How to extend gifted students?

Hello everyone!

Liam here again. On my practical experience, I put a lot of effort into supporting my students that were performing at a low-level academically. However, a constant critique I received from my mentor teachers was that I often neglected my high-end or ‘gifted’ students. I have found this quite difficult to do, and I am often at a loss as to how to extend these students properly, but also factor it into what I’m doing generally. I feel ‘helping the other students’ is overdone, so what else can I do?

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Hey Liam,

Thanks for reaching out to TeachConnect again! This has been a struggle for many teachers, and something that is done well quite rarely. To treat your class as if they’re all at the same level obviously has issues. Getting all your students to improve does mean differentiating the content and having multiple access levels. Like you said, extending the high-end is often neglected. There’s only so many times these students can ‘help the others’ or just read a book in the corner.

Fortunately, at PRAC-E Symposium II, our fantastic panel answered this question in quite a lot of detail! To hear their answers, watch the video or listen to the audio below:

SUMMARY

  • Many teachers support Gonski’s model of individualized, tailored learning.
  • Children are complex, and under the current schooling model, proper differentiation does take time and requires a lot of effort.
  • Building teacher communities and relationships is integral.
  • Instead of thinking what students ‘can’t do’, think about what they ‘can do’. Have open conversations with the students about their strengths and weaknesses, and find out what makes them ‘tick’.
  • Get the students ‘fired up’ about what they’re learning, and often they’ll come to you with things they’d like to investigate. If they are excited about the content, they will often navigate their own pathways.
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