In education, we are always going to have varying intelligences in our classroom. Because of this, we can never just present a one size fits all curriculum for the students and expect everyone to be fine with it. In every classroom, you will always have a few kids that are struggling academically, most of the other students will be performing at an average level, and then you will have a couple very gifted students that almost seem like they could teach the class. The trick is to be able to challenge all the students in the classroom at a level that is right for them.
Ways to Approach Teaching Gifted Students
The key thing to remember is there are several ways to challenge gifted students. Some may work well and some may be an utter failure. You just have to keep your chin up and keep trying. After all, if teaching was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Schedule a Meeting with the Gifted Student Early On
Some teachers make the mistake of just assigning extra work to the gifted students in an effort to keep them busy. Rather than penalize them with busy work for being intelligent, find something they enjoy doing and use it to your advantage. For instance, discuss with them their hobbies and what they like to do during their free time. If they love to use technology, have them create a presentation that goes along with their assignment. If they enjoy writing, have them write a short paper that accompanies the topic they are working on. But you must use their input to decide on the extra challenging work they will be doing. The last thing you want to do is get them frustrated with the add-on assignments.
Enable the Gifted to Help Those Students Who Are Struggling
When the gifted student is finished with their assignment, allow them to help the others that are struggling. Not only will it benefit those that are falling behind, but in helping teach the lesson, the gifted student will get a better understanding of it. You have probably experienced this as a teacher yourself. You didn’t know much about a certain topic and then after teaching it, you suddenly learned it above and beyond what you thought was capable. This has happened to me several times in my teaching career.
Appropriately Leveled Books
If a student is reading at high school level but you only have fifth-grade novels in your classroom, you are limiting the gifted student and holding them back to a degree. It is fine to read books that are below their maximum reading level, we all do it for enjoyment, but it is also essential that you provide them other challenging books that they may be interested in as well.
Gifted Does Not Mean They Are Gifted in All Subjects
Keep in mind that a student may be gifted in math, but struggle mightily in reading. Perhaps they are great at writing and spelling, but they lack skills in geography. Be certain to challenge the gifted students at the suitable subject level they are excelling at.
Communicate with the Parents
The parents should have a few ideas on how you can academically challenge their kid. After all, they have spent much more time around the student than you have. Their insight could be very valuable. Plus, it will get them on board with providing more difficult assignments over time. Are you concerned that you are not challenging your gifted child enough already? Parents are happy to see all A’s on a report card, but sometimes they fail to remember that maybe their child can be doing even more. This is something that iAchieve can definitely help with. We offer tutoring at all grade and subject levels. This means that if your child is performing well above what the rest of the students are, we can move him on to more challenging topics in a one-on-one atmosphere.
Written by Ryan Crawley