Gifted and Talented students are usually identified by their intellectual capabilities, such as scoring very high on standardized tests. Students can also be considered exceptional learners if they excel in the area of creativity, such as looking at a problem in a unique way (Mastropieri 2007).

“Gifted students differ from their classmates in three key areas that are especially important in mathematics. These are summarized in the table below” (Johnson, 2000).

How Gifted Learners Differ from Classmates | Relationship to Mathematics Learning |

1. Pace at which they learn | 1. The sequential nature of math content makes pacing an issue. |

2. Depth of their understanding | 2. Deeper levels of understanding and abstraction are possible for most mathematical topics, so differentiation becomes important. |

3. Interests that they hold (Maker, 1982) | 3. If the interest is snuffed out early, the talent may not be developed. |

There are four suggestions in which you as a teacher can adapt instruction for gifted students, as listed in the article “Teaching Mathematics to Gifted Students in a Mixed-Ability Classroom” (link above):

1. Assessment – give preassessments so students who already know the material do not have to relearn it. Create your own assessments that do more than just ask for an answer; have the students explain and justify their thinking using writing, graphs and charts, and algorithms.

2. Curriculum Materials – choose texts that encourage inquiry learning and allow gifted students to go above and beyond the skills generally required of students.

3. Instructional Techniques – Try differentiated instruction. Let some students work on learning basic skills, while gifted students work on more advanced mathematical problems.

4. Grouping Models – Group the students according to homogeneous ability as well as mixed ability. Give the students a chance to work with others on their own level, as well as a chance to instruct struggling peers.

If your school offers teacher development courses or seminars on exceptional learners, take them. Great ideas come from other teachers with more experience.

Links:

Challenging Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom

Underachieving Gifted Students

Resources for Gifted Students, Parents, and Teachers – excellent mathematics instruction ideas

Project M3 – meeting the needs of talented elementary math students

References

Johnson, D.T. (2000, April). Teaching mathematics to gifted students in a mixed ability classroom. (Online), retrieved December 16, 2008. http://www.teachervision.fen.com/gifted-education/teaching-methods/3778.html?_R=1

Mastropieri, M.A., & Scruggs, T.A. (2007). *The inclusive classroom: Strategies for effective instruction, custom ediction for Brigham Young University. *New York: Pearson.