Characteristics of Profoundly Gifted Students (PowerPoint download)

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					Characteristics of Gifted

       Social/Emotional
       Academic
       Twice-exceptionalities

 Perfectionism

 Dominating   - Peers and Situations

 Advanced    Sense of Humor

 Asynchrony

 Intensity
Perfectionism is a combination of:
   the desire to be perfect
   the fear of not being perfect
   the sense that personal acceptance hinges on perfection

   Healthy perfectionism is a healthy characteristic
    that drives hard work and accomplishment. Healthy
    perfectionists find pleasure in their effort and

   Unhealthy perfectionism is a problem. Such self-
    analytic, self-judging and compulsive students cannot
    appreciate their own competency nor the adequacy of
    their work.
                 Signs of Unhealthy
   When a student earns an A- and not an A, he/she might feel:
    – inadequate, self-critical, weak, ashamed, and doubtful of own ability
   Overly precise
   Turn in assignments late so that they will be “perfect”
   Doesn‟t turn in assignments at all; would rather fail by not trying
    rather than fail doing their best
   Intolerance of mistakes
   Argumentative with instructors
   Become sick or resort to cheating in order to have perfect
   Fast heart rate and sweaty palms on test day
   Constantly feel that more can be done
   High achievement yields self-worth while mistakes yield shame
Many Faces of Perfectionism

            Excerpts from
Freeing our Families from Perfectionism
    Behaviors, Thoughts, and Feelings
                               of perfectionism
   Behaviors:
      Over-commitment
      Super sensitivity to criticism
      Compulsive attention to detail
      Has difficulties making choices
      Procrastination

   Thoughts:
      “I‟m never good enough”
      “I‟m only acceptable if I‟m perfect”
      “If I make a mistake, there‟s
        something wrong with me.”
      “If I can‟t do it perfectly, what‟s the

   Feelings:
      Anger
      Anxiety
      Shame or embarrassment
      Overwhelmed
     Perfectionist vs. Healthy Striver
   Perfectionist                             Healthy Striver
      Sets standards beyond reach               Sets high standards, but just
        and reason                                beyond reach
      Is never satisfied by anything            Enjoys process as well as
        less than perfection                      outcome
      Becomes dysfunctionally                   Bounces back from failure and
        depressed when experiences                disappointment quickly and with
        failure and disappointment                energy
      Is preoccupied with fear of               Keeps normal anxiety and fear
        failure and disapproval --- this          of failure and disapproval within
        can deplete energy levels                 bounds --- uses them to create
      Sees mistakes as evidence of               energy
        unworthiness                             Sees mistakes as opportunities
      Becomes overly defensive when              for growth and learning
        criticized                               Reacts positively to helpful
           Healthy Strivers
learn to ask themselves the following:

1.   Is it good enough?
2.   What‟s the worst thing that can happen?
3.   Will it matter in the long run?
        Costs of Perfectionism
 Depression
 Performance anxiety
 Test anxiety
 Social anxiety
 Writer‟s block
 Obsessiveness
 Compulsiveness
 Suicidal thoughts
 Loneliness
 Impatience
 Frustration
 Anger
    Recommendations for Teachers
   Learn to recognize perfectionism
   Educate yourself regarding how
    perfectionism affects gifted students
    socially and emotionally
   Discuss with students how high
    standards motivate excellent work, but
    compulsive perfectionism is unhealthy
   Use humor to lighten the classroom
    atmosphere and reduce any perceived
    threat to perfectionistic students
   Help students:
      understand that no one is superior
         at everything
      Accept mistakes and reduce their
         feelings of failure
      Develop a good attitude toward
         learning and school
      Learn to help others and receive
         help from them
   Teach students it is about the journey,
    not the destination; emphasize the
    process not the outcome
 Dominating - Peers and Situations
 A gifted child processes new information far more quickly than
  most children. This means the child may become impatient/bored
  waiting for his classmates to master information and skills.
 Can you guess what happens when this student gets
  impatient/bored? What are some likely behaviors?

