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Summer 2013 Educator Scholarships- Feedback and Learnings

September 11, 2013

Many were relaxing over the summer getting rested up for a new school year, however much happened behind the scenes with CISD teachers who were given scholarships to attend Conferences with the financial support of the Coppell Gifted Association. A total of five teachers from the three middle schools attended three conferences this summer.


Tyler Horner (6th grade, CMSE) and Todd Norris (PreAP Math, CMSE) attended Confratute at the University of Connecticut.  Confratute is the longest running summer institute on enrichment-based differentiated teaching.  The conference consisted of keynote speakers who addressed major topics and areas of research along with weeklong mini strands, in-depth training, special topic sessions, and evening forum sessions.

Confratute is built around Renzulli’s SEM (school-wide enrichment model) as taught yearly in a leaders forum at conference.   Horner was intrigued by the concept of compacting and is anxious to try this out in his classroom this year.  Per Horner, “Since I will have some students in my classroom for the second year in a row, my plan is to quickly identify one or two children to attempt compacting on and see how it goes.  I really think this is a perfect way to allow exceptional kids to excel with minimal distraction to the rest of the class.”

As presented by Dr. Goldbeck at Confratute, the following steps accomplish compacting:

1)  Identify the objectives in a given subject area.

2)  Find appropriate pretests.

3)  Identify students who should be pretested.

4)  Pretest students to determine their mastery level of chosen objectives.

5)  Eliminate instructional time for students who show mastery of the objectives.

6  Streamline instruction of those objectives students have not mastered but are capable of mastering more quickly than classmates.

7)  Offer challenging alternatives for time provided by compacting.

8)  Keep records of this process and the instructional options available to compacted students.

Norris, the other Confratute attendee, will be implementing the following in his classroom this year.  Instead of posting a word wall, the students will make the word wall. “While learning through a new chapter with key words and memorizing the definition, they can take a word and incorporate the meaning of the word within the picture. For example, the student could take the word ‘parallel’ and instead of writing the definition, they can extend the three l’s to be long parallel lines. This way they are coming up with the word wall and when is posted in the room, provides a visual of the word and its meaning.”

Norris truly enjoyed the strand attended concerning motivation and meta-cognition. “Kids need to develop more creative problem solving skills for the job market. Employers these days are looking for a work force that can think critically and schools should look to add more opportunities for kids to engage in.”

National Conference on Differentiated Instruction

Kimberly Pope Kindred, former CMSN 7/8 GT Social Studies, currently CMSN Assistant Principal attended the National Conference on Differentiated Instruction in Las Vegas this summer along with Melanie Ringman, former CMSN 7/8 GT LA, now CHS English teacher.

Per Ringman, “The entire conference was amazing. Every session gave me some new knowledge or perspective that will change the way I teach. The theme that stood out is the importance of knowing your students and using that knowledge to engage your students in the curriculum. Students need to be active and not stationary.  Ringman also gained a new perspective on feedback.  “Verbal feedback is the most powerful feedback. Feedback in the form of a grade with a comment is the worst type to feedback. The feedback needs to be throughout the learning process. The student does not know how to grow when presented with just a number and a short comment. Teachers need to avoid general feedback or judgment. Evaluation is very important and all stakeholders in a child’s education should have a voice in the evaluation. Every lesson should identify the outcome and goal for the student to understand. The student needs to be able to identify where they are in relation to the goal. Finally you guide the student to help identify what needs to happen to reach that goal.”

She would also like to see teachers modeling the thinking processes that they want their students to achieve.  Students should be continually writing and teachers should be modeling reading, writing and thinking for their students.

Kindred’s favorite session was Strategies for Gifted Learners that Drive Success in Middle School.I really enjoyed this session, as it was specific to some of our needs. It started with the idea that for gifted students we need to have flexible grouping and be concept focused which is a strategy specific to what we are implementing at North.

She also learned that using formative assessments as an everyday tool will help with immediate feedback for students, self-assessments and evaluations, and help the teacher format the curriculum design for optimal learning.

Since the focus of the conference was Differentiated Instruction, Kindred was anxious to share three Differentiation for Learning Outcomes

·      Know…just the facts ma’am

·      Understand…what’s the big idea

·      Dos…show what you know

World Council for GT Children’s Conference

This Louisville, KY 2013 Conference’s theme focused on Celebrating Giftedness and Creativity.

Laila Sanguras, 7/8 GT LA/Multi-Media teacher at CMSW, was most intrigued by the Developing and Assessing Product (DAP) tool that allows for authentic differentiation of student products. Her take on the DAP is as follows.  “Essentially, it is a set of rubrics that range from emerging to outstanding ability. Each rubric has several layers to it, in that the teacher can differentiate based on tier level (gifted students would be at a tier 3 while on-level students would be a tier 1 or 2), as well as individual levels within each tier. Drs. Inman and Roberts have created three rubrics for each product (products range from essays to blogs to videos). Since we know that there is variation among performance of gifted students, an educator can use a tier 3 rubric but all learners using this rubric can fall somewhere between 0-6 (non-participating to professional). Not only are the assessments authentic, there are similar components in all of the rubrics: content, presentation, creativity, and reflection. The presentation section of the rubric is the only element that changes because it is specific to the type of product being assessed. I am teaching Blended Language and Literacy 8 at West this year that has a mix of levels (below grade level to GT) and I am so excited to have this tool that will help me truly differentiate my assignments and expectations.”

Sanguras also enjoyed and would like to continue to learn more about the Future Problem Solving Program. “I really liked their problem solving steps, and am thinking about how I can incorporate this into my classes.”  FPSP mission is to develop the ability of young people globally to design and promote positive futures using critical, creative thinking.

FPSP stimulates critical and creative thinking skills, encourages students to develop a vision for the future, and prepares students for leadership roles. FPSP engages students in creative problem solving within the curriculum and provides competitive opportunities.

It is evident that much was learned at summer conferences, and that these instructors are ready to take what they learned to their classroom, campus and district.

Submitted by

Michelle Bauer

CGA Scholarship Chair

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