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The Keys to Success for Gifted and Talented Learners

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Janine Delia

on 11 October 2016

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Transcript of The Keys to Success for Gifted and Talented Learners

Unique Needs of GT Learners in Chesterfield
Chesterfield has a very diverse population. The county has a
7% poverty level, which is more prevalent in the areas that border the City of Richmond.
32% of the population is made up of minorities, and that is an increase in growth of 66% over the last ten years.
The Hispanic population has increased by 200% alone (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014).
Needs of Culturally Diverse GT Learners
Clark (2013) said that targeting early education will increase academic achievement for diverse GT learners. Sometimes the home life of culturally diverse individuals is unable to provide the challenges and experiences needed to produce the gifted brain, and the gifted brain is unique in structure and function. Chesterfield needs to increase programming that targets preschoolers in the area- especially in the high ELL and SED school areas. Most importantly, teachers and staff need to be educated in the needs of our various populations (Colangelo & Lafrenz, 1981). We need to know about the school, home and peer influences of the individual. Only then can we make an individual action plan for the student. Colangelo and Lafrenz (1981) have suggested a model for meeting the counseling needs of the diverse gifted.
Professional development needs to be offered. When teachers are educated in the differing characteristics of the GT learners of diverse cultures, they are more likely to be able to identify and support them.
Needs of Twice Exceptional Learners
Students that have two labels- gifted and learning disabled for example- have special needs that need to be met in the gifted programs of Chesterfield County. Many teachers of the GLD (which make up the highest amount of the twice exceptional) can have lower expectations for the students which can hinder their academic development. GLD may not even be identified because of teacher-bias or because their LD may cover up their giftedness (King, 2005). Further PD is needed for classroom and Special Education teachers in identifying and servicing the needs of these learners. Salem Church Middle School has never had a training in GLD, in my experience there. It is necessary for the success of our Special Education population.
Underachieving GT Learners
Underachievement of the gifted can be due to many reasons. Some gifted students have learned that school is boring and have mentally checked out. Some GT learners may have been taught from an early age that being smart is less desirable than being popular and achieve less. Some families do not highly value academic achievement, and pass those conceptions on to their offspring (Clark, 2013). Our large SED population teaches values like street smarts and solving arguments with violence; traits that do not go hand in hand with academic achievement. A typical underachieving gifted "is insecure about his ability to do well, cautious about pursuing new topics, and self-deprecating and self-critical about his academic ability" (Figg, Rogers, McCormick, & Low, 2012, para. 4).
Needs of Underachieving GT Learners
Underachieving GT learners need support. They need to be counseled in skills that will benefit them academically- like studying and time-management. When a GT learner has sailed through school with his brains, he may not know how to study once the learning gets tough. He may feel anxious and depressed when he fails, and may choose not to fail or not to take risks at all. Motivating a GT learner may be as simple as appealing to his interests (Ford, Alber, & Heward, 1998). GT students need emotional support, and that may come from counseling and providing resources to their families. They need a clear action plan that will let them become successful. It is important to figure out the reason why the learner is underachieving so that it can be remedied.
The Keys to Success for Gifted and Talented Learners
Thank you!
Needs of Twice Exceptional Continued
Because GLD students may see themselves as different in two ways, they need special support. It is important to make the student see that he/she can be successful. Students that are GLD may not perform as well in areas in which they are identified as learning disabled. It is important to teach the student about his/her areas of weakness and strength (King, 2005). Students that have a LD and are unidentified gifted may experience depression, abuse drugs, contemplate suicide and will fail to reach their potential (Morrison & Omdal, 2000) so it's essential that we know more about the needs of this population.
Learners may need additional education supports and interventions to be successful in the gifted classroom and they are entitled to receiving the education that they deserve (Morrison & Omdal, 2000). Gifted, classroom, and special education teachers need to be in close contact to ensure that the GLD are getting what they need. Services can include differentiating lessons and learning activities, changing the pace, and offering choice in tasks and assessments (Clark, 2013).
Needs of Underachieving Gifted Continued
Fine and Pitts (1980) spelled out an intervention plan with many levels to help the GT underachiever. They said that since underachievement may be a familial result, the family needs to be involved in the plan. The family might need counseling. The plan meetings should mimic the family dynamics, because then the intervention committee might be able to see the foundational problems. One person is in charge of the plan for the student, and maintains a close, working relationship with the student and family.
Underachieving GT at Salem Middle School
In my experience at Salem, we have implemented an intervention plan much like the one cited to help underachieving Honors Institute students. It is important to follow up with the students and families in plan to ensure their academic success, so that they may continue to be successful in high school.
Part II- Supporting GT Learners
VanTassel-Baska (2003) listed many strategies that will support the needs of GT learners. She included
diversity in lesson planning
active and passive activities
lesson planning with setting, time and objective in mind
inquiry and problem solving lessons
lessons that teach strategies such as brainstorming or group work collaboration
Supporting GT Learners in Reading
Strategies to encourage reading skills in gifted learners are defined as self-regulating learning:
provide choice in reading materials
allow flexible times and places for reading
provide authentic reading experiences
encourage end task complexity (Housand & Reis, 2008)
Supporting GT Learners in Science
Self-regulated learning also has a place in science. Strategies to encourage GT science success include:
focus on inquiry skills so that students can create experiments on their own
provide access to content above current grade level
encourage higher-order thinking skills (Yoon, 2009).
Supporting GT Learners Continued
provide a diverse and enriching environment for all learners
provide differentiation
encourage independent investigations
teach processing skills
do not require make-up work when student is in pullout program
work closely with gifted consultant of school
provide choices and options in learning
is knowledgeable about GT strategies and learning styles (Wyatt, 1982).
Supporting GT Learners in Math
Self-regulated learning is important in math too, especially when there is high stakes testing involved (such as AP tests).
Self-efficacy is a needed skill and the focus on math should be learning for the sake of learning instead of a goal (like passing the AP test)
Self-made learning goals need to be set for the students to perform at optimum levels (Malpass, O'Neil, & Holcevar, 1999).
Common Themes in Support
Self-regulated learning is a theme for supports of GT learners. Salem Church Middle needs to increase the use of this technique in its Honors Institute program. PD needs to be offered and it should be mandatory for teachers of the gifted to attend.
Supporting GT Emotional and Social Needs
Rule and Montgomery (2013) suggested allowing GT students to create their own humorous cartoons depicting perfectionism or other GT concerns. This creates discussion and opens doors to help.
Supporting Emotional and Social Needs Continued
Provide counseling
Create a warm and inviting classroom environment
Encourage risk taking
Stress the process, not the result
Encourage choice in learning and product (Clark, 2013; Rule & Montgomery, 2013).
Part III: What is Differentiation?
Differentiation is changing the content, process or product of a learner based on the learner's needs or abilities.
Clark (2013) says "Differentiation for gifted learners requires assessment of and planning for the academic needs of each child as well as the child’s unique characteristics" (p. 47).

