When some people hear the concepts of “differentiated instruction” or “individualized learning” they most often think these forms of academics is based solely for ones who have learning disabilities or children who struggle academically. This is not true! Differentiated instruction can be formed to help any student, including the ones who are gifted. Let’s say that a gifted student finishes the class lesson’s homework and assignment early, what do they do next? As a teacher, it is your job to make sure that your students are continually learning, and not facing repetitive knowledge that they already know, and in some cases, boredom. I read an article in Are We Failing Gifted Students? that talked about how some very intelligent students will not work as hard in the classroom, and often fail many courses because the work is simply just too easy for them, and they get bored with it. This is a concept that not many people think of.
I found a wonderful article on Smart and Bored that gave me some really great insights on helping gifted students become as successful as they can. This article stated that not being challenged in school puts students at a very high risk of dropping out, and losing motivation towards education. They also explained that there are solutions, which are differentiated instruction and good habits! Teacher, Kim Tredick, agreed to share her successful habits on differentiated instruction, (on this website as well) and I found them to be very helpful! The habits included:
- Start as scholars
- PretestEncourage different learning styles
- Group accordingly
- Leave it open ended
- Make it real
- Start slow
- Up to the challenge (or create challenge)
Tredick had also given a few examples of ways she differentiates her material. Her students all get an individual list of spelling words. Also, when is explaining a poem, she uses pictures with some of the students and with the gifted ones she explains them line by line.
I have learned by past research on this topic that many teachers dread words such as, “I’m done!” by their gifted students, because often times they do not know what to do! Many do not want to make certain students work load heavier, or make them help other students because that can seem unfair. That is why the concept of differentiated instruction seems to be the most reasonable answer. It will take time and a lot of effort by the teacher, but it will be so worth it when every single one of their students are working to reach their own full potential.
I will add a few resources that could be beneficial in learning about this topic!