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Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...

# Accelerate!

In a previous blog~ I addressed the question over whether advanced learners should take part in acceleration or enrichment. In summary~ while I am a strong believer in enrichment activities that develop a students strengths and talents~ I believe acceleration can be beneficial in certain circumstances.

This blog will focus on ways to accelerate a student once they have demonstrated mastery of a particular subject or lesson.

The first step is determining whether a student has established mastery in a certain area. Lets use math. Perhaps you have a child~ who consistently finishes his or her math work early and scores high on assessments. Once you have identified this type of student~ you can use a number of assessment tools to determine where you should begin with acceleration. One simple method would be to assess the student using end-of-the-chapter tests until you have found where the student does not demonstrate mastery (typically~ the number used is 85-90 percent).

For instance~ say you get to Chapter 11~ in the text book~ and the student scores a 60 percent on that test~ you would determine they have not mastered the curriculum in that chapter and subsequent chapters. That becomes your point of acceleration.

Now~ what do you do? Well~ there are several methods to accelerate this student.

You can use a differentiation approach called Math Achievement Teams~ which is outlined in Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner. (By the way~ this is a terrific resource for gifted teachers and general education teachers~ who have gifted children in their classrooms). Essentially~ you pre-test students and group them according to their knowledge of the chapter. You then provide daily lessons to each group based on where they are in the chapter or textbook. Depending on the team~ students complete different lessons and extension activities~ and homework will be differentiated since it is based on where they are in the text.

Another way to accelerate is by placing students in different classrooms or higher grade levels. For example~ a fifth-grade student may join a seventh-grade classroom for math instruction but spend the rest of the school day with her fifth-grade peers. While studies have shown positive effects when students are properly scheduled in higher grades~ parents and school administrators could have concerns over the social and emotional impact. You will need to check your school districts policies on acceleration.

Personally~ I think using technology to provide acceleration makes sense. You dont have to relocate a student to a potentially challenging social environment~ yet you can provide academic challenge and rigor. I have used online courses~ such as Florida Virtual School~ to accelerate students in mathematics. Each day~ during math instruction~ one of my fifth-grade students completed middle-school-level math while the rest of the class worked within the grade level. He completed assignments via the online course~ which provide with him with instruction and assessments and also required him to check in with a course instructor.

Acceleration doesnt need to be a challenge or a scary word if you understand your options. Educators need to know their options-- then they need to choose the one that best fits the students needs.

To comment on this post or previous ones~ please visit the Gifted and Enrichment group at http://community.educationworld.comcontent/accelerate-0?gid=NTEyMQ==

P.S. In next weeks blog~ I am going to revert back to enrichment by sharing the steps to creating a top-notch simulation with your students. Im currently using one now for my gifted students. Ill give you a few hints on the premise: It involved President Nixon (I am not a crook) and a two~ determined journalists from The Washington Post.