Part III- Differentiation
Roberts (2005) lists ways to differentiate for GT learners
independent/small group studies- in-depth exploration of student interests, teacher as guide
learning centers- challenge centers, learning stations, browsing areas, learning spots
learning agreements- contracts for student directed study
tiers- tiering content, process or product as based on student need
flexible grouping
meaningful menus- tic tac toe boards, menus that add up to points or make a meal
Differentiation in Science
Tiering lessons can be done for GT differentiation. An example by Whitworth, Maeng, and Bell (2013) sets up tiers for a density lab as follows:
Tier one- students find volume and mass of two samples and calculate density
Tier two- students calculate density from samples and make line graph and find slope of line
Tier three- students design their own experiment where they have to calculate density, make a line graph and find slope
As tiers increase, difficulty increases. Teachers assign students to tiers.
Differentiation in Science Continued
Meaningful menus can be created to allow students choice. Meaningful menus can be tic tac toe boards where students need to choose an activity from each row, or a menu that adds up to a certain point value or includes an appetizer, main course and dessert. Westphal (2009) authored a book with examples and descriptions for science menus.
Differentiation in Math
Flexible grouping can be a good strategy for math classes. Groups can be made based on goals of the lesson, abilities of the students or the plan of the activity.
Flexible groups are malleable and change often due to goal, activity or new content and mastery
Sloane (2007) said "the format provides opportunities for hands-on exploration, skill development in meaningful contexts, and practice for important basic skills" (para. 2).
Differentiation in Math Continued
Learning centers are a good way to differentiate math classrooms. Ke and Grabowski (2007) found that students learn and perform better when working with collaborative math centers. Learning centers can be differentiated by content, process or product. A teacher might assign students to certain centers based on ability or performance.
Enrichment Opportunities for GT Learners
Enrichment can be offered within the school or outside of the school. Enrichment is when a topic is widened or developed. Examples of within-school enrichment are:
academic teams, competitions that may be individual or team based
debate and forensics
problem solving programs like Destination ImagiNation, Future Problem Solving Program, Odyssey of the Mind
literature based programs like literature circles
leadership seminars,
send-out, pull-out programs for GT learners
simulations (Roberts, 2005).
Enrichment Outside of School
Roberts (2005) gives outside of school examples like the following to enrich GT learners
Clubs and organizations like 4-H, boy and girl scouts
book clubs, drama, music and art
summer programs
weekend or Saturday programs
study groups
student driven investigations
Enrichment at Salem
Luckily, our partnership with the Math and Science Innovation Center provides our GT learners with summer and Saturday programs, as well as a space simulating program that 6th graders are able to use. We need to look at the enrichment opportunities we provide and decide if we would like to enrich in other areas in the future. We currently offer
STEM club
Minute to Win it
Science fair
Literature circles
Book clubs
What other skills are we looking to develop? How can we provide enrichment opportunities for them?
Part IV: Programs for GT
"adding disciplines or areas of learning not normally found in the regular curriculum
using more advanced or in-depth material to enhance the core curriculum, or
expanding the teaching strategies used to present instruction" (Clark, 2013, p. 290).
Clark (2013) defines acceleration as
"(1) seeking early entrance to formal
schooling, whether at the kindergarten or university level;
(2) moving through age graded
classes in less time by skipping grades, completing cross-age grouped or nongraded
classes in 2 rather than 3 years, or taking advanced placement courses; and
(3) moving through curriculum materials, skills, and concepts at an accelerated rate,
which could include compacting the curriculum, telescoping content, or receiving
credit by examination" (p. 291).
Programming for GT in Chesterfield
Chesterfield provides many different types of programming for GT learners based on age, ability and interest. Examples include:

Kindergarten-2, clustering, pull-out services
3-5, school within a school programs, clustering at home schools
6-8, school within a school programs, clustering at home schools, accelerated courses
9-12, Specialty centers, online courses, accelerated courses, AP classes
School Within a School Programs
Salem's Honors Institute (HI) program serves as a school within a school gifted program. Matthews and Kitchen (2007) said that
"A school-within-a-school approach is one way to provide both specialized gifted programming and also opportunities for exceptionally capable learners to interact with the general school population in ways that can be mutually enriching" (para. 3).

The HI students of Salem are integrated with the general population in elective classes. HI students can be positive role models for achievement and academic success for the general population.
Clustering and Pull Out Services in Chesterfield
Generally offered in the lower grades to all gifted, and then offered to secondary students that do not choose or are not offered admission to Center-based gifted or HI programs
Clustering is when GT learners are grouped in the same classroom. Klimis and VanTassel-Baska (2013) said "Gifted students need to work together in flexibly grouped settings to maximize all aspects of their talent development process" (Curriculum Philosophy, para. 2).
Pull out is when a GT learner is taken out of class for enrichment with a Gifted instructor
Gifted Programs
There are many options for gifted programs, and districts need to choose programs based on students' needs, instructor ability and availability, and resources. Program models include School wide Enrichment, Autonomous Learner and Response to Intervention plans.

Effective programs combine acceleration, enrichment and grouping by ability (Clark, 2013). Homeschooling and online programming might be best for certain learners. It is essential that the needs of the individual be taken into account.

Accelerated Courses at Salem Church Middle
Chesterfield allows acceleration in course content. Starting in third grade, identified math students will take 1.5 years of math in a single school year. When students are in 8th grade, they take Algebra and Geometry for high school credit.

Earth science is a high school credit that can be taken in 8th grade.

Spanish I and II, Business Education and Family and Consumer science classes are offered in middle schools for high school credit.

Upon completion of 8th grade, a GT learner can have 7 verified high school credits.
High School Programs
Students may attend Governor's schools or Specialty Centers when they move on to high school. Specialty Centers are programs at county high schools that specialize in a certain content, like engineering or performing arts. Students apply to the school/content that they are interested in.

AP classes are offered to those students who are interested and show ability.

Online classes are offered in place of in-building learning. Motivation and time management are essential skills if choosing an online high school program (Sanderson, 2011).
Response to Intervention (RtI) in Gifted Education
RtI is a model that could be used in Chesterfield for serving GT learners. The model has three tiers in which it describes effective teaching. Tier 1 is rigorous, problem solving based content delivered to all students. Tier 2 is selective enrichment or enhancement of content and process based on student interests and strengths. Tier 3 is intensive interventions specially designed for individual students. RtI is heavily dependent on preassessment and data collection (Clark, 2013; Coleman & Johnsen, 2012).
Evaluating A Gifted Program
Carter and Hamilton (1985) said that in order for a gifted program to be successful, it needs clearly defined goals for the students and program. It needs dedicated and trained staff. Data must be collected to see if goals are being reached periodically, and the data should be used formatively so that changes can be made.

Ali (2001) cited Callahan (1983) as stating "Perhaps the most important issue in gifted program evaluation is the issue of measurement and/or instrumentation used to assess program effectiveness" (p. 84).

Clark (2013) also said that evaluation, goal setting, parent involvement, and teacher preparedness are key components to successful programs.
Key Components for Successful Programs
Doina (1997) says to choose a program that
“allows for the modification of the rate of the learner;
provides opportunities for students to work in selected areas of study;
presents content that relates to broad based themes, issues, or problems;
allows for in-depth learning of self selected topics;
focuses on open-ended tasks; and
evaluates student outcomes through self-appraisals, criterion referenced, standardized instruments, or a combination of both” (para. 4).
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