 Young gifted children have talents beyond their years, but patience
  and tact aren‟t necessarily among them. Preferring to chat with you
  about new ideas or information with little regard for your other
  obligations, a gifted child may seem (and become) demanding.
 Has this happened to you?

   Frustrated, some gifted children react by becoming:
     • class clowns
     • challenging authority
     • quiet and withdrawn
Dominating – Peers and Situations
   Gifted individuals may tend to dominate peers and situations; they are
    on cognitive overdrive constantly. They are not afraid to confront
    untruths that are disguised as “authority,” they will correct their
    teachers, their parents and their friends.
 Has this happened to you?
 What can you do to encourage this ambitious love of learning, but also,
  let him or her know there is a time and a place for everything?
   Encourage this ambitious love of learning, but also, let him or her know
    there are appropriate and inappropriate times for everything:
     • It is better to go to a teacher after class and correct her syntax
       privately, rather than to do it in front of 25 other seventh graders.
     • The bus ride home is probably not the best time to inform your
       classmates about the distinction between a Russian and a Prussian.
     • Correcting Dad‟s grammar at the dinner table when he is retelling
       his favorite story about growing up in Appalachia may not be
     • Hollingworth‟s notion of suffering fools gladly.
             How Others See Them
   Bossy - because of their
  advanced language and
  conceptual skills, some gifted
  children are highly directive in
  their play with others, which is
  not always well received by their
 Rude/Demanding - their
  frustration can lead to anger
  and impatience with others.
   Argumentative – while their
    intensions are not to pick a
    fight, gifted children have
    insatiable need to know the how
    and the why.
   Exhausting – their passion for
    learning is never ending and
    therefore neither are their

   Try to see things from the
    student‟s perspective

   Give reasons, but don‟t

   Give your student some
    choices - freedom within

   Treat the student with

   Don‟t think you have to have
    all the answers
       Advanced Sense of Humor

   Situations full of tension can be handled with humor.
    Most gifted children are able to develop a sense of
    humor quite early, and are able to focus on
    absurdities in situations.
   In interpersonal situations, gifted children find
    humor to be useful. As one child said, “Where being
    smart is handy is when others try to put you down.
    You can turn it around and make it a joke.”
Dear Mom,

I‟ve asked the receptionist to give you this as soon as you get back
from your meeting, so you‟ll know where I am. Mike‟s mom is taking me
home with her. She was the only person available to take me to the
emergency room. My arm isn‟t moving very well because of the
bandages, so I hope you can read this okay. The fireman said the wiring
was very old. You‟ll be glad to know I saved the family album. Fluffy
should be okay, but it doesn‟t look so good for Tigger. Also, my algebra
teacher wants you to give her a call.


P.S. Just kidding! I‟m fine, the house is fine, and Fluffy and Tigger are
fine. I am getting a D- in algebra though. What a relief, huh?
                More Examples...

   At age 5, a gifted student was trying to assemble a
    solar system mobile. The planets and their strings
    were not cooperating. Frustrated, the boy rolled his
    eyes and sighed, “Now I know how God felt!”

   A young child spilled a drink at a restaurant, the
    family sponged her off and she laughed, “Guess that‟s
    what they mean when they say „The Drink‟s on Me!‟ ”

   A 3-year-old asks his mother, "What's a dirty X?"
    Not realizing it was a riddle, she said “I don't know.”
    He says, "A clean X with snot all over it!"
       Gifted Children and Humor
 Humor is a valuable tool for handling stress.
 Humor is a clear signal that the child is able to
  maintain a sense of perspective, and that the
  stressful situation really is not “that bad”.
 Be cautious about cynical laughter, which covers
  anger and disappointment. Though it may seem to
  reduce stress, such humor implies nothing can be
  done to change a bad situation.
 Humor with gifted children must be handled
  carefully, particularly at first, as they may think you
  are ridiculing or laughing at them.
 Model – demonstrate healthy ways of laughing at
      Asynchrony and Giftedness

