What all teachers in regular classrooms can do for the gifted … # 1

gifted education blog
Making learning different and meaningful for all.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

The Course

These have to be the most insightful words I have seen written by a parent, about their participation in their children’s education, in the last two centuries!

The Course

A great blog for those interested in non-school education of the gifted. Thank you all at “Chasing Hollyfeld”

Global Scaremongering

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”

If God is for us who can be against us?

A thought-provoking verse for the start of 2013…

What then shall we say to these things?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:31

It’s a question many people have thought about, indirectly, as they ponder the tragedies that have struck them over the previous year. Illness and death of loved ones; marriage breakups and other family problems; natural and man-made disasters wreaking havoc in communities – never to be the same again! Continue reading “If God is for us who can be against us?”

Arguing in a Persuasive Manner

Teaching kids to argue in a persuasive manner
Prufock Press Blog

Gifted Kids can often get into the bad books of their teachers at school because they have a propensity to argue the point. This in itself is not a bad trait, but it can be a little hard for teachers to swallow. I have always said it is better to teach them how to explain their ideas to others in a respectful manner. It seems this blogger at Prufock Press, the’ home’ of gifted education publishing agrees, and elaborates on a good way to do that.


Nobody likes to be shown up, especially by someone younger, and supposedly less knowledgeable  An effective argument has to have both people committed to listening to each other’s point of view, so the sooner we teach our gifted kids this art of arguing in a positive manner, the sooner they will be able to effectively advocate for their own educational needs.

Intense kids … Intense adults

Blog tour

This is a special blog post as part of the NPGC Blog Tour.

National Parenting Gifted Children Week is hosted by SENG(Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted).Please follow the Blog Tour!Download SENG’s free NPGC Week ebook, The Joy and the Challenge: Parenting Gifted Children.

I touched on some of these intense individuals in a post last year Life at the Edge . I said back then,

“We can’t demand a gifted person change their ‘being’ to fit into our ideas of adequate provision for them.”

(Thanks Lisa for the thumbs up on that line!!!) Continue reading “Intense kids … Intense adults”

“Find Your Great Work” Movie – by Michael Bungay Stanier

Following on from yesterday, watch this Find Your Great Work Movie – by Michael Bungay Stanier. Michael challenges us with five ways to find our great work:

  1. Things only get really interesting when you take full responsibility for the choices you make.
  2. Changing your focus changes what is possible.
  3. You must make the full choice – what to say “yes” to, and what to say “no” to.
  4. If everyone’s happy then you are not doing great work.
  5. If you’re doing it yourself, you are not doing great work – will you open the door to others?

Great work will make a difference to others. Sometimes we can be so wrapped up in what we want to do, we forget about our impact on others. Being empathic takes you out of the zone of self-fulfilment to ‘other centred’-fulfilment. As teachers, we need to look at our students to see that they are truly learning, before we accept any praise for ourselves. Unless they are truly learning, we are not truly teachers. Are we?

Just a thought to ponder online, as you prepare for the variety of students in your class this year!

Notoriety comorbid with giftedness

With all the current discussion about Wikileaks, no matter how you view Julian Assange and his team, you have to credit them with some level of intelligence to be able to get their hands on the documents in the first place. And now, after falling out with his former partners, who are off setting up Open Leaks, it is revealed that this gifted guy became obsessed by his power, and started to alienate the very people who started the mission with him, to reveal truth that world powers were keeping hidden.

When gifted people use their high intellect for questionable deeds, they can do it expertly and gain much notoriety from it. These two go hand-in-hand. So we shouldn’t expect all our gifted students in our classrooms to be excellent scholars, because like all kids, some just enjoy the darker side of life. Or sometimes, it is the intensity with which they do things that draws them to extremes of behaviour.

Just as we have mentors (managers and coaches) that help our top sports people cope with the stresses that this level of play exposes them to, so do our gifted children need mentors that can help them be guided through the minefield of life that their high intellect will expose them to. But, somehow, the sports community seem to accept they need a coach to make the best use of their skill moreso than the gifted academic.

It is no wonder we find gifted young adults going off the rails because they haven’t learned to cope with their giftedness early enough in life. They fall into their own trap of thinking they are invincible, and when they combine this invincibility with their creativity, they can become very misunderstood people. Their passion to achieve a good cause can sometimes tip the balance to a point where notoriety becomes the focal point.

Tip for the day: Look behind the behaviour, to the motivation, to see what is really going on. Give some of your gifted kids the leeway they need, just like we give our rugby players 10 minutes in the ‘sin bin’ when they goof up in a game!

Latest Update: I jut took my grandson to see “Megamind” – and it had just the same storyline as this post! Gifted ‘kids’ using their intellect for ‘evil’ or ‘good’ – or both! Maybe director Tom McGrath knows a bit about these kids, too!