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As a teacher, what do you do with students who are gifted or talented at a particular...

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wanderista | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:05 PM via web

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As a teacher, what do you do with students who are gifted or talented at a particular subject?

As a teacher, what do you do with students who are gifted or talented at a particular subject?

Scenario:

Billy is achieving exemplary results in Year 9 English class. He has never in his career of English gotten below 18/20, and normally (about 90% of the time) receives 20/20 while others in his class recieve 15's, and the second best, 17-19's. Billy tries hard in English, and is enthusiastic about the subject. However, his teacher fails to do anything to extend or challenge Billy, except criticise his work more (criticises it as if he is in Year 10/11 instead of Year 9, but this does not affect the mark, as students tend to be marked on a rubric). What do you suggest Billy do if he wishes to be challenged more, and what would you do as a teacher of Billy?

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11 Answers | Add Yours

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 19, 2012 at 4:14 PM (Answer #2)

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This is a great question.  This term, I announced in my classes that if any student wanted to be challenged more, I would be glad to assign that student an extra project or projects to do. I made clear that no one was obliged to volunteer for such a project, but that I would be glad to work with anyone who did volunteer. One of my best students did in fact volunteer, and I am now working with him. I have to say that this was a wise thing for him to do for several reasons:

1. I was quite impressed that he volunteered.

2. I know him well enough to know that he did this because he genuinely wants to learn.

3. This is the kind of thing I will not soon forget and will be sure to mention in future letters of recommendation.

4. This decision of his sets an excellent precedent for other motivated students.

5. He is now learning extra material that is actually helping him with his "regular" work.

6. This can only help his final over-all grade.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 19, 2012 at 5:10 PM (Answer #3)

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This is something that we are looking at more and more in the UK education system and we are now being asked as teachers to look at how we can stretch and challenge (as the phrase goes) students such as Billy. I would be tempted to set him different, more challenging texts to study instead of the ones that the rest of his year group are looking at.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 19, 2012 at 10:36 PM (Answer #4)

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Differentiated instruction can take many different forms: additional/different readings, bonus questions, research projects which students tailor to their interests and needs, and as many other options as you can imagine. My first-grade son is often bored in class due to this problem, but one thing his teacher does do is to give a pool of, say, 20 vocabulary words of varying difficulty. Students are assessed for spelling and usage of different words depending on ability, so some kids have different, more challenging words than others. Another very fruitful method to use is to have students work in partners, or groups that are differentiated by ability, and assign a variety of tasks. Give the more advanced kids the opportunity to take the lead within their groups.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 19, 2012 at 10:53 PM (Answer #5)

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I would find out what Billy's specific interests are in the subject, and encourage him to tackle some extra-credit work centering on this aspect. Most students who tend to become a bit bored with regular classroom work will jump at the opportunity to choose their own assignment.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 19, 2012 at 10:53 PM (Answer #6)

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In the end, it is up to the student to be motivated.  The teacher is already being more critical of his writing than is warranted for his grade level.  It is really up to Billy to decide that he wants to do work that is of such high quality that he lives up to his teachers higher expectations.  In truth, there is only so much a teacher can do.  They can set higher expectations as this teacher is.  They can offer the student extra work such as Post 2 suggests.  But it is ultimately Billy's responsibility to motivate himself.

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 20, 2012 at 12:01 AM (Answer #7)

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Billy can ask for an outside assignment. A teacher naturally would hesitate to assign outside work that would require either the teacher or the student to do more graded/grading work and would not assign anything that would take up too much time (thereby detracting from Billy's other studies), but an English teacher can assign a challenging novel as well as critical/criticism texts relating to the novel.

The teacher might suggest that Billy begin to attempt certain writing techniques that will be required of him in his next grade level. Incorporate quotations into his literature essays (if he is not already doing so), do research for his essays even if the research is not assigned and incorporate it into his writing.

Moving forward through his secondary schooling, Billy may want to do an entire independent study course created with the intention of feeding both his talents and his interests and pushing him to high level work.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 20, 2012 at 12:12 AM (Answer #8)

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There are many ways that students can seek challenges themselves. Billy might try reading more difficult novels. Billy might try joining an extracuricular activity that is focused on an area of literature he finds interesting. For example, a student interested in Shakespeare might try to find a group or competition to join. Some students at our school formed a team to compete in academic competitions. Members of the team challenged themselves by learning new material. The competitions they attended offered a list of material they would need to learn. They were able to work together to study the new material before competitions took place.
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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 20, 2012 at 7:47 AM (Answer #9)

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This is a good situation to be in as a teacher. The most obvious thing to do would be to assign work that is to Billy's level. This can be done in class or outside of class. Moreover, it might be helpful to meet with Billy a few times a year for an more advanced tutorial. Another option would be to allow Billy to to a project that would challenge him. 

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 20, 2012 at 8:01 AM (Answer #10)

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It is important for the teacher to find ways to meet Billy's needs by giving him differentiated assignments. This does not mean more work - it means a different kind of work, demanding higher levels of thought, advanced vocabulary, application of information on a level that hasn't been reached by other students in the class.

It is also important for Billy to find an advocate to support him when he discusses his need for a different type of educational experience with this teacher. Some teachers welcome students who are eager for challenges and want assignments that truly meet their needs - other teachers resent being told how to teach their class by students and aren't interested in the extra preparation that differentiation requires. Billy needs to remember to be very tactful in approaching this discussion and should probably find another teacher or counselor to help him plan how to suggest it.

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted April 10, 2012 at 1:26 PM (Answer #11)

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The one comment I need to make is that for gifted students, more or extra work is not necessary, but different work is.  I totally agree with post 10.  My daughter was gifted and too often asked to do extra work which frustrated her because she still had to do the ordinary work she already knew.  She graduated as a valedictorian of 682 students but really felt that she had not been challenged in so many classes except to do extra work.  I cannot repeat strongly enough that it is not extra work but different work that the gifted need.

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school-help-needed | Student | Honors

Posted April 13, 2012 at 9:31 AM (Answer #12)

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The one comment I need to make is that for gifted students, more or extra work is not necessary, but different work is.  I totally agree with post 10.  My daughter was gifted and too often asked to do extra work which frustrated her because she still had to do the ordinary work she already knew.  She graduated as a valedictorian of 682 students but really felt that she had not been challenged in so many classes except to do extra work.  I cannot repeat strongly enough that it is not extra work but different work that the gifted need.

They just make us do extra work thats not even for a grade,so half the time we dont really try.

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