I spend so much time differentiating for my low level learners that I sometimes overlook my advanced / gifted learners. I want them to be challenged without merely getting additional "busywork or time-fillers". What are some things you do to challenge your exceptional students while also juggling your low level learners? I want everyone to be on the same topic without my gifted students boredly re-learning concepts they have mastered. Thanks

Myesha McCullan
Myesha McCullan
2925 Activity Points

With teaching any subject with gifted learners, I like to offer choices. Menu boards are a great solution, and this is not additional work. In science particularly, I challenge my gifted learners to design labs/experiments to go with our concepts. I give them the choice to work alone (which some prefer) or with partners. They may utilize any resources we have in the classroom and/or school (as long as it is okay with the proper personnel), and they present their proposed labs/experiments to the class. This has allowed them to research the topic/concept further and explain to their peers about what will be occurring. Then, as a class, we vote which lab/experiment we want to do. It actually has worked well, and the kids enjoy it.

Julie Wylie
Julie C Wylie
595 Activity Points

Hi Myesha, Have you thought about having more complex and challenging tasks for them to do? Not just additional work, but this could be part of the regular work for them ---- in other words, you substitute problems/tasks/assignments so that gifted are doing one thing while others are doing something else. Of course, you can give gifted an additional challenge when they are done with the regular work, but depending upon the students, they may see this as 'punishment of more work' for finishing early --- in which case you have to make it very interesting and meaningful for them to want to meet the challenge. Hope this helps. Dr. Eick

Charles Eick
Charles Eick
1450 Activity Points

One solution to offering a challenge to gifted learners is creating an "if, then" curriculum. For example, if you have finished part A of an assignment, then choose a part B. One or more of the choices will be for remediation or extended learning. The way to steer the gifted learner to the latter is to eliminate choices by competency, say 80% or better can only choose this "part B." Your lower level learners won't feel slighted because they will essentially have the same opportunity to excel and your gifted learner won't feel you have "dumbed down" the curriculum. Another strategy would be to have the gifted learner create a personalized lesson plan from a guided selection. This will allow them to explore new ways of attaining proficiency in their learning. Hope this helps or gives you a new idea.

Alec Richardson
Alec Richardson
605 Activity Points

Hi Myesha,

Although I am still a pre-service teacher, I have raised two gifted teens of my own and have seen how frustrating school can be when they are forced to spend hours doing work that is too easy or uninspiring for them.

Here are the things that have made them happier students:
Having the opportunity to read more challenging texts (e.g. college vs. high school), work more challenging problems, answer more challenging questions
Being given choices of the type of assignment or the focus of the assignment
Getting to choose the method of demonstrating their learning (e.g. poster, paper, diagram, Power Point, video, writing a computer program, etc.)
Being given the opportunity to propose an alternative assignment that covers the same content.
Compacting and being able to move at a more rapid pace

As Alec Richardson noted, gifted learners often do well when they are allowed to personalize their lesson plans. When gifted kids have a project that is meaningful to them, they often willingly spend extra time on it and come up with something amazing.

The following paper has some excellent ideas for differentiating for gifted students:

Stepanek, J., & Northwest Regional Educational Lab, P., OR. Mathematics and Science Education Center. (1999). The Inclusive Classroom. Meeting the Needs of Gifted Students: Differentiating Mathematics and Science Instruction. It’s Just Good Teaching Series.

This second article (available on the NSTA site) gives students a choice of which project to do, but puts a higher value (i.e. higher maximum grades) on projects that require more thought. The authors made this available to all of their students, with good results.

Bittel, K., & Hernandez, D. (2006, December). Differentiated Assessment. Science Scope, 49–51.

Susan Duderstadt
Susan Duderstadt
2085 Activity Points

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers