Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Summer is winding down around here. AJ starts school a week from today. Tomorrow the class lists and teachers will be posted, like Luther's theses, on the front door of the church school.

Last year at this time, we were preparing to meet with AJ's teacher. We'd arranged a meeting for the morning after the class posting by going through our school principal who set it up without telling us with whom we were meeting. The district gifted coordinator came too. And while I think AJ's class was not ideal for him, I think that meeting made what could have been a dreadful year into a passable one.

This year, we did not request a meeting. Why, when we felt that last year's meeting was so important, did we skip this step? There are several reasons. One is that we have a much bigger paper trail on AJ now than we did then, including detailed IQ scores that clearly place him upwards of the 99th percentile. Numbers speak louder than words in getting action in public institutions. The second reason, though, is that we're venturing into new territory: a formal gifted program.

I did check in with the gifted coordinator last week to make sure we didn't need to be meeting this time and she agreed that the best approach this time was to let AJ and his teacher (whoever it turns out to be) get to know each other first. She also told me that AJ will be pulled out of class, most likely on Monday afternoons, for 2-3 hours, half for reading, half for math.

I'm still trying to get a sense of how the gifted program works. It is curricular, meaning that it's replacing classroom work, not adding to it. My sense is that the reading part is not all that different from previous years, but that AJ's reading group will be overseen by the gifted teacher rather than the classroom teacher. Math is the area with which I've been most frustrated. I feel AJ lost ground last year because of a lack of systematization with his substitute work. I hope this new system will be better.

AJ's greatest interest is who will be in class with him. After last spring's testing fiasco, we know that only one kid tested into the program in the normal way and, because this kid happens to be one of AJ's best friends, we know who that is and that he will be in class with AJ. What we don't know is whether there are other kids who, like AJ, got in some other way. I think this friend of AJ's will be a good companion for him in class. He is less of an outside-the-box thinker than AJ, but he is more mature and disciplined and academically driven, something for which AJ could use a model. I suspect their strengths will play nicely off each other in class.

Also on the table for fall is the new possibility of taking classes through the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University. When we had AJ tested for their programs in first grade, we ended up deciding we couldn't handle the commute. But this year, they've added a new location for some of their programs, one that is only a half hour from here. Their classes are expensive and I'm not sure we'll qualify for financial aid, but they also sound awesome. You can read about their offerings here.

How are you getting ready for school?


My Kids' Mom said...

Well, we're into week #2 already. Met Bug's teacher last night and feel very confident that she will work with each kindergartener at his/her own level. She's also Sp.Ed. certified so may excel at doing that.

We have to go back Thursday night to meet Pook's teacher. She has been described as "strict and organized" with the example being that if you want to know what the homework will be on Nov.14, she'll already be able to tell you. Hmm. I don't see that inflexibility as flattering, personally. It means that nothing can get in the way of her lesson plan for the day, regardless of how interesting and educational it might be. Securely 'within the box'. I'm eager to talk to her.

Our gifted/pull out program got started yesterday- once a week for Pook. They teach science and social studies and he loves it in there- they definitely stretch his mind.

My problem last year was also with math, which bored him to tears. In 1st grade they pretested each unit and kids moved among the three teachers based on ability. In 2nd they didn't and I felt like they missed a good opportunity. We'll see what they do this year. If he doesn't work in an ability group I'm going to have to get involved. He needs harder work even if none of it is particularly challenging. And, if I'm really unhappy with the teacher I'll have a chance to volunteer for him to move... the grade is overcrowded and they're looking to hire a new teacher.

FreshHell said...

Well, the very best of luck to you and AJ for a good year. I hope the gifted program is a good fit for him.

Here, school begins Sept 8th. Dusty will have the same classroom teacher and the same gifted teacher. Nothing will change.

Instead, my anxiety is with Red who begins kindergarten. We will meet her teacher during orientation in two weeks. Because she's not in the same rotation as Dusty, there's no chance she'll get Dusty's K teacher. I have no idea who the K teachers are this time around. I am hopeful she'll have a few kids in her class that she knows (Dusty's BFF's little sister is also starting K there). I am concerned that Red's temper and quick frustration will keep her from learning. I can only hope that her teacher "gets" her and can engage her quickly. Only time will tell.

LSM said...

We're into the second week of school as well--the first full week, actually since we started last Thursday. Personally, I am swamped and ready for the week to be over. Kidwise, things seem to be off to a great start.

My two "official" gifted students are older--8th and 10th grade respectively. Right now, the oldest is ramping up to the significant homework load of a schedule full of Pre-AP and AP courses, and the 8th grader is taking three classes for high school credit (French, Earth Science, and Geometry).

I'll be interested to see if, like his sisters, my youngest qualifies for gifted services during the school-wide testing in sixth grade. I could have him tested this year but am not sure yet whether I will or not--will see what his teacher recommends.