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  Santa Cruz Parent Santa Cruz County
Choices
August 19, 2010
Making good choices on behalf of our children
Back to School Series: Ten ways to integrate gifted kids into your elementary school classroom
The Art Factory, Creativity for Children and Parents!
This Week
For Teens and Parents: Santa Cruz World Choir and Orchestra
Why We're Behind: What Top Nations Teach Their Students but We Don't
Bright Spots!
Click to view our Business Directory
  Making good choices on behalf of our children

(Site Photos) BabyCrying.jpgI sneezed and my 6 month old nephew burst into tears.  At age 3 he carried a teddy bear in one arm and a book about rockets in the other.  Guiding him through childhood, school and helping him learn how to get along with others in classrooms was challenging.  By 6th grade he and a few friends had their own band.  His dad spent many hours nurturing his baseball throwing and hitting skills, which gave him an entree into the community of sports.  My brother and his wife were the perfect parents to have adopted this gifted child as they were able to arrange work schedules so that one of them was always with him or available to handle "situations" and work closely with teachers.  Today he is a solid, well-rounded young adult functioning very well in college. It was quite a journey and one I watched in with great respect.

The fortitude, patience and creativity required by parents and educators in guiding gifted children is awesome.  Today's article by Suki Wessling about how to help gifted children in a school environment is timely. 

We also bring you a thought-provoking article from Common Core to stimulate thinking about what you want from schools.  We shall be introducing more articles on education, as it's certainly a topic we all care about.  No matter what "big ideas" are swirling among the professional educators and legislators, or studies are being conducted to see what works, when it comes to our own children, we parents need sufficient information to work with teachers and make informed decisions!

Whether you have little ones, children in school or teens, it's a good time to be looking at programs available to inspire them and keep them busy! Go here to learn about Enrichment ClassesCheck out  the new Santa Cruz World Choir for teens and parents highlighted below.

Busy teens get the best grades in both high school and college.  I recently listened to an interview of a young man who had just graduated from college.  He was being interviewed because he wrote a book on how to develop a sound financial plan for life.  He worked all four years in high school, and had saved $25,000  by the time he went to college.  Once there he continued working, finished college in four years and by the time he graduated owned two condominiums.  Talk about focus!

Parmalee

  Back to School Series: Ten ways to integrate gifted kids into your elementary school classroom

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by Suki Wessling

It takes thoughtfulness and creativity to integrate your gifted students into the general classroom.

It's back to school time across the country, and for gifted kids who are in schools with no gifted programs or acceleration policies, it's time to worry. Each new teacher and classroom presents a new challenge to the gifted child who is markedly different in his academic and sometimes social development from his peers.

Most teachers receive little or no training for integrating gifted children into their classrooms, yet it is statistically likely that they will get one or two gifted kids in a general education classroom. How can teachers with no gifted training help those students thrive in their classrooms?

1. Learn to identify your gifted students

Gifted students are not always the quiet, studious, high-scoring students, though those students might be among them. Gifted students also include the child who has exhibited behavioral problems throughout his elementary years. Gifted students include the daydreaming child who forgets to do homework but thrives at home programming computers, building machines, or writing stories. Gifted students include the kid who acts like an obnoxious know-it-all but is really lonely and confused. Read the National Association for Gifted Children's Frequently Asked Questions page.

2. Communicate with your gifted students' parents and previous teachers

You may be surprised to find how relieved parents will be upon your using the "G-word" about their children. Many parents, unwilling to stick their necks out and ask for "special privileges" for a child, just hope that their child will eventually fit in or find his niche. In showing specific interest in how a child learns and what her interests are outside of school, you will become an ally for the parents, and the information they can offer you will be invaluable to integrating their child into the classroom. Read The Teacher-Parent Connection from the Davidson Institute.

3. Understand that it is actually harmful for gifted students not to be challenged academically

Though our present academic focus is to bring all children up to a minimum competency, this focus can hurt gifted students, who will probably enter your classroom with the year's curriculum mastered. Acting as a classroom aide to tutor other students or sitting alone in a corner reading both hinder the gifted student's healthy development. Studies show that as gifted students are offered less and less challenge, they start to aim lower and lower, and by middle school, often become poor, unmotivated students. Download a free copy of A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students.

