Teaching gifted students in a regular classroom isn’t an easy job. It’s a grand challenge. Gifted students have unique abilities, and deserve special attention. The crucial question is – How to attend to the needs of the whole class without isolating the gifted? It’s possible, but it demands special skills and tools.
Gifted learners must be given stimulating educational experiences appropriate to their level of ability if they are to realize their potential.”National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)
The question is, in a standard-driven era, how to attend to the needs of both, the gifted and the at-risk students, at the same time, and still ensure growth for all your students.
How to engage gifted students in a regular classroom
The following is a list of five tips for engaging the gifted students in your classroom
Personalize the learning path
Gifted students are quick learners. It can be really frustrating for students to repeat what they have already learned, or wait till the rest of the class completes it. Personalized learning would allow your students to move at a pace most comfortable to them. If some students complete a unit at a faster pace, you can, either, assign enrichment activities or encourage them to start exploring the next lesson.
Use differentiated instruction
Curriculum differentiation refers to the provision of different learning activities for different students in the same class. When differentiating instruction for the gifted, it is important that you pre-plan the additional activities that would be assigned to such students.
Use multiple scaffolding strategies
Scaffoldings would enable you to accommodate individual student needs. Scaffoldings help facilitate student independence by providing a supportive learning environment; students can, either, continue on their own, else would require limited support from you. Moreover, students can push ahead to the next level of learning by themselves.
Consider the following list of scaffolding activities
Modeling desired behavior
Inviting students to participate
Verifying and clarifying student understanding
Inviting students to contribute clues
Expand the curriculum
Expanding the curriculum of the gifted students has the following advantages
It helps avoid boredom, and the resulting behavioral activities
Promotes higher-order thinking skills
Allows students to explore their interests and abilities
It allows students to study the concepts from an advanced point of view
Project-based learning, or PBL, would help motivate your underachieving gifted students, and create a passion for learning. By integrating PBL into your classroom, you can help the gifted students develop creativity, and facilitate the exploration of ideas beyond the scope of your classrooms.
As teachers, you have a special responsibility towards the gifted students. You need to create stimulating learning opportunities that offer suitable complexity and depth and help the gifted develop their innate skills. You must continually strive to provide differentiated instruction to such students. In other words, you need to modify the content, the instruction, and the classroom activities to provide suitable complexity and depth.
One way to meet this goal is by the use of technology.
Technology is a great tool for delivering differentiated instruction. You can group students based on skills and interests; individualize instruction, and personalize the learning experience too.
With the proper use of technology, you can create opportunities for the gifted to tackle meaningful, real-life tasks, and help them develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Moreover, technology-based learning helps develop a sense of control. Students can select content and work at a comfortable pace; and they can self-assess their work too. Such a freedom would help develop the sense of ownership, and motivates your students to push their boundaries and aim for college and career readiness.