We first looked at some ways to compact the curriculum. Today, we will look at accelerating the curriculum for the gifted child.
Compacting the curriculum, as we talked about yesterday, is one way to accelerate for gifted children. Through compacting, students are able to move through concepts at an accelerated pace instead of being held to the pace of those around them. Students can pass through 1-3 levels in a school year, as opposed to simply one or fewer in a traditional classroom.
Student directed advancement is one way to accelerate the curriculum. An example of how I do this in my classroom is through spelling tests. Students are given a list of spelling words. They have three activities to do to learn the words, however they and their parents can supplement with other activities. The activities are merely a vehicle for the students learning how they best learn. When they are ready (or on Friday for accountability), they can take a spelling test over the words. Either I, an appointed parent or another capable student, give them the test. If they pass the test, they can move on to the next test. At the beginning of the year, I prepare the tests and the checklists for the word levels. This way, students can determine their own acceleration and can also be held accountable in knowing that everyone will take a test on Friday. I track students' progress through the lists, and report on them at parent teacher conferences and report card time. I use this same strategy for learning math facts and other building block skills that are fundamentals of education. This is a good tool for challenging students who are internally motivated as well as away to achieve accountability for all students. These are also used as an activity option while other students are having reading or math instruction with me. Parent volunteer also love to help facilitate these experiences.
Unit compacting is another strategy I frequently employ. I prepare lessons as a whole unit. I know what I am going to teach to each group and what techniques I will use throughout the course of the unit. Planning as a unit allows me to be flexible and prepared to move ahead. Often, in math especially, students are excited and want to go on to the next concept. We have covered as many as four lessons in one math time because the students are driven and motivated to do so. One student covered an entire unit in one week because he was so excited about what he was learning. Unit compacting works well for students who like to work ahead, who work independently, or who are easily excited about topics.
Concept compacting is another instructional strategy. I provide enrichment tutoring for a precocious group of six-year-old children once a week. I utilize concept compacting with this group. We pick a concept, and dive in. We recently covered probability. We took the standards for grades two through four, and a few from fifth grade level, and looked at them in depth. We built a base of knowledge, and then progressively advanced that concept until the students were tapped out. This is useful strategy for those students who can never get enough! They always want to know more about the topic, and we just need to feed the beast- helping them to learn the way to acquire information and when they are ready to move on to a new topic.
Another strategy is alternating classrooms. This works really well in a particularly flexible school with particularly flexible teachers. Usually, this takes place when a student is especially gifted in one area such as math or reading. I benefited from this as a child, and have seen its success as a teacher. I was a first grader allowed to go to a second grade classroom for mathematics instruction because I had demonstrated that I knew the majority of the standards to be covered that year. Then, as a second grader, I was permitted to go to a third grade classroom. My first year teaching, a kindergarten teacher asked me to take on one of her especially talented math students. The student came to my classroom each day for math instruction because she was two grade levels above her peers. Ask around your child's school to see which teachers would be open to something of this nature.
These are some fun and easy ways to accelerate the curriculum for the gifted children you encounter. These are techniques to implement as a teacher, or to request as a parent. Please feel free to pass along my information to parents or teachers who need more specific advice or steps to implement. My goal is always to be a help and an encouragement to the gifted community. . .
Join us tomorrow as we investigate the idea of extending the curriculum, an addition or alternate to accelerating to best meet the needs of the gifted. See you then!