on education

thoughts from a graduate student at the university of mary washington

EEO. week eleven.


As we inch closer to being thrust into our own classrooms, there is much for us to consider and prepare for. Far beyond what color paper we’ll use on our bulletin boards or what the class theme will be, there are pressing issues that we, as educators, need to have a plan for. Because of budget cuts, schools are moving away from separate classes for gifted students. That means they’re in a general ed classroom. Because we want students to be in the least restrictive environment, students with disabilities are being mainstreamed into general education classrooms. Add everyone together, and what do you get? The reality for a teacher in the 21st century – an inclusion room with as many types of learners as there are students in your class.

We will be faced with a conglomeration of learning styles and abilities and it will be up to us to decide how best to approach our students’ needs. That’s why we’re here, right? So, let’s get crackin’.


curriculum and instruction for gifted students

According to Joyce VanTassel-Baska, founder of the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary, there have historically been 3 effective models for gifted and talented curriculum and instruction: the content mastery model, the process/product research model, and the epistemological model.

In the content model, “gifted students are encouraged to move as rapidly through the content area and possible and thus content acceleration in some mode tends to dominate the application of this model in practice” (VanTassel-Baska, 1986). This particular method isn’t widely used because it requires individualization for each student and a very competent teacher implementing the curriculum. The students are pre-tested and then given materials to master the content. Teachers don’t tend to like using this model because it uses the same curriculum, but accelerates the rate at which students learn.

The process/product model “places heavy emphasis on learning investigatory skills, both scientific and social, that allow students to develop a high quality product” (VanTassel-Baska, 1986). The key to this particular model is a very collaborative set-up, with the teacher and the student being more like a team. It uses a lot of independent work, specifically with the scientific method, in exploring topics. The end goal of the process/product model is to engage students in finding problems and then solving them with adult experts in the area. Summer enrichment activities are common, where students participate with adult practitioners in coming up with a research topic and then seeing that experimental process through. “The process/product model for curriculum and instruction of the gifted differs from the content mastery model in that content is viewed as less important and rarely acts as the organizer for this type of curriculum” (VanTassel-Baska, 1986).

The epistemological model “…reflects a concern for exposing students to key ideas, themes, and principles within and across domains of knowledge so that schemata are internalized for amplification by new examples in the future” (VanTassel-Baska, 1986). It seems that this is by far the most effective model for curriculum and instruction for gifted students. Because they tend to be very good at seeing and understanding interrelationships, the conceptual nature of this model sits well with them. It’s a very enrichment-heavy model and typically exposes students to many things that don’t exist is normal curriculum. It involves a strong aesthetic appreciation, which we heard about in our in-class video this last week. Unlike the previous two models, this one seems to be used across the board in both elementary and secondary schools. I like this one the best, though VanTassel-Baska suggests that the three models need to be synthesized for “clear and meaningful curriculum work” (1986).


students with disabilities

The Educational Policy Reform Research Institute at the University of Maryland came out with a report in 2003 on how to prepare educators to teach students with disabilities in an age of accountability and and standards-based reform. I have to say, the list I came up with as I was preparing this blog was not nearly as long as their list is! To be honest, I’m a bit nervous about it. There is so much that I don’t know about disabilities. I rely heavily, actually, on my best friend for information in this arena. She’s been teaching special ed since we graduated from college (and has a degree in Applied Learning and Development, aka Special Education) and always provides me with so much insight. I feel like this is one of the things that’s key in preparing to teach students with disabilities. Latch on to somebody who really knows what they’re doing and exhaust their knowledge base. Rule number one. Number two on my list is becoming well versed in the laws dealing with this subject. Number three for me is to make sure your classroom environment will support learning for all students, especially those with disabilities.

The Educational Policy Reform Research Institute’s report can be found here, and the list of things teachers should know/do to prepare for students with disabilities can be found on page 19. In-depth explanations follow. PS – it’s a doozie, like 75 pages. Sorry about that.


professional collaboration and the inclusive classroom

In the report Collaboration: A Must for Teachers in Inclusive Educational Settings, author Hwa Lee says, “Through collaboration, ideas can be shared, new and better strategies can be developed, problems can be solved, students’ progress can be better monitored, and their outcomes are evaluated effectively. True collaboration will enhance an effective inclusive education and will be beneficial for all the individuals involved in the child’s education, including parents.”

I actually can’t think of a better way to say that, so, there you have it. I completely agree. Don’t worry – Dr. Lee is legit — (s)he is a professor of education at Seton Hall. (Dr. Lee, if you’re out there, it drives me a little nuts that you don’t date your articles or reports. Just FYI.)


resources for effective, inclusive teaching 

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. God bless the British. They’ve got a really great website for parents, teachers, anyone really, working with inclusion classrooms. It actually links to a variety of resources, all of them FREE!

More? Okay.

  • http://aasep.org/professional-resources/profession-specific-resources/inclusion-teachers/index.html
  • http://www.teachervision.fen.com/special-education/resource/5346.html
  • http://nichcy.org/schoolage/placement/inclusion
  • http://www.people.vcu.edu/~bhammel/special/intro/inclusion.htm
  • This article is actually really great for ideas on managing an inclusive classroom. It directly addresses that Sweet Jesus, you want me to do what? kind of attitude that a lot of teachers have about inclusive classrooms and turns fear into F.E.A.R. (You’ll like it. I promise.)





This video deals with inclusion of kids with disabilities.



This one deals with gifted students in a general ed classroom! I think there are videos that follow it, this is just the intro to get you started.



Lee, H. (n.d.). Collaboration: A must for teachers in inclusive educational settings. Retrieved from http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/infoBriefs_local/shure/collaboration.pdf

Thompson, S., Lazarus, S., & Thurlow, M. (2003). Preparing educators to teach students with disabilities in an era of standards-based reform and accountability . Educational Policy Reform research Institute, Retrieved from http://www.cehd.umn.edu/NCEO/onlinepubs/eprri/EPRRITR5.pdf

VanTassel-Baska, J. (1986). Effective curriculum and instruction models for talented students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 30(4), 164-169. Retrieved from http://www.corwin.com/upm-data/7158_tassel_ch_1.pdf


posted under EDCI 506
One Comment to

“EEO. week eleven.”

  1. Avatar November 11th, 2012 at 9:24 pm ctrumbetic Says:

    Your post is extremely informative. Your descriptionof the content model for gifted students reminds me of the programs at the center where I work. Skills are identified and divided into speific programs such as main idea, identifying inferences, vocab in context, sequencing and so on and so forth. Math is divided into skills and then sub-skills. In both reading comprehension and math the students are pushed through the skills with exposure being the goal, but not necessarily full understanding. I think this models the content, but from what I have seen, it is not very effective for retention of skills. I agree with you that exhausting the knowledge of someone who is experienced in teaching students with disabilities. I work with a number of teachers who work with students with disabilities and they have a different teaching method then I do. They are very patient and insightful about how and why any student acts in a certain manner. I like the video you posted that said differentiation focuses on heightening qualitative experiences rather than quantitative instruction. I think that is key in differentiated teaching.

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