Gifted and talented students are often quick learners with high levels of curiosity, as well as the ability to think abstractly and problem solve. In this article find out how the unique characteristics of gifted students can help teachers get other students engaged in the classroom.
Gifted Students in the Classroom
Many classrooms are inclusive, meaning they're composed of students of all levels of ability. This requires teachers to work with many different types of learners. While often discussed in relation to special education students, an inclusive classroom may also include gifted students.
Concordia University-Portland quotes the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) when stating that 6-10% of students are gifted or talented. The supportive environment and differentiated instruction that result from an inclusive classroom can be beneficial for all students, regardless of their level of ability.
Read on to learn how gifted students can help engage other students in your classroom, which can allow you to support both groups in the process.
How Gifted Students Can Engage Others
In an article on strategies for challenging gifted learners for Education Update, a publication of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Amy Azzam writes about one teacher who allows gifted students to explore topics in more depth by presenting to peers on a topic related to the classroom unit. Similarly, you can incorporate project-based learning experiences into your classroom units that conclude with a presentation.
Many times, gifted students will finish classroom work ahead of their peers, so Concordia University-Portland suggests giving them independent projects to work on during this time, ones that will ideally combine their personal interests with the lesson. The gifted students can then present their projects to the class, during which their slightly different take on a subject and unusual way of connecting ideas or exploring new concepts may help engage their classmates in a fresh way.
Through Group Work
Gifted students are particularly suited to challenging and engaging one another. So the University of Delaware recommends that during group work, it's best to cluster gifted students together and provide them with advanced resources and modifications.
The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) notes that gifted students benefit from being grouped with their peers. This allows them to work at a different level than the rest of the class, one where they can question and build on one another's ideas, leading to an entire group of engaged, gifted students.
By Acting as Peer Mentors
Gifted students may form natural mentoring relationships with their classmates. As such, peer mentoring can be an important teaching tool; when students discuss and share information with one another, they can not only help their classmates understand the material, but also reinforce their own understanding of the subject. Additionally, gifted students' natural predilection toward abstract reasoning may help them explain the material differently than the way it was explained by the teacher.
Please note that many education specialists, including the NAGC, caution against having gifted students actually tutor or teach other students. While occasionally clarifying topics for their classmates may be both educational and helpful, gifted students should spend most of their class time learning.
By Enhancing the Curriculum
Gifted students' presence in the classroom can lead to educators thinking differently about their lessons, resulting in a better education for the entire class. According to the University of Southern California's Rossier School of Education, inclusive classrooms can enhance the curriculum for all learners.
In an article about strategies for gifted learners, the ASCD agrees and advocates for differentiating instruction by ''teaching up'': planning a lesson for the gifted learners and then differentiating it for the other students. This approach, in addition to challenging gifted students, can better engage all students.
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