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Teaching Gifted Children


									Classroom Strategies
   for teaching Gifted and Talented Children

                Peter Lydon
               Wesley College, Dublin

•   BA, MA, DipEd.
•   3 years teaching in Ballymun
•   17 years in Wesley College
•   16 years in CTYI, DCU
     – 6-12 year olds
     – Mostly 12-16 years olds
Role of the Classroom Teacher

• To manage the learning environment (classroom etc)
• To teach
   – Instruct? Educate?
• To ensure students are working
   – Check homework            - Correct exams
• To assess
• BUT…………………
• No matter what happens, to cover the course
   – Says who?
       • NCCA; Inspectorate; Principal; Board of Management;
       • Parents
What if…………..?

• What if you could construct the type of education system you
• …………what would that look like…………..?

• In teaching G&T children……….
• ………it would meets their need to self actualise AND
• ………the children would still get the college points needed.

• Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to reconcile these two.
• We want happy and successful children, but if we had to chose
  between happy and successful, which would be pick?
Teachers before and After

•   Before
     – The fear of being caught out, of being challenged, of getting it
     – Sense of inadequacy - that there are children in the classroom that
       are ‘smarter’ or know more than the teacher.

•   After
     – The joy of being caught out, of being challenged, of getting it
          • Teachers are human!
     – Being OK with having highly able children and realising one’s
        potential as a source of true education for the child.

     – Important to realise that a teacher maybe the only person a child
       has with whom to journey along their cognitive development path.

• The effective teaching of G&T children is not very different from
  effective teaching generally.
• Good teaching is good teaching irrespective of the student.
• Provide Positive relationships
• Teachers have to be in the same boat as the student
   – Need to avoid a ‘them and us attitude’.
        • A teacher who can not learn and has nothing to learn can teach no one
        • Teachers need to be prepared to model the behaviour they wish to see in
• Flexible in use of time
• Focus on creative process
• Modify classroom environment

• Instructional outcomes are enhanced when
   – Classrooms are managed effectively
   – Their is a sense of positivity in the school environment
        • School culture actively promotes learning and encourages
    – There is appropriate instructional match
    – Goals are clear, expectations are explicitly communicated, lessons
      are clearly presented
    – Student receive good instructional support
    – Sufficient time is allocated to instruction
    – Opportunity to respond is high
    – Teachers actively monitor student progress and understanding
    – Student performance is evaluated appropriately and frequently
                                                  •   (Christenson, Ysseldyke and Thurlow)
Gifted and Talented Children

•   Need to move through the curriculum faster and in more depth
•   Are more able to retain information the faster it is delivered
•   Find abstract and complex content more academically rewarding
•   Engage in a ‘searching’ behaviour to find answers, develop
     – Often aimed at generating abstract rules for application later

• are just like other children only more so!
What do G&T children say about school

• Too much repetition
• Too slow
• Not enough new material
   – Not enough material.
• Not enough time for questions
• Being ‘rewarded’ with extra work
• Opinion not valued
• Teacher not knowing enough about the topic
• Limited resources
• Don’t like mixed ability
The Basics

• Establish a consistent discipline
   – Control entry to class
   – Has a ‘start of class’ routine
       • Books, copies, homework journal,
       • decide how to take in homework
            – Start of class, end of class on way out…
   – Keep a late-to-class book
   – Keep a register of attendance for each class
   – Have a seating plan
       • Consider this carefully
   – Useful to have a small activity for students to do while waiting
     for class to begin
The Basics – Part II

  – Lesson plans need to be written down
     • Some leeway in this
     • In some form
          – Formal plan, a classwork worksheet,
     • Need to be able to communicate plan to students at the start
        of class
          – Minimum, communicate objectives
  – Should have a beginning, middle and end
     • Need not be ‘teacher talks, children work, teacher reviews’
     • Think of advertising!
  – As far as practical, write homework on board at start of class
  – After that
     • Motivation and methodologies
Rules ‘n’ stuff

•   Discipline rules should be a given
     – Make sure students know what these are and that they are

•   Attitudes expressed in class
     – Class mutual support for winners (however defined)
     – Success attitude
     – Learning is valued
     – There is no such thing as a ‘swat’ etc
     – No jeering or passing remarks likely to intimidate or ridicule
          • Zero tolerance
•   Teacher
     – Be willing to recognise effort even for incomplete work
     – Be willing to listen to the student
Ian Gilbert

• Little Book of Thunks
• Essential Motivation in the Classroom
   – WIIFM?
        • What’s in it for me?

