Many lists of characteristics of gifted children mention that these children have many interests, hobbies, and collections. Such a characteristic makes sense. Gifted children want to be involved in a variety of activities and are capable of entertaining a wide variety of concepts and ideas at once. We also note that the hobbies, interests, and play preferences of gifted children can also “set them apart” from their age-peers.
I think a great way to set these students apart in a positive way, make good use of their summer time, and provide a forum for their hobbies and collections is to have them create their own personal specialty museums. These museums can be presented as traveling museums to show various audiences (schools, senior living facilities, libraries, preschool programs, etc.) or as rotating exhibits where collections might be displayed or as a more permanent display in a home, local gathering place, museum, or school, to mention a few examples. Students will likely want to visit local museums to get ideas for how museums are set up, how materials are displayed and protected, and what kinds of things other people are curious about. (more…)
Summer is a fantastic time of year for gifted and talented students to engage in independent study, meaning they have the opportunity to learn in-depth about something that interests them. Students learning on their own can move at their desired pace, create questions that intrigue them, go off in directions of interest to them, and do all of this at any time of day. Sometimes students with eager minds want to learn about new things, but have nothing in mind or don’t know what they’d like to learn about. Teachers often have this complaint as well—”I’ve offered to have students do an independent study but they don’t know what they want to study.”
Ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes, it’s just exposure to new ideas that is needed to tweak someone’s interest in a topic. (more…)
With little to no training in gifted education, classroom teachers are expected to know how to teach gifted students. As gifted education programming is often not a priority in many locales, teachers might not have access or opportunity or motivation to become knowledgeable in gifted education practices or in the research that supports such strategies. Yet if we are to speak with authority on what all students need, including the gifted, the voice of authority needs to come from knowledge and understanding. Authority is an imperative factor in creating appropriate learning environments where gifted behaviors will thrive. Educators have a responsibility to supplement their incomplete training in this area of special education in whatever way they can.
Below are some potential sources of professional development. (more…)
In a recent blog post, I spoke to the benefits and importance of diversity in creating rich curriculum for gifted students. Diversity that we create through wide-ranging and open-ended content in our courses and in our teaching strategies is paramount to facilitate creative thinking, self-awareness and mental awakening. Such variables are consciously managed decisions that we can plan, enact and manipulate as needed to stimulate thinking. (more…)
The field of online education is booming in multiple arenas – gifted education and elsewhere. Enrollment numbers have increased exponentially over the past ten years. With increased demand, the capabilities and range of offerings provided by online programs have grown in similarly rapid fashion.
Less attention, perhaps, has been given to the overall benefits online education provides to gifted students. There are many. (more…)
We know that good programming for gifted learners begins with good curriculum and instruction, which means it also begins with good teachers. These are teachers who understand gifted students, care about them and empathize with their educational needs. Teachers who are most effective in working with gifted students typically exhibit many of the characteristics of their students. They prefer abstract themes and concepts, prefer open and flexible learning venues, and enjoy logic, analysis and rational thought. Nonetheless, the social qualities of the teachers are as important, if not more important, than the intellectual characteristics. Emotional intelligence is as important as knowledge and skill when working with gifted students. (more…)
When considering the many aspects of creating effective curriculum and learning environments for learners with gifted and talented potential, diversity is critical. By diversity I mean a wide array of attributes that come from both the learner, the instructors and the curriculum. Some attributes are inherent and some are created.
First, diversity of ideas helps to create freedom of thought, which is so important for innovation to happen. When students tackle wide-ranging problems that have no single response, working among peers who bring diverse backgrounds and opinions to the problems, then students are forced to break out of the usual response frameworks to deal with potentially opposing viewpoints surrounding those issues. (more…)
At Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG), our gifted summer program, the social and emotional components of our programs are as important as the academic and intellectual components of our program—in other words, very important! After all, if one is not happy, self-assured and at peace with who one is, personal fulfillment will remain elusive.
There are many reasons why the social and emotional development of gifted students is critical to include with academic endeavors. (more…)
It’s a beautiful summer-like day here in Connecticut! It makes me think about and look forward to summer learning. I love the possibilities of summer learning — they are limitless — as students are not restricted by core curriculum, time-specific schedules or pre-selected products. It’s a time when students can pursue topics and research that truly interest them. They can contribute to their discovery of what fields of study will likely garner their attention in future career fields. They can also eliminate fields of study that don’t generate that passion through participation in studies that don’t carry the excitement they find elsewhere.
Everyone loves suspense. In literature suspense keeps us engaged, especially if the plot has multiple twists and turns, and if we are sympathetic to the characters. I think suspense one of the things that is so compelling in gifted education. We have the wonderful opportunity to work with students who have the potential to be surprising in how they react to new ideas and who have the options of making wide-ranging twists and turns as they move toward focusing on products, topics, or issues of passionate interest in their lifelong journeys of discovery—much like a suspenseful novel or movie. You’re just not quite sure what will happen, but you know it will be a fun ride. (more…)
We’ve all known or been that someone. You know, the reformed reformer — the person who quit smoking and is now obnoxiously anti-smoking, or the person who has given up gluten and can’t stop talking about the benefits of such, or the person who has found religion and is now preaching to everyone who will listen. Sometimes we may be annoyed by these newly-found states of bliss thrown in our faces; however, we can’t help but feel happy for them in their conversion ecstasy.
In my line of work, which is gifted education, the best adult conversions I have witnessed have been teachers who have embraced new ways to teach that engage them as much as the students. I have had teachers say to me that once they have gotten over their obstacles, and opened their eyes and minds to exciting and interactive ways to teach, that they could never go back to rote teaching and learning again—much like their students also feel, I would imagine! (more…)
I’ve always felt that athletes have the best gifted programs. Elite athletes have the best coaches, best equipment, best funding, best training techniques, and so on. That’s wonderful for them. We see the outcomes of these programs in amazing human levels of performance across the globe. It’s frustrating that elite thinkers don’t always receive the same kinds of attention. However, one great tip that educators can gain from the field of athletics is the use of visualization. The same techniques that help athletes perform at their best levels of performance, create renewed mental awareness, and imbue a heightened sense of well-being and confidence can be used by educators to help us be better coaches for our gifted students.
One of the challenges teachers face in providing an individualized curriculum is simply the overwhelming hurdle that differentiation can appear to be within a large heterogeneous classroom. How do you consider everyone’s learning needs? How do you manage individualized programs effectively? How do you balance what you are expected to do with what you would like to do? These are not simple questions to resolve, particularly for teachers new to differentiation or to working with gifted children. So let’s begin by visualizing. (more…)