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Evaluation and Assessment

Gifted Learners

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Charles Eick Charles Eick 1450 Points

Hi Myesha, Have you thought about having more complex and challenging tasks for them to do? Not just additional work, but this could be part of the regular work for them ---- in other words, you substitute problems/tasks/assignments so that gifted are doing one thing while others are doing something else. Of course, you can give gifted an additional challenge when they are done with the regular work, but depending upon the students, they may see this as 'punishment of more work' for finishing early --- in which case you have to make it very interesting and meaningful for them to want to meet the challenge. Hope this helps. Dr. Eick

Alec Richardson Alec Richardson 625 Points

One solution to offering a challenge to gifted learners is creating an "if, then" curriculum. For example, if you have finished part A of an assignment, then choose a part B. One or more of the choices will be for remediation or extended learning. The way to steer the gifted learner to the latter is to eliminate choices by competency, say 80% or better can only choose this "part B." Your lower level learners won't feel slighted because they will essentially have the same opportunity to excel and your gifted learner won't feel you have "dumbed down" the curriculum. Another strategy would be to have the gifted learner create a personalized lesson plan from a guided selection. This will allow them to explore new ways of attaining proficiency in their learning. Hope this helps or gives you a new idea.

Susan Duderstadt Susan Duderstadt 2085 Points

Hi Myesha,

Although I am still a pre-service teacher, I have raised two gifted teens of my own and have seen how frustrating school can be when they are forced to spend hours doing work that is too easy or uninspiring for them.

Here are the things that have made them happier students:
Having the opportunity to read more challenging texts (e.g. college vs. high school), work more challenging problems, answer more challenging questions
Being given choices of the type of assignment or the focus of the assignment
Getting to choose the method of demonstrating their learning (e.g. poster, paper, diagram, Power Point, video, writing a computer program, etc.)
Being given the opportunity to propose an alternative assignment that covers the same content.
Compacting and being able to move at a more rapid pace

As Alec Richardson noted, gifted learners often do well when they are allowed to personalize their lesson plans. When gifted kids have a project that is meaningful to them, they often willingly spend extra time on it and come up with something amazing.

The following paper has some excellent ideas for differentiating for gifted students:

Stepanek, J., & Northwest Regional Educational Lab, P., OR. Mathematics and Science Education Center. (1999). The Inclusive Classroom. Meeting the Needs of Gifted Students: Differentiating Mathematics and Science Instruction. It’s Just Good Teaching Series.

This second article (available on the NSTA site) gives students a choice of which project to do, but puts a higher value (i.e. higher maximum grades) on projects that require more thought. The authors made this available to all of their students, with good results.

Bittel, K., & Hernandez, D. (2006, December). Differentiated Assessment. Science Scope, 49–51.

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