Rakow, S. (2005) Educating Gifted Students in Middle School: A Practical Guide.Rakow, S. (2005) Educating Gifted Students in Middle School: A Practical Guide. Waco, TX:-Prufrock Press (251 pp., $24.95 pb, ISBN- 1-59363-164-2).
Middle school is a challenging place for both gifted learners and their teachers. They are caught in the middle between: (a) elementary and secondary, (b) equity and excellence orientations, (c) differentiation and streaming, and (d) generalists and subject specialists. There is a genuine need for practical resources that help middle-school teachers address the needs of the gifted students in their midst.
Dr. Susan Rakow addresses this need with a book that outlines many of the challenges facing gifted learners and their teachers during the middle-school years. Rakow is well positioned to write such a book as she combines practical experience as a middle-school teacher and consultant with the academic rigor rigor /rig·or/ (rig´er) [L.] chill; rigidity.
rigor mor´tis the stiffening of a dead body accompanying depletion of adenosine triphosphate in the muscle fibers. of a professor specializing in middle-school curriculum and gifted education Gifted education is a broad term for special practices, procedures and theories used in the education of children who have been identified as gifted or talented. Programs providing such education are sometimes called Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) or .
The opening chapters establish the context for middle-school gifted education. The first chapter addresses the nature and needs of gifted middle-school students, while the second situates middle-school education in the wider discourse concerning middle-school philosophy, No Child Left Behind, and standardized testing. The author makes a genuine effort to understand and reconcile various positions on the issues to create a middle ground for middle-school teachers.
The core of the book includes chapters outlining various organizational structures and program models, the role of the gifted teacher and intervention specialist, curricular and instructional strategies, differentiated instruction Differentiated instruction (sometimes referred to as differentiated learning) is a way of thinking about teaching and learning. It involves teachers using a variety of instructional strategies that address diverse student learning needs. , and addressing the needs of special populations (e.g., dual exceptionalities, gender, sexual orientation sexual orientation
The direction of one's sexual interest toward members of the same, opposite, or both sexes, especially a direction seen to be dictated by physiologic rather than sociologic forces. , culture, socio-economic status). The final chapters offer supplementary material on books and reading, and supplemental programs such as competitions, talent searches, and community service.
The greatest strength of the book is its practical orientation to middle-school teaching and learning. For example, the chapter on organizational structures and program models offers concise and clear descriptions of a variety of approaches including magnet programs, homogenous homogenous - homogeneous gifted classes, the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, and pull-out resource programs. The chapter concludes with a useful PMI See Private Mortgage Insurance. (plus, minus, and interesting) chart and a list of points to consider in determining the most appropriate models and approaches for particular schools and districts.
Another strength is the chapter outlining various curricular and instructional strategies. Rakow, while taking the time to explain the institutional implications of different approaches, clearly focuses on how various strategies address the specific learning needs of gifted learners in middle-school settings. She provides a very good outline of the Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM (1) See phase change memory.
(2) (Plug Compatible Manufacturer) An organization that makes a computer or electronic device that is compatible with an existing machine. ) and how one can build connections (or extensions) from the basic curriculum of the middle-school years. The strengths and limits of Bloom's taxonomy, multiple intelligences, role-playing, and other instructional strategies are effectively conveyed. While the author's criticisms of cooperative learning cooperative learning Education theory A student-centered teaching strategy in which heterogeneous groups of students work to achieve a common academic goal–eg, completing a case study or a evaluating a QC problem. See Problem-based learning, Socratic method. were excellent, I would have liked her to give more attention to its benefits for gifted learners in homogenous and heterogeneous settings.
The chapter on special populations nicely summarized the issues facing a range of students in middle schools. I was particularly pleased that the author did not shy away from Verb 1. shy away from - avoid having to deal with some unpleasant task; "I shy away from this task"
avoid - stay clear from; keep away from; keep out of the way of someone or something; "Her former friends now avoid her" addressing the needs of gay, lesbian, and bisexual bisexual /bi·sex·u·al/ (-sek´shoo-al)
1. pertaining to or characterized by bisexuality.
2. an individual exhibiting bisexuality.
3. pertaining to or characterized by hermaphroditism.
4. students. There is an excellent section on the internal and external barriers facing gifted girls. A parallel section on gifted boys was notably, and unfortunately, absent.
Dr. Rakow is clearly sensitive to the needs of middle-school teachers and gifted learners. She sees all sides and makes a genuine effort to accommodate everyone. While this generally is a strength in a practical guide to programming in middle-school classrooms, it sometimes leads to vagueness in the opening chapters. In examining the nature and needs of gifted middle-school students, the author avoids giving a clear definition of gifted learners. She nicely balances similarities and differences between gifted and other learners, but a clearer road map might be more helpful for her target audience of middle-school teachers.
Overall, I would strongly recommend this book as "a practical guide" for middle-school teachers of gifted students.
Reviewed by Julian Kitchen, Assistant Professor, Brock University Brock University, at St. Catharines, Ont., Canada; coeducational; founded 1964. It has faculties of humanities, social science, science and mathematics, education, business, and physical education and recreation. , St. Catharines, Ontario St. Catharines (2006 population 131,989; metropolitan population 390,317) is the largest city in the Niagara Region and the sixth largest urban area in Ontario, Canada, with 97.11 square kilometres (37.5 sq mi) of land. , Canada. E-mail: email@example.com