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Enriching the Learning Environment

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Ideas come from myriad sources of information. On any list of criteria for providing an appropriate learning situation for gifted students, one will likely find the requirement to provide a rich and nurturing environment. Most traditional types of educational settings will have access to the kinds of resources that can enhance the learning goals of gifted students. For others, such as homeschoolers or summer programs using rented facilities that are bare (that would be the case here at SIG), providing streams of idea-producing information can be more challenging. Of course, there is always the immediate and easy solution of going to the Internet for everything, and while this solution is a vast, reliable one, I think it is a good idea to review many of the potential sources of information available to students, whether obtained through the Internet or otherwise. I also think there is something authentic and satisfying about seeking original and tangible sources. So, here are some categories of information sources to think about when providing food for thought for students.

There is always the good standby of reference books. Do you have access to an almanac, atlas, dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedias, or statistical books?

Speaking of books, have you incorporated biographies and how-to books, along with non-fiction and textbooks?

Other printed materials can provide current as well as timeless information. Have you used catalogs, journals, magazines, globes and maps, newspapers, pamphlets, and photos?

What audiovisuals can you bring into a topic? Do you have a way to add films, microfilm, radio, records, tapings, television clips?

How about other people? Wouldn’t it be nice to actually interact with humans rather than be buried in our phones and laptops? Who can you interview, write a letter to, call, speak with or survey to get more information about a topic of interest?

Finally, the student can provide an original wealth of information. When can experiments, on-site trips/tours, experiences and investigations enhance the way one thinks about a problem or views an issue?

Using multiple streams of information sources such as these mentioned above can go a long way to providing stimulation for thinking and creating. What other sources can you think of? What is one of your favorites?

All the best,

Dr. Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)
Executive Director, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)

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