CCSS with Gifted and Advanced Learners
I am a GATE coordinator, so I am trying to look at Common Core State Standards and I wonder what is in mind for the GATE student, as well as my lower spectrum student. Seeing there is a lot of talk about, this is too hard for my students, I wanted to look at the other side, what if it is too easy for my students. So I looked for a book on CCSS that was geared towards gifted students. I am currently reading Using the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts With Gifted and Advanced Learners edited by Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Ed.D. I’ve read about half the book.
In reality, a lot of what I’ve read so far is the same as what I’ve read before CCSS came out. Teachers need to differentiate for gifted students to ensure further development of their talents. Teachers need to use performance based assessments and portfolios to show growth because one needs to remember that some of these students may have already reached the level of standard for their grade level and “there is a need to enrich the standards by ensuring that there are open-ended opportunities to meet the standards through multiple pathways, more complex, thinking applications, and real-world problem-solving contexts” (VanTassel-Baska 4).
One of the overall themes I noticed in this book is that teachers need to create differentiated tasks that will help all students. Those that are considered gifted or have hit mastery need greater complexity and the use of creativity (8). We need to look into interdisciplinary products that address multiple standards and possibly multiple subjects. Math and English need to work together with history and science to create more real-world work (32). Combining the standards across disciplines will not just help GATE students but all students. Teachers need to still be aware of the gifted learners needs and give them many opportunities to further their development at their pace, not necessarily at the average student’s pace. Teachers should use pre-assessments to ensure the child is working at their appropriate level, encourage advanced skills, continue to use themes and universal concepts and the ability to categorize and look for patterns and adjust pacing as necessary (8-10). The book also states that when looking at tasks for each standard think more abstract and idea-based in construction for advanced learners (12).
So my overall impression so far is that it is important for teachers to get together across subjects and to work together in creating tasks that use multiple standards and subjects to achieve what is set out by the CCSS. The use of creativity and complexity is key to the further development of all students, but especially GATE students. Therefore, here are the biggest problems I foresee in achieving these goals: sometimes subjects do not mix well in the upper grade levels, and the extra time required to be able to do this right. Teachers need time to take the Common Core State Standards and develop the ideas together!