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MPROVEMENT of educational opportunities for the more able children in our schools has captured and held the attention and imagination of the public. Many persons are asking what the elementary schools are doing to provide adequate education for these children, and others are suggesting what schools ought to be doing.
In response to this interest, the present study was undertaken by the Specialist for Upper Grades in the Elementary Schools Section of the Office of Education as an attempt to analyze some of the characteristics of the more able children and to report school programs which local educators consider to be good for these children.
The content of this bulletin was derived from several sources: a study of research in the field of the gifted, observations in selected schools, interviews with teachers and administrators, and examination of publications which describe school programs or activities. Some of these programs have been in progress for many years; others represent changes recently adopted by the particular school or school system.
Some programs place the more able children in heterogeneously organized classes, providing experiences or extensions of experiences for them over and above those provided for other children in the same classes. Other programs separate the more able children into homogeneous or special classes, where their experiences go beyond those provided for the children in the other classes. Still other programs use a combination of these two patterns, or other forms of organization, such as team teaching.
The present report does not attempt to evaluate the relative worth of these various ways of organizing schools to teach the more able children. It does, however, attempt to reflect the spirit of the teaching-learning situations, and to identify some elements which appear rather consistently in those schools giving particular attention to the education of these children, no matter what form the organization may take. This report should be useful to school personnel responsible for the education of the more able children in elementary schools
and for the preservice or inservice education of teachers. It may also help parents understand better what the schools are trying to do.
Appreciation is expressed to the cooperating school systems (see appendix) and school personnel whose hospitality, cooperation, and interest made the study possible; and to the children-those who inspired the study, answered questions, volunteered information, and sent materials and letters to the observer.
E. GLENN FEATHERSTON,
Division of State and Local
J. DAN HULL,
Organization, and Services
Educating the More Able Children in Grades Four, Five, and Six
MONG EDUCATORS there is wide recognition of the fact that most schools, within the boundaries of community support and the technical abilities of teachers, have helped children develop their individual potentialities well enough to satisfy their own needs and to contribute to the progress of society. Along with other adults, however, educators realize that the fastmoving changes in our society and our world have brought about social demands which more than ever require the development of constructive human potentialities wherever found, and particularly in individuals of superior endowment.
The grave problem facing those responsible for guidance of today's more able children is to find methods of helping them cope with present and anticipated future conditions in society, and at the same time to help them preserve or develop personal attributes and values which have long been considered essential in our society.
If schools are to be required to intensify their educational program for the more able children, (1) ways must be found to help teachers identify these children; (2) the educational goals for these children must be clarified by school personnel, parents, and leaders in society; (3) school environments must support the best development of the more able children; and (4) the processes used to educate them must be stimulating and productive of growth toward defined goals.
How to help a teacher identify the more able children is an area of much current, active research and the whole subject is in a very
fluid state. Hence, the present report does not deal with that phase of educating these children, nor does it deal at length with the setting of goals. Rather, it concentrates on school environments and teaching processes, accepting the long-held conviction of educators that the elementary school should help all children achieve all their potentials for growth.
This bulletin reports the author's observations which formed the basis of the study. In the main, each "Teaching-Learning Situation” reports the activities observed in a single classroom, with a single group of children, thus making it possible for the reader to see how a teacher worked in more than one subject-matter area, and how various teachers worked in similar and different subject-matter areas. Following the presentations of observations in fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, and in several mixed-grade settings, an attempt is made to show the characteristics ascribed by teachers to more able children, and the elements which, in general, characterized the teaching-learning situations.
Included also are implications for school administrators and teachers, parents, and persons responsible for the education of teachers.
How Schools Are Organized To Educate the More Able Children
HE VARIOUS ORGANIZATIONAL PLANS found today in teaching the more able children are represented in the schools studied for the present report. In the heterogeneous, oneteacher-to-a-class plan, still predominant in elementary schools of the United States, skilled teachers "enrich" the experiences of the more able children. The enrichment is usually accomplished through the use of large study units in social studies, science, mathematics, literature, or other subject matter areas, in which the content is potentially so broad as to make possible its adaptation and extension for meeting a wide range of academic needs. These units are derived from guides or courses of study, from studies of children's needs and interests, or from current events in the community, State, Nation, and world.1 Enrichment also takes the form of pursuing, individually or as a member of a committee, club, or cluster group, special interests or hobbies related to a study area; of carrying greater responsibility for contributions to class studies; and, in general, of delving more deeply and more broadly into the environment.
The homogeneous or special class type of grouping for the more able children has been followed in several large cities for many years. In most instances, children grouped in this way according to academic ability are expected to accomplish the same work that other children of the grade level are accomplishing, but they also have additional opportunities to extend their skills and deepen their understanding. These opportunities may be to learn a foreign language, take special trips, or have enriching experiences in art, music, reading, science, social studies, or any other area, much as is done in heterogeneous classes.
1 See Havighurst, No. 19 in the bibliography,