Gifted children are special, high ability learners with specific learning needs. Teaching them in a self- contained gifted classroom is hard enough, let alone educating them inside of a regular education class. Thus, it is perfectly understandable if educators are afraid of taking on the challenge of educating gifted students. Unfortunately, teaching a gifted student in a regular classroom has almost become inescapable. Great numbers of gifted students are unidentified and still, there are some, due to scheduling and specific class needs, who will be placed inside of a regular class. As a teacher, you need to be prepared. Gifted students who are not properly challenged and whose needs- socio- emotional and otherwise- are not met, will likely become a hindrance to the learning environment.
Therefore, teaching gifted students in a regular classroom requires more than simple differentiation. Rather, teaching the gifted in a regular classroom requires a commitment and dedication to multi- modality and creative teaching. There are three basic types of lesson expansion and differentiation that educators can perform to accommodate gifted students in a regular classroom. Those lesson expansions include: lesson, scheduling and assignment differentiation and modifications.
Primarily, ask yourself, “Do my lessons help to reach all modalities and styles of learning? If the answer to your question is no, then you should plan extensions to the lesson. For example, literature circle assignments are huge in Reading classes. However, literature circles are primarily meant to reach writers, speakers and readers. There isn’t much help for mathematical minds, those who are spatially gifted and talented and/or those students who are kinetic learners and require movements. So, how do you extend the classic, literature circle? I would incorporate a textiles and higher order thinking skills. In lieu of writing about symbolism during a literature circle, break out the play doh and have students build a physical representation for the story or something inside of the story. All students will enjoy and benefit from this extension, and it is a fun way to allow simple movement into a lesson. Additionally, teaching students Leveled Questions is crucial to extending a lesson. Students will take so much from a leveled question lesson that, even educators are amazed by the results.
Still, lesson extensions are not enough to really, truly accommodate for the gifted student who is in a regular class. Choice is a necessity. Many times, educators chose activities based on the ability levels of students and/ or the desired outcome and objective of the lesson. Unfortunately, the socio- emotional requirements of a gifted students can include a lack of motivation and an inability to “see the purpose” in an assignment. Similarly, the gifted student may need flexibility in scheduling. Thus, giving gifted students choices is crucial to have a successful learning environment.
Create a variety of lessons that cater to the low- level ability students, as well as the higher levels. Perform a Goggle search for 100 Points project and read some of the choices there. The 100 points project is a great assignment extension.
Finally, extend the scheduling within your classroom. A good rule of thumb for every teacher is to over prepare for your class. Additionally, like regular education students, gifted students perform and are at varying levels. Thus, every gifted student is not gifted- in the same ways or at all- in every subject. So, it is important to vary the schedule for assignments and lessons. There will be times when the gifted student is finished much quicker than anyone else. There will also be times when, the gifted student or students need more time to complete an activity. Be flexible. It may help to allow the gifted student to choose his/her own due dates.