   Gifted children experience
    discrepancies between their cognitive,
    social, emotional, and physical
    development. This asynchrony increases
    with higher intellectual capacity.
            How Adults See Them
   Adults, expecting social maturity to match high level
    intellectual development, may label a highly articulate,
    logical child as a behavior problem when he or she
    exhibits an age-appropriate tantrum.
    • Gifted children sometimes talk and have interests like adults.
    • They also may behave like an adult one moment and be very
      childlike the next.
          How Age Peers See Them
   The following interaction is between a 6-year-old
    gifted child and his 7-year-old neighbor, a girl of only
    above average ability. He began telling her some
    riddles - his current obsession.
    –   HE: What is Wild Bill Hiccup‟s favorite color?
    –   SHE: I don‟t know.
    –   HE: Burple (laughs)
    –   SHE: (Stares at him, not laughing)
    –   HE: What did one candle say to the other candle?
    –   SHE: What?
    –   HE: Are you going out tonight?
    –   SHE: (Just looks at him) She also tries to tell him some puns.
        He does not find them to be funny at all.

   Gifted children may be many years
    above chronological age in intellectual
    functioning, but depending on the
    situation and participants,
    social/emotional maturity may vary.
   Knowledge vs. wisdom or life experience:
    having ability to reason is not the same
    as having ability to make a good decision
      Asynchrony In Summary . . .

   A gifted person is likely to mature
    faster in some ways, and slower in
    others. In the area of their gifts, they
    may be years ahead of their peers,
    while simultaneously lagging years
    behind in other areas.
             Emotional Intensity
. . . extremes of emotions both negative and positive

            Ways it can be expressed:
 Somatic (bodily) expression: tense stomach, sinking
  heart, blushing, flushing
 Inhibition: timidity, shyness
 Strong affective memory
 Fears and anxieties, guilt
 Concerns with death, depressive
 Strong emotional ties, empathy: attachment to
  animals, concern for others
 Feelings toward self: self-evaluation and self-
              Intense Awareness
   Gifted children can become aware of heavy concerns
    early on:
     – Death
     – Freedom/Equality
     – Isolation
     – Meaning of life/Meaningless
   Existential depression – a depression that arises when
    one confronts certain basic issues of existence
   Isolation from age peers - peers do not understand
    the gifted child‟s point of view and vice versa; this
    can lead to anger, which if not dealt with
    appropriately can often become depression.
       High Levels of Ethical and Moral
   Have a rigid concept of right and wrong - this can
    be a particular problem for gifted children who
    are insightful.
   Expect adults to be examples of virtue and
    practice what they preach.
   When Rorey was 6, he befriended Carl, age 12, who was developmentally
    disabled. Other children teased and tormented Carl, especially Todd. Rorey
    stood up to these tormentors, though Todd was twice his age and size. This so
    surprised Todd that he stopped teasing Carl. When asked why he had helped
    Carl, Rorey stated he knew that Carl needed a friend, and it was the right thing
    to do to be his friend and defend him. He felt teasing others was wrong. He
    never engaged in such behavior himself, even later in the elementary years when
    teasing is a game most boys play.

   On a shopping expedition, 3-year-old Crissy told her mother that she did not
    need any new clothes. She also would not allow her mother to buy her toys even
    though her mother had planned several purchases with money Crissy had
    recently received from relatives. The only purchase Crissy would allow that day
    was a pair of shoes since she had outgrown her old ones. Instead, she wanted the
    money to be given to the poor.

   At 2 ½, one of Mike‟s classmates was a girl who spent her entire life in a hospital
    environment battling cancer. Until that time, she had little contact with children
    because of her illness. She was bald from chemotherapy. She was unaware of
    social graces and on the very first day, she picked up a marker and began
    coloring the front of Mike‟s shirt. The teacher recalled that rather than
    reacting in a typical 2-year-old way, Mike gently took her hand and asked, “Do I
    look like a piece of paper to you?” He guided her to the table, sat down beside
    her and carefully explained, “We draw on paper, not on each other.”
    What do these children
      have in common?

