Teachingisagift. I am honoured to be a guest blogger for A Special Sparkle Today. I would like to say a BIG thank you to all the author's of A Special Sparkle for allowing me to share my experiences with your audience.
Gifted students are as diversified and individual as any other group of students. As discussed in a previous post, the gifted students in my district have been identified through psycho educational testing. On the overall scoring a student needs to be in the 98th percentile in one area - either perceptual or reasoning. The student is then offered placement at a local school within their home school area. In my school, the gifted intensive support program begins in fourth grade. Often when I am talking with other teachers or parents, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, "How is teaching gifted students different?". We have a parent evening each year for the incoming students and this is some of the information my team shares with the parents about delivery of program for gifted students.
The teachers in the gifted program at my school use the strategies listed above for content differentiation to assist in meeting the student needs as identified in their IEP (Individual Education Plan). Being the sixth grade teacher (our school has a gifted program for grades four to six), it seems to make the most sense that if the students come to me with mastery of some concepts, I would compact the curriculum for them to avoid reviewing basic expectations which can lead to boredom for many students. To compact more effectively I use diagnostic tests and assessments to determine what students know before I begin to do any in depth planning for units of instruction. In some areas such as mathematics (where my students tend to get extra tutoring, belong to math clubs, compete in math competitions, etc.), I do a fair amount of compacting to meet the needs of my students. Some groups of student possess a lot of content knowledge and others need some review. Once I have conducted appropriate diagnostic assessments, I create units based on the curriculum expectations for the grade and what the needs of the students are.
When students demonstrate a high level of mastery I need to plan a program which will stimulate and help them expand their thinking. I am fortunate to have 7 laptops in my classroom, and access to a full computer lab. This access to technology has allowed me to introduce computer programs such as Geometer's Sketchpad to keep students engaged. Programs like GSP allow students to explore typical textbooks concepts in a more hands-on and engaging fashion. The Geometer’s Sketchpad® is dynamic software created for the teaching of mathematics. It can be used by students from as young as third grade right up to college aged. It provides students with a highly visual way to learn about new concept, and reinforce previously taught materials. In my experience students have been highly engaged using this software. Students can manipulate the software to explore a wide variety of mathematical topics which cover numerous strands in the curriculum.
Another technology resource I use for content differentiation in math and science is called Gizmos from Explore Learning. ExploreLearning.com offers the world's largest library of interactive online simulations for math and science education in grades 3-12. Gizmos are:
- fun, easy to use, and help students develop a deep understanding of challenging concepts through inquiry and exploration
- research-based, flexible tools used by teachers in a wide variety of ways
- are ideal for small group work, individual exploration, and whole class instruction using a data projector or interactive whiteboard.
- designed to supplement your existing curriculum (Canadian and American)
- correlated to provincial curriculum standards, and over 300 textbooks, making them easy to integrate into your instructional program