Illinois Association for Gifted Children
Tamra Stambaugh joins Illinois educators to share her expertise in supporting advanced learners at the IAGC Conference on January 31 and February 1. Get a sneak peak of her upcoming presentations here.
As educators, we have a lot to balance. Our students come to us with a wide range of abilities that require differentiation as well as a range of social-emotional needs that may inhibit their academic learning. The research on talent development and the development of expertise clearly outline that while ability matters, other non-cognitive and affective factors are also important in the development of talent. In fact, several studies have shown that skills such as perseverance, healthy risk taking and goal setting, a learning-focused mindset, motivation, opportunity, and strong psychological strength may differentiate the level of attainment among those individuals of equal ability. Students need to develop these affective skills just as much as they need to develop expertise in a content area such as English Language Arts, math, science, social studies, or the arts.
So how do we teach the academic standards necessary, differentiate for a wide range of ability levels, and support our students’ social-emotional development? The development of expertise and the development of affective needs are not polar opposites, but go hand in hand. We can provide challenging academic opportunities using curriculum frameworks and resources so that students are not only exposed to accelerated and enriched curriculum but also understand the effort, perseverance, and pride that comes with achievement. If students are reading about an event in history, some students might examine that event through the lens of economics while others are ready to examine the event by studying how the event precipitated by the interaction of economics and geography. We can also combine academic content standards – especially in English Language Arts - with social-emotional skill development. For example, students might read a biography and outline text features and evidence that support a main idea while also learning how the individual dealt with adversity or developed skills to promote their achievement. Students can also read fictional stories and apply the themes or character trait analysis as outlined in the text to their own lives.
But how do we find the time to do this? Curriculum frameworks provide a guide for differentiating instruction, equalizing opportunities for students, and combining social-emotional needs with content standards. I hope you will join me for discussions and practice applying evidence-supported frameworks found in the new Affective Jacob’s Ladder resources and the content-based curriculum from the Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth to your own classroom lessons content. Learn strategies to simultaneously support the social emotional and cognitive development of your academically advanced students as you continue to differentiate instruction for them.
See you soon!