Strategies for Teaching Gifted & Talented Students

Gifted students need opportunities to explore their specific interests.
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Gifted and talented students can quickly and effectively absorb and organize abstract concepts, so teachers should provide them with opportunities to explore topics of interest. Make use of projects that encourage gifted students to apply their reasoning abilities as well as academic opportunities that motivate them to engage in learning in a meaningful way.

1 Independent Projects

Independent projects allow gifted students to delve deeply into a topic of interest.
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Susan Johnsen and Krystal Goree, authors of the book "Teaching Gifted Students Through Independent Study," recommend independent study as one of the most effective ways to differentiate and individualize learning. Independent study is a process that allows students go beyond basic recall of knowledge and use higher-order thinking skills to organize and interpret information. Students begin by asking complex questions, such as: "Who was the best president in U.S. history?" or "How do you convince people that recycling is important?" They gather information through reading, hands-on activities, surveys or interviews. To show what they've learned, students create video presentations, games, posters, computer programs, poems, speeches or essays.

2 Accelerated Learning

Acceleration allows gifted students to work at their own pace.
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Acceleration allows gifted students to work at a faster pace or at a higher grade level. For example, a seventh-grader capable of doing high school math may attend a math class with older students but remain in his same-age classroom for other subjects. Other students might skip grades entirely or work at a faster pace allowing them to complete more than one grade level in a single year. The Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting gifted students, notes that accelerated learning yields substantial academic benefits: Students perform academically at least as well as their older-age peers, develop stronger social skills and gain self-esteem, because they can connect with pupils who have similar interests and abilities.

3 Technology Tools

Gifted students can use technology to research areas of interest.
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Technology can give gifted students the ability to collaborate with others, organize their thoughts and demonstrate what they know. Animation tools like Brainy Box allow students to demonstrate learning with visual tools like annotated images. Tools such as help students to create interactive infographics and timelines and share them on the Web.

4 Academic Competitions

Academic competitions give gifted students an opportunity to shine.
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Academic competitions challenge students and give them an opportunity to develop their social skills. Math competitions include the American Mathematics Competition, America's longest-running and most prestigious math competition, which gives students a chance to compete in the USA and International Math Olympiads. Those interested in science should check out the National Science Olympiad. Other competitions include Poetry Out Loud, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Based in Philadelphia, Marybeth Kufen has been teaching since 2007, and has been writing education-related articles since 2013. She holds a master's degree in elementary education and is a certified Reading Specialist. Kufen was named Teacher of the Year for her district in 2014.