Teaching Students who are Gifted

Teaching Students Who are
Part 1: What is the nature of
giftedness?/ Some theories and
Historically, gifted identified by
excellence in linguistic or logical
mathematical realms
Terms Used: Gifted/ Talented, Gifted,
Talented, Specific/ General, Advanced
Origins of Giftedness
genetics (biological) and
twins and adoptive studies show link
social/environmental factors
nature /nurture combination;
Levels of giftedness
According to IQ measurements, the following
labels are generally accepted:
Bright - 115 and above
Gifted - 130 and above
Highly gifted - 145 and above
Exceptionally gifted -160 and above
Profoundly gifted - 175 and above
- B.C: “Possess demonstrated or potential
abilities that give evidence of exceptionally
high capability with respect to intellect,
creativity or the skills associated with specific
- US: “gifted” are “children with outstanding
talent who perform or show the potential for
performing at remarkably high levels of
accomplishment when compared to others of
their age, experience, or environment.”
Often demonstrate outstanding abilities in
more than one area
Demonstrate extraordinary intensity of focus
in their particular areas of talent or interest
(However, they may have accompanying
disabilities ) and should not be expected to
have strengths in all areas of intellectual
(Brain Research: fMRI)
looks like a 'brain on fire.'
Bright red blazes of high metabolic
activity burst out all over the scan.
Each red patch represents millions of
microcombustion events in which
glucose is metabolized to provide fuel
for the working brain.
Gifted brains are remarkably intense
and diffuse metabolizers
The orchestration of activity is
planned and complex, and it seems to
require the coordination of diverse
visual, spatial, verbal, and sensory
areas of brain. Gifted thinkers are
rarely one-mode thinkers.
enhanced sensory activation and
awareness. Gifted brains are essentially
"hyper-sensitive," and can be rendered
even more so through training.
Not only are the initial impressions especially
strong, but also the later recollections are
often unusually intense or vivid.
Because vivid initial impressions correlate
with better recollection, gifted brains are also
characterized by increased memory efficiency
and capacity.
These memories are not only especially
intense and enduring memories, but they are
also frequently characterized by
multimodality, involving memory areas that
store many different types of memories.
Howard Gardner
theory of multiple intelligences that
includes seven different types of
intelligence: linguistic and logicalmathematical (the types measured by
IQ tests); spatial; interpersonal (ability to
deal with other people); intrapersonal
(insight into oneself); musical; and
bodily-kinaesthetic (athletic ability).
Renzulli Enrichment Triad
giftedness involves the interaction of three
sets of characteristics:
-above average intellectual ability,
-task commitment.
-interaction may result in giftedness in
general performance areas such as
mathematics, philosophy, religion or visual
arts, or in the performance areas as specific
as cartooning, map-making, play-writing,
advertising or agricultural research.
Key Three Characteristics:
Dr. Joseph Renzulli, University of Connecticut
Task Commitment
(Page 6)
Treffinger (1986, p.40) defined the
Above Average Intelligence
* Advanced vocabulary
* Good memory
* Learns very quickly and easily
* Large fund of information
* Generalizes skillfully
* Comprehends new ideas easily
* Makes abstractions easily
* Perceives similarities, differences,
* Makes judgments and decisions
* Questioning; very curious about many
* Has many ideas (fluent)
* Sees things in varied ways (flexible)
* Offers unique or unusual ideas (original)
* Adds details; makes ideas more interesting
* Transforms or combines ideas
* Sees implications or consequences easily
* Risk-taker; speculates
* Feels free to disagree
* Finds subtle humour, paradox or
Creativity in Thinking
(vs. product)
Insight: separating relevant from irrelevant, find
novel ways of combining relevant bits of info, relate
new and old info in novel and productive way
Not necessarily Genius
Creativity: express novel and useful ideas, to sense
and elucidate novel and important relt, and to ask
previously unthought of, but crucial questions
Task Commitment
Sets own goals, standards
Intense involvement in preferred problems
and tasks
Enthusiastic about interests and activities
Needs little external motivation when
pursuing tasks
Prefers to concentrate on own interest and
High level of energy
Task Commitment (Cont)
- Perseveres; does not give up easily
when working
- Completes, shares products
- Eager for new projects and challenges
- Assumes responsibility
Task commitment refers to the passion
and the perseverance that follows when
students are involved in problems,
topics and projects of their own interest
or choosing, in our outside of the
Gifted students are typically committed
to task that are personally meaningful
A lack of commitment to a task
assigned by someone else does not
necessarily mean the student lacks task
commitment. For example, failing to
complete classroom assignments is not
an appropriate reason to exclude a
student form gifted programming.
Therefore, educators using task
commitment as an indicator of
giftedness should do so carefully.
