You have a classroom of 20-30 students and you have varying levels of ability in your classroom. Guess who will probably learn the least in this typical classroom? Most likely it will be the gifted student(s). A surprise? Not really, they already know the prescribed curriculum before you teach it to these students. But you're a grade ___ teacher and you have the curriculum guides that you must teach. Therein lies the dilemma. Is it any wonder why a large number of gifted students have behavior issues? They're simply bored! The challenge of meeting the needs of gifted students is every bit as challenging as meeting the needs of students with developmental delays, physical disabilities, learning disiablities etc.
How do you motivate these children? How do you get them to complete assignments when they are bored by assignments that they already have the knowledge and skills for? How do you keep their attitudes positive? How do you ensure that they move forward? How do you ensure to their parents that they'll be learning? Project Based Learning!
Although there are entire text resources written to support teaching the gifted child in the regular classroom, I'm going to attempt to provide you with a foundation that will get you to the first stage.
Education is becoming much more individualized all the time. Good educators know that project based learning is key to individualizing education. Let's get started:
What is Project Based Learning?
Project Based Learning shifts from the teacher centered model to the student centered model. The teacher is a Guide on the Side as opposed to the Sage on the Stage. PBL is activity based and students take responsibility for their own learning. Here's a list of guiding questions to assist you to set up PBL activities.
- Do your activities support the varied learning styles? Multiple Intelligence?
- Is your key role to be the facilitator of learning?
- Are the learning tasks authentic and meaningful?
- Are the higher order thinking skills prevalent? (analysis, synthesis, evaluation)
- Are there opportunities for concrete/hands on learning?
- Are your students participating in projects that integrate across the subject areas?
- Do key questions drive your projects? Are you questions focused on inquiry? For instance, an historical project question could be "What are the impacts for today's society and what makes you think so?'
- Is the assessment component project based?
Key to teaching gifted children (and most children) is finding out what they know. The great way of doing this is through the KWL chart. Each child fills this in prior to you establishing the learning activities. Here's a PDF copy
Once you've established what's known, you can focus your project ideas on what the students need to find out. Try some of the projects listed below in related links.
Project based learning is one of the best ways to organize activities in your classroom to ensure that maximum learning occurs for all students. Remember, think big but start small. You may want to begin with a language based project first. Once you start down the path of project based learning - it's doubtful you'll return to the ol' Sage on the Stage' approach. Remember, the tell, do, show method hasn't been proven to be very effective in teaching. Project based learning is based on research that promotes lifelong learning for children.