Welcome to a collection of thoughts, questions and interesting links relating to giftedness ..............
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

They need Different Work, not MOTS (More Of The Same)

'Terrific, well done. As your reward for finishing fast, here is another worksheet'

I have spoken to young children who have told me they had realised that getting 19 or 20 out of 20 in maths meant more maths, actually not just more maths but 'more of the same maths', so they made sure they scored highly enough to keep everyone happy, but not highly enough to be rewarded with another worksheet. They figure if they can already do it, why do they need more practice? They have a point.

I have also spoken to many gifted children who love the challenge of difficult work, but who are frustrated by having to show they can do the easy stuff first. By the time they get to the more challenging material, they are not so enthusiastic any more, their brain has wandered to more engaging past times. And I have seen many gifted children who make careless mistakes on easy tasks which don't demand their full attention, only to find that their results mean they are not offered the more challenging material which would really make their eyes shine.
Sometimes a teacher will take to heart requests from parents for something that challenges their child and provide something more difficult. For Homework. Which still usually means the child does what the rest of the class is doing and then they take the hard stuff home to do.

There is no surer way to turn off the passion for learning than rewarding completion of an easy task with more work, especially if the other children (who probably have more need for the practice) are not also going to be doing this 'more' work.

A fundamental characteristic of giftedness is the ease and speed of learning. Even moderately gifted children learn at 2 or 3 times the pace of more average ability students. For highly gifted and beyond it can me 4 times the pace (or up to 8 times the pace of the weakest students). This means they need less practice. It means they need to move on to new material more quickly. Research has shown that their learning is improved by working at this faster pace*.

There is no doubt that parents are excellent teachers; their children learned many things from them before they began school. However, if children are at school to learn, then bringing home new material to learn and master as homework while still working through regular class material at school suggests some further discussion about giftedness might be needed and that parents may have another opportunity to take the role of leading learning, this time with their child's teachers.

It is important that every child works at a level appropriate to their learning needs. The gifted are no exception. The key difference is that their needs are unlikely to be the same as the bulk of the class. Completing the easy stuff before they have a chance to work at the appropriate level isn't something we would ask all children to do. For gifted students it just doesn't make sense. In fact it doesn't make sense for any student.

 *The excerpt below is from Karen Rogers's Research Synthesis on Gifted Provisions
Research on Instructional Delivery: Pacing, Process Modifications
  • The learning rate of children above 130 IQ is approximately 8 times faster than for children below 70 IQ
  • Gifted students are significantly more likely to retain science and mathematics content accurately when taught 2-3 times faster than "normal" class pace.
  • Gifted students are significantly more likely to forget or mislearn science and mathematics content when they must drill and review it more than 2-3 times

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