Renzulli's three-ring concept of
giftedness has helped educators to look
for more than intellectual ability in
identifying students with potential. We
now recognize the importance of
creativity. When these two factors are
combined with task commitment, there
is potential for giftedness.
Gardner's and Renzulli's work
illuminates the need to identify student
potential in a variety of ways and to
develop multiple programming options
to meet each student's unique needs
Most Prevalent Characteristics of
learn rapidly
have extensive vocabulary
have excellent memory
reason well
are curious
are mature for their age at times
have an excellent sense of humor
have a keen sense of observation
have a vivid imagination
have a long attention span
 are concerned with justice and fairness
 have a high energy level
 are perfectionistic
 are perseverant in their areas of interest
 are avid readers
 have ability to generalize info
 are able to make abstractions readily
 have capacity to id similarities/differences/and
 are concerned with big picture or global issues.
 report high energy or activity levels.
 are sensitive to clothing tags and other tactile
Part 2: The Identification
Early Identification
Early id of students who are gifted
important to plan/deliver appropriate ed
Some gifted students whose abilities
are not identified and addressed early
may exhibit secondary emotional and
behavioural difficulties
District screening and id procedures
should be in place to ensure
consistency of access to programs
designed to support gifted students.
Every effort should be made to ensure
that screening and id procedures are
unbiased with respect to language,
culture, gender, physical ability,
learning or other disability
What screening devices are used ?
No single criterion should be
established for access to or exclusion
from services
assessments using multiple criteria and
information from a variety of sources,
all of which are valid components
Should Include several of:
Teacher observations :anecdotal records, checklists,
and inventories
Records of student achievement including
assignments, portfolios, grades and outstanding
talents, interests and accomplishments
Nominations by educators, parents, peers and or self
Interview of parents and students
Formal assessments to level C of cognitive ability,
achievement, aptitude and creativity
(A student who is talented in areas other than
academics should also have an assessment of
intellectual abilities, as it is important information for
educational planning )
Data collection on
-general intellectual ability
-specific academic aptitude
-creative or productive thinking
-leadership abilities
-visual or performing arts
-psychomotor abilities
Identifying The Gifted in our
Individual School District’s decide on
process for identification purposes
Great differences in site based
decision to meet criteria, provide
Pressures to either “under” identify or
“over” identify Gifted
Gifted Rating Scale
Underrepresented Groups
Low socio-economic status
Various ethnic groups
Part 3: Some Misconceptions
Myths, and Misunderstandings
Some Misunderstandings
Not necessarily a ‘high achiever’
Many are not self-directed, independent
learners who need little direction.
Many do not have the patience or desire to
serve in a ‘helper’ or ‘teacher’ role
Study skills and work habits are often not
well developed (because things have tended
to come with little effort )
Social and emotional skills are often
incongruent with intellectual capabilities.
Many are more comfortable talking and
working with adults or older students
Many feel isolated and misunderstood
Undue demands are often placed on them
(perceived to be more mature and
-Parents, teachers, and students themselves,
set unrealistic goals, which end in frustration
and feelings of failure
Easily bored and frustrated with tedious.
repetitive tasks
Unusual curiosity – wants to know ‘why’
Reject authority, be non-conforming,
Dominate or withdraw in cooperative learning
Be highly sensitive to environmental stimuli
such as lights or noises,
Be so emotionally sensitive and empathetic
that adults consider it over-reaction, may get
angry, or cry when things go wrong or seem
Be overly critical of self and
And that's one of the real struggles of
embracing one's own giftedness is that
we have these ideas in this culture that
gifted people are arrogant, gifted
people are snooty, that they think
they're better than others. And that's
typically not the case; they're more
likely to feel inadequate to others,
because of their own high standards.
These reactions of gifted students to
the regular education environment are
normal only within the context of an
understanding of the gifted. Without
that understanding, they may be used
to label the student as ADD/ADHD.
Dabrowski: Overexcitabilities
A term to describe excessive response
to stimuli in five psychic domains:
emotional) which may occur singly or in
intensity is a surplus of energy.
Children with a dominant psychomotor
overexcitability are often misdiagnosed
with ADHD since characteristics are
* Rapid speech
* Impulsive behavior
* Competitiveness
* Compulsive talking
* Compulsive organizing
* Nervous habits and tics
* Preference for fast action and
* Physical expression of emotions
* Sleeplessness
The primary sign of this intensity is a
heightened awareness of all five
senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and
Children with a dominant sensual
overexcitability can get sick from the
smell of certain foods or as toddlers
may hate to walk on grass in their bare
feet. The pleasure they get from the
tastes and textures of some foods may
cause them to overeat.
