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)
Now that school has started again students and teachers are getting to know each other, while parents are navigating a new school year learning about the children’s teachers, and everyone is getting back into a routine. Fall is a time of new classes, cooler weather, football, and sometimes, the beginning of learning challenges for gifted students.
Getting back into the swing of things at the beginning of a new school year is often challenging for many students, gifted or not. The freedom of summertime gives students a chance to unwind and learn in different ways. Gifted students often have the freedom to be themselves whether that means digging deeper into areas of interest or exploring new adventures on the spur of the moment. The structure of the school day confines subjects to specific periods of time whether that time is enough or not. For gifted students, having 30 minutes of science a few times a week may be woefully inadequate and may prevent the deeper exploration they crave. Most teachers also wish they had more time to allow students to explore.
Some teachers extract more freedom for student learning by tweaking a few things in their classroom. While it isn’t always easy, and doesn’t work for everyone, it is worth considering. The gifted student may want to ask their teacher about these practices if they are not part of the classroom.
Three ways to tweak a schedule full of mandated curriculum is to consider the following:
classroom layout, efficient schedule, and student free time. An effective classroom layout provides an environment where there are few classroom traffic jams when students are moving about the room, and where the resources are easily accessible. Many teachers (and students) try several setups before finding one that works well. Since some gifted students do not like change it is a good idea to give students notice before doing this.
An efficient schedule makes use of every minute during the school day, squeezing out time for student free time for deeper learning. Grouping similar subjects or learning tasks in the elementary classroom can cut down time for moving around the classroom and getting out new supplies. This may give a few minutes of extra time to use for further learning. In the middle or high school this is more difficult because of the school schedule, but there could be some time during a class to give students further exploration time. While these steps may not work for all classrooms, one or two may work for some and benefit all students in the class, including gifted students.
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