"Educators play an important role in nurturing genius. Good teachers learn to recognize common characteristics of gifted children in their classrooms and plan an appropriate education. They lobby their schools to be flexible with these children, and they create classes or programs that meet their needs. They foster an educational climate where intellectual inquiry is celebrated, and they insist that learning be the primary goal of school."
-Genius Denied, p.162
How can I tell if a student is gifted?
Gifted students are often difficult to identify, as they are a very diverse group.They come from all socio-economic groups. They are represented in all ethnic groups.They come from rural and urban areas.Some are good students and others are not. The only common denominator gifted students share is that they think and learn differently: they learn more rapidly than other students and think more deeply about what they learn.Gifted students learn beyond basic knowledge and understanding to synthesis, analysis and evaluation. Here are some of the specific characteristics you are likely to find in a gifted student:
What can I do to make my class more academically enriching for gifted students?
For highly gifted students, advanced curriculum in a self-contained classroom with intellectual peers is the best environment for meeting their educational needs. If gifted students must be placed in a regular heterogenously grouped classroom,one that focuses on individual strengths and utilize flexible strategies is essential. There are some exceptional books that offer practical ideas for teachers to use with their gifted students in the regular classroom:Re-Forming Gifted Education: Matching the Program to the Child by Karen Rogers and Teaching Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner.
I teach high school. Aren’t honors and/or AP classes enough?
It depends on the student, the curriculum, and the teacher. Honors and/or AP classes might be appropriately challenging for some gifted students, however it may not be enough for others. For those students who need more challenging work, you may need to consider alternative options such as subject or grade acceleration or a college course substitution.
How do I find a mentor for a gifted student?
The first step in finding a mentor is to have the student evaluate what he/she hopes to gain from a mentoring experience. The most productive mentoring relationships are those that are focused on a specific outcome, such as the completion of a project.Once students know what they want to learn, they should put together a query package that contains a short biography, a description of the project they wish to pursue along with a summary of what they already know about the particular topic. Next,create a list of knowledgeable individuals. Universities and colleges are a good place to start, as are, museums and science centers.Don’t forget about local businesses, retired professionals, and high school teachers. Tele-mentoring is another option to consider. The National Mentoring Partnership may be a useful resource.
High-achieving young people often credit their accomplishments to the help of a caring educator who fueled their interests and guided their learning. Don’t miss the opportunity to be this type of educator.
- Excerpted from Genius Denied, pp. 183-185, with minor modifications and links added.
Strategies for Meeting the Needs of Gifted Learners
Assouline, Susan & Lupkowski-Shoplik, Ann, Developing Math Talent. Prufrock Press Inc.
Clark, Barbara, Growing up gifted: Developing the potential of children at home and at school. Prentice Hall.
Davidsons with Vanderkam, L.,Genius Denied: How to stop wasting our brightest young minds. Simon & Schuster.
Davidson Institute for Talent Development, "Best Practices of Schools that Nurture Excellence."
Davidson Institute or Talent Development, "Educational Options for Highly Gifted Learners."
Davidson Institute or Talent Development, "Successful strategies for teaching gifted learners."
Kearney, Kathi, "Highly gifted children in full inclusion classrooms."
Robinson, Nancy, "Necessity is the mother of invention: The roots of our system of providing educational alternatives for gifted students."
Rogers, Karen, "Grouping the gifted and talented: Questions and answers."
VanTassel-Baska, Joyce,"Basic educational options for gifted students in schools."
Stanley, Julian,"Helping students learn only what they don’t already know."
Underachievement of Gifted Students
Emerick, Linda,"Academic underachievement among the gifted: Students’ perceptions of factors that reverse the pattern."
Peterson, Jean & Colangelo, Nicholas, "Gifted achievers and underachievers: A comparison of patterns found in school files."
Reis, Sally & McCoach, D. Betsy, "The underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go?"
What the Research Says
Acceleration Institute, Iowa acceleration scale: A guide for whole-grade acceleration K-8
Acceleration Institute, A nation empowered: Evidence trumps the excuses holding back America’s brightest students
Acceleration Institute, A nation deceived: How schools hold back America's brightest students
Davidson Institute for Talent Development, "What the research says about gifted learners."
Gross, Miraca, "The use of radical acceleration in cases of extremely intellectual precocity."
Kulik, James,"An analysis of research on ability grouping."
Stanley, Julian, Lupkowski, Ann & Assouline, Susan, "Eight considerations for mathematically talented youth."
This article is provided as a service of the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted young people 18 and under. To learn more about the Davidson Institute’s programs, please visit www.DavidsonGifted.org.
The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute's Database does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of and the responsibility of the author. Although reasonable effort is made to present accurate information, the Davidson Institute makes no guarantees of any kind, including as to accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.