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Whether you’ve taught gifted education students for years or you’re brand new to the practice, there’s a lot to learn about advanced classrooms. Gifted classes are quite different from honors or advanced placement classes, in that they tend to focus on developing each student’s individual aptitude and learning in unique and challenging ways that students don’t tend to get in their standard education. Gifted students are students who show a high achievement capability in any number of disciplines, and there are specific ways you can guide them well.
Teaching gifted students is about meeting them at their own pacing needs so they feel engaged and challenged. Quality gifted education offers an element of supported risk so students can go outside their comfort zone, learn new things, and work on things that excite them. Gifted classroom activities that work well will introduce students to new ideas and experiences, and ideally give their brains a bit of a workout.
You can change up your gifted curriculum daily, or engage in prolonged projects that require a bit more commitment. No matter what direction you choose, there are so many unique activities that can engage your gifted students and help them learn all kinds of new ideas.
1. Amateur Thesis Project
When most people think about a thesis, their minds go right to college and graduate school. However, you can introduce the idea of a thesis or passion project as early as middle school. A thesis is a bit more independent, and allows students the chance for an individualized sense of intellectual development. A thesis project can be anything a student is naturally talented at or enthusiastic about. One student could write a novel while another works on a science experiment.
A thesis can be a great way to end the year, as the students can spend the last month — or more — of school primarily working towards something they truly care about. This is also a great direction to take if you happen to be doing online learning. Not only will students have the opportunity to dive in and take their passions seriously, but they will leave your classroom with something they can be proud of.
2. Learning to Code
If you’re on the hunt for something a bit more standardized that can get students excited about STEM, look no further than coding. One of the beauties of coding is that you can go from the surface level and travel much deeper. The kids who love it might find themselves totally enthralled as they learn advanced material, and those who are more inclined towards other disciplines will still get a brain workout and learn a valuable new skill.
There are so many resources available to teach coding, even if you personally don’t know much about it. You can even learn with your students if that seems like fun. You could also use multiple outlets if you find that some students are progressing rather quickly and need a bit more challenge.
3. The Stock Market Game
Playing the stock market game in your classroom is a great way to explore real-world economics, incorporate that sense of supported risk, and encourage socialization and teamwork among peers. Through the stock market game, students can interact with the real stock market and learn all about investing together. Since investing and finances are foreign to most kids, it’ll probably be a new experience for everyone and provide some valuable life knowledge.
4. TED Talking
Believe it or not, kids have given TED talks before, so why shouldn’t your students give it a try? Plenty of gifted classrooms are no strangers to watching TED talks — using them to open up to new ideas and listen to different perspectives. If your classroom already loves TED talks, your students can make even more of a hands-on experience with them by trying their hands at writing their own.
You can take a day for this activity, stretch it out for a week or even turn it into a more in depth project. Allow your students to draw inspiration from subjects and figures that inspire them and see what they have to say.
5. Language Exploration
If you teach a younger gifted class or you teach in a school that doesn’t offer consistent second language education, you could make a habit of language exploration in your classroom. Have your class vote on a language to learn or choose one yourself, introducing a few words each day and practicing a few times each week. Kids tend to have a natural aptitude for language, so this could be the perfect opportunity to learn a useful skill.
Expanding Your Gifted Education
Quality gifted education doesn’t just come from challenging your students — nor does it come from simply having fun. It comes from a combination of exploring their interests, expanding their minds and introducing them to new activities they can explore. Whether you choose to learn a new language or learn the language of coding, your students will reach all new heights in your classroom.