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Understanding gifted students

All students are unique, but gifted students are often some of the most interesting. As you pursue a Master of Science in Education degree (MSE), you may consider doing so with a concentration in Gifted, Talented and Creative (GTC). Teaching gifted and talented students may be one of the most rewarding occupations an educator can pursue. Some responsibilities you will have as an educator of gifted and talented students include identifying students who possess the qualities for placement within a gifted and talented program, as well as creating curriculum for gifted students.

Defining gifted and talented

According to the National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT), the way the U.S. Department of Education defined giftedness in 1993 is the broadest and most comprehensive. They defined giftedness as “children and youth with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment.” On the other hand, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) discourages a strict definition of giftedness and instead makes the following assertion:

“NAGC does not subscribe to any one theory of the nature of human abilities or their origins. We assert that there are children who demonstrate high performance, or who have the potential to do so, and that we have a responsibility to provide optimal educational experiences to fully develop talents in as many children as possible, for the benefit of the individual and the community.”

With gifted students possessing such a broad spectrum of skills and levels it becomes the responsibility of the educator to teach gifted and talented students. Some students will excel in multiple areas, while others may learn in blocks. When teaching gifted and talented students it will be your responsibility as the teacher to differentiate between the sequential and spatial learners.

Differentiating between the sequential and spatial learner

As you work out the curriculum for your gifted students, you will need to be aware that for some the material will be a review whereas for others the material may be an entirely new concept. Those for whom the material is most likely to be review are your sequential learners — these students learn new concepts in a logical order. You may also have students who learn concepts in blocks, otherwise known as spatial learners. These students may have an understanding of the concept that logically comes before and after the one you are attempting to teach, but have no knowledge of the current topic at hand. This is where properly trained teachers of gifted and talented students are essential.

Teaching gifted students can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. If you choose to pursue an MSE in GTC, be prepared to identify your spatial learners from your sequential as you move forward to create curricula that are appropriate for multiple levels in the same classroom. Gifted students are at a variety of different levels and possess multiple talents. As a result, it is difficult to create an honest definition of what giftedness actually means.

Learn more about the A-State online MSE in GTC program.

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