Guidelines for Teaching Gifted Students
Advanced learners need learning experiences designed
to fit them and teachers who can monitor the match between learner and
learning. Differentiated instruction is a method of accommodating the
diverse needs of all students in the regular classroom. This approach to
instruction creates an environment that maximizes student capabilities,
and requires teachers to define challenge and growth differently in
response to students' varying interest and readiness levels. By
differentiating the curricular elements (content, process, and product)
teachers can present different approaches to what students learn, how
the learn it, and how they demonstrate what they've learned. (Resource:
Tomlinson, Carol Ann. How to Differentiate Instruction in
Mixed-Ability Classrooms, ASCD, 1995)
Content Modification: Content consists of ideas, concepts,
information, and facts. Content and learning experiences can be modified
through acceleration, curriculum compacting, pacing or the use of more
advanced, abstract, or complex concepts, and advanced materials.
Process Modification: Activities should be restructured to be
intellectually demanding. Instruction should make use of methods
such as inquiry, active exploration,
and questions that require higher order thinking. Bloom's Taxonomy of
Educational Objectives (1956) is one of the common approaches to process
Product Modification: Encourage students to demonstrate what
they have learned in a variety of ways that reflect knowledge,
creativity, and the ability to manipulate ideas. Products should address
real problems, and be delivered to a real audience. The focus should be
on the synthesis of information rather than on the summary of
information. Self-evaluation should be included as part of the process.
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- Employ a superior teacher.
- Find out what they already know. Assess their level of
achievement, and determine competencies and areas of deficiency.
- Give them credit for concepts they have mastered.
- Don't have them repeat content work just because its the
curriculum or because its there. Employ differentiated curriculum
- Provide new and different challenging activities for them to do
instead of drill- and-practice or grade level work. Provide
opportunities for them to work with complex and abstract ideas.
- Capitalize on interests. Find out what their interests are and
build projects around their interests.
- Use curriculum compacting and allow them some flexibility in the
way they spend the time "bought back" because they have
mastered a concept.
- Allow them to learn at a faster pace than their age peers.
- Use discovery learning techniques and inquiry methods; avoid
teacher dominated methods.
- Trust them to learn in nontraditional ways; guide and lead them
in learning differently.
- Help them to find other advanced learners. Never judge their
social skills solely on the way they interact with their age peers.
- Thrill them with many, varied, challenging and engaging choices.
- Focus on higher order thinking skills.
- Give them lots of experience with setting their own goals and
evaluating their own work.
(Derived in part from Winebrenner, Susan. Teaching Gifted Kids in the
Regular Classroom, Free Spirit Publishing Inc., MN, 1992.)
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