Strategies for Teaching Gifted Children in the Regular Education Classroom
written by: Margo Dill
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 9/11/2012
Gifted children will spend time in a regular education class in most schools. Even if they are in a gifted program, these classes usually meet only once or twice a week. How can regular classroom teachers and gifted teachers work together to create challenges for students every day?
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How does one teach a gifted child in a general education class? One way is to collaborate with the gifted teacher and continue projects in the regular classroom that the student is working on in the gifted classroom. The gifted teacher can share objectives for projects, books being read in the gifted classroom, or even computer programs that are used. During the days when the gifted student is in the regular classroom, if the student has already mastered an objective, then he or she can be allowed to work on their gifted projects.
Another way to answer the question: how does one teach a gifted child in the general education class is to work with other teachers in the same grade level, or even above grade level in smaller schools, to teach students subjects at their level. For example, if there are three fourth grade teachers, then one teacher can instruct math at a lower level, one teacher can instruct on grade level, and the other teacher can instruct on a higher level. Gifted students, who are successful in math, can attend the higher level math class. This can work for other subjects such as reading or science, too. Regular classroom teachers can work together to challenge gifted students in their grade level.
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How does one teach a gifted child in a general education class when there are no other teachers to collaborate with? Another strategy that regular classroom teachers can use is differentiation. Differentiation is when teachers reach students on their level and teach from there. For example, in the same fourth grade classroom, some students may be reading a book on a fourth grade level while other students may be ready to read a book on a sixth grade level. Teachers can choose books that cover the same subject matter, such as slavery before the United States Civil War, but one book is less challenging to read than another. Students who are gifted in reading and language arts can be challenged with the more difficult book.
Teachers can use differentiation with most subjects. For example, in writing, gifted students and regular classroom students can have the same assignment to write a five-paragraph essay. The difference can be the length or difficulty of each of the paragraphs, the topics that students choose, or the required research. In science, students may be assigned a science fair project. All students will use the scientific method, but gifted students can choose a more difficult experiment to conduct.
With a little creativity and planning, it is easy for teachers to answer the question: how does one teach a gifted child in a general education class? The important thing to remember is not to just give the gifted student extra work because he or she finishes their work quickly. It is important to challenge students on their level, meet curriculum objectives, and instill the lifelong love of learning.