Many excellent enrichment activities are available
to help students think about their interests and the types of enrichment
they would like to pursue. One way to get started is learning about
student interests, to find out what types of areas students have
an interest in pursuing. To help you in this process, we recommend
two interest assessment devices: If
I Ran the School and the Interest-A-Lyzer.
For this intervention, students should be asked to complete both
If I Ran the School and the Interest-A-Lyzer.
Student interests are key in choosing enrichment
or acceleration options. When asked what they enjoy most about compacting,
children consistently cite the freedom to select their own topics
of study; conversely, their biggest objection to regular curriculum
is the limited opportunity to pursue their favorite subjects.
We commonly assume that when a student excels
in a given area, he or she has a special interest in it. This is
not always true. Often, students perform well in a course because
they've been directed and rewarded by parents and teachers. Students
may also lean toward one academic area simply because they've had
little exposure to others. Completing the first brief interest assessment
form, If I Ran the School, provides an outstanding opportunity
to discuss the students' underachievement and their opportunity
to work with you on a self-selected product.
The second form, the Interest-A-Lyzer
will take a bit more time and should not be rushed. You should carefully
review the instructions below and give the student(s) with whom
you are working some time to pursue this in the next week or two.
It will provide you with an excellent opportunity to get to know
The Interest-A-Lyzer is a brief questionnaire
devised to help students examine and focus their interests. Basically,
the youngsters are asked to imagine themselves in a series of real
and hypothetical situations, and then relate how they would react.
The primary purpose of this exercise to identify
students' interest areas is to stimulate thought and discussion.
Students not only come to know themselves better, but also get a
chance to share their discoveries with both teachers and peers.
To ensure that students draw a true "self portrait," teachers should:
- Tell the students that there are no grades,
or right or wrong answers.
- Assure students that their responses will
be kept confidential, if they wish.
- Instruct students to follow directions carefully,
to avoid group conformity or stereotyped responses.
- Allow students to complete the questionnaire
without pressures or time constraints.
Teachers play a dual role in fostering student
interests. Once they've identified general categories of interest,
they must refine and focus them, then provide students with creative
and productive outlets for expressing them. A child who enjoys rock
music, for instance, may want to become a musician, but there are
other avenues he or she could pursue as well, such as that of radio
announcer or concert producer. Teachers must be sensitive to students'
talents and inclinations within their fields of interest, and at
the same time, encourage them to explore a range of options within
those fields. Once students have completed If I Ran the School
and the Interest-A-Lyzer, you are ready to pursue a number
of ways to stimulate their interests.