4. Go beyond test prep

Although most gifted students perform very well on standardized tests, there are those who will seem disinclined to learn the skills they need to perform at the level you know they are capable of. But in both cases, a focus on test preparation will alienate your gifted students. Those inclined to act out will do so; those inclined to internalize will withdraw. Be prepared, when other students need test preparation, to offer a project-based learning opportunity that will allow prepared students a chance to work independently. Read The Dos and Don'ts of Instruction from the NAGC.

4. Use cluster groupings in class projects

Traditionally, when teachers create small group projects, they are likely to put a wide range of students in each group. Research has shown that such groupings can result in difficulties for students on both ends of the spectrum: the gifted students feel put-upon by having to help the struggling students or they just do the work themselves; the struggling students feel hopeless that they can perform at the same level. Instead, try groupings that include students of a narrower learning range, and give assignments more closely correlated with the abilities of the group's members. Read the Ability Grouping Position Statement by the NAGC.

5. Create open-ended assignments

Once they leave school, your students will find that life presents all sorts of challenges that they will never "finish." But many teachers focus on creating assignments that have a clear end point that all students are expected to attain. This focuses on the lowest common denominator rather than on challenging all students. Consider expanding your assignments so that gifted students can go further and deeper. A student who has mastered a math concept can be given a real-world problem to solve with that concept. A student who immediately "gets" the concept of a Venn diagram can go on to create a short essay based on the diagram. Read Modifying Regular Classroom Curriculum for Gifted and Talented Students from Prufrock Press.

6. Maintain a positive social atmosphere

Remember that singling any child out because of a difference can be hurtful, even if your singling out is in praise. Use of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences can help you celebrate all your students' abilities in a positive way. Gifted students are also likely to exhibit a higher level of overexcitabilities, and learning about them can help you understand your students' unusual behaviors. Learn more about Dabrowski's overexcitabilities.

7. Encourage pursuit of outside interests

Consult with your gifted student and his parents to come up with an acceptable outside project he can work on during classroom time covering material he has mastered. He could do research on an area of interest or work on a science fair project without disrupting other classroom activities.

8. Offer praise for hard work rather than level of knowledge

A growing body of research shows that how we talk to children frames their world view. A child who is praised often for "being smart" will believe that if she fails, she is "no longer smart." However, a child who is praised for hard work will see a reward for work that does not necessarily succeed or achieve a goal. This is a healthier way for a gifted student to perceive her successes. Read How Not to Talk To Your Kids.

9. Make good use of modern technology

In this day and age, there is no reason for an advanced math student to be doing the same work as his classmates. If your school has no provision for accelerating a student in your class into a group at his ability level, work with his parents and the administration to provide him the opportunity to study math online while the rest of the class is working at grade level. Read Disrupting Class: Student-centric Education Is the Future.

10. Appreciate your gifted students

Gifted students come in as many packages as other students. Some of them will be a joy to work with; some will be a challenge. In this age of testing and focusing on attainment of basic skills, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that your quirky, unusual students are in need of a very different sort of nurturing. The adults who grow from these gifted children remember with appreciation those teachers who looked forward to the challenge of working with and inspiring them.

For more information: Read Tips for Teachers from the Davidson Institute.

more writing by Suki

  The Art Factory, Creativity for Children and Parents!

(Site Photos) ArtFactoryWoodRobot.jpgPictures almost say a lot and you will find them by children and adults at The Art Factory in Aptos. The Art Factory is an all ages art studio offered by Yvette Contois and located in Redwood Village of Aptos. 

 

For Preschoolers there are Art-Based Workshops.  School age children can participate in After School Art Classes, Homeschool Art Classes, Art Parties and Seasonal Art Camps. 

