Buying Time

Teachers simply can't do it all! And neither should gifted students. This case considers curriculum compacting to "buy time" for differentiated educational programming for gifted learners.

The gifted education teacher at Springstown Elementary School is growing increasingly frustrated at one fifth-grade classroom teacher’s reluctance to send the students in the talent pool to her resource room.

Carol Maxwell is the gifted education specialist at Springstown Elementary School. She is the resource room teacher in a Total Talent Development Program at the school for grades K-6. She works at the building full-time to serve a population of 600 students. For approximately one and one-half to two days of each week, Carol sees her 90 talent pool students. Generally, she sees those students by grade and spends an hour a week with them in various Type II training activities including: research skills, creative thinking, independent study skills, and many other skills for lifelong learning. She reserves three days of the week for classroom training, Type III investigations, consultations on curriculum compacting, arranging scheduled Type I activities and other duties.

See a description of the Total Talent Development Model below:

Carol has carefully arranged her weekly resource room time for Talent Pool students during times when their curriculum has been compacted and when it is most convenient for classroom teachers’ individual schedules. Most teachers in the school are fairly cooperative about the program, but recently there has been some problem with one new fifth grade teacher, John Guthrie. He currently has six talent pool students in his classroom, including one of the brightest fifth graders in the school, Joanie Cramer. There are two other fifth grade teachers who have a total of four talent pool students in each of their classes. Carol has arranged to see all of the fifth graders together at least one time each week. However, in the past few weeks Mr. Guthrie’s students have been late for their scheduled time in the resource room or have not been allowed to come to the resource room at all.

See a description of curriculum compacting below:

See examples of curriculum compacting below:

Related Web Sites: 
http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/vcurcomp.html

Supplemental Resources:

Reis, S., & Renzulli, J. (1992). Using curriculum compacting to challenge the above average. Educational Leadership 50(2), 51-57.

On this past Tuesday, the other fifth grade students arrive on time; however, the six students from Mr. Guthrie’s classroom do not arrive. Carol set off down to their classroom to pick up the students and determine the reason for their lateness. She was mildly perturbed. Her goal was to have the talent pool students leave their classroom and return to the resource room with her for their regular Type II training time.

The gifted education teacher and the classroom teacher have a showdown.

John Guthrie, the newest fifth grade teacher at the school, misses the “good old days” when a teacher taught his own students because they spent the entire day, every day with one teacher. He doesn’t like the enrichment program at all. He’s been teaching for years and bright kids have always done well in his class. Besides, these six so-called Talent Pool students are the best- behaved students in his “very active” and busy class of students. Mr. Guthrie believes that because the bright students always do their work, they serve as models for their peers. Therefore, he does not want the talent pool students to leave the room, not even for one hour a week. In order to keep the talent pool students in his classroom when they are scheduled to go to the resource room, he frequently plans quizzes during that time.

Unfortunately, Mr. Guthrie has never really seen the importance of the resource room. He once commented to an administrator that going to Mrs. Maxwell’s classroom is like a treat or reward that is held over other children’s heads. Further, Mr. Guthrie doesn’t believe that students should miss instructional time. Clearly he is a firm-believer that students don’t “get it on his or her own” and fears he’ll have to “re-teach” the missed material. He also knows that county policies requires that students not miss any tests or quizzes when scheduled out of the classroom, therefore, he has arranged for frequent assessments during the scheduled resource room time.

Mr. Guthrie is one of the only teachers in the building who does not at least occasionally engage in curriculum compacting for talent pool students. During the after-school inservices on the subject, Mr. Guthrie has been excused because he coaches the high school boys’ junior varsity basketball team. He has heard of compacting, but does not believe that students in his class know information prior to his introducing it.

Consistent with his recent behavior, Mr. Guthrie has planned a quiz and required the talent pool students to take the quiz along with the rest of the class. He just finishes passing out the quiz to the class when the door opens and in walks the resource teacher. She doesn’t exactly look happy.

Mr. Guthrie asks the students to put their names on their papers and turns around to greet the resource teacher. He is obviously determined to have his students take their quiz now and not allow them to attend the resource room at their regularly scheduled time.

“Mr. Guthrie,” interrupts Carol Maxwell. “I don’t mean to disturb you but I’m afraid that the time has gotten away from you, and the talent pool students are late for my class. I’d like to take them now so I can salvage some part of the remaining time with all of the fifth graders.”

