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Using Data to Adapt Instruction for Gifted Students

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  • 0:04 Data-Driven Sources
  • 1:00 Tests & Pre-Assessments
  • 2:35 Learning Inventories
  • 3:31 Performance Evaluations
  • 4:19 Consulting & Collaborating
  • 5:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Linda Winfree

Linda has taught English at grades 6-12 and holds graduate degrees in curriculum and teacher leadership.

In this lesson, you will learn how to use a variety of data sources, such as pre-assessments, learning inventories, standardized test results, and performance evaluations to adapt instruction effectively for your gifted students.

Data-Driven Sources

Whether you teach gifted learners in a self-contained setting with homogeneous classes or in an inclusion setting with heterogeneous groups, using data to customize instruction is important. Data sources may be teacher-created or generated by outside sources, but both forms of data can inform your instructional decisions.

Wendy teaches middle school English Language Arts (ELA). Her team, comprised of Wendy and the math, science, social studies, and special education teachers, serves all of the gifted students for her grade level. Gifted students are generally placed together on a team and receive services through accelerated coursework. Because some gifted students opt out of advanced classes, they're placed in cluster groups in the team's mixed ability classes. This unique model, which means Wendy teaches both self-contained and inclusion gifted classes, makes data even more important as she designs instruction.

Tests & Pre-Assessments

Wendy begins the year by examining the results of state standardized assessments, given to measure student learning against a set of instructional standards and provide insight into students' reading and writing abilities. Wendy knows that not all of her gifted students may excel in the language arts. Students may be gifted in math or an artistic field, but still be placed in Wendy's ELA classes. Other students may be twice exceptional, or identified as gifted, but also diagnosed with a specific learning disability that hinders testing.

Analyzing reading and writing levels from the previous year's standardized tests allows Wendy to see if students have advanced, grade level, or below grade level skills. As she heads into the school year, Wendy begins with a snapshot of ability for her gifted students so she can plan for acceleration or remediation.

Wendy breaks her ELA standards into four units. For each unit, she administers a pre-assessment, a test that measures students' knowledge and ability on the standards before instruction begins. She analyzes the results to make decisions for her gifted learners. The data reveals that James and Kylie, two gifted students clustered in one of her inclusion classes, have mastered ninety percent of the standards in that particular unit, but still need to work on argumentative writing, so Wendy plans a parallel unit for the pair, designing an accelerated, self-paced novel study that culminates in an argumentative essay. She pulls in standards from one grade level above so James and Kylie are not simply practicing skills they've previously mastered.

Learning Inventories

In her self-contained gifted class, Wendy is also teaching argumentative writing, but is coupling it with research and informational reading standards. Her pre-assessment showed students were strong in writing and reading, but that their research skills were weak. Because Wendy is aware that not all gifted students are highly motivated, she wants to leverage student choice for increased engagement.

Wendy administers a learning inventory, a series of questions designed to provide insight into student interests and preferred learning styles. Analyzing the inventory, data reveals areas of interest for student research such as history, politics, sports, art, and music. The data also gives information on how students would like to work and produce their research, such as in groups or independently, or using a paper, speech, video, or website as their final product. Wendy uses this information to group students throughout the unit.

Performance Evaluations

Throughout each unit, Wendy uses rubrics that outline performance levels and expectations. Based on the rubrics, Wendy uses performance evaluations, or overviews of learning performance, to decide if her gifted students are performing at their optimal levels of ability. After organizing the rubrics together for each student, Wendy can analyze them for trends in strengths and weaknesses, then use that information to drive small group or individual instruction.

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