Gifted students possess advanced abilities but may not always be mature enough to handle corresponding assignments. This presents a challenge in providing these students with appropriate enrichment or acceleration that matches their mental age. However, it is possible to teach gifted students the same standards, themes, units, and concepts as the rest of the class.
Gifted learners will have regular opportunities to engage in learning activities that require more depth and complexity. This can be achieved by using extension activities that provide additional challenge within a chronological age-based assignment organization. These activities can be created and utilized in various ways. One approach is to create Curriculum Differentiation Charts that cater to the different learning styles of the students while covering the essential concepts of the unit or theme being studied.
Extension Menus can be created to offer various levels of active thinking according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. Additionally, students can be given the chance to develop their own learning centers, with specific guidelines and requirements. To assess these activities and assignments, it would be beneficial to provide a rubric to students beforehand, ensuring they understand the criteria for evaluation.
Enabling a gifted student to learn and progress through the curriculum at their own pace can be challenging. This involves presenting the students with units and determining if they can advance through the curriculum at an accelerated pace or if they can have the material for the year condensed so that they can learn what they need without repeating familiar information. Another approach, different from condensing, is to provide alternative assignments.
The assignments should be different from the original assignment or unit, rather than being additional tasks. For example, if a student demonstrates a strong understanding of at least 90% of the material in a pretest for a unit on the planets, they can complete an alternate assignment instead. For instance, they could create a diorama of the solar system and present a report to the class. This would require the student to independently work on an assignment they have designed with their teacher.
In order for students to be better engaged in their learning and to maximize their knowledge, it is crucial to document all the information presented. Additionally, providing folders to organize extension and alternative work is essential. It is important for teachers to understand that even gifted students may have questions about these activities. Therefore, it is necessary to allocate time for conferences with these students and keep a record of their progress on their assignments.
Previously mentioned was the requirement for a method that permits and initiates the essential adjustments, encompassing both enhancement and acceleration. Once students have been taught, they can also undergo a placement test to ascertain their proficiency in a particular subject. To cater to the unique needs and requirements of gifted learners who excel in pretests and placement tests, teachers must offer opportunities for differentiated instruction, acceleration, compacting, and enrichment.
Learning Contracts are a method that can be utilized to meet the needs of gifted learners. They consist of planned extension materials for each chapter or unit. Each learning contract is customized to address the specific weaknesses of individual students. These weaknesses are identified as pages in their books that they need to complete. Additional activities are designated as extension activities. At the end of the learning contract, there is a section outlining the working conditions to be observed while the student is working on their contract.
The student will be working on their own learning contract while the rest of the class learns in class. These working conditions are established to accommodate this arrangement. The student and teacher will later review and sign the contract together, indicating agreement with its terms.
Presenting information is usually not effective for students who have not yet learned it. Therefore, alternative methods must be employed to condense the curriculum for gifted students who can grasp concepts at a faster pace than their peers of the same age.
Gifted students should be accommodated in subjects where the content is new to them by allowing them to progress faster than their classmates. The Study Guide approach is ideal for this scenario as it enables the inclusion of literature, science, social studies, problem-based learning, and thematic, integrated units, thereby reducing the time required for gifted students to cover specific content. In these subjects, differentiation occurs by providing gifted students with the opportunity to engage in alternative activities and delve deeper into topics they find interesting.
The Study Guide method ensures that students have acquired the necessary knowledge and are responsible for showing their understanding within a set timeframe. This approach involves completing additional assignments at an accelerated rate. The Study Guide can be utilized on its own or in conjunction with Extension Menus. To enhance the effectiveness of the Study Guide method, it can be combined with the Independent Study Agreement, Evaluation Contract, Daily Log of Extension Work, and Product Choices Chart.
The purpose of the Independent Study Agreement is to prevent misunderstandings, disputes, and claims such as a student saying, “Muff never told me I had to do that.” All students who opt for the Study Guide approach must agree to a contract that outlines the terms of their independent study, covering both learning and working conditions. After selecting a project from the Extension Menu, students indicate their choice on the Evaluation Contract, where they also specify the desired grade based on the type of work they plan to complete.
The Daily Log serves as a beneficial record sheet for both students and in discussions with parents and administrators. Overall, Study Guides are an effective approach to cater to the needs of all gifted learners as they can be customized for various subjects and offer a means to track the progress of these learners. Employing the techniques and tactics outlined in the two books will aid teachers in delivering instruction to gifted students in education, as instruction was not previously tailored to address their needs.
The teacher needs to recognize that not all students will be accommodated by the regular curriculum. Therefore, they must deviate and design learning experiences for the diverse learners in their classroom. Offering varied instructional methods will be advantageous for the teacher as it will ensure active student engagement in learning, rather than them merely going through the motions of school. Consequently, the classroom will become self-sufficient as everyone will be enthusiastic and engaged in the learning process.