LEARN NC: STRATEGIES FOR TEACHING THE GIFTED
By Cathy Kroninger
“Research has shown that one of the most important things for gifted children is to be with other gifted children, the more often the better. This entails having cluster groups within a grade level, in which the gifted children are grouped together in the areas of their strengths (reading and/or math) while the rest of the grade-level students are grouped heterogeneously. This may sound elitist, but it is not. It merely provides the gifted students with the same learning challenges that other students have.
Where possible, I would recommend that teachers as early as the third grade recombine their classes for reading and/or math. (Always keep in mind that a student is not gifted in all subject areas, just as an athlete is not gifted in all sports.) This type of homogeneous subject grouping makes it easier for teachers to avoid giving gifted students “more of the same” type of problems, reviewing things they already know, expecting them to help less able students. It also allows the teacher to give gifted students greater depth at their own cognitive level rather than simply having them “work ahead” with lessons or resources designed for older students.
Other techniques that are helpful when planning and executing lessons for the high ability students include curriculum compacting, creating learning contracts, designing independent study contracts, and evaluating the work of gifted students. Susan Winebrenner, in Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom, clearly defines, and demonstrates with specific examples, each of these approaches to teaching. I especially found peace of mind when I read the chapter on evaluation. She offers many non-traditional types of scoring options to use when evaluating and grading products. My favorite is for the student to have a list of product options at the onset of a project and the letter grade they are working toward when they choose a particular option. This way, the student decides on the level of complexity toward which he or she wishes to work.”
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