Tips for Service Learning Projects for Gifted Students
written by: Margo Dill
• edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch
• updated: 9/11/2012
Service learning projects are perfect for gifted and talented classrooms. Once gifted students have set their goals and chosen a project, they are ready to begin. Here are some tips for helping students stay on track and getting the most out of their service learning projects.
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In most gifted and talented programs, students meet with the gifted teacher once or twice a week. Gifted students will need to work on their service learning projects outside of classroom time. Every two weeks, teachers should "check-up" on students to see how they are doing. This can be done simply with a journal or with a short paragraph. Students write what they have done on their service learning project in the last two weeks and turn it into their teacher.
For example, if students' service learning project is raising money to purchase animals through Heifer International, then they may report bi-weekly on their plans for raising money, how much money they have raised, and what types of animals they are able to purchase.
Bi-weekly check-ups are important because if students are not working on their project, then the gifted teacher has time to figure out why before the end of the year or if the student is stuck or even if the gifted student needs to switch projects. In a gifted and talented program, communication is very important between the student, the regular classroom teacher, the gifted teacher, and parents, especially with a year-long service learning project. It is important to remember that gifted students are still children and need guidance.
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Monthly Reports, Sharings, and/or Interviews
Once a month, depending on the structure of the gifted and talented program, gifted students should plan to discuss their service learning projects with their gifted teacher and classmates. This can be done in one of three forms:
Monthly Reports: Students give an oral report to their fellow gifted students about their service learning projects. They report on their successes or failures and how close they are to reaching their goals. Students can ask for help from class members.
Peer Sharing: This differs from monthly reports as it is not a whole class discussion. Students are put in small groups with peers, and they share their projects with each other. Students ask questions and help each other stay on track to meet their goals. The same students work in a small group throughout the year, so they are familiar with each other's service learning projects.
Interviews: The gifted teacher can "interview" her gifted students once a month about their service learning projects to discover how they are doing. The teacher may tape record these interviews and use them for assessment purposes or for future interview discussions.
It is important for gifted students to discuss their progress on their service learning projects each month to keep them on track and working toward their goals. One skill you are teaching students throughout this process is time management.
Service Learning Projects for Gifted and Talented Students
Along with your other units of study in the gifted classroom, each of your gifted students can do their own service learning projects. These can last through the whole year and focus on individual students' interests.