One key way classroom teachers can broaden their understanding of gifted students is through understanding the cognitive and affective characteristics intellectually gifted children exhibit. These characteristics most commonly appear in general classroom behavior and, therefore, are observable traits. To begin with, Steiner & Carr (2003) discuss six distinct ways gifted learners differ from their average-ability peers.
1. Gifted learners have a broader knowledge base and apply their knowledge.
2. Gifted learners prefer to be challenged.
3. Gifted learners possess faster problem solving skills.
4. Gifted learners efficiently categorize and represent problems compared to average ability learners.
5. They have intricately mastered procedural knowledge, that is knowing how to do something such as knowing the procedure to solve a lengthy algebra problem.
6. Gifted learners possess flexibility in their ability to strategize a solution to a problem.
7. They have superior metacognition and self-regulation skills.
Interestingly, gifted students often possess an intense desire to learn about their own interests. Their ability to think at abstract levels earlier than average-ability peers and form their own ways of thinking about problems and ideas indicates that intellectually gifted students need advanced content and choice in learning activities. That said, gifted students require a wide range of independent projects for differentiating instruction.
This is why an awareness of the social and emotional characteristics of gifted students can further help teachers understand many of the classroom behaviors they observe in gifted children. For example, the student’s desire to share knowledge may be seen by others as an attempt to show off and may lead to peer rejection. Gifted students’ high expectations of themselves and others can lead to perfectionism, personal dissatisfaction, or feelings of hopelessness. Additionally, gifted students routinely exhibit academic and emotional traits that may be described as intense or even extreme, in some cases. They tend to be more curious, demanding, and sensitive than average-ability peers.
In closing, gifted children are supremely unique and require parents and educators to modify home and school environments to meet their strong desire to “know more”. Modifications and accommodations are imperative if gifted students are to reach their full potential.
Steiner, H. H., & Carr, M. (2003). Cognitive development in gifted children: Toward a more precise understanding of emerging differences in intelligence. Educational Psychology Review, 15(3), 215-246.
One of the most common reasons for children to complain about boredom is that the material is not challenging enough. Especially students who are academically ahead of schedule tend to describe themselves as bored and frustrated. As a gifted and talented teacher in a public school, I come across situations like this on a daily basis. These children are gifted and they have abilities beyond the level of work that is being assigned. Some of these children may not do all their homework or may make a lot of careless mistakes in it, but they do better on tests.
How can you identify whether your child is under-challenged or not?
If you see any of the above symptoms, you can ask to have him/her tested for giftedness. It is very important for advanced learners to spend time with their peers in an isolated setting on various projects or they should be accelerated one grade level if they are exceptionally bright or they should be accelerated in a single subject where they have exceptional abilities.
Parents can do fun and exciting projects outside of school and set up lots of ways for their child to learn. If students are allowed to express their feelings, get a lot of attention, and exposed to interesting projects, they will do well and be successful in the long run. For instance, in school, the teacher can help the child select books for more advanced readers, look into dual enrollment, advanced grade placement for a specific subject, or whole grade acceleration. For high school students, one can explore college-level coursework, from AP courses to credit-granting classes at a local college.
“Every child should have the opportunity to struggle with challenging content. Gifted children should have content with rigor, depth, and complexity,” says Sally Walker, Executive Director of Illinois Association for Gifted Children. This is important not just to keep your child engaged, but also to teach him/her to apply herself. “Otherwise, children may get the mistaken idea that because they are smart, they should not have to work hard.”
There isn’t one way to make things work for gifted children. Each of us needs to assess our child’s needs and chart an educational path that will be challenging and rewarding. In doing so, we provide our kids with an environment to deepen their knowledge and develop the confidence to succeed.
(excerpt derived from https://www.noodle.com/articles/what-to-do-if-your-child-isnt-challenged-enough-at-school)
Guest Blogger: Laurie Burgos, Director of Bilingual Programs & Instructional Equity, Verona Area School District and WATG Board Member
There is an untapped talent pool present in every school district across the state of Wisconsin: English learners (ELs). This fast-growing, heterogeneous group of culturally and linguistically diverse students often goes overlooked when it comes to gifted and talented identification. In fact, in April 2016, NPR reported that of the 3 million students identified as gifted in the U.S., English learners remain the most underrepresented subgroup in gifted education programs.