“Mrs. Maxwell,” John replies, “I’m afraid the students won’t be able to come to you today, as you can see, they are very busy completing a required quiz.” He turns away from her and walks to his desk.

Realizing that the entire classroom is gazing at them both, Mrs. Maxwell starts to exit the room.

Upon exiting she comments, “Thank you, Mr. Guthrie. I see that you’re busy so we’ll continue our conversation during your planning period. Have a good day.”

Frustrated and tense, Carol walks down the hall more determined than ever to win this battle.

The gifted education teacher decides to use curriculum compacting to demonstrate the students’ needs for time in the resource room with the reluctant fifth grade teacher.

Determined to succeed, Carol begins to think of ways that she can convince John Guthrie to work with her rather than against her. She has met resistance before. During her 10 years at Springstown Elementary School she has had to convince several colleagues to work with her in supporting the resource room and the overall Talent Development Program. There have been a few people hard to sell, but none as persistent as John Guthrie.

After careful contemplation, Carol realizes that she must work with John one step at a time. The other teachers release their students because the regular classroom curriculum is compacting, demonstrating that students need something other than the “standard curriculum.” Carol has carefully coincided curriculum compacting and resource room schedules to best address students’ needs. Many teachers have come to appreciate the resource room time given that curriculum compacting has left some students in need of supplemental learning experiences in place of instruction provided to students without mastery.

Currently, Mr. Guthrie does not work with Carol to compact the standard fifth grade curriculum. He believes that students must stay in class to learn from him in order to be successful. Therefore, first she must convince him of the contrary.

Carol first looks for a list of the steps in curriculum compacting. Further, she finds examples of curriculum compacting to place in John’s mailbox.

See the steps in the curriculum compacting process below:

From the National Research Center on Gifted and Talented: http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/vcurcomp.html

The gifted education teacher selects one of the most capable students in the talent pool, Joanie Davis, to demonstrate the need for students’ participation in resource room activities in place of some regular classroom activities.

It has taken Carol Maxwell two months to convince Joanie’s teacher to try to compact her curriculum. She’s been telling him she’ll do all of the work. Now that Joanie’s teacher has agreed, or at least stopped resisting, compacting, She’s going to complete a “strength-a-lyzer” on her (Joe Renzulli created a form to document students’ current strengths, interests, and performance levels in order to establish which areas of the curriculum might need compacting).

Joanie’s mother has said that Joanie is good in math, but Joanie has complained of boredom in other subject areas, too. The task now is to not only help convince Joanie’s teacher by completing the strength-a-lzyer in math, but also to have him consider other areas possible for compacting.

Click here for Joanie’s completed strength-a-lyzer

Upon looking at the general representation of Joanie’s interest, learning preferences, and current performance areas, Ms. Maxwell prepares to meet with Mr. Guthrie to discuss Joanie’s needs for buying out time from curriculum experiences that will not challenge her in order for her to participate in learning experiences more appropriately stimulating and intellectually demanding.

Mr. Guthrie admits that Ms. Maxwell is nothing if not persistent. He reluctantly agrees to meet with her during his Thursday planning period. As might have been predicted, he was late.

Mr. Guthrie’s first remarks, “There is no doubt that my students are bright, but what does all of this information have to do with what I teach in my class? The students can’t miss class because they need me to teach them. They are smart, but they don’t learn by osmosis.”

Ms. Maxwell asks, “What are you teaching the students in the next unit in mathematics?”

“We’ll be going to long division,” he said.

“Many of the students need little instruction before moving to mastery,” said Ms. Maxwell. If you’ll let me have only Joanie this week during our scheduled resource room time, I’ll give her a pre-assessment on long division. Then, we can look at her results.”

Although he was somewhat skeptical, Mr. Guthrie agreed.

A week later, Carol has gone over the pre-assessment results and is preparing to go to talk to Mr. Guthrie. But she knows she must be prepared. What can she suggest that Mr. Guthrie do as a result of studying Joanie’s strength-a-lyzer and the pre-assessment results? What does this mean for his teaching of the rest of this unit? Other units? She must have a plan before they meet in order to truly win him over. What about the other content areas? What impact does this information have on future curriculum planning and for what areas in particular? She recognizes that most teachers are afraid of compacting the curriculum because it means “doing something different” for the students who are “buying out” time. She starts with three important questions: (1) What regular curricular material is to be compacted? (2) What are Joanie’s general indications of strength in this area? and (3) What specific material has been mastered? How will she know?

Click here for Joanies pre-assessment results