– High degree of sensitivity to moral
– Empathy for others.
– Moral logic.
        High Levels of Ethical and Moral
   The pursuit of truth, the drive to know what truth
    is, and the need to understand justice/fairness can
    supersede awareness of others' needs
   The main goal: to do what is “right”
   It can be helpful for these children to learn when
    truth is important and when feelings count more
   Gifted children should learn that direct action is
    not always possible – there will be times when one
    cannot speak up or prevent an injustice
              How You Can Help
   Don't minimize their emotions – stay away from
    phrases such as "you're too sensitive" or "snap out
    of it" or "it'll be OK".
   Reassure and validate their feelings - help them
    find ways of expressing their intense emotions.
   Help students realize that sensitivity does not
    mean weakness.
   Give them responsibility that is age appropriate -
    do not shield them from the consequence of their
   Teach students how to give back. Find a cause and
    use service learning in the classroom.
        Strong Beliefs and Opinions
   Strong-willed - one whose view of how things should
    be is very clear; has a deeply felt need for self-
   When working with strong-willed children recognize
    both the positives and negatives:
    –   stubborn and rebellious vs. the potential to make
        commitments, and be assertive
   For example, Langston Hughes, the black poet,
    refused to drop out of high school to support his
    family as was expected of him. He did so, not from
    selfishness, but from knowledge that he could do
    more if he had an education (Meltzer, 1968).
                       The Big Picture
   Three 8-year-olds are sitting side-by-side, watching a production of “Fiddler on
    the Roof.” None is fidgeting. All are engaged in the show. The first child enjoys
    the music and the dancing, and understands the basic story line. The second
    child is deeply aware of the stage lighting and set design choices, is impressed
    with how the choreography compliments the score, and laughs out loud when a
    character, who is not important to the scene, reaches his finger through his
    (empty) glasses rim to scratch his eye. The third child is riveted to the story
    throughout, and moved to tears when Tevya announces that his daughter is
    “dead” to him, due to her choosing to marry outside of her faith. After the show,
    child one is happy, and ready to go out with the group for ice cream. Child two is
    willing to go for ice cream, as long as the adults are willing to engage in a
    conversation about the stagecraft. Child three feels overwhelmed. This child is
    not ready to go out, nor to socialize. Child three is filled with thoughts and
    emotions regarding the possibility that choices people make could earn them
    ostracism from their family, and, as if that weren‟t enough is also wondering
    about how families deal with changing times, and how times will change in this
   One‟s intellectual and emotional age is
    often not the same as one‟s physical age.

   What differences did you notice in the
    three learners?
    1. First child
    2.Second child
    3.Third child
Possible Problems That May be Associated with
 Characteristic Strengths of Gifted Children
    Strengths                               Possible Problems
                                              1. Impatient with slowness of
    1.   Acquires and retains                    others; dislikes repetition;
         information quickly                     may resist mastering
                                                 foundation skills; may make
    2.   Inquisitive attitude,                   concepts overly complex
         intellectual curiosity;
                                              2. Asks embarrassing questions;
         intrinsic motivation;                   strong-willed; resists
         searches for significance               direction; seems excessive in
                                                 interests; expects same of
    3.   Ability to conceptualize,               others
         abstract, synthesize; enjoys
                                              3. Rejects or omits details;
         problem-solving and                     resists practice/drill;
         intellectual activity                   questions teaching procedures
    4.   Enjoys organizing things and         4. Constructs complicated rules
         people into structure                   or systems; may be seen as
                                                 bossy, rude, or dominating
    5.   Thinks critically; has high          5. Critical or intolerant toward
         expectations; is self-critical          others; may become
         and evaluates others                    discouraged or depressed;
             What can schools do?
   Understand that a child‟s social and emotional development is an
    integral part of his or her educational experience. Much of the
    growth in healthy self-concept is tied to an appropriately
    challenging curriculum: a good fit in pace, depth, concept, and
    with a group of mental peers with whom the child can work.

   Build a positive partnership between parents and educators –
    communication is essential for the mutual sharing of information.

   Help parents and teachers model appropriate communication:
    –   Basic social skills
    –   Take perspective
    –   Defuse anger
    –   Stress management
    –   Setting priorities and realistic goals

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