Saturday, October 29, 2011

Identifying Gifted Students A Practical Guide, edited by Susan K. Johnsen, Ph.D.

This book is a little dry because of the nature of the topic. It is very information oriented and thus reads exactly that way. So if you are looking for a book that explores this topic that is worded in common phraseology this is not for you. However, if you are willing to wade through the book it is an excellent resource. I do think that all school teachers ought to have this on their required reading list.

I see the benefit in such a book because I can see where "gifted" students could be missed. Though I have at times questioned the methodology and reasoning behind creating a Gifted and Talented Program at schools. My reason being that I home school my children and though each of the four struggle in certain areas they excel beyond their age and grade level in other areas. The problem with the "gifted" tag being attached to a student is that many others sit in classrooms, overlooked, because the public school setting is not conducive to their learning style. I have one such child - the public school would have written him off as having attention or focus problems and labeling him a problem in the classroom. He lacks motivation at school work yet can build complex things and has an analytical skills that far outreach his age. Upon having him tested at a speech therapy office and later for dyslexia it was found that his IQ is higher than most adults yet getting that displayed in worksheets and standardized testing is almost impossible. His schooling is therefor structured around his particular learning style and in such brings forth great results.

I am located in a state (Texas) that follows the "No Child Left Behind" mantra and so the schools teach to pass a test not to acquire and apply knowledge. Though children master concepts and testing strategies they are ill-equipped to apply the things they are taught nor do they truly understand them. Therefor a "gifted" program serves to only place the school into a higher achievement rating based on testing scores while truly leaving behind numerous students who in fact may be "gifted" but over-looked.

This book does an excellent job at looking at cases such as these and exploring possible ways to correct them. However, I find that this may be a difficult thing to fix as schools have become in essence an impersonal way to pass of knowledge in order to score an appropriate test level. I call this teaching to the test. My children, I believe have an advantage because through individualized testing by professionals we can identify their weak spots and supplement them while also identifying their "gifted" areas and enhancing them. Each one has a school curriculum that targets their specific learning styles and preferences giving them the ability to further develop the areas they are gifted in while bringing up the areas they struggle in. Unfortunately it would be unfair to ask this of public school teachers who are in a classroom with many children from different home environments, social classes, and so forth so on. It is a sad fact that a gifted child from a poor social economic class might be overlooked as gifted because of the lack of focus at school due to the poor home environment.

The writer of this book has presented her information well. It is a useful tool for those that are seeking to better understand the testing methods used and how to more accurately test and access possibly "gifted" students to place in special programs.

Highly recommended to the public schools. Home school parents - most of us agree that all children are gifted in some way - it is just a matter of tapping into that area and exposing it and teaching the child to develop and use it while not neglecting the areas in which they struggle. (This being done by creatively tying the two areas together).

I received this free review copy from

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