Helping the “upper end”

If you had the opportunity to completely revamp your school, from schedules, to day length, to class offerings, etc.. how would you try to help the high achievers?  Under the current regime, as I’ve discussed before, we are mostly focusing our efforts on how to help those who are struggling, unfamiliar with the language, or uninterested in learning.  Right now, most of the options to help the high achievers involve giving them extra work, or giving them an advanced class where they can work twice as hard for the same grade.  For some reason, this doesn’t inspire.  Many of my top students ask me, “Why should I take Advanced English next year?  Won’t I just have to work harder to get an A?”

So, I’ve started trying to put together ideas for ways to help inspire, reward, or encourage the “upper end” of students if you were in a position to completely revamp a high school.  And yes, I think I may end up in such a position.  The administrators are putting all of the focus on “leaving no child behind”, but I’ve decided that now is the time to spread the focus to the other end, too.

Any thoughts, advice, hopes and dreams are welcome.

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts. 

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4 Comments

  1. renaissanceguy said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:32 pm

    I’m thinking. I have some ideas on this subject, bu tit will take me a little while to think how to express them.

  2. languagelover said,

    December 13, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    Right now, I’ve got these ideas:
    *Having some sort of weighted GPA where students who take advanced courses can earn higher than a 4.0.
    **Offer fun, elective classes (film making, movie criticism, dance, tag football…) that are only open to students based on GPA or passing some sort of intelligence or equivalence test–perhaps these classes are only offered second semester so you can work hard first semester to earn the right to take those elective classes
    ***Offer rewards for perfect attendance, i.e. semester test exemption, collect prizes from area businesses and have a drawing from the perfect attendance students.
    ****Offer rewards for A’s. Each quarter students get their names put into a drawing for each A. X number of students get their name drawn and get to go on a field trip–watch a play, movie, go out for pizza, etc…

    That’s what I have so far…Keep thinking, RG, and get back to me when you can.

  3. Chani said,

    January 11, 2008 at 5:13 am

    Weighted GPAs – excellent idea.
    The rest – a bit cheesy and probably ineffective in the long run. The odds of ‘high end students’ in high school wanting to take flag football as a course are probably slim to none. Besides, shouldn’t the system be encouraging smart students to be smarter? If anything, you could offer a seminar discussing global issues or modern poets (like Billy Collins!) as a ‘fun, exciting elective’.
    Perfect attendance rewards are a bit first-grade, no? I understand the correlation between attendance and grade, but just because you show up doesn’t really mean you deserve a prize or to be exempt from a semester exam. In fact, technically, students must attend school by law. There should be no rewards for simply abiding the law.
    Exemption from a semester exam for students who have an A in the class is a good idea because they’re the ones who will kill themselves studying for the test and get an A – which doesn’t change their overall grade anyways.
    Field trips? Eh. But food? Yes.

    At least you’re trying to address the issue.

  4. January 30, 2008 at 2:51 am

    How about a seminar course that pulls in industry folks from various industries and gives hands-on projects? Programming (write a game), writing (submit to magazines), … well, those are what I’m familiar with. 😉

    Could let students pick two or three projects from a larger set of optionals.

    Less structure, more visceral reward. Stuff that encourages thought more and memorization less.


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