California Educator

May 2011

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for teaching gifted students Lessons from the classroom Tips ips on gifted children. * Read books on differentiated instruction by Carol Tomlinson and Susan Winebrenner, who have authored numerous books on this com- plex topic. Studying differentiated instruction will also be helpful for teaching English learners and special-needs students. * Visit the CAG website for a variety of resources. CAG of- fers a certificate of completion and professional development credit hours at its annual three-day conference held in Anaheim in February. CAG also offers teacher institutes with training for teachers. t* Visit for great resources and * Use curriculum “compacting” to allow students who already know the information to do alternative activities designed to provide enrichment, a more challenging curriculum or independent study opportunities. Under this The following tips on teaching gifted students in your classroom come from Beth Littrell, Bryan Feci and other CTA members, as well as members of the California Association for the Gifted (CAG) and Joan Lindsay Kerr, CAG’s educator representative chair and GATE curriculum specialist for the Rosedale Union School District. Resources and ideas model, teachers give a “pre-test” at the beginning of the unit so that students who demonstrate mastery of the curriculum don’t have to sit through the les- sons on skills they already know. The teacher can provide them with more challenging alternative activities or have them work independently on a per- sonal interest related to the subject so they may study it in greater depth. * Use flexible grouping. When appropriate, allow GATE students to work together or individually on an advanced project. At other times, GATE students can join the whole class in learning new concepts and work in mixed-ability groups. * Communicate with parents of gifted students, who may feel frus- trated if they feel their child’s needs are not being met in school. They appreciate knowing how you are meeting the needs of their advanced learner in your classroom. More ideas * Use tiered instruction. Design activities based on the same concept being taught to the whole class, but geared to different ability levels. Bloom’s Taxonomy is a great tool for designing activities for different ability levels. (Bloom’s Taxono- my is a system of classifying learning objectives in education. Teachers can design activities around the six levels of cognitive learning skills from simple to complex: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.) An example of this is having students read the same book, and then having general education students discuss the perspective of one character and having gifted students discuss multiple perspectives of characters and their motives. * Make your class a safe place where it is OK to be smart. In our culture, it has become uncool to be smart, and some gifted kids will hide their abil- ity rather than risk the teasing of their peers. In a mixed-ability classroom, honor all of the children for their special gifts, whether they are academi- cally advanced or talented in the area of athletics, music or art. * Brainstorm every day. Connect the brainstorming to curriculum. * Ask gifted students to identify patterns and trends — not just in math, but * Encourage students to consider issues from many points of view, including in all disciplines. the perspective of different disciplines. How would a literary critic, a mathema- tician, an artist, a musician, a sociologist, a psychologist or an athlete view the curriculum being studied? * Offer a variety of resources. Gifted students can comprehend complex in- formation. Encourage students with prior knowledge or interest in a particular subject to stretch with more sophisticated reading. 22 California Educator | MAY 2011 USE THESE TIPS IN THE CLASSROOM PULL OUT

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