Working with students in a gifted and talented classroom gives educators much more freedom in the types of lessons they deliver. A gifted classroom allows children to explore specific interests that may not be appropriate for a large classroom setting. A master's degree in gifted and talented education can help educators broaden their approach to the learning process. Here are a few ways to engage students in core subject areas while allowing them to more fully discover their academic potential.
1. Explore Space
Space exploration has been grabbing the imagination of children and adults for many years. Never before in the history of humanity have we had the technology and resources to explore the cosmos in such depth. Space is no longer solely the environment of brilliant mathematicians who are able to calculate trajectories or astronauts with the training to pilot spacecraft; technology has made space exploration available to anyone with internet access.
NASA provides numerous resources for educators interested in utilizing the Hubble Telescope for classroom activities. Students can use the images to identify galaxies, stars and planets, and they can even look for unidentified comets and asteroids. You can use the information and tools to plan a virtual space expedition, plot the flight path of the spacecraft, or decide what specialties and skills astronauts and scientists need to colonize space. The only limit in creating space-themed projects for your gifted students is your imagination and their interest in space.
2. Virtual Archeology
Archeology was once an exotic profession that required traveling to distant lands and enduring harsh conditions to make any notable discoveries. While that is still the backbone of the field, technology has made archeological discoveries accessible to everyone. Google Earth and other open-source imaging platforms have allowed students and amateur archeologists to make remarkable finds. A recent TED Prize winner plans to take the process even further and encourage people from around the world to become space archeologists — those who use satellite photographs to identify potential dig sites.
This process can begin in the classroom using Google Earth. Have students choose a civilization, time period, or geographic area, and then research the most relevant coordinates on Google Earth. Have them build an archeological record of their findings, evaluating patterns, geographic features, and architecture, while investigating anything unusual they locate. The students can then compile this information into a visual presentation or a report for evaluation.
3. Write a Novel
Telling a story is a core part of the human experience, but very few people are taught the art of storytelling. National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known by participants as NaNoWriMo, occurs each November and encourages the writing of an entire novel of at least 50,000 words in only one month. Instructors can implement the program at any time of the year, and there is a section specifically for students.
Even for a gifted student, 50,000 words may seem to be a daunting task to complete in only a month. Teachers can customize the time limit of the challenge to a quarter, semester, or an entire school year. Students can personalize their book, choosing the topic and type of book they want to write. Students have no limitations on the type of book they must write, which allows their personal interests and creativity to take the lead in the learning process. In addition to gaining valuable research skills, students will also work on their writing skills, task management and organizational skills.
4. Learn to Code
Coding computer apps, games and websites is rapidly becoming one of the most popular career fields. Unfortunately, many schools do not have the funding to offer advanced levels of computer science. Many nonprofit organizations, universities and companies have begun to offer free resources to help fill the need. There are applications for computer coding in math, science and the humanities. Students can explore almost any interest through coding. While it is ideal if the teacher has a basic understanding of coding, there are many resources that make it possible for educators to oversee the process and allow their gifted students to explore and begin coding on their own.
5. Work on Wall Street
When students discuss their favorite classes, they usually describe those that had projects that brought the concepts to life for them — writing a play in their English class, running a school store as part of a math class, or building a scale model of the pyramids in their social studies course. The Stock Market Game allows students to become fully immersed in the world of finance. They will gain a better understanding of finance, financial trends and the way world events cause fluctuations in the market.
A gifted and talented classroom should not be like all of the other classes students attend. While the reading and lecturing models are necessary for large classes and standardized learning programs, the gifted program must evolve outside the box and challenge students in new and interesting ways.
While a great deal of what happens in a gifted and talented classroom will depend on the interests and aptitudes of the students, a master's degree in gifted and talented education can help educators prepare for the adventure of challenging some of their school's most brilliant students.
Learn more about the A-State online MSE in Gifted, Talented, and Creative program.