* Appreciation of beauty, whether in
writing, music, art or nature. Includes
love of objects like jewelry
* Sensitive to smells, tastes, or
textures of foods
* Sensitivity to pollution
* Tactile sensitivity (Bothered by feel
of some materials on the skin, clothing
* Craving for pleasure
* Need or desire for comfort
This intensity is the one most
recognized in gifted children.
It is characterized by activities of the
mind, thought and thinking about
Children who lead with this intensity
seem to be thinking all the time and
want answers to deep thoughts.
Sometimes their need for answers will
get them in trouble in school when their
questioning of the teacher can look like
disrespectful challenging.
* Deep curiosity
* Love of knowledge and learning
* Love of problem solving
* Avid reading
* Asking of probing questions
* Theoretical thinking
* Analytical thinking
* Independent thinking
* Concentration, ability to maintain
intellectual effort
The primary sign of this intensity is the
free play of the imagination. Their vivid
imaginations can cause them to
visualize the worst possibility in any
situation. It can keep them from taking
chances or getting involved in new
* Vivid dreams
* Fear of the unknown
* Good sense of humor
* Magical thinking
* Love of poetry, music and drama
* Love of fantasy
* Daydreaming
* Imaginary friends
* Detailed visualization
The primary sign of this intensity is
exceptional emotional sensitivity.
Children with a strong emotional
overexcitability are sometimes
mistakenly believed to have bipolar
disorder or other emotional problems
and disorders. They are often the
children about whom people will say,
"He's too sensitive for his own good."
* Extremes of emotion
* Anxiety
* Feelings of guilt and sense of
* Feelings of inadequacy and
* Timidity and shyness
* Loneliness
* Concern for others
* Heightened sense right and wrong, of
injustice and hypocrisy
* Strong memory for feelings
* Problems adjusting to change
* Depression
* Need for security
* Physical response to emotions
(stomach aches caused by anxiety, for
 “It
is often recognized that gifted
and talented people are
energetic, enthusiastic,
intensely absorbed in their
pursuits, endowed with vivid
imagination, sensuality, moral
sensitivity and emotional
vulnerability. . . . [They are]
experiencing in a higher key.” Michael Piechowski.
 I've
never seen giftedness
expire. I've seen it get worse
- that the sensitivity
deepens, the perfectionism
gets more intense, the
excitability factor - all this
energy will erupt, just makes
more of itself.
too needy, too sensitive, too
friendly, too excited, too
driven, too disorganized, too
fast, too competitive, too
arrogant, work too hard (Antiprocrastination disease)
Desire for high stimulus situations:
mischief, smug, bored, know-it-all;
or procrastination, risking, need to
make life difficult in order to feel like
a hero
 Thinking too much, can't turn it off,
obsession style
Potential “Conflict” in Class
* Get bored with routine tasks.
* Resist changing away from interesting
topics or activities.
 impatient with failure
 perfectionistic.
 Disagree vocally with others, argue with
 *Make jokes or puns at times adults
consider inappropriate.
 Ignore details, turn in messy work.
View the video clip
How many passes does the white team
The answer was 13.
But did you see the…….?
Part 4 : Some Implications for
programming and practice
Common Elements for
Individualized program
Different in pace, scope and
complexity in keeping with the
nature of the extent of the
 Provides opportunities for students
to interact socially and
academically with both age peers
and peers of similar abilities
 Addresses both cognitive and
affective domains
Planning and Implementation
 Often
blend of opportunities
in the school and community
 More extraordinary the
abilities, the more necessary
expand options to outside of
Supplemental services should
contain some of:
Independent guided education
Specialist teachers in resource centres
or resource rooms
District and community classes
Special groupings which provide
opportunities for learning with
intellectual peers (OM)
1) Pace of Learning
B) Telescoping
C) Compacting
2) Opportunities for Scope/Depth of Understanding
3) Engaging Curriculum:
- follow interests and passions
-individualized/peer projects
A. Acceleration
Acceleration is the practice of placing
students at a higher than normal level
of instruction to meet their learning
needs. It occurs when a classroom
teacher provides the student with
advanced curriculum, when a student
skips a grade, or when a student takes
a specific course at a higher level.
Acceleration Programming
Continuous progress
Grade skipping
Content acceleration
Testing out of course requirements
Advanced courses in summer or afterschool
Correspondence courses
Specially designed credit courses
Advanced placement courses
Dual enrolment
Early graduation
Early enrolment in college
Radical acceleration
Students can be accelerated by grade,
when they are advanced in all areas, or
by subject. (I.e. a student in Grade 6
may be doing math at an advanced
level and language arts at his age level)
While many educators resist
acceleration as a strategy, research
overwhelmingly supports it.
Acceleration has been shown to be
positive for both achieving and
underachieving gifted learners in the
majority of documented cases. (Benbow
& Stanley, 1983; Kulik & Kulik, 1992).
