This semester has been rather special as I interact with a handful of very gifted students on a daily basis. These individuals are able to absorb large amounts of information, and their thirst for knowledge is seldom quenched. As I seek to ways to expand on differentiation in my classroom, this is one of those unique opportunities to not only observe, but to inject new strategies into daily lesson planning. These individuals enjoy new challenges and will often take a que and delve deeper into content. I am not attempting to speed up instruction, but rather focusing on increased depth of study within a particular topic. These same students read at a higher level than their classmates, sometimes two or more grade levels beyond the norm. My struggle has nothing to do with the willingness I have in my heart to help, but instead focuses on the lack of adequate planning time which is necessary to locate resources I need as an educator. While overseeing a classroom of 25-28 students, I'm finding myself sandwiched between the special needs of young adults with IEPs and those who I see as gifted and talented.
Ironically, it was during recent weeks when students completed their History Day Projects when I came to discover the true talent these individuals have inside. NHD was a fantastic opportunity for them to explore new levels of higher learning, and it really kept them in the game (so to speak), They explored their topics in language and creativity which enhanced learning for everyone in my classroom. In addition, these same individuals were self-managing and very direct in the ways that they conducted their research. It was not only me who took interest, but their fellow students who became accustomed to their perseverance in seeking answers to their questions.
Many years ago in the business world I learned that "one-size-fits-all" was never acceptable in the workplace. When I first made the journey back to into education at UW-SP five years ago, I quickly realized that school and the shop were no different as well.