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Tannenbaum's Theory of Giftedness

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Brittany Gunn

on 19 June 2013

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Transcript of Tannenbaum's Theory of Giftedness

About him:
Abraham Tannenbaum was a teacher in Brooklyn public schools for more than 20 years. He led many research studies focused on G/T students and helped various organizations, including the Head Start Program. His research and writing focus on underachievement, the gifted and learning disabled, as well as the econimically disadvantaged.

"Sea Star" model of giftedness.
Giftedness pertains to work within “spheres of an activity that enhances the moral, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, or aesthetic life of humanity”
Identifies students who have the potential for “becoming critically acclaimed performers or exemplary producers of ideas”. Gifted producers create whereas gifted performers stage demonstrations or are involved in benefiting society.
Holistic model that includes personality, characteristics, and environmental influences, but very restrictive due to his definition of giftedness.

Sea Star Model of Giftedness
Five factors facilitate talent:
general ability
special ability (aptitude in specific area)
non-intellectual traits (dedication, strong self-concept, willingness to sacrifice)
environmental supports
*Students must have a combination of all five factors for talent to develop. He stressed that each area was equally valuable.
*Each arm has static (current) and dynamic (learning/changing). This model takes potential into account.

Gifted Characteristics
1. Strong self- concept (how a student views themselves and their abilities)
-Positive characteristic: creates an “I can” attitude which empowers students to make choices, try new things, and strive for success.
-To build a strong self-concept, teachers must use developmentally appropriate activities that promote success, frequent positive reinforcement, and a loving, caring attitude.

2. Internal and external motivation to achieve
-3 things influence motivation- choice, effort, and persistence
-In order to be motivated, teachers should use students’ interests and natural curiosity in their classroom. Students need to be active learners and have high expectations for themselves to be intrinsically motivated.

3. Is persistent and task committed in an area of interest
-Content needs to be personalized for students according to their readiness level, interests, and preferred method of learning.
-Tasks need to be connected to student’s interest and needs to have relevance.

4. Visualizes images and translates into other forms (music notation, numbers, letters)
-Lectures may be difficult for these students. They are typically good with puzzles, mazes, reading maps, finding their way in unfamiliar territory, and creating visual images of locations and objects.
-Using hands-on manipulatives and computer programs may help these students to learn best. They can take things apart and put them back together in working order.
-Usually organization is a problem for these types of students, so homework may often be forgotten. They have trouble with schedules and routines.
-These students excel with complex problems, but may struggle with basic tasks in the classroom. They may often come to surprising conclusions and keep you guessing as to what they will say next. They come up with elaborate stories and explanations.

5. Divergent thinker
-Being a divergent thinker requires student to produce many ideas or ideas that are different from the norm. They have a preference for unusual and original responses. They do not think of the most common response first.
-Student may have trouble conforming. They think they are just like every other student at first, but discover this is not true when they reach school age. Other students may be frustrated by this type of student because they think he or she should be just like everyone else. As a result of this, students may have emotional issues related to being different
-Very creative and novel thinkers. May have trouble with common sense.
-Cannot accept authority just because it exists- they have to test their boundaries.
-Learn best by immersing themselves in their passion and working only on that passion until it is done. Ordinary tasks seem like a waste of time.
-Their thoughts and feelings are interconnected- may have trouble organizing themselves and starting large assignments. Step by step learning is a problem for these students because they see things as a whole, not in parts.

Gifted Characteristics Continued
6. Prefers complexity and open-endedness
-May struggle with basic skills, but thrive when given a complex problem situation.
-Teachers should give these students fewer parameters and more choices in the classroom as this lends to their desire for open-endedness.

7. Contributes new concepts, methods, products, or performances
-Tannenbaum labels gifted performers as gifted
-This goes along with some of the other learning needs we have touched on- supplying students with complex and open ended problems, giving them less parameters and more room for creativity

8. Is visionary, has a holistic view
-Student sees things as a whole- has trouble separating things into their parts. May struggle with step by step learning and finding a starting place when completing large assignments because they cannot separate the parts from the whole. As a result they are able to see the beauty of the world around them and learn to appreciate the world around them
-Students are passionate about learning. Use transformative approach to learning- focus on knowledge as it is constructed in a student’s context. Students are asked to reflect critically on how they come to understand information.
-Emphasize connections in learning, as opposed to fragmentation. Cross subject matter (integrate math and science concepts for example) to promote connections.

9. Uses unique solutions to problems, improvises
-As we discussed above, students often do not see the common sense answers- they answer questions in different and unique ways, making you wonder what they will say next
-Students flourish with open-ended problems and few parameters because it allows them to come up with different solutions and approaches to solving the problem. Gives students choice and ownership over their learning.

10. Is observant and pays attention to detail
- Notices details others would not which helps them to problem solve
- Give these students the opportunity to take on leadership roles in the classroom and in the school community. These students will do well with paying attention to the details necessary to achieve goals and perform tasks.
- These students do well with solving complex problems.

Related Articles
"The meaning and making of Giftedness" by Abraham Tannenbaum

This article highlights the conceptions and identification of students, with a bigger emphasis on producers and performers. It also covers a more in-depth look at each of the arms of the sea-star model as described above, as well as the static and dynamic aspect of each.


If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse. – Walt Disney
•Harry Potter
- Divergent thinker - thinks outside the box. Ability to think creatively although has difficulty with applying common sense.
- Trouble accepting authority and constantly pushes his boundaries
- He learns best by immersing himself in a topic, such as Defense against the Dark Arts. He has trouble studying other topics because they seem like a waste of time in order to complete his goal of defeating Voldemort.
- Different from other students his age
•Hermione Granger
- Very motivated to learn and complete her goals.
-Persistent in areas of interest. She is naturally curious about the magical world, and due to this interest, studying does not seem like a chore.
- Observant and pays attention to detail.
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