For adults Yvette offers Girls' Nights Out, Art or (Site Photos) ArtFactoryLadybugs.jpgJewelry Making Parties, Adult Classes taught by Santa Cruz Open Studios Artists and a Monthly Studio Sale featuring fabulous art and gifts made by The Art Factory Artists Guild Members.

 

(Site Photos) ArtFactoryStarfishLily.jpgYvette has been giving art lessons to adults & children since 1990. Her artwork has been featured in juried exhibits since the 1980s, and her commercial art has won national & local recognition. She received her Bachelors in Fine Art and K-12 Art Teaching Certification from Rosemont College, PA, & an Associate Degree in Visual Communications & Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

Yvette's guiding passion is bringing art into the lives of her students. Yvette recognizes the value in children creating art as "historical documents"; representing their thoughts, processes, developmental stages and creativity. Process and positive, supportive art experiences always come before product.

  This Week

Event CalendarBelow is only a partial list of upcoming events and activities so be sure to click on our EVENT CALENDAR so you do not miss anything >>

Use the PARENT PLANNER to click on events and resources you are interested in and click PRINT MY PLANNER to print or email your list.

School Schedules

 
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Get information on

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Advanced K - 8 Education

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Spring Hill is a private school where the talents of bright, motivated and gifted children are recognized, nurtured and developed to their full potential.

SpringHill.org

250 California St, Santa Cruz

427.2641

Fulfill
Your Child's

Horse Dreams!

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Back to School
&
Back to the Ranch

September Special
for New Riders

Buy one lesson and
get the second lesson
FREE


Willow Pond Ranch

10 minutes from Soquel

477.7058

Home to Mild Mannered Rescued Horses
Host to Children
Who Love Horses

 

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Great
Back to School
Dinner!

Mexican Layered Casserole with Spanish Rice and Organic Spring Mix

 

One of our more popular menu items is back...delicious layers of whole pinto and black beans, corn, fresh mild salsa, seasoned beef, cheese and corn tortillas. A great one-dish dinner and the kids love it!

 

$26.95
($6.74 per serving)
See entire menu!

 

FreshPrepKitchens.com
429.1390

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 For Teens and Parents: Santa Cruz World Choir and Orchestra

(Site Photos) StephenBiggerConductor.jpgThe Santa Cruz World Choir & Orchestra is a new, multi-generational, multi-cultural, educational and fun vocal group and ensemble that will inspire and entertain audiences this holiday season. High school age and older singers and musicians will perform a variety of traditional and modern music from around the world, and receive skills training.

Come to one of our three Open Houses and meet Director, Stephen L. Bigger (BA Music, MENC, MTACSC, ACDA, CAAE, ASCAP), choir members, and learn about the repertoire, rehearsals and performances.

This is a great opportunity for your family, 9th graders and up, to sing together!   Director Stephen Bigger is well known in musical circles as a classical musician.  He's a third generation choral director who selects unique and "listenable" music from around the world and in many languages.  This is your chance to become part of a new musical community with an experienced and enthusiastic choral director.

(Business Logos) SCWCO_orange.jpgIf your teens (and you!) love singing, have good voices, and positive attitudes come to the open house.  Explore your options!

For more information about the Santa Cruz World Choir and Orchestra, call 831-521-3470 or email info@santacruzworldchoir.com.

Open House, August 24, 31 and September 7, 7-9pm
Soquel Congregational Church Fellowship Hall, 4951 Soquel Drive, Soquel

Enrichment In and Out of the Classroom
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Enrichment In and Out of the Classroom
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Enrichment In and Out of the Classroom
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Enrichment In and Out of the Classroom
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Enrichment In and Out of the Classroom
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New Parents Support Group
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  New Parents Support Group
Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Santa Cruz
Date: Every Tues and Fri at 10:30am
Details: Drop in support group for new parents
City: Santa Cruz Phone: 831.477-2229 view all details >>
     
Enrichment In and Out of the Classroom
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  Why We're Behind: What Top Nations Teach Their Students but We Don't

"While American students are spending endless hours preparing to take tests of their basic reading and math skills, their peers in high-performing nations are reading poetry and novels, conducting experiments in chemistry and physics, making music, and studying important historical issues. We are the only leading industrialized nation that considers the mastery of basic skills to be the goal of K-12 education."

