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”

Gifted Resources for the Regular Classroom

A reminder here for some interesting, higher order thinking, inquiry learning for your students.

Here is a link to the books I have written for teachers to use within their regular classrooms, to help broaden inquiry learning topics for their gifted students. See them at the Essential Resources website, or at your local teacher resource centre.

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Each book (9 in total) has between six and twelve units that address specific aspects of giftedness or topics that interest gifted students. The Teacher Notes page addresses some of the issues gifted students encounter in the classroom, and give you ideas on how to deal with them.

Here are some of the Units covered in each of the three levels:

Juniors (Ages 5 – 7)

Feelings and Opinions
So Many Questions
Having the Choice
Working Together
Tenacity and Compromise
Overcoming Frustration

 

Middles (Ages 8 -10)

Caged, But Free
Extreme Work Environments
Seasons and Cycles
Secret Places
Contraptions
From My Perspective

 

Senior (Ages 11 – 13)

Beyond the Atmosphere
Tipping the Scales of Justice
DNA Discovery
Living in Cultural Harmony
Following the Evidence
Search for the Truth
Sustainable Choices

Experiencing the Gifted

The trouble that arises from teachers and students alike not understanding someone’s differences can be widespread in the classroom. For gifted students, teachers not understanding their intentions, or criticising them for a seeming indiscretion, can damage their feelings of self-worth for years to come.

So how do you teach the teachers-to-be about gifted students in a way that doesn’t parade the gifted into more self-conciousness? Easy, by all accounts – view gifted people in films and identify with the common characteristics.

See Viewing Giftedness through Different Lenses: Film Character Analyses | Ako Aotearoa, an excellent article by Massey University’s Gifted expert, Tracy Riley.

I have a soft spot for this type of teaching and learning, because I have a son who was failing at NCEA English, until he changed schools in Year 12 and was catered for brilliantly at his new school. At this school, English Through Film was a popular class for students who were not that good with the standard reading and writing in the curriculum. It worked – he passed, and he finally enjoyed a year of English at school!

Prisoners Of Time

Sometimes, when you read something, you can believe it is just what people need to hear – until you look at the date and you wonder – Haven’t they heard this already?

This happened to me during my Christmas reading, when I chanced upon a report “Prisoners of Time”, first published in the United States in April 1994 as the Report of the National Education Commission on Time and Learning. The Education Commission of the States reprinted it in the Education Reform Reprint Series in October 2005, noting that the series’ aim was

“to confront, once again, education policymakers and the body politic with out-of-print critiques of American education that are as relevant today as they were at the time of their original publication” (p. 1).

May I add, today, in 2011,  nearly six years on, many aspects are still the same around the ‘worlds of education’. Continue reading “Prisoners Of Time”

Bursting the “Bubble Dome”

I have just been drawn back to the amazing work of the team at “Bubble Dome” – a NZ-based company started by Rebecca Merle, with whom I had the pleasure of working with some years back. I can truly say “WOW” – these guys are really getting themselves out there, providing great holiday, after-school, and in-class workshops for students (and teachers) to use their personal creativity and learn with some great ICT tools as well.

Not just in New Zealand now, they have venues in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as well. In fact, if you are in quick, you may be able to still sign up for some of the courses running prior to Christmas, and in January next year.

If your children have a passion for animation, movie-making, architecture, fashion design, science, robotics, or writing (among others), check their courses out now. The kids that go often say it is the highlight of their holidays. Let them break out of the traditional learning bubble and be wowed by the possibilities of learning with Bubble Dome.

Fabulous work, Bubble Dome Team.

And, NO, this is NOT a paid presentation as you get hounded by on tv!

Questioning … the art of encouraging thinking

Often teachers feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to meet the needs of all the different students in their classroom. They think they have to have 26 different plans – one for each child in the class. I don’t think even our super-human teachers could carry that on for too long.

The ministry wants us to personalise the learning for each of the students. Continue reading “Questioning … the art of encouraging thinking”

And Now to Attitude …

“Yes…some of you might say – their attitudes are the problem. They just don’t try to fit in.” I agree, some gifted students, me included, can sometimes have an attitude that does not easily engender harmony, but we are all human. We are all different, and what do you use to define a good attitude? Compliance? Questioning? Conviviality? Open-mindedness?

I have had to step back in my class many times and ask myself – “Is getting ruffled by this student’s apparent bad attitude going to help the situation, or hinder it?” Some students look at life with such a different lens to myself, that I have to remember, I am the adult here. I am supposed to be the teacher – and I need to find a way to reach this child no matter what their attitude is. My attitude has got to be professional.

Continue reading “And Now to Attitude …”

And now to Attitude …

“Yes…some of you might say – their attitudes are the problem. They just don’t try to fit in.” I agree, some gifted students, me included, can sometimes have an attitude that does not easily engender harmony, but we are all human. We are all different, and what do you use to define a good attitude? Compliance? Questioning? Conviviality? Open-mindedness?

I have had to step back in my class many times and ask myself – “Is getting ruffled by this student’s apparent bad attitude going to help the situation, or hinder it?” Some students look at life with such a different lense to myself, that I have to remember, I am the adult here. I am supposed to be the teacher – and I need to find a way to reach this child no matter what their attitude is prix du viagra 50 mg. My attitude has got to be professional.

Continue reading “And now to Attitude …”