This post is part 2 of the outline of my study into catering for students with higher abilities. Although my focus has been on differentiation within the inclusive classroom, it has become obvious that I need to consider the Australian Curriculum and what it states about the importance of student diversity. In light of this, I am also considering the means of providing appropriate programs for these students, and as the title suggests, a process of identification of students.
The Melbourne Declaration on Education in 2008 stated that:
Goal 1: Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence.
Goal 2: All young Australians become successful learners, confident and creative individuals and active and informed citizens.
It is from this that the Australian Curriculum makes comment about Student Diversity.
Gifted and talented students are entitled to rigorous, relevant and engaging learning opportunities drawn from the Australian Curriculum and aligned with their individual learning needs, strengths, interests and goals.
I have come to the conclusion that whilst a differentiated classroom will go some way to helping many of these students, there are some students for whom it is necessary to work individually with. A program which blends support for teachers in providing a differentiated classroom and developing individualised, ‘relevant and engaging’ learning programs for the students is an important part of a school’s provision of a broad education.
Gathering valid information is important in the process of identifying students who are gifted and talented as opposed to the compliant and hard-working students who get everything done to quality standard. Parents are an important and oft-ignored source of information. It can be easy to dismiss parents as being overly self-promoting but parents do know their children very well because they are constantly comparing their child with others they see. Another step is consulting with teachers by using a checklist. This can be analysed to determine the level of giftedness as observed in the classroom. Students are also a useful point of reference. They can give feedback about others in the class and nominate students for programs, or they can self-nominate. The final mine of information comes from the objective assessments that can be undertaken by students. They are not necessarily definitive but provide an objective guide which can be useful in fine-tuning the identification process and they are also a good starting point in narrowing down the specific areas of giftedness of students.
The Association of Independent Schools in South Australia have a number of useful and important resources to assist schools with the provision of a relevant curriculum for these students.
You can access a free learning module online from the University of NSW through GERRIC. The module booklet also includes identification resources and a comprehensive list of testing tools.
Not all gifted students perform well in the school system – ‘Gifted and Talented Education Module 2’ (Caroline Merrick & Ruth Targett)