We're working to bring exciting, comprehensive, content-rich instruction to every classroom in America.

Common Core

A report showing that the nations that consistently outrank us on international comparison tests provide their students with a fulsome education in the liberal arts and sciences.

Excerpt: Letter from the Executive Director, Common Core

Each of the nations that consistently outrank the United States on the PISA exam provides their students with a comprehensive, content-rich education in the liberal arts and sciences. These nations differ greatly with regard to how they accomplish this goal. Some have a national curriculum and standards but no tests, others have both, and some leave everything up to the states. Interestingly, no state-based nation in our sample currently has a national curriculum or standards, though one is attempting to develop some.

So what is the common ingredient across these varied nations? It is not a delivery mechanism or an accountability system that these high-performing nations share: it is a dedication to educating their children deeply in a wide range of subjects.

Our report lists the subjects each nation requires in compulsory education. But it is the raw material-the excerpts from national curricula, standards, and assessments-that conveys the richness of education in these nations:

  • Fourth graders in Hong Kong visit an artist's studio, study Picasso's Guernica, and analyze the works of modernist sculptor Henry Moore.
  • Finnish 5th and 6th graders study how the invention of writing changed human life and the impacts of the French Revolution; they trace a topic such as the evolution of trade from prehistory until the 19th century.
  • Seventh graders in Korea are expected to know not just about supply and demand, but about equilibrium price theories, property rights, and ways to improve market function.
  • Japanese 7th to 9th graders "conduct experiments regarding pressure to discover that pressure is related to the magnitude of a force and the area."
  • Eighth graders from the Canadian province of Ontario are expected to create musical compositions, conduct, and know musical terms in Italian.
  • Dutch 12th graders must know enough about seven events connected to the Crimean War to be able to put them in chronological order.
  • Canadian 12th graders in British Columbia are expected to identify the author of the words: "Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men" and to what Admiral Nimitz was referring when he said: "Pearl Harbor has now been partially avenged."
  • On a Swiss examination 12th graders write an essay analyzing JFK's October 1962 proclamation that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

We believe more research should be conducted into the relationship between content and achievement. This research should be done now because if what this report suggests is true-that a comprehensive, content-rich curriculum is the key to high achievement-than we have a lot of work to do here in the United States.

In recent years, America has increasingly embraced education policies and practices that have made our children's education narrower and more basic. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is part of the cause of this, but is by no means the only culprit. NCLB's intense focus on reading and math skills has dumbed down the curriculum, but so have trends such as the 21st century skills movement, which promote the teaching of skills such as media savvy and entrepreneurship disconnected from content of any significance.

We must join our desire to compete with other nations with a willingness to learn from them. Common Core hopes that the materials assembled here will encourage that desire to learn.

Continued in the Complete Report

  Bright Spots!

When you have the time, there is some amazing information at Common Core.  Here are only a few examples:

"While there is much about the current state of education in America to cause concern, there are also bright spots.  Some people are making a difference by creating and promoting outstanding curricula. Others are operating exemplary schools. And still more are improving the classroom experience in a variety of ways.  Read about a variety of successful educational experiences.  

For example:

State Standards
California State Board of Education lists academic content standards K-12. California State Core Standards

Massachusetts Department of Education outlines curriculum frameworks for history and English.
Publications


The Concord Review is the only quarterly journal in the world to publish the academic research papers of secondary education students.


Curricula
Calvert School combines early skill building with classical knowledge.

Chandler Preparatory Academy, Phoenix, AZ.

Core Knowledge Resources provides a guide to shared content for greater excellence and fairness in education.

International Baccalaureate offers three programs of international education for ages 3 to 19. To learn about the International Baccalaureate in action, visit Rufus King High School's website. Rufus King is a public school in Milwaukee, WI, with one of the oldest International Baccalaureate programs in the nation.

K12 works to enable mastery of core concepts and skills for all kinds of children's minds."

continued

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