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Teaching AGT Children

Differentiated Instruction 

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 modification.

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.

Guidelines For Teaching Gifted Children

  1. Parents and teachers should work together as a team in regards to student achievements.
  2. Find out what the child already knows.  Assess their level of achievement, and determine competencies and areas of deficiency.
  3. Give the child credit for concepts they have mastered.
  4. Employ differentiated curriculum methods.
  5. Provide new and different challenging activities for the child.  Provide opportunities for the child to work with complex and abstract ideas.
  6. Capitalize on interests.  Find out what the child's interests are and build projects around their interests.
  7. Allow them to learn at a faster pace than their age peers.
  8. Use discovery learning techniques and inquiry methods; avoid teacher dominated methods.
  9. Trust them to learn in nontraditional ways; guide and lead them in learning differently.
  10. Help them to find other advanced learners.  Never judge their social skills solely on the way they interact with their age peers.
  11. Thrill them with many, varied, challenging and engaging choices.
  12. Focus on higher order thinking skills.
  13. 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.)