There is some debate regarding whether or not special lesson plans for gifted students are really needed. On one hand, some educators say that gifted students need to be taught differently. On the other hand, some educators even doubt that there is such a thing as a gifted student unless the student is profoundly gifted in an undeniable manner. Even if there was a consensus on how to handle gifted students in school, educators still do not agree on the best way to create lesson plans. For gifted students, this can mean falling through the cracks or never being challenged to their full potential.
Approaches to Teaching the Gifted and Talented
Assuming that teachers should be encouraged to create lesson plans for gifted students differently. . .what might that look like? Obviously, how a teacher deals with the gifted and talented in his/her classroom is going to depend on the programs available at his/her school and the resources available within the classroom setting.
Open Ended Investigations
Research indicates that gifted students tend to do better and feel more challenged with open ended investigations. A good open ended investigation doesn't have a correct answer but could have a variety of good answers based on the possibility of changing variables. This might include reading a book and then re-writing the ending, or building a bridge that can hold a certain amount of weight.
Across the Curriculum
Another way in which gifted students tend to learn well is by integrating a variety of academic disciplines into one study or project. Most gifted students are able to synthesize information and then analyze it relatively well. A great example may be to look at a particular scientific invention and then explore how its effect rippled to include the arts, and sciences.
Because gifted students are often capable of memorizing vast amounts of information, some educators posit that it's better to feed gifted and talented students a wealth of knowledge. An example might be having a student compete on a knowledge bowl or in an academic decathlon.
Another way to approach the education of the gifted and talented is to study things in depth. Gifted students often are able to understand cause and effect relationships much better than their peers. They are able to consider a variety of variables and even look at the situation from several different view points. A great example of an in depth project is to look at a particular period of history and study all of the people, places and events that define that period.
Resources for Lesson Plans for Gifted and Talented
Now that you know the various approaches and philosophies in teaching the gifted and talented, let's look at the wealth of resources available for teaching these special students.
Prufrock Press is a gem in the complicated maze of gifted education. They have a variety of resources for teaching gifted students including:
- Lesson plan ideas for creating your own lesson plans according to Bloom's Taxonomy
- Activity books that have challenging activities for gifted students
- Textbooks for teachers on teaching gifted students.
In addition, the website has a blog, numerous articles and a catalog of products.
The Critical Thinking Co.
The Critical Thinking Co. does not specifically cater to gifted students. However, they offer a variety of innovative activity books, games and puzzles that will challenge your most gifted and talented students. All of the resources are appropriate for classroom use.
A. W. Peller & Associates
A. W. Peller & Associates offers a variety of resources and activities that stress higher level thinking.
Cloud Net offers well over a hundred links to various projects that would involve the gifted and talented.
Although many people don't think of 4-H as having programs for gifted and talented, in actuality, they have quite a bit to offer for the gifted and talented set. One point to note is that their programs are very open ended--a real benefit for gifted students. However, they have complete curriculums (for sale through their store) in areas like aerospace science, robotics, embryology and the list goes on.
Teaching Gifted Students
The best approach with a gifted student is to allow them to follow their interests and let that take them as far as they'll go. There are many resources you can use to either supplement your lesson plans or help you write effective ones. In doing your lesson planning for gifted students, it's important to be flexible and understand that they may take you in a direction you hadn't intended. That's often when the best learning occurs!