Here is a timely reminder to keep an eye on what our gifted students need to be careful of as they participate in open online courses and MOOCs for meeting their needs. So much is available free, outside of the “walled” offerings that are paid for. Watch out that “free” sign doesn’t become more costly than you’d ever imagined.
Teachers often think they just haven’t got time to differentiate the curriculum for gifted students. They may not use these exact words, but they look at all the other things they have to report on each week, and doing something extra on top of that for a small minority is beyond them. Besides, if they don’t really have training in teaching gifted students, what should they do?
Here are a few things that could be done in the regular classroom that would help gifted students and not hinder the rest of the class along the way. And it won’t take too much extra time, but will probably save you much stress and time in the long term. It is the start of an ongoing set of ideas especially helpful when getting started with meeting the needs of gifted children in the regular classroom.
Accept there are gifted students, even if you don’t know what they should look like. If a parent tells you their child is gifted, it is usually not out of pride or bragging. It is because they have lived 24/7 with this child for their entire life, and they know there is something different about the way they think and do life. Being accepted as they are is one of the best things you can do for a gifted student, and it doesn’t take you any time at all, short of a thank you or a smile when parents offer you advice that might help you with their child.
Think about what sort of investigations could be done at a deeper level right at the planning stage. This is the time you should be thinking about your gifted students, not just when they finish early or start to cause you challenges in the classroom lessons. Just as you have to think about ESOL or physical disabilities when you are planning, so you should consider how what you are planning will affect the child who might already know what you are planning to introduce to everyone in your classroom.
Use labels and practices that will not alienate your gifted child from their peers. If you say “Extra for experts” you imply that only those who complete the task at hand are experts, and worthy of a greater challenge. Gifted students are worthy of a challenge all the time, as is every student in the classroom. If they already know what is being taught, they should not have to repeat it just to earn an extra challenge. Try finding out what level each child is at before you start a topic; pretest, or maybe challenge them with the “Five most difficult first” strategy. If anyone is already familiar with the difficult level, then they should have an advanced level made available to them, or something that will challenge them to apply this knowledge in a new way.
Choice is paramount for gifted students. This involves being flexible in what you will accept as an outcome that displays what the student has learned. It might be negotiated individually with the gifted student, or be part of a whole class choice system. Having a variety of products based on learning preferences, or Bloom’s taxonomy, or The Six Thinking Hats, or allowing a different context for a standard problem will accommodate the needs of gifted students to work on meaningful tasks that they are passionate about.
Have a variety of question starters at all levels of thinking displayed prominently in the classroom to provide the opportunity to “differentiate on the spot” when challenged by a student needing something extra “now”. Ask the student to reword a topic with a particular question starter, or decide it yourself. Useful starters are … In what ways could you…? Thinking about this from the …’s point of view, how else could you …? Show how many different ways it might be possible to …? From your experience, how has this helped you …? If you are not very creative, ask someone else in the school who is, or brainstorm some good question starters at your next syndicate or staff meeting.
Ask your gifted students what they are interested in – it could be Antarctica, Roald Dahl books, Science Fiction, trains, aliens, or anything that they can sit and learn about for hours. Try to incorporate these passions into the curriculum they do at least once a term. Ask them a question about it at least once a week. Give them a smile at least once a day, especially when you see them reading or hear them talking about their favourite topic.
Try these six ideas out over the next few weeks, or whenever the time is appropriate, and let me know how you get on.
We have had a wonderfully hot summer in New Zealand, since Christmas. Yes, I realise it has hurt many who depend on the rainfall to keep drought conditions at bay, but it could have been worse if we didn’t have the last two wet months of 2012; I think a lot have forgotten that.
The media have had a field day with our long, hot summer, again offering doom and gloom and prophecies of the negative effects of the planet warming. The earliest mention of global warming I have come across is from a newspaper published the year I was born, 1959, which was found in the wall cavity of an old bungalow I was renovating with my husband in 2004. It talked then of the dire consequences we were to experience then, that are yet to take place to the full extent they predicted half a century ago. Continue reading “Global Scaremongering”
For those who don’t know, I am in Samoa with my creative-gifted husband, working on raising the tourism dollar post-tsunami. Another entry to my weekly update for folks back in New Zealand, this week, involved much about giftedness – repeated here for your consumption…
Harvested the sweetcorn and had our first meal – what a sweet treat that was! A few meals from the beans, but the tomatoes are s-l-o-w ripening!! One nearly turning red, out of about 450 last count!!
The online learning courses help to up-skill single parents in current work practices so that they can gain and maintain successful employment.
The interactive learning modules are easy to follow and available 24 hours a day to enable lone parents to fit their self-development around family commitments and work at their own pace.
I know and appreciate how well online learning can benefit single parents unable to get childcare for their little ones. I was in that position many years ago now, and completed my first ever degree from Massey University, extramurally, as was available then – through the post). I completed my Bachelor in Business Studies – Accountancy over six years. It fitted in well around my roles as full-time child caregiver and my part-time work with an accountant. I retrained as a teacher when I found accountancy professional development cut too far across family time. Later, I went on to study my Masters in Education via online study while I taught in a full-primary school.
Online education became an interest, and then developed as a major for me during my Masters’ research and study. I developed an online journalism course for gifted seniors who anticipated following this line of work after school. It included role play exercises to familiarise participants with taking an alternative point of view on a topic. By doing so, they had to research a topic much more deeply and their journalism improved as a result.
So – well done One Space, for not only recognising a need for single parents, but for using current technology to improve the chances for those in need.
I’d love to hear comments on what people think this saying means. I have seen it mentioned in books and articles I have read, but so far I haven’t come across a clear definition. I have decided it must refer to the great variety there is amongst the characteristics of all gifted students.
Perish the thought that it could mean that if the gifted child is not producing or “doing”, then they are not gifted! It depends too, on the achievement levels of the gifted child.