Gifted Children Need Rigorous Assignments…Not More Work

workplace4-kbf-621x414livemintAs I talk to fellow teachers around my area they ask a common question: “What do I do with my gifted students since they get finished before everyone else?” Many of their first thoughts is to add more work to their plate. Many believe if they can do 25 math problems in 10 minutes than I will give them another 25 to do to fill in time. That really doesn’t do much for the gifted child. Adding more work is just a punishment particularly when they already know how to do the work.

What gifted children need isn’t more work… its more rigorous assignments. To find out what you students already know I would suggest that you start with a pretest. If your gifted children score a 100% or close to 100% then allow them to choose an aspect of that curriculum and dig deeper into it. Allow students to explore the complex nature of the content. While doing this can cause some issues with grading, because not all the students are doing the same work, which can be a common concern, as a teacher you will figure out how to fit this into your grade book.

When developing rigorous assignments for gifted children you need to include thinking skills. You should have assignments where they have to use divergent or lateral thinking to come up with an answer. The use of Blooms or DOK will help with verbs and ideas of products that students can do.

One of my favorite ways to add rigor to assignments is to make it project based or problem based. Using real world issues and ideas can help add rigor. These type of projects can have multiple answers, and allow students to use multiple skills to complete it. Using the book Project-Based Learning in the Gifted Classroom by Todd Stanley is a great place to start. You can also look to BIE.org for help on ideas, ways to set up the classroom, and other resources.

Finally, when creating rigorous assignments teach students strategies, not necessarily the answers. In the real world answers aren’t always simple, and sometimes they may never get an answer. So teaching strategies on how to get an answer is must intriguing and challenging.

Gifted children love to learn, and be challenged. When we don’t feed their mind gifted they can be discipline issues. I encourage all teachers to not give more of the same work to gifted children, but to give them rigorous, challenging, and mind stimulating projects and assignments.

What do you do to add rigor to your assignments for gifted children in your classroom?

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Hidden Truths in Plain Sight

2015-06-22-1434996537-2661880-thinkstockphotos186213710-thumb-jpg_1_20171218-703Sometimes the truth about gifted children is hidden in plain sight. Just knowing some of these truths can help a gifted child be successful in a gifted or regular classroom, a school, or at home.

Many gifted children are idealist, and many times perfectionistic. Gifted children can sometimes equate self-worth and self-esteem with how well they do in school or in a subject. Sometimes having this view of themselves can lead to fear of failure and can interfere with achievement.

Gifted children can have a sense of heightened sensitivity to their own expectations and others. Sometimes they can feel guilt over their grades they perceived to be too low. Sometimes gifted children may see success as getting an “A”, but failure can be anything less. This can lead gifted children trying to avoid anything they know they won’t be able to get a perfect score on, or have a certain level of guaranteed success.

A hidden truth of gifted children is the fact that many gifted children are problem solvers. Many of my units are open-ended, interdisciplinary problems, and real-world embedded. I try to allow students to use community resources as much as possible. Gifted children need to be challenged, and many are self motivated to succeed beyond grades.

An other hidden truth of gifted children is the fact that gifted students can think abstractly and with complexity. Sometimes they may need help to think concretely. Many don’t have good study skills or test taking skills. They haven’t developed those skills due to not being as challenged as they should, or the material just came to them so easily. Creating tests that help to foster abstract thinking can help give challenges to gifted children.

For regular education teachers who have gifted children in their classes you may have to change how you teach. Add some complexity to your lessons for differentiation for your gifted children. Add in some activities that can have multiple answers, or add in a passion project, project or problem based learning activities.

Just knowing some of these truths can help teachers to better understand our gifted children, and help them to be challenged and successful.

What hidden truths do you know that you would like to share? Let me know in the comments.