Many schools are taking an individualized approach to educating students. Some districts call it individualized instruction, others call it personalized learning, and still others promote personalization, or student-centered learning. While all of these terms may have different nuances, they all have similarities in that the goal is to meet the individual learning needs of each student. For gifted students this may provide needed challenge and allow for students to pursue individual interests as a means to learn. For example, having an interest in a particular topic such as the stars, can be the basis for interdisciplinary learning. Reading, writing, math, science, history, and other subjects can be learned using stars as the main topic. Reading and writing about stars, doing math problems about star distance from earth, researching scientific facts we know about stars, reading the history of our learning about stars and outer space, and other activities make interdisciplinary learning in the topic an interesting and exciting way to learn the same content as others, but with an individualized approach just for the gifted learner, or other students in the class. Some school districts have teachers write learning plans for students (often called differentiated education plans), and gifted students can help write their own plans, ensuring the details of their learning needs are addressed in the plan.
Some resources for reading more about individualized instruction follow. These are only a few websites; you may explore more if you do your own web search.
Personalized Learning, Great Schools Partnership
Personalized Learning Plans, Davidson Academy
Individual Instruction Plan Menu for the Gifted Child, Dr. Joyce VanTassel-Baska
When talking with some parents of gifted students recently, they brought up their concern about making sure their students know about the importance of voting. One parent was especially interested because her student will be voting soon for the first time. The other parent wanted her students to learn where to find objective information about voting, the issues, and how to make decisions based on critical thinking, rather than political rhetoric.
As I was considering this topic and its implications for gifted students, I thought about when I taught citizenship and civic responsibility to students with disabilities, twice exceptional students, and their teachers across the country. These students, like gifted students, wanted the facts and were interested in making their own decisions based on the facts. Gifted students often think deeply about issues and topics they hear about on TV or via other media, and for many, it profoundly concerns them. If we think of Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities, the emotional excitability may include “a heightened sense of right and wrong or injustice and hypocrisy” for some gifted students. (https://www.verywellfamily.com/dabrowskis-overexcitabilities-in-gifted-children-1449118). They are often very concerned with these emotional matters to the point of interference with daily life. That is why it is important to teach all students, including gifted students, about the facts of the responsibility of citizens to vote and to lend our voice to our democracy.
Below are some resources that provide facts about voting and how to learn about the issues in your particular area. The last resource, Voting Avenue, is a new music video about voting based on the “Schoolhouse Rock” platform. It was premiered a few weeks ago on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Yara Shahidi in the video, and may engage students and adults to learn about voting.
Gifted students often worry about important issues in our world. By educating them about their right to vote when they turn 18, they learn they can lend their voice by voting, something they can do from near or far throughout their lifetime.
If the links do not work, you may have to cut and paste the URL into your browser.
League of Women Voters Education Fund
“The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public. The League has a long, rich history, that continues with each passing year.” (https://www.lwv.org/about-us/history)
U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)
“The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is an independent agency of the United States government created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The Commission serves as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election_Assistance_Commission)
Ask the Doctor