Victoria Bye Gifted Students- Speaker Reflection Patti Wood Gifted Students’ Educational Needs Patti Wood led

a seminar about gifted children on Friday, October 11 in the ESEC block. She talked to us about myths and realities regarding gifted students and gifted education, characteristics of gifted learners, the role of education for gifted students, and programs and options available to gifted students. We began the class by completing a myth and reality worksheet to see what we knew about gifted education. Even though I participated in the gifted program at my elementary school and went to a gifted middle and high school, I was still surprised by some facts I answered incorrectly on about gifted students, classifications, and education. For example, I learned that it is incorrect to say that “everyone is gifted in some way” because some people might have strengths in some areas and not meet the requirement to be considered gifted. I also learned that problems can arise when students are labeled as gifted; therefore, schools and teachers must be sure that the needs of every student are being met. Finally, I learned that gifted students from minority backgrounds and low socioeconomic statuses are less likely to be identified as gifted. Dr. Wood also described typical characteristics of the gifted student in a normal classroom environment. Gifted students can often become a distraction in the classroom because the material is not engaging and challenging. This can have detrimental results such as: low performance, not reaching potential, and ultimately dropping out of school. Thankfully, however, all second graders in the state of Alabama are tested to determine if their gifted status in order to

be given a more challenging and engaging education experience through differentiated classroom work and gifted programs outside the classroom. Gifted programs amy include students being pulled out of the regular classroom on a weekly basis in order to work with gifted peers in a different and engaging environment on topics and projects outside of what is covered in the everyday classroom. These programs can help motivate and encourage gifted children, combating some of the negative characteristics often associated with gifted students. Classroom teachers can also help combat negative behavior by providing a more challenging learning environment for gifted students in his or her classroom. Dr. Wood helped me realize that it is important to spend time focusing on the high end learners in my classroom as well as the low end who will often require a lot of time and effort. When she meets with us in November, we will learn more about the gifted learner and how classroom teachers can aid gifted learners in reaching their full potential.

Victoria Bye Data Seminar Mr. Adams Closing the Gaps Mr. Adams from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama spoke to the ESEC block of October 25, 2013. He presented data regarding education across this region and the state of Alabama. We learned that Alabama has a lot of gaps in education, wealth, and education across the state. Mr. Adams shared many statistics regarding free and reduced lunch, test scores, and graduation rates. There is a huge wealth gap within fifteen minutes of Samford. In this region, free and reduced lunch percentages range from ninety-six percent of students in Tarrant to zero in Mountain Brook. Students living in poverty tend to attend schools which spend low amounts of money on their students and have low student achievement. Per pupil expenditure ranges from 5,966 to 10,798 in Alabama. This means that some students are having twice as much spent individually on their education than students across the same city and state. This economic inequality can have devastating effects on children and schools. Mr. Adams also discussed school test scores across the region. We were able to look at many schools which seem to be failing based on test scores and some which seem to be doing very well. Often, though not always, schools with a high rate of poverty and free/reduced lunch had lower test scores than schools with a low percentage of free and reduced lunch. I also realized the importance of our involvement with Trace Crossings Elementary school which had

overwhelmingly red data results. There was a huge gap of fifty-eight percentage points gap in reading and fifty-four in math across the state. Data also reveled that dropouts are a large problem and gap between affluent and impoverished communities. For example, Bessemer has only a forty percent graduation rate, while Mountain Brook has a ninety percent graduation rate. We heard may alarming statistics regarding graduation around the state, but, there is hope, thankfully. Data also reveals methods to help schools and students. It has been proven that pre-K is extremely important and highly effective. Pre-K could potentially raise a child’s IQ by thirteen points. Schools can also impact student achievement by having high expectations of their students and hiring highly qualified and motivated teachers. There have been several failing schools which have turned around their schools and greatly impacted student achievement through using their data and deciding to make a change. PARCA believes that every child has the ability to learn and every school has the ability to improve.

Victoria Bye Data Reflection- Dr. Rogers On Friday, November 1, 2013, Dr. Rogers came to talk to the ESEC about data in elementary schools, data meetings, and the importance of data. We discussed the how to collect data, the purpose of data, the importance of data, and how to use data effectively. I learned that the process of gathering data must begin before students even walk through the door of an educator’s classroom. Teacher’s should look through the cumulative folder of every student. This will include previous test scores and other data which will help prepare the teacher for teaching each child. Teachers will also collect data in their classrooms based on assessments they give. This data will show student progress and areas where improvement is needed. Data will also be gathered through student performance on standardized tests every year. This illuminates individual student, teacher, and school data. Data should be used to help students and teachers improve. Data will show teachers what areas his or students need more support in. Data driven instruction will provide curriculum continuity, allow for differentiation among all students, self-monitoring for students and teachers, and helps the teacher become a diagnostician to identify and solve problems in student achievement. We also discussed the effectiveness of data meetings. These meetings can be held with a group of teachers in order to identify progress, identify areas where improvement is needed, identify and discuss methods that are working for instruction, and set goals for student improvement and achievement. Although data is very important , Dr. Rogers reminded us to be “data informed and student driven,” always focusing on the needs and well-being of our students above the numbers.

Victoria Bye Speaker Reflection Dr. Patti Wood Meeting the Needs of Gifted and Advanced Students in the General Education Classroom Today we continued our discussion of gifted learners with Dr. Patti Wood. I really connected with the talk today because a lot of the activities were similar to the majority of assignments we had at the high school I attended for gifted students. Dr. Wood emphasized the importance of remembering to differentiate instruction for the high level students along with the lower level students. Currently, there is no money from the federal government set aside to benefit gifted learners; however, a large amount is spent on each low learner every school year. She reminded us that often times gifted students have the capability to learn two years worth of material in one year; therefore, it very important for teachers to provide enrichment and challenging activities to gifted students in order to keep them engaged in the classroom. We discussed many different ways to differentiate instruction based on the needs of students in the classroom. For example, if the class was reading a chapter book, the teacher would read the book to the entire class. She would then break the class up into groups for literature circles. Gifted learners would be placed in a group where they would receive more challenging discussion questions or assignments. It is also very important for gifted students to be challenged in their studies and to feel like they have a choice. Dr. Wood suggested tictac-toe boards. Each square contains an assignment, and students are required to pick a certain number to complete for each unit. The teacher has control over the challenge

presented in each activity. We also learned how to create problem-based learning questions and how to formulate questions high on Bloom’s for gifted students. I loved getting to formulate a set of Bloom’s prompts, a tic-tac-toe board, and a PBL scenario based on a children’s book. I acquired some great ideas for my unit next semester in PEI today!