Students Who Are Gifted Need to be Challenged


Gifted children need challenge. Gifted children need to be mentally challenged in many different ways. Teachers have many different strategies to help with with challenge. Below I will give a few examples of ways to add depth and complexity in order to challenge these students. This isn’t to say that average learners don’t need to be challenged, because they do. The examples below will also help to challenge them as well.

  • Stay away from worksheets

To begin, I need to say that teachers need to stay away from worksheets. There really is nothing beneficial about filling out a worksheet.

  • Add complexity and depth

When trying to help challenge children who are gifted teachers need to add complexity and depth. Complexity and depth can be layered in different ways. For some examples, Byrdseed has some great ideas, to add complexity and depth. Dr. Sandra Kaplan created Depth and Complexity Icons. I would suggest to check them out. They are very useful.

Complexity is having students experience or interact with multiple layers of a concept. By adding this to lessons teachers can challenge students.

Depth is a strategy teachers use to allow students to understand key concepts and connecting concepts clearer.  Depth of learning refers to the extent to which specific topics are focused upon, amplified and explored. By adding this to lessons teachers can challenge their students to go deeper into a topic, and see how other key concepts connect to it.

  • SCAMPER Strategy for Creativity

When I was in the classroom, I would the SCAMPER strategy to help with divergent creative thinking. Allowing students to have opportunities to have divergent thinking helps to challenge them. The letters refer to:

S substitute

C combine

A adapt

M magnify or minify

P put to other uses

E eliminate

R reverse or rearrange

  • Project Based Learning / Genius Hour / Passion Projects

Project based learning is a strategy that a teacher can use to help a bring a real world problem or project that needs to be done into the classroom. For some great Ideas check out the Buck Institute for Education website for some great ideas.

Genius Hour is the idea of taking about an hour once a week in the classroom to work on something that a student or a group of students want to work on that would have some value. Some call these passion projects.

Students who are gifted need to be challenged. If they aren’t there can be issues that will be evident with these students. Students who are gifted can become disruptive, unresponsive to work, and show signs of boredom. Teachers need to be cognizant of these issues. When teachers see these symptoms showing in their gifted children they should know they need to change their teaching and add depth and complexity.

As a classroom teacher, what are you doing to add depth and complexity to your lessons?

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One thought on “Students Who Are Gifted Need to be Challenged

  1. I like how you stated this:

    “Complexity is having students experience or interact with multiple layers of a concept. By adding this to lessons teachers can challenge students.”

    I think sometimes the word complexity is used vaguely and refers to “extra” in the terms of more – more homework, worksheets and practice. Digging deeper and giving students more opportunities to experience a skill/concept at different levels can help engage all learners. Taking the time to do so is easier said than done, but so beneficial.

    I’ll be passing this post along to my gifted specialists in my district.

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