“forcing” issue because of online course
Research on acceleration
Rogers and Kempster, 1992 acceleration:
1) not academic burnout or gaps
2) not negative social emotional
works especially when:
-early entrance to school, grade skipping (gr. 3-6)
-acceleration in Math; early admission to College
-requires flexible placement, diagnostic
assessment, commitment of Admin and teachers
Research Working with Peers
Cross (2002) need intellectual peers part
of day to stay stimulated in are of
advancement, but also same age group
peers ( except for “prodigy” )
B. Telescoping
Telescoping Telescoping is
reducing the amount of time a
student takes to cover the
curriculum. Courses often involve
overlapping content and skills
from one grade level to the next.
Gifted learners may not need as
much time to learn and remember
the material. An example of
telescoping is when a student
completes grades 8 and 9 math in
one year. Telescoping can be used
in conjunction with acceleration.
For example, at Johns Ho
pkins University, mathematically precocious
youth are offeredboth strategies to helpthem advance more quickly.
The student'slearning needs are diagnosedand instruction is provided
only whenneeded.This allowsthe studentto move on to more
demanding work (Benbow, 1986).
The early university entrance pilot project housed at University Hill
Secondary School in Vancouver is another example of telescoping. In
this program highly gifted s tudents, who range in age from 11 to 15,
spend one year finding and working at levels that provide academic
challenge. In the second year they learn skills needed for early entrance
to university.
C. Compacting
Compacting is a strategy designed to
streamline the amount of time the
student spends on the regular
curriculum. This strategy allows
students to demonstrate what they
know, to do assignments in those
areas where work is needed, and then
to be freed to work on other curricular
use compacting to reduce repetition
and to "buy" time for the students
to work on an individual project of
their own choice.
It may also be used to extend work
in a given topic. For example, if the
area to be compacted is math, the
student will spend less time on
regular classroom assignments and
have more time to work on
applications or math enrichment
2. Opportunities for Depth of
a. Broad Based Themes
b. Tiered activities (according to readiness)
c. Analogy/ Metaphors/Similes
d. Succinct to Elaborate
( bumper sticker/ 7 word lifestory to elaboration
e. Open-Ended Curriculum/Activities
f. Independent Study (Make a contract with
steps/dates/expectations/assessments )
g. Problem-Based Inquiry
A)Kaplan (1986) uses broad based
themes as a curriculum organizer. A
theme can span several disciplines and
give rise to the study of many topics.
The content of the curriculum, the
thinking and research skills used, and
the end product of the investigation are
taken into consideration in the
development of the theme and related
Examples of broad based themes are:
change, cycles, structures and systems.
Students at any level can take part in
lessons developed around any theme.
The work will vary in levels of
b) Tiered Assignments
Tiered assignments are designed
to meet the needs of a group of
learners functioning at a range of
levels. Students work on the
same content, but are asked
different questions and are
provided with different activities
which are assigned according to
readiness, interest or learning
c. -Analogy/ Metaphors/Similes
d) Succinct to Elaborate
(bumper sticker/ 6 word lifestory to
6 word memoirs
For sale: baby shoes, never worn.
Learning to fly with broken wings
Living in existential vacuum; it sucks.
Two wives, one funeral, no tears.
Teaching 18-year-olds poetry;
pray for me
Independent Study
(Make a contract:
assessments )
-Open-Ended Activities
(examples- )
-Problem Based Inquiry
-web quests
3. Engagement through
Choice boards (or have as
b. Current events connections
c. Contests
Learning Centres/Stations
Learning centres are physical
"stations" where students are engaged
in activities designed to extend their
understanding and thinking about a
Activities may include working on an
individual or small group investigation,
watching a video tape, listening to an
audio tape or working on a computer
activity. Sometimes there are games
to reinforce a concept or problems to
Learning centres can be used to
reinforce and extend the regular
program or to identify and extend the
interests of students. In the latter case,
they may not be directly related to
curricular content, but introduce the
students to new possibilities for study.
For the teacher, learning centres
provide a way to work with small
groups while the rest of the class is
engaged in other assignments or centre
Student Contests
work on independently
Highly motivational for many
Work at own pace
Gifted Learners said ( as adults
looking back what experiences
worked) :
Exploration of Interests or Passions
Knowledge and Use of Thinking
Use of the Skills of Collaboration and
Encouragement of Curiosity
Development of Self-Confidence
Creation of Positive Self-Esteem
Development of Leadership skills
Learning That Lasts a Lifetime: Former Students Tell Us What
Works! by Franny McAleer
Independent Study -see samples,
(Make a contract:
In 12 -o’clock buddies, research topic of “Dual
Powerpoint on course website
fill in the blanks on study guide
By __________,
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