Tips for Teaching Gifted Students


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1. LET THEM SHOW YOU WHAT THEY KNOW/COMPACT THE CURRICULUM –  Generally, the work that we plan for our students is really “our work,” according to Dr. Joseph Renzulli. It doesn’t become “their work” until it represents true learning for them. Give all students the opportunity to write a pretest- if they do not get an “A” it does not count (some will choose not to – give them small group instruction while the others are writing the pretest). Students who get an above 83% choose to do a higher level thinking activity that represents meaningful learning to them (can or cannot be related to the topic).
2. MOST DIFFICULT FIRST – Gifted students can learn new concepts more quickly than their age peers. They need much less practice than your average students. Allow students complete about 5 of the most difficult problems or exercises first before doing rest of assignment. If they understand it they are free to choose activities that interest them (ongoing project, reading, enrichment or anything that doesn’t disturb others). Evaluation: when they meet the criteria set by you, their “A” for that work becomes their letter grade for entire assignment.
3. DIFFERENT, NOT MORE – Research shows that 40% to 50% of the content might be adapted for gifted students. It is important for educators to provide alternative challenging activities for them to do instead of grade level work. Discover what their interests are and build projects around those interests. Encourage them to self select topics on a conceptual rather than a factual basis.
4. OFFER THEM CHOICES BASED ON THEIR INTERESTS AND TALENTS – Thrill them with choices, choices and more choices. When you’re establishing learning opportunities, provide more than one choice for them to demonstrate understanding. Let them write a brochure or create a dramatization if they find that more interesting. Trust them to learn in non-traditional ways.

Gifted students are passionate about topics that are not connected to the curriculum, which is one reason why school can be frustrating for them. Once they have shown you they understand the concepts, allow them the opportunity to learn something they are interested in.

5. CHANGE YOUR APPROACH – Become “the facilitator.” Rather than just “giving” them information, help them to discover it! Let go of the idea of normal. Think outside the box.
Drill and practice may cause boredom which escalates into unacceptable behaviours. Keep them challenged. Provide ongoing challenging activities with a problem solving focus. For instance, instead of saying, “What is the perimeter of this 4 x 3 rectangle?” Pose it this way: “How many different rectangles can you make with a perimeter of 14 units?” Give them dot paper or geoboards to discover the solutions. Ask if they’ve found all of the rectangles and do they know if the have.

6. OFFER OPPORTUNITIES FOR HIGH LEVEL THINKING –  Use key words and phrases, which are really question prompts and critical thinking probes, including concepts and terms such as casual relationships, possible futures, trends, assumptions, purposes, and analogies.
Discuss global themes and thought-provoking generalizations, which also harness the power of language, including concepts and terms such as patterns, order, survival, power, cycles, and change (i.e. – “Change” – may be good or bad, change occurs in our lifetime)
Bloom’s Taxonomy helps promote high level thinking (evaluating, synthesising, analysing etc.)
Ask questions with how, why and should.
7. DON”’T ALWAYS MAKE THEM “TEACHER HELPER” – Some teachers may have their gifted students help other children in math or reading because they were the first ones finished their work, or be a “teacher substitute” in the class. Gifted children think differently than other students and asking them to tutor other kids can be a frustrating experience for all parties involved.
8. ENCOURAGE A SENSE OF HUMOUR – Many of these children are looked upon as being rude when they are really quite precocious and simply want to find things out. Have fun with them.
9. SET RULES AND BE CONSISTENT – Bright children can think of one thousand ways of getting out of doing work as opposed to fifty ways by another child. They can spot your weaknesses quickly and sometimes play parents against one another.
10. HELP THEM SET REALISTIC GOALS  – Some gifted children set very high standards for themselves and feel a need to be perfect in all they do. We, as teachers and parents, must let them know that to do their best is good enough and to be comfortable with that.

The teacher must be flexible enough to allow them to be free and to experiment without constant interference or suggestions. Allowing them to make mistakes is very important for these children, showing them that making mistakes does not mean failure but a chance to grow.

11. PROVIDE PEER SUPPORT – Peer support is critical. Children need opportunities to work with intellectual peers. Some gifted children may seem socially inept when we observe them with their age peers. But put them together with like minds and many function just fine. Provide opportunity for gifted students to work with their intellectual peers in the classroom, school, and at the district level.

12. INVLOVE THE PARENTS – Parents and teachers must share in the education of a child. You can’t over communicate. Connecting with parents allows you to become acquainted with a child’s interests and abilities outside the boundaries of the classroom. Share ideas, them to help find materials, and let them feel like part of the team working together to support their child.


Click on the link to read School Calls Police to Stop A-Grade Student From Studying

Click on the link to read Schools are Failing Gifted Students

Click on the link to read 20 Reassuring Things Every Parent Should Hear

Click on the link to read 10 Tips for Nurturing Independence Among Children

Click on the link to read 4 Tips for Getting Your Kids up in the Morning

Click on the link to read Seven Valuable Tips for Raising Your Child’s Self-Esteem

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