARD to work on!!” Mary, age 11

“I like it when my teacher appreciates something I’ve done that’s out of the ordinary.” Roxy, age 12

“I like it when my teacher comes up with new ideas.” Lucky, age 12

“I like it when my teacher pushes me.” Juan, age 14

“I like it when my teachers are surprised by what I can accomplish.” Dantey, age 16

“I like it when a teacher is willing to teach beyond the standard curriculum. ” Locke, age 17

“Without my advanced math class, I couldn’t learn that much. I would have to be at the same level as the other kids and not know my plusses.” Kim, age 6

“Give us choices. Don’t force us to have a blue crayon. We can figure out for ourselves what works.” Megan, age 10

“Sometimes I get a bad grade because I don’t pay attention because the teacher repeats herself 1,000,000,000 times.” Nicole, age 11

“If I could change school, I would change the grading system so that it represented how much a student actually knew and had learned rather than whether or not the student was willing to jump through hoops.” Locke, age 17

What do the gifted children in your life have to say? Ask them!

12 Comments

Fantastic. These quotes should be sprinkled in between the coference session descriptions and program schedule.

This is amazing. I'm going to do this asap!

I teach bright students and have done so for decades. You can see the same things these students comment about in their actions in class.

Other teachers can see it too. I have a mixed 7/8th grade algebra 2 class, which another teacher has been observing. We begin class by discussing homework. (I give challenging homework and i expect students to have some difficulties.*) He came in one day when the homework was easy, and noticed the general squirelishness of the class, even as participation in the discussion was good. Another time when the homework was challenging, he noticed a generally higher level of focus and broader range of comments and questions.

That's just who these students are.

Another similar experience came when I was new to teaching in the US. I had had a group of student for four years. As eight graders they were in geometry. I had taken the 12 chapters of the book and carefully set them out the fill the year. I figured it is hard to cover an entire math text, so that seemed ambitious. About November I came to recognize that they were listless compared to previous years. I sped up the curriculum, inserted a three-week unit and they became happy campers again.

That's just who they are.

I might add that other students are more like that than we realize.

Curriculum compacting is a necessary, even daily, practice with these students.


* I give students some hard problems on homework to engender class discussions. When students have tried to work a problem and have not succeeded they participate in a discussion on that problem in a different way that if they haven't seen the problem.

Multi-age classrooms are the answer.

Was not sure my comments would post! Multi-age classrooms will foster a competitive atmosphere that will enhance the cognitive abilities of all students. Forming multi-age classrooms sets a full time program in place in each school. Naturally fulltime programming means full funding for gifted. It is a win-win situation for the gifted child. This is a more enhanced version of the one roomed schoolhouse. Nothing but learning will go on , and that is what they and we want. Right?

We are interviewing the elementary gifted ed students in our district in preparation for a meeting with some of the curriculum higher-ups. In the past three years or so we have noticed that our brightest students don't have some of the basic skills our gifted kids have had in the past. Research skills, writing skills, technology skills and ability to think for themselves seems to be lacking in many of our kids. We're supposing that the focus on testing (and the use of prescripted reading prgrams) have slowed our gifted kids down to a snails pace. Classroom teachers are not re-enforcing skills they've taught in the past. I think the parents would be astounded to really know how their kids feel about their regular classrooms. Sad.

This is so interesting. I work with learning disabled students and they say the same things. It appears that all minds need to be challenged in order to learn and that all students want to learn.

I cannot agree with the comment that fostering a competitive atmosphere enhances cognitive development. Competition with who?

What gifted learning should focus on is developing a love for learning. Trying to beat the next guy at his game is actually very limiting.

One of the comments one of our gifted children said illustrates how critical thinking and not competing with another person's answer is important for meaningful learning.

He said he liked that the teacher said there are no right answers, but that answers needed to be supported. He said this opened up the opportunity to really explore and challenge ideas and ways of thinking when shared with other students.

Also, gifted teaching is not necessarily a horse race to cover more material faster. At times a much better lesson is to cover concepts in-depth.

There is nothing wrong with testing. What is difficult is coming up with testing that measures meaningful information.

There is no reason that we have to limit any student to prescripted reading programs either. If a child needs more, interested students will pursue more. They do not need it spoon fed to them.

When I was in school what bored me to tears is how we learned not what we learned or the amount we learned.

I am beginning to wonder if giftedness is really understood.

One really good question we had for one of our poems this year was a simple question asking what the color of the water in the poem was.

I found it interesting how some of the students in a 'competitive' spirit wanted to be the one who came up with the 'right' answer. I had to deprogram that type of thinking.

I asked them to tell me what they thought was the right answer and to tell me why. I find that these students habitually enter into a discourse using faulty rationale for the main purpose of having the winning answer. That is what competition breeds.

THAT is sad.

And one thing. Here are some puzzles that you might want to give the students to solve.

Depending on age and ability

Ask them to come up with simpler ways to restructure the tax code for their state and the U.S.

Find a way to create a national database for each science so that all ideas are grouped together, information is not redundant and any new information is easily found.

Build a house that looks good and does not need energy from the local electricity utility.


Loved the student comments; my students say the same to me in 9th grad English. What are your ideas on how to continuously challenge them? I differentiate and offer thought-provoking activities (often for extra credit); but the curriculum itself is a bit stifling for these students. In addition, frequently, "I need challenged" could be interpreted as "I really am not interested in doing this assignment."

What wonderful quotes. Children can sometimes provide us with the best insight into what they go through. I always encourage parents to "really" listen to what their children are saying about school because it is often not what they say about their school work that can give you an insight to how suitable a school is for them.

A know of a shy gifted little boy who has always performed exceptionally well at school, but says things like "no one talks to me at lunch time"..."school is boring I have no one to play with"....while this boy has adapted to a regular school in a regular classroom (all be it with a gifted trained teacher) he clearly struggles with some of the emotional aspects gifted kids often go through.

Michelle
Gifted Parent Educator
www.RaisingGiftedKids.com


So many students that are labeled "gifted" are so scripted in their thinking or it is as if they are being taught to think about things one way.

By the way, how does a gifted child get bored? I always found ways to entertain myself. If I was not allowed to or if there was some sort of environmental constraint, I always found my way out of those boundaries.

Whether it meant that I stole more time from my teacher to discuss things that were interesting to me or getting my teacher to send me on an errand so I could sneak over to the library and find a new book or display.

Julie said "If a child needs more, interested students will pursue more." Not convinced I agree with this. There's a powerful "hidden curriculum" that teaches our kids very early to wait, and to do what they're told, when they're told - in short, to depend on being told. We're talking about exceptional learners, many of whom learn this lesson all too well.

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