Meeting the Need of Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom

What sets gifted children apart from other students in a classroom? It is primarily the ability to absorb abstract concepts, organize them more effectively, and apply them more appropriately. The following suggestions will help you develop a classroom environment that will challenge and nurture gifted learners.


Independent Projects:
Create an Independent Project activity.
You will find that many gifted and talented students tend to have a lot of extra time on their hands in your classroom because they finish their work rather quickly. Use this time to help them develop their creativity by allowing them to explore a special area of interest related to the topic being studied.

Academic Competition:
Involve gifted and high achieving students in an academic competition.
These highly motivating events can be held right at your school and have relatively inexpensive registration fees. They are computer driven and test students' knowledge in a variety of academic disciplines. Not only do they challenge students academically, they provide an opportunity to develop skills in leadership and group dynamics. Here are two organizations that can provide competitions and more information.

The Knowledge Master Open (Elementary, Middle School, and High School)
Academic Hallmarks
P.O. BOX 998, Durango, CO 81302
1-800-321-9218 or 970-247-8738

Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl (Elementary and Middle School)
4220 Park Hill Circle, Urbandale, IA 50322

Vertical Enrichment:
Plan "vertical enrichment" activities
with gifted students. Design assignments or projects that go above and beyond what is covered in the regular classroom. Don't just give gifted students "more of the same." There are a number of educational products designed for gifted and talented students that can be easily adapted into regular classroom activities. Here is a list of vendors offering affordable materials that can be used to challenge students in a range of academic disciplines while developing their higher level thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.

Prufrock Press
PO Box 8813, Waco, TX 76714-8813

The Critical Thinking Co.
PO Box 448, Pacific Grove, CA 93950-0448

Dept V1837X
121 5th Ave NW, New Brighton, MN 55112

Find a Mentor:
Don't turn your gifted student into a tutor or teacher's aide!
Instead, find a mentor who is willing to work with him/her in an area of interest. Start with the parents of students at your school. Ask other teachers. Contact local organizations. The bottom line is that you want to help the gifted student reach his/her potential and tapping outside expertise is sometimes necessary. Gifted children need "tutors," too!

Try a New Approach:
Change your approach
when working with gifted and talented students. Instead of being "the expert," become "the facilitator." Rather than just "giving" them information, help them to discover it!

Use Bloom's Taxonomy:
Bloom's Taxonomy become your guide in working with gifted students. This web site explains clearly and simply each level of Bloom's Taxonomy - a model of critical thinking that progresses from the most basic level to the most complex. Examples of appropriate questions are given as well as illustrations for use in the classroom and ways to use technology within each level on the taxonomy. Gifted students should be asked to utilize the upper three levels - analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Below are some examples of lesson planning "actions" that should be incorporated when planning activities for gifted students.

Ask students to:
Suggested end results:
solution to mystery or mock crime scene, questionnaire
Original story,
musical composition,
piece of artwork,
Book review,
current events debate,
court trial,


Multiple Intelligences:
Incorporate Multiple Intelligences into your lessons!
Developed by Harvard Professor of Education Howard Gardner, this Theory of Multiple Intelligences states that all people possess at least seven different kinds of intelligences - linguistic, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, body-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. These intelligences exist in varying degrees within each individual. Applying this theory to your classroom activities ensures that every student will be individually challenged in one or more specific area. The multiple intelligences web site provides many practical ideas for using Multiple Intelligences across the curriculum. Explore the Multiple Intelligence posters (and comics). Print some to hang in your classroom.


Use Technology:
TeachersFirst offers extensive resources and ideas for Nourishing Gifted Through Technology in Any Classroom. Find hand-picked tools and strategies for differentiating academic content, injecting and respecting creativity, helpful gifted students form personal connections in areas of interest and collaborations with other gifted students, and managing the logistics of gifted in your classroom.


Leveling Assignments:
Try leveling class assignments and learning outcomes.
In this way, you can explore the same material with all of your students, but require different outcomes depending on the students' individual abilities. This strategy can also be applied to testing. Again, refer to Bloom's Taxonomy and include higher level questions on exams for gifted students.

Working with Gifted & Talented StudentsHow to Spot a Gifted Student