As school districts work to revamp their gifted identification processes to be more inclusive of diverse populations and to use a more assets-based lens through which they view their students who come from bilingual homes, the Wisconsin Department of Instruction has found another way to recognize linguistic talent for students from all backgrounds through the Seal of Biliteracy.
The Wisconsin Seal of Biliteracy is awarded to graduating high school students in districts with a Department of Public Instruction-approved program, who demonstrate achievement in bilingualism, biliteracy, and global competence in two or more languages (English and a partner language) by successfully participating in the development of the languages through their schools, their families, and the community. English learners who come to our schools already knowing another language and serving as cultural brokers between home and school, have an advantageous position to achieve this award, which recognizes their linguistic talent.
In order to graduate with this credential on their high school transcripts, students must demonstrate proficiency in English by achieving certain scores on the ACT, SAT, or ACCESS for ELLs tests, as well as proficiency in a partner language, though AP exams or other language proficiency measures as determined by the school district.
The Seal of Biliteracy’s sociocultural competency requirements include writing essays in both English and the partner language in which students examine and compare their perspectives with those of other cultures and a service-learning project using English and their partner language. Students are encouraged to find ways to apply their linguistic talent to connect with and improve their communities.
To learn more about how your school district can begin awarding students with the Wisconsin Seal of Biliteracy, visit https://dpi.wi.gov/english-learners/wi-seal-of-biliteracy.
Making a List, Checking it Twice: Helping our Students to Stay Motivated, Engaged, and Organized in a Fast-Paced WorldRead Now
Catherine Ames, Green Bay Schools & WATG Board Member
I am a list-maker. I love the satisfaction of wielding a sharp #2, applying it to a post-it note or loose leaf paper, and scribbling a word or phrase as a gentle reminder. Even more satisfying is the sound of said pencil emphatically crossing off the words after the task has been completed. I add to my lists at the bottom, don't finish the jobs in any certain order, and sometimes carry them over for days and weeks. Lists keep me sane. Lists are my friend. And I firmly believe that lists are the friends of our gifted and advanced learners, as well.
Part of my day as an advocate for gifted students is inevitably spent helping students organize and prioritize their obligations. Making lists helps our students stay focused and keeps them from wasting valuable time. The visual reminder, finished and unfinished, is at once calming and empowering, giving students a sense of ownership and completion. Organizing with lists makes everything manageable and allows our students to see progress and feel a sense of satisfaction when they've accomplished a task. One study showed that fifteen minutes spent planning could save an hour of execution time!
To-do lists help as an external memory aid, giving us a visual to help our short-term memories deal with more. Our brains are designed to remember a few things for a short time, say 30 seconds. If we write down what we need to remember, especially if this is more than 7 things, (think phone numbers) and commit to looking at the list, we will never lose nor forget anything that's been recorded. Students are bombarded with things to remember, deadlines to meet, facts to memorize every day of their lives. To-do lists in the form of assignment notebooks and index cards reinforce that information. Every time we connect the visual, we are less apt to forget appointments, commitments or facts. In a sense, to-do lists grant us permission to let go and release.
Keeping a to-do list helps students to prioritize and stay productive, reminding them that "e-mail NHS advisor", "write FRQ for AP Psych", and "toothpaste", while all important, may not require the same sense of urgency nor a fixed deadline. Attention-stealers like cellphones, pop-ups and social media are constantly undermining the productivity of our youth. When they know that they can quickly glance at a written to-do list, they are less stressed out and more productive, incapable of forgetting where they were or what else needs to be done. Time-snatchers be gone.
A recorded to-do list can be a huge motivator for our students to help them set and clarify goals. "Get accepted at MIT" may be a bit lofty and self-defeating when not broken down into bite-sized to-do's. Listing steps like "obtain letter of recommendation from Mrs. Jones", "send transcript", "record service hours" will motivate our youth to set and achieve short-term goals. Then, they'll be able to have the satisfaction of grasping that pencil and dragging it across paper, leaving a black mark of accomplishment, and celebrating a job well done.