Achieving the Balance Right: Secondary Courses of the Gifted

A Four Phase Framework for Secondary Gifted Courses

Recently my young son was frustrated with us because he felt that he was ready for a privilege that we, his parents, knew that he was not yet mature enough to handle.

He fumed and battled, and finally broke down into tears, which proved the point we were trying to make.

bored in classNeedless to say, he still has not earned this privilege.

However, it got me thinking about how tough it is as parents and educators to give just the right level of challenge and responsibility to students. If we go too far in either direction, students end up frustrated.

Left too long in that state, they often just give up.

For gifted students, particularly in high school, this is a common occurrence. Many courses are designed to be “advanced,” but are they really challenging advanced-level learners or simply catering to those labeled as “good students”?

In this course, “Secondary Courses of the Gifted,” Richard Cash describes the critical factors that distinguish “advanced” courses from those truly designed to challenge gifted secondary students.

Dr. Cash has worked in the field of education for over 25 years. His range of experience includes teaching at the elementary, middle school and college levels. He has also authored several books in the field of gifted education.

Getting the Balance: The Three-Legged Stool

three legged stoolIn order to build true academic rigor, course design must include pace, depth and complexity. While all three of these have been discussed at length in other places, Dr. Cash brings a fresh look at these three practices, choosing definitions that are simple and workable.

Pace: Accelerated Instructional Practice

Pace should not only be about covering more material in a course. It should also focus on moving students more quickly toward a higher-level engagement with the material. In other words, learning goes quickly from didactic instruction to self-directed, autonomous learning.

Depth: The level of information needed to solve complex and abstract problems within and across disciplines.

Course depth is described as a continuum where students move through the material from concrete thinking towards the abstract:

  1. Concrete/Specific/Demonstration – This level includes facts, vocabulary, and demonstration.
  2. Skills/Application/Details within the Discipline – Students work on skills, procedure, and action.
  3. Concepts/Abstract/Interdisciplinary – Big ideas, questions, and intersections form the basis for the final level of depth.

Complexity: The thought process the brain goes through to manage the information.

Complexity in a course engages the students’ creative thinking, critical reasoning, and problem solving skills.

A Four Phase Framework

Secondary Courses of the gifted 4 stagesThe goal is moving students from being consumers of information to being producers of knowledge. To do this, teachers of gifted secondary students need to design their courses toward maximizing student autonomy. Dr. Cash teaches a four phase framework to guide students toward greater learning autonomy through self-confidence.

At the lower level, in didactic instruction, the student is simply a consumer, and the teacher is the provider. As the student moves up through the levels, the teacher gives over control, and the student assumes more responsibility.

The goal is to move students from a passive role to a more self-directed and autonomous role in their learning.

Asking the Big Questions

In this course, you will have the opportunity to sample a high-level activity which guides students through the three levels of depth to ask the big questions. The goal is increased sophistication through critical questioning. The questions move through:

  • Factual Questioning
  • Convergent Questioning
  • Divergent/Analytical Thinking

Get ready to guide your students into asking the big questions! Take “Secondary Courses of the Gifted,” by Richard Cash today. You will get the balance between challenge and responsibility for your gifted secondary students!

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Delivering Quality Training – No Matter Where You Are

Mobile ready professional development for gifted teachersDid you know that this course is mobile ready? That means you can complete the course on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or any other mobile device!

Photos courtesy of Flickr via tanjila ahmed and Kombinat Warszawa.