Nothing stirs up behavior problems like trying to teach a gifted student something they already know. After watching my class average over 90% month after month on their Houghton Mifflin end of unit tests, I began to get a sneaky suspicion that some of them already knew the material prior to my instruction. This realization led to my use of the HM Theme Skills tests as a pre-assessment to create flexible groups.
I’m constantly reminded that just because a student is gifted, doesn’t mean they have mastered every skill. In fact, it’s just as possible to have a first grader reading at a sixth grade level as it is to have a sixth grader who lacks third grade skills. Being a teacher of gifted students means feeding their appetite for big concepts while also fine-tuning fundamental skills that may be lacking.
Judy Galbraith identified boredom with school as a gripe of gifted students. This complaint is completely understandable. How many meetings have you sat through, going over material you had already mastered? For our gifted students, their school career is a long stretch of those meetings.
In a previous post, we discussed traits of quality pre-assessment. Here are three documents to help you make pre-assessment easier: a parent letter, a daily work log, and a rubric for grading project presentations.
I get a lot of questions about the practical details of running pre-assessments and setting up multiple groups in a classroom. I brainstormed a big ol’ list of tips I learned from my own experiments and those of my colleagues.
I get lots of questions from overwhelmed folks who have suddenly landed in a new job in gifted ed and have had little training. “Where do I even start!?” is a very common cry. Here are three places to begin differentiating for gifted kids.