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RESOURCES FOR PARENTS OF GIFTED AND TALENTED  CHILDREN

GIFTED AND TALENTED

Giftedness refers to a high intelligence or aptitude, while talented refers to a high level of performance in areas such as music, art, craft, dance or sport. Giftedness is inherited but a gifted child needs support to identify and develop their special abilities.

Both these definitions seem woolly but somewhere, someone is apparently able to identify these children relatively easily – and hopefully accurately – because the National Register of Gifted and Talented Children has been launched and there is already a National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth.

Your first paragraph ...

List 2-3 observable characteristics,

Giftedness can be found in any culture, ethnic or socio-economic group. Their talents can be intellectual, emotional or physical, and appear at any age. A child with a disability can also be gifted.

Most children need to repeat something 7-11 times to learn something new. A gifted child needs to repeat something in their areas of special ability just 1-3 times.

Some signs of giftedness include exceptional (amazing) use of language, an ability to concentrate on complex tasks for a long time, asking lots of questions, or being exceptionally coordinated.

Gifts or talents can be different within the context of ethnicity or culture. For example, Māori ideas of giftedness include personal qualities as well as abilities, and are grounded in Māori kaupapa.

Who are the gifted and talented?

A wider definition

To be as successful with gifted and talented children, we need to have a much wider idea of who they might be. So let’s try to do this more effectively by suggesting that, in general, such children:

  • have a wide vocabulary – having often talked early
  • ask lots of questions and learn much more quickly than others
  • have a very retentive memory
  • are extremely curious and able to concentrate for long periods on subjects that they are interested in
  • have a wide general knowledge and an interest in the world
  • enjoy problem solving
  • have an unusual and vivid imagination
  • show strong feelings and opinions
  • have an odd sense of humour
  • set high standards for themselves and are perfectionists
  • lose interest when asked to do more of the same.

Link the characteristics to how they impact on school learning,

There have always been children with an insatiable demand for knowledge, who always work far harder and for far longer than anyone else and who seem to know a great deal more than most about all kinds of subjects. It has never been easy to provide these gifted and talented children with fully differentiated tasks that recognise their abilities, but there has been a growing awareness in more recent times that their needs are not being met sufficiently in many mainstream schools.

Large classes, insufficient support and even less funding are part of the problem. Focusing on the key issues of raising standards of achievement, establishing high expectations and promoting effective teaching and learning has to be the way forward if the needs of all children are to be catered for successfully.

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Do gifted and talented pupils need gifted and talented teachers?  Some experts agree that G&T students do need exceptional teachers, ones who don't feel threatened by them, who are open to being challenged beyond the usual and open to many things. Indeed a multi-subject specialist of some sort would fit the bill. G&T students too often coast and we must push and stretch them. It's also why an online global community would be something many of them would enjoy.

Gifted and talented children who are starting in primary school Reception classes need to be identified quickly and easily so that their teaching and learning can be effectively monitored and their needs met from as early an age as possible

What can we do to support them?

Gifted and talented children usually have a great thirst for knowledge and, like all children; it is very easy to destroy their self-confidence. Their experiences with their teachers and their peers in the classroom are critical. I am taking it for granted that each teacher in your school can plan effectively and is able to differentiate so that any children who are gifted and talented are able to learn and develop their skills. I suppose I am also assuming that you have a policy, a coordinator and a named governor – haven’t we all? Or at least we will be introducing all these important factors as soon as possible.

Often their willingness to continue to learn is based on some simple teaching issues such as:

  • lessons that are fun
  • teaching that is varied and involves participation
  • their involvement in group work and other collaborative approaches
  • lessons that are seen as useful and are connected to the ‘real’ world.

However, we also need to widen the learning environment of all children and especially those who have extra gifts and talents by providing them with a wealth of extra-curricular activities

. Skilful teaching will help them to learn and it will also minimise their frustrations and maintain their confidence and self-esteem. For example, some children might need to be taught with older children or perhaps remain with their peers but follow a very different and advanced curriculum.

