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Q&A #515

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Including "low" students in the main curriculum

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From: Ray M <raypublk@san.rr.com>
To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 1999012810:09:18
Subject: Including "high" and "low" performers in the same class

Marsha,

I suspect that the reason that you see no difference in the concepts
performance of the high and low students is that the high students
already comprehend the material by the time class starts.  That is,
they are not being challenged.

Try a simple experiment.  Ask the top three students to see how
quickly they can finish the book  (doing say every fifth problem to
check that they really understand) because you have another book that
you would like to start them on.  No harm right?  And you can figure
out which other book later.

A second experiment that might involve a great deal of harm would be
to try to move the whole class along at half the pace set by the
brightest three.

I would contend that currently the brightest students are being harmed
because they are not being challenged.  Turning them loose at a fast
pace will be less harmful.  Giving them a mentor that can help guide
them might be better still.

Take a look at the papers (from 1965 to 1994) at 
http://www-csli.stanford.edu/epgy/Research/papers.shtml
to get a sense of what very gifted students can do.

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