Strategies to Promote Success with Gifted and LD Learners

 

All students with Gifted abilities and Learning Disabilities are absolutely exceptional. If you are a Regular Classroom Teacher, chances are, you have students with Gifted abilities in your classroom, even if Learners have LD’s . It is essential that all Educators become prepared arsenal of strategies on hand to support our Gifted Learners.

How are Gifted Students Identified?

Traditionally, Giftedness has been defined based upon standardized intelligence tests scores.

In many regions, Parents and Educators have the option to nominate individuals for Gifted Testing in Grade 3. However, this can become problematic when nominees for Gifted testing are those students who typically display ‘good behaviour’, neatness, and conformity within the classroom.

Unfortunately, these variables often overlook those students who may fall into categories of stereotypical ‘bad behaviours’, disorganization, Learning Disabilities, clumsiness, or other exceptionalities that may elicit bias on behalf of Educators, who will therefore choose NOT to consider for Gifted testing or programming.

In terms of standardized testing, we also have to ask ourselves about possible bias in the Gifted testing itself, as many Gifted Classrooms are underrepresented in terms of minority groups including First Nations, Metis & Inuit; individuals Learning Disabilties, those with low Socio-Economic Status, and females.

Further, Standardized testing may demonstrate that students may have high Gifted Abilities in some areas, but average to lower scores in other areas, including LD. These students will often not receive a ‘Gifted’ label, merely because they do not meet ALL of the criteria. However, this is not an excuse for Educators to ignore the ‘Gifted’ areas.

Regardless of whether students with Gifted Exceptionalities receive the ‘Gifted’ label or not, Teachers need to be able to Differentiate Instruction enough in any classroom to promote their students’ high academic abilities.

4 Ways to Address Gifted Needs in the Classroom:

  1. Promote gifted children to the level that they should be working at in their areas of Giftedness, but also keep them with their same-age peers during the day.
  2. Provide Students with Enrichment activites that elaborate on the content learned in class, and provide opportunities to work with a) curriculum-related Abstract concepts or b) Novel Content.
  3. Provide Special opportunities for clubs, seminars, and field trips for Exceptionalities.
  4. Provide homogeneous high-ability groupings such as Gifted Classrooms.

 Five Practices of Highly Effective Educators for Gifted Students:

  1. Take the time to build rapport with your students and get to know them. Always strive to understand the culture of the student and how it has affected their development and behaviour. Find out what is important to them!
  2. Differentiate your Instruction. What instructional methods do you value, and what would work best for your individual students?
  3. Analyse your own attitudes, and cultural expectations of others. If you understand what your bias is, then you can acknowledge when it may be in conflict with someone else. Understanding your personal bias does not necessarily mean that Educators need to change their minds, but acknowledgment of bias is important to develop an awareness that there are other ways of viewing the situation. It is also respectful to the students to acknowledge when changes are warranted.
  4. Understand your school’s culture, and compare this with the expectations of your students and their parents. This can go a long way for Educators to understand, and help parents understand, where differences in expectations lie.
  5. Always strive for Strong Working Alliances with your students and their Parents. Educators are in effect working for the students and parents. Be flexible, understanding, and open to learning more! Listening, and reflecting back the needs of families with Gifted children goes a very long way to helping families and their children feel valued and cared for.

Deborah McCallum

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© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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Formal Assessment and Intervention with Learning Disabilities

 

Formal Assessments, used as part of overall and holistic assessment process in Education, can be very effective to help guide interventions for Learning Disabilities (LD).

What we want in Education, is to maintain a sense of consistency or reliability throughout the entire Education System.

However, Formal Assessments only look at part of the picture, and does not necessarily consider systemic issues. Further, they may focus on ‘problem-in-the-person’ and not the broader systems that affect the development and maintenance of academic success.

Some Formal Assessments may also be considered oppressive, and so therefore may inherently promote racial and cultural bias.

Formal assessment procedures may only provide enough evidence to allow for consideration of a narrow range of treatment techniques, depending upon how many variables that may be assessed. Yet rarely are student academic and personal issues ever caused by only one factor, and rarely does a single, unidimensional intervention work in actual practice. They may also place labels on clients that are meaningless.

I do support formal assessment when used in the proper ways and with other assessment techniques. I think that problems arise when Educators are unable to integrate and synthesize data from formal assessment with other interviewing and informal techniques to create proper ‘hunches’ that will lead to tentative ideas for intervention.

It is essential to find out what Formal Assessment procedures are being used, what information they will elicit, and how to best support your Learners with LD in the classroom. Next, it is important to assess your own worldviews surrounding what you think you know about the Learning Disability or about the information you are learning. Then you can go to the drawing board and begin to figure out what strategies need to be put into place to best support your learners.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Neuro-Education: 6 Strategies to Improve Learning and Cognition for Students with Learning Disabilities

 

Neuro-Education appears to be a new trend that is striving to apply findings from Science Based Research on Learning and Memory, directly to the Field of Education. It may also help us to understand how to effectively help our students with Learning Disabilities.

Here are some ideas that can be applied from the field of Neuro-Education, to improving student learning among students:

1. Read to your Children: Also, read books aloud, that are higher than their actual reading level to improve their vocabulary. Studies have shown that it is the rich vocabularies of our students that largely determine how they will succeed in school. Further, the more complex the books, the more neural connections the brain is able to make.

2. Space Episodes of Learning over time: Learning should not be consolidated into one chunk of time. Long term memory is improved when learning occurs over time, and in multiple episodes.

3. Use digital technologies to help individualize instruction: There are many new technologies and apps that are extremely intuitive. They can give feedback right away, and adjust almost immediately to the students actual learning level. Let’s explore these tools and use them appropriately in the classrooms to enhance student learning. Cognitive Science and Principles of Learning Psychology will also tell us that all humans learn best when feedback is immediate.

4. Intermittent reinforcement: Students do not need to be rewarded every single time they get an answer correct, but it helps when learning can be made fun on an ongoing basis! All learning behaviours are strengthened when students receive intermittent reinforcement. This also is more support for spacing learning over time, and not just in one episode.

5. The idea of ‘Learning Styles’ is unsupported in Neuroscience. The fact is that all parts of our brains are instrumental in many different types of learning, memories, & emotions. Instruction should be differentiated to enable all students to engage their many areas of intelligences & strengths, and to improve and understand weaknesses; (thus improving metacognition skills too).

6. Understand the Scientific Research behind Learning Disabilities, Processing Disorders, ADHD, Dyslexia, Giftedness & Autism. Let’s provide ongoing, and real Research-Based training for Educators, to optimize the learning for all individuals.

I think that there is a lot of possibility here in applying these strategies toward improving student learning.

What are some effective strategies you have tried?

Reference:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201206/whats-new-in-neuro-education

 

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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