• For the Gifted child, often very little
Motivation in the Classroom

•   Match learning to the childs ability
•   Make learning relevant
•   Make learning fun
•   Assign appropriately challenging work
•   Promote self-directed learning
•   Teach to the students enjoyment
•   Vary methods (but not necessarily in the same lesson!)
•   Don’t be afraid to be quirky in approach
     – Don’t miss a chance for creativity
Some Issues

• Textbooks
   – Many teacher teach to the textbook, from the textbook
• Individual Work
   – isolated learning
• Classes often chalk and (teacher) talk
• Thinking is devalued
   – G&T children cannot find their voice
• Closed questions
   – Little opportunity for Divergent thinking
• Early finishers ‘rewarded’ with extra work
• No one likes a _____________( insert whichever applies – swat, clown, smart alec, know all)
Making a difference.....

•   Encourage independent thinking
•   Encourage abstract and complex thought
•   be accepting – of debate, discussion, questions
•   Facilitate discussion
•   Use open ended projects
•   Groups activities
Making a bigger difference

• Be a facilitator of learning

•   The Equalizer
•   Bloom’s Taxonomy
•   The Jigsaw Classroom
•   Project based Activity
•   Differentiation
•   Developing Research Skills
•   De Bono
•   Encouraging Independent Learning
•   Assessment for Learning
•   Role of Digression
• insert
• Tomlinson
Blooms Taxonomy
    of educational objectives

•    Knowledge
•    Comprehension
•    Application
•    Ananlysis
•    Synthesis
•    Evaluation
1. Knowledge: The recall of information.

     define      name        order

     describe    recite      recognize

     label       recall      record

     list        relate      reproduce

     match       repeat      state

     arrange                 underline
2. Comprehension: The translation,
interpretation or extrapolation of knowledge.

     arrange    explain     interpret

     classify   express     locate

     describe   identify    report

     discuss    indicate    restate

     sort       translate   extrapolate

     arrange    explain     interpret
3. Application: The application of knowledge to a
new situation.

      apply        practice      solve
      choose       prepare       use
      illustrate   schedule      demonstrate
      operate      sketch        measure
      apply        practice      solve
      choose       prepare       use
4. Analysis: To break down knowledge into parts and
show relationships among the parts.

      analyze      diagram       question
      appraise     discriminate test
      calculate    distinguish   differentiate
      categorize   examine       compare
      contrast     experiment    inventory
5. Synthesis: Bringing together parts (elements, components) of
knowledge to form a whole and build relationships for new situations.

        arrange           design            prepare

        assemble          formulate         propose

        collect           manage            set up

        compose           organize          synthesize

        create            plan              write

        construct         modify            conduct
6. Evaluation: Judgments about the value of material
and methods for given purposes.

      appraise     estimate     select
      argue        evaluate     support
      assess       judge        value
      attack       predict      score
      compare      rate         defend
      appraise     estimate     select

• Use divergent questioning to encourage higher order thinking skills
• Give students time to think about questions asked
• Pause for thought
• Think-pair-share
• Who wants to be a millionaire
• Probe - follow up answer to clarify understanding or develop ideas
• For higher order questioning - don’t reply with ‘that’s correct’.
   – Try a ‘hmmm’ or a ‘um’ instead
• Be a Devil’s Advocate
• Take each thinking skills in order
   – No point trying to evaluate without the basic knowledge
The Jigsaw Classroom

• Each student has one piece of the jigsaw of information that
  comprises the whole.
• Each student must teach his/her group their material.
• Only by listening and contributing can each student get the whole
   – Each childs contribution is valued and vaulable
       • Great reaction from students
• Team work
• Responsibility
• Understanding
• Independent learning
• Rising to a challenge
Variations in use

• You’ve inherited a bog-
   – What can you do with it?

• Oil has been discovered off the west coast. It will generate €15
  billion in revenue each year.
   – How will you spend this money?

