About three weeks ago, I asked, “What do you do when you have a gifted student in your class?” In less than a month’s time, this is what I did:
First, I explained my reasoning (as to why the student is gifted), my differentiation idea, and asked for the cooperating teacher’s permission to conference with the student. Second, after the cooperating teacher’s approval, I conferenced with the student and let the student speak freely about the student’s education, aspirations, and interests. Next, the student and I created a work contract in which the details of our arrangement were outlined. Also, I created a Work Journal that required the student to keep an ongoing account of the assignment’s work and learning process.
After the preliminary steps had been taken, the time had come for implementation. The topic of the day was conditional sentences (click here for beginner, click here for intermediate, click here for advanced). Our arrangement was that I would let the student go to the computer lab to work on the assignment (which was created to substitute for the unit’s culminating project—a presentation); however, the student was only allowed to go once I had given consent, for there was a bit of each lesson that I wanted to ensure that the student knew. After teaching the lesson, I provided students with an opportunity to practice and demonstrate their understanding. During this time, when students were working individually or communally (depending on the lesson), I talked with the student outside of class. Here, I required the student to demonstrate that the student had understood the lesson. If the student did not fully understand, the student could not go to the computer lab.
Once the student demonstrated understanding of the day’s lesson, I allowed the student to go to the computer lab. In the computer lab, the student had to work on the culminating project. For proof of the student’s daily work, I required the student to fill out the Work Journal and turn it into me at the end of the period; this journal served as part of the student’s daily work and participation grade. If I didn’t receive a journal, the student received a zero (0) for the day.
In the end, the student completed all the work and gave a thought-provoking presentation explaining why Costa Rica abolished its army. (Here is a copy of one of The Student’s Work Journals.)
It is important to remember that all of this was completed in less than a month’s time. If I had more time, the challenge would be set higher—for both the student and I.
- Discussion with cooperating teacher (or another teacher)
- Discussion with guardian(s)
- Conference with student
- Allow student to speak freely
- Co-create assignment
- Keep signed records of everything
- Trust the student