Once you have a better idea of who your gifted students are, it’s time to learn how to support their individual needs. Here are strategies for three of the gifted learner groups: successful, challenging, and underground students.
The Successful Student
Give her choices.
Choice boards are excellent tools for promoting ownership in a successful gifted learner. By letting her choose her task and work independently to solve problems, she will begin to gain confidence, learn to enjoy brainstorming solutions, and start challenging herself on a more regular basis.
Engage her in risk-taking experiences.
Encourage your successful gifted learner to take on leadership roles in class, try more challenging problems, and participate in classroom debates. The more she engages and excels in activities that make her nervous, the more comfortable and confident she will be, which means she will be open to taking more risks both in and out of the classroom.
The Challenging Student
Allow him to share his feelings.
If a challenging gifted learner is being disruptive, take a moment to hear what he has to say. He may be frustrated that no one is listening to his unique viewpoint, or he may be bored by an activity that doesn’t challenge him. By listening to his concerns, you will be one step closer to understanding how to provide him with engaging, challenging, and productive learning experiences.
Let him explore and pursue his interests.
If the class is learning about the effects of global warming and your challenging student is asking why this lesson is important, try to learn what he is interested in learning about global warming. He may crave more complex topics like how to build a structure that will protect animals from global warming. Though this will take some effort on your part, by providing the student with differentiated learning opportunities, he will appreciate the new challenge and will likely be more engaged and less disruptive.
The Underground Student
Place her in appropriate courses and programs.
Ensure your student is placed in challenging courses and programs that will provide her with productive learning experiences, even if she insists on wanting to take classes with her friends. To help her engage socially, you can assign her to take electives and have lunch period with her friends.
Introduce role models.
If your female underground student is a whiz in science but doesn’t want to pursue it, introduce her to female scientists who are taking the world by storm. By learning from other successful, groundbreaking women, underground females will be more likely to pursue their passions. For your male underground students, partner them with autonomous gifted peers during group work. This will help them to appreciate how a well-adjusted, confident gifted student engages in new learning experiences.
What do you think of these strategies? Have you tried any of them with your students? How else do you enhance the learning experiences of your gifted learners?