• A factory owners wants to build a factory in_______________.
• Teams representing
   – Company; local politicians; environmentalist; local residents;
   – Local unemployed; local businesses
   – Decide and explain whether you are for or against the factory
Project Based Learning

• Teachers role is to be a facilitiator of learning
   – Better participation
   – More motivation
   – Engages students in the learning process
   – Encourages students to be creative and productive
   – Not just doing what you want them to do
   – Facilitates the students on learning awareness
       • Set performance target
   – Collaborative learning opportunities
   – Increases pride in work
   – Helps improve learning planning

• An approach to teaching in which the teacher provides learning
  opportunities tailored to meet the educational needs of individual
• Individual IEPs???
• In reality
   – Bottom
   – Middle
   – Top
       • groups
Key principles for Differentiation
•   Learning Experiences are based on diagnosis of student readiness, interest and/or
    learning profile,
•   Content, Activities and Products are developed in response to varying needs of
    varied learners,
•   Teaching and Learning are focused on key concepts, understandings and skills,
•   All students participate in "respectful" and engaging work,
•   Teacher and students work together to ensure continual engagement and
    challenge for each learner,
•   The teacher coordinates use of time, space and activities,
•   Flexible grouping ensures consistently fluid working arrangements, including whole
    class learning, pairs, triads and quads, student-selected groups, teacher-selected
    groups, and random groups,
•   Time use is flexible in response to student needs,
•   A variety of management strategies (such as learning centers, interest centers,
    compacting, contract, independent study, collegial partnerships, tiered assignments,
    learning buddies, etc.) is used to help target instruction to student needs.
•   Clearly established individual and group criteria provide guidance toward
•   Students are assessed in a variety of ways appropriate to demonstrate their own
    thought and growth.
Differentiation Strategies

• Anchor activities that students can complete on their own
• Separate assignment instructions

• Class expert
• Class teacher for a day
• Upwardly mobile
Upwardly Mobile

• Must - all students expected to achieve this minimum
• Should - most pupils should be able to do this
• Could - only a few students will get to this level

• Outline activities from the top down and encourage students to aim
• Use different methodologies/activities for each level
   – Students must be able to demonstrate their learning
• Lesson planning
Upwardly Mobile

• Requires independent learning
• Students can see where they are going!
• Prevents students wondering what to do when finished
Quick on the draw

• Quiz type activity
• 10 questions for each of 6 teams
• say ‘go’ member runs,
   – get question, runs back,
        • writes answer, brings it for correction,
            – gets another question
• First to get 10 correct wins
Beat the Teacher

• Ask a question
• If correct waward one point - need 5 for a permanent point
Other approaches to lessons

•   Make a model, prepare visual aids, write a passage
•   Do some research
•   Here are the answers, work out the questions
•   Here’s one answer - come up with as many questions as possible
•   Here a caption, draw a cartoon
•   Here’s a cartoon, write a story, poem, piece of music, dance

• Instead of ‘write about a volcano you have studied’
   – Try ‘Adopt a volcano’
       • Report, video, animation………………..
Twice Exceptional Students

• Make sure the basics have been covered
   – Giving the answers can be a good idea
• Try to play to the strengths of the TES
   – Eg. AS students - maths, music, graphs, charts,
• Have simple, clear cut instructions, not too many
• Repeat if necessary and encourage
• Allow students to use a variety of materials and approaches
• Visual and hands on learning are important
• Allow a different time scale for work to be completed
Independent Study and Learning

• Independent study programme
   – Identifying and developing a focus
   – Developing skills in creative and critical thinking
   – Using problem solving and decision making strategies
   – Learning research skills
   – Developing project management strategies
   – Keeping learning logs
   – Evaluating the process and product
   – Sharing the product with an external audience
   – Keeping a portfolio of results
Developing Research Skills

•   Using a library index
•   Using correct citations
•   Referring to sources in text (foot notes, end notes)
•   Using several sources to develop a report
Learning Centres

• Handy differentiation strategy
   – Make sure it’s guided
• Useful for enrichment activities
• Learning Through Case Studies
   – Case studies with a dilema or problem built in
• Learning through problem solving
De Bono’s Creative Thinkning Skills

