Gifted students will develop advanced research skills and methods. Curriculum for gifted students should allow for the in-depth learning of self-selected topics within the area of study.
Rationale/Discussion: Gifted learners possess an extensive knowledge base, learn at an accelerated pace, and are capable of advanced levels of comprehension. In addition, many gifted students are highly curious and intrinsically motivated, especially to pursue topics which interest them. As compared to their age-peers, gifted learners tend to have longer attention spans, exhibit a stronger need to know, and can follow-through with assignments. If gifted students are to benefit fully from these abilities, the gifted program must emphasize the development of skills that enable them to become effective as independent learners.
Because of the advanced nature of their abilities and interests, gifted students need to learn how to access advanced level reference materials, including a variety of print and nonprint references and information retrieval systems. They need learning tasks that allow them to explore personal interests through guided research, independent study, and community involvement. In order to conduct authentic research, students need instruction and guidance in learning to ask the right kinds of questions by looking at techniques used by experts in the specific field. They need instruction in the development of a written plan of research (with emphasis on how one gathers, categorizes, analyzes, and evaluates information in particular fields); assistance in evaluating their own work; and in considering implications for future research.
Gifted students will develop and practice creative thinking and problem-solving skills with a variety of complex topics within the area of study.
Rationale/Discussion: Gifted learners have the ability to generate original ideas and solutions, and they characteristically see diverse and unusual relationships. Their instruction must allow opportunities to further develop and apply these skills in meaningful situations. Because gifted individuals often exhibit differential patterns of thought processing (e.g., divergent thinking, sensing consequences, making generalizations), a curricular need is to be able to explore alternatives and consequences of those choices, and to draw and test generalizations. The original thoughts and ideas often expressed by gifted students may in some settings be perceived as odd or off-task by others. This results in the inhibition of creative thinking. The gifted program must provide an environment in which students feel free and safe to stretch beyond the "right" answer that comes so easily for them. They should be encouraged to take risks and to experiment so that creativity can be developed.
Gifted students will develop and practice higher order and critical thinking skills in the pertinent academic area.
Rationale/Discussion: It takes less time for the gifted student to learn new material and master new skills. One strategy for differentiating instruction for gifted students is to structure lessons and units in such a way that capable students spend a larger proportion of their time on higher order thinking, using the content they have mastered to further develop their understanding of the concepts and practice the skills of critical thinking.
Gifted students will develop advanced communication skills. Curriculum for gifted students should encourage the use of new techniques, materials, and formats in the development of products that will be shared with real audiences.
Rationale/Discussion: It is important to remember that throughout history we have recognized "giftedness" in individuals because of the impact they have made on other individuals and society at large through their products, whether the area of giftedness is art, science, leadership, literature, etc. Feedback from real audiences provides gifted learners with a chance to utilize their advanced communication skills. Internal motivation develops when students pursue ever-increasing levels of excellence in their final products and receive confirmation from real audiences that others value their intellectual and academic talents.
The content of all gifted education curricula should be advanced for that grade level. Even when the Resource Model is used and the emphasis is on enrichment, as opposed to the delivery of core content, the subject matter should be advanced. In all delivery models the advanced content should be related to broad-based issues, themes, and problems.
Rationale/Discussion: Two of the most distinguishing characteristics of gifted students are how quickly they learn and how easily they are bored if not challenged. As compared to their age-peers, gifted children tend to learn more rapidly; they tend to remember more, and they tend to think more deeply about what they learn. The gifted child often grasps complex and abstract concepts and relationships that normally are learned at an older age. Therefore, one of the basic tenets of gifted education is that the pace and complexity of the curriculum must be adjusted to match the gifted child's learning ability. Consequently, the content differentiation for gifted learners should include the modification of the rate of learning. Opportunities to move through core curriculum material at an appropriate rate and to then be engaged with novel, advanced materials, are essential if we are to sustain the motivation and eagerness with which gifted students approach learning in the early years.
The curriculum activities and delivery models used in gifted programming should (a) be sensitive to the unique social and emotional needs of gifted students and (b) encourage the development of self-understanding, i.e., appreciating likenesses and differences between oneself and others, and recognizing and using one's abilitiess.
Rationale/Discussion: Many gifted children experience difficulty in accepting some aspect of their giftedness. Their heightened self-awareness, accompanied by feelings of being different, can result in low self-esteem and inhibited growth emotionally and socially. Consequently, there is a need to provide gifted students with time for interaction with other gifted students, reflection, and discussion, for the purpose of self-understanding. A strong aptitude for solving problems allows gifted students to deal effectively with these concerns when given the opportunity and guidance needed. This type of involvement can also help provide students with a foundation for leadership development.
Student achievement should be evaluated by using appropriate and specific criteria based on the higher expectations we have for our most capable students. Evaluation methods should include teacher, self, and collaborative evaluation.
Rationale/Discussion: Research with gifted students consistently shows that traditional grading practices do not motivate them to learn and, in fact, may hinder performance. Gifted children take into consideration the fact that standards for success or failure are set up by someone other than themselves; the result is often lowered commitment to the required task. When the focus is on grades (the outcomes) rather than on learning (the process), many gifted students learn short cuts to receiving awards for their work. An evaluation system that focuses primarily on student/teacher conferencing, verbal feedback from teachers and peers, and self-critiques allows gifted learners to make use of their analytical abilities and their desire to take risks, moving beyond the minimal effort required for good grades.
No single goal should be taught as a stand-alone topic. Instead, each should be integrated into the course content. Also, it should be noted that one cannot develop an appropriate activity for one of the goals without considering one or more of the others, i.e., the goals should not be thought of as mutually exclusive. They are provided simply to facilitate at the local level (a) the organization of activities and student-learning objectives within the course content, and (b) the development of a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of gifted education programming.
Local school systems may adopt other goals that are appropriate for their most able learners and consistent with local education priorities and initiatives.