Q&A #515

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

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From: Ray M

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 1999012811:09:18
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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