•   PMI Plus, Minus, Interesting
•   CAF - Consider All Factors
•   C&S -Consequence and Sequel
•   Bit like CAF only forward thinking
•   OPV - Other Peoples Views
•   APC - Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices
Assessment for Learning

• Most assessment carried out is assessment of learning (summative
   • A test or homework is corrected and students are given a grade.
• For G&T childrens’ work, grades are often pointless.
• That said, it is more important today for children to learn to study
  independently, to acquire the skills to do so, and as they acquire
  these skills, to learn how they learn.
• AfL is an assessment method that encourages this. AfL is diagnostic
  and formative. It helps identify weaknesses in student learning and
  provides feedback that informs a child about the strengths and
  weaknesses of their work.
• This is not to say we should throw out summative assessment But
  we need a balance between the accountability of the exam system
  and the need of a child to develop their ability to learn
Using AfL

• The use of AfL requires several actions on the part of the teacher
    • Learning outcomes needs to be stated at the beginning of a lesson
    • They should be phrased in a way that focuses on the learning rather
      than the doing
        • e.g. instead of saying ‘we are going to make a poster’, say ‘we are learning
          to know what makes a good poster’.
• Learning intentions can be phrased in terms of lesson outcomes
• Instead of saying ‘at the end of the lesson you will have made a
  poster’, say ‘at the end of the lesson you will be able to identify
  what makes a good poster’.
• Student should have access to the learning intentions throughout a
Using AfL
•   Students next need to know the success criteria for a lesson.
•   In teaching, there are several techniques you can use to improve student learning.
     • As far as possible and appropriate, use open questions rather than closed
     • If a wrong answer is given, don’t rush to correct,
           • ask ‘are you sure?’ or ‘how can you be sure?’.

•   When asking questions, avoid the temptation to chose the student who will give the
    correct answer. Even if we are honest with ourselves, we can still end up biasing our
    student selection simply because it makes class function.
•   One possibility is to reject ‘hands up’ as a way of choosing a student to answer a
    question. Using a no-hands policy ensures that all students are more attentive
    because the may be picked at any moment.

•   There is still the chance of a bias in the choice of students so I use lollipop sticks with
    students names written on them. This ensures the choice is random.
•   It is important to give children time to think of an answer. And after they give an
    answer, take time before you respond.
Other AfL aspects

• When writing comments, try to be encouraging. Give recognition for
• Comments should tell students what they got right and what they
  have to do to close the gap between their work and the success
• Students should have the opportunity to reflect on their work and
  their learning.

• Two minds are better than one

• Collaboration allows children to apportion tasks among a group so
  that each member can contribute according to their strengths

• Discussion produces creativity
   – Particularly good in problem solving exercises

• Two types
   – Off-subject
       • Useful in building relationships but keep to very small doses
   – On subject off Topic
       • Decide where it fits into the topic, otherwise move on quickly
• David and Kathryn Geldard
   – ‘Counselling Adolescents’, 3rd Ed. 2009
   – “a very common feature of adolescent conversation is that young people
     tend to frequently digress from a topic of interest, talk about something
     else, and then return to the topic………..we believe that, especially for
     young people…….this serves a useful purpose. Because young people are
     continually revising their constructs, they are often trying to grapple with
     many different thoughts and ideas at the same time……… digressing
     they are able to deal with new thoughts without putting them on hold’

   – For G&T children with faster thought processes, this may be heightened
Other activities besides chalk and talk

•   Brainstorming and Brainwriting
•   Discussion
•   Artwork
•   Music
•   Journal keeping
•   Field Trips
•   Guest speakers
•   Debates
•   Video
•   Demonstrations
•   Action Research
•   Interviews
•   Surveys
•   Oral presentations
•   Role Playing
•   Simulations
The Cone of Learning
Some reading

• ‘Teaching the Very Able Child: Developing a Policy and Adopting
  Strategies for Provision’, Belle Wallace, NACE/Fulton, 2000
• ‘The Teacher’s Toolkit: Raise Classroom Achievement with Strategies
  for Every Learner’, Paul Ginnis, Crown House, 2007
• ‘Gifted Children Grown Up’, Joan Freeman, NACE/Fulton, 2001
• ‘Assessment for Learning and Teaching in Secondary Schools’,
  Achieving QTS, Martin Fautley& Jonathan Savage, Leraning Matters,

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