There also needs be close links and effective liaison between what happens in the classroom and what happens at clubs and other gifted and talented activities and programmes. All the human differences we see in our schools and classrooms are normal and the rich contribution that diversity makes to how our schools and classrooms work needs to be welcomed.

If we are to have inclusive schools we need to develop an approach to teaching and learning that will support children who are gifted and talented so that we are able to say that we are truly achieving excellence for all learners.

Technology opens up spaces for really smart learners to explore: Technologies that include peer-education, learning through discourse, learning (and forming a world-view) synthesised from multiple discourses, rather than a single, authoritative narrative about any given subject, open up spaces for really smart learners to explore.

 

"Gifted and talented learners are those with exceptional abilities relative to most other people. These individuals have certain learning characteristics that give them the potential to achieve outstanding performance

It has become increasingly apparent to me through all of our learning networks that G&T learners are eminently capable of more devolved and self-directed learning wherever their environment allows them access to multiple bodies of knowledge. They also require mutual feedback when they are attempting to apply ideas, the pooling of information (research leads) and pooling of effort toward more sophisticated understanding of the subject, the opportunity to compare contrasting or conflicting interpretations of a subject and the opportunity to make contact with people at a higher level of study in multilateral conversation with a large group of learners. Technology can offer all of the above. By doing so it directly leads to the acquisition of sophisticated information literacy skills (critical reading of sources, contextual understanding of what they read and the ability to negotiate content delivered through multiple media). It is our duty as educators to support our most able learners in their quest for such discriminatory skills.
But there are huge pedagogical implications as a result of taking on this paradigm, which I believe our discussion really needs to focus.

Technology can offer personalised learning that stretches G&T students: I think most people would agree that we need to challenge our G&T students as some of them are likely to be the leaders of tomorrow across a range of fields. I see that investing in these students now is an investment into the future for everybody. The bigger issue is about how to stretch these students. There is no one-size-fits-all model, so technology seems to be a good starting point, since students can more easily personalise their learning experience.

Technology can bridge the gap between rich and poor G&T students: One of the things I like about technology is that students have an opportunity to reinvent themselves in some sense. So a student from a disadvantaged community can operate on the same intellectual plane as those who might be more fortunate. Sometimes, not being able to physically see the people you are working with can discourage misconceptions about disadvantaged students.

If students can access the internet, whether it is at home, in a library or a youth club they can benefit. Teachers and schools need to take this into consideration. Make as much available as possible. Low cost computers like Raspberry Pi could be used instead of computers costing several hundred pounds. Schools should try and help these student with access.

Use social networks to work together with gifted and talented (G&T) pupils: Social networks can be really important. It opens up an anytime and place collaborative tool. Students have ownership of these spaces. For instance, they feel that Facebook is 'theirs'. Sharing information, getting involved in discussions with other students as well as teachers. Students and teachers can also share resources.

Let your pupils loose on a tablet: I have one tablet which I give to targeted students. I provide a set of learning outcomes and let them loose to address those. I check in to see their progress. They have to keep a diary of their experience learning with the devices (a small nod to metacognition). I would love to have enough tablets to give one to each of my students. It would revolutionise what I do and what they do. I could preach less and facilitate more. I know my students would get much more out of it. But best of all, in a mixed ability class like mine, using a tablet or laptop allows the G&T student to work at their pace, not the average pace of the class.

G&T pupils can blog their way to achievement: A way I used blogging with my gifted students was through a daily revision (often tech based) revision task over the Christmas break. An advent calendar of revision if you like. Each day leading up to their exams I posted a new task for them to dip into. I tried to keep it challenging while also fresh.

[Students] have got to get there themselves for it to be real and deep learning. Gentle guide and a pulling back on course from teachers can be very empowering for the gifted student. They discover things that can blow the most learned of us away. They have young fresh minds. We can learn a lot from them.

For some revision ideas, click here.


https://rfern002.wordpress.com/

For an example of collaborative learning blogging and online teacher marking, visit Sarah Findlater's blog.

Pearltrees also has some great revision resources.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2013/feb/09/gifted-talented-students-education-technology