One of my posts from last week concerned a writing assignment that M. was given in English: to write an adventure story. A descriptive adventure story. In two pages. Arial, 14 pt Font. M. wrote two pages and a half pages and wasn’t even close to the climax. But the quality of the writing was very good and I told her to turn it in unfinished but with the hope that the quality of the writing would speak for itself. M. reported back that that teacher commented about the length and the she was “going to have to read it all.” I nearly swallowed my tongue upon hearing that comment.
Well, the next day M. gave me the latest news: Her story could be four pages. Hello differentiation. (BTW, she dropped to a 12 point font before turning it in. So it wouldn’t go over the limit.)
Meanwhile, the next meeting of the School Improvement Plan team was scheduled for late last week at 4 p.m. Because of work, I couldn’t make it, but I put in a call to the person I’ve been dealing with at AEI to pose a few questions, the main one being “How do I know that my kid is receiving GT instruction in his/her GT class?”
She sent me this document, English Language Arts “Look Fors.” Now I appreciate this. But frankly, I’ve always wondered why it’s my job to be looking for “look fors.” I’d prefer them to be called “will do’s” as in the the powers that be and the Office of Accelerated and Enriched Instruction mandating to the schools and in turn to teachers that this is what you will do, this is what will happen in your classes. Full stop.
Still, I appreciate this person continuing to engage with me in conversation. So I asked her in an e-mail:
I assume these are “look fors” in every, for example, MCPS 6th grade English class. What makes a class a *GT* 6th grade English class? Different books? Writing assignments? Are there different common tasks, different books for GT classes? Where are the expectations for a GT class written out and spelled out? Am I missing something? Because unless I see something qualitatively different spelled out as a GT curriculum, I have to assume that it really doesn’t exist. When I know that 6th grade students at the humanities magnet are reading Animal Farm and The Giver (8th grade “anchor texts”) in 6th grade, I can see and understand that they are doing GT-level work. Is there anything spelled out, laid out, mapped out that is somewhere between the standard 6th grade English curriculum and what I know to be a two year accelerated magnet English curriculum?
She’s going to check with the English office.