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Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Express Yourself

The student was stuck. Until now~ he had been breezing through his project~ making progress~ enjoying each moment.

Until now.

His teacher asked him to write a script for the instructional video he was creating. As a student in the schools gifted program~ his project involved creating a video that showed fellow students how to construct a Lego airplane. He had selected his topic of interest (Lego)~ chosen a product (video)~ and knew his subject well. But asking him to type a script using a computer was a long~ arduous task that had stalled his progress.

Thats where expression stylehis preferred method of creating a product to share-entered the picture.

His teacher knew he loved to create artwork and express his work by drawing. So he broke out the crayons and asked the student to create a script using pictures~ drawings and other symbols.

The student lit up and began working. By the end of the class period~ he had created a colorful~ creative script that could be used for filming his video.

Thats the power of knowing your students expression style and allowing them to use it in the classroom.

We all have a favorite way of developing a product. Some like to draw. Some like to write. Some like to act things out or give a speech. Others want to use technology or work with their hands. Each of us have a preferred way of expressing what we have learned~ in other words~ an expression style.

I have been fortunate enough to have access to the Renzulli learning system~ which requires students complete a learning profile and provides them with a breakdown of their areas of interest~ learning style~ and expression style.

With this information~ I can truly differentiate my lesson plans for each student~ drawing upon my knowledge of their preferred expression styles. I can avoid forcing a student to share information in a way that is counter-productive~ stressful or just plain boring. I can speed up production time and enhance learning by aligning projects with the right form of expression.

If you are not in a school district that subscribes to the Renzulli program (you need to beg them to order it)~ then you can create your own tools for gathering this information. At the start of each school year~ you can have students complete a form that helps you identify expression styles.

Essentially~ you want to ask questions that get students thinking about how they like to create products. You can list the following topics and have students rate them from one to ten~ based on an imaginary assignment that would require them to create something.





Hands on




You could also phrase questions that place students in certain learning situations. For example~ if you have to research a topic on a specific animal and share that with the class~ how would you like to present it? Please circle one answer

Create a model or sculpture Write a report~ story or play Give a speech

Create a video slideshow Create and act out a skit Sing a song

You get the idea. Create a questionnaire that works for you. The point is that you should make every effort to learn expression styles and incorporate that knowledge into your planning.

The result will be higher productivity~ more enjoyable learning and increased success for everyone.

To comment on this post~ please visit the Gifted/Enrichment group athttp://community.educationworld.comcontent/express-yourself-0?gid=NTEyMQ==