It is not uncommon for GT students to dislike writing. I was intrigued recently when I saw the article, “Why Do So Many Gifted and Talented Children Hate to Write?” Although the article does not give any scientific evidence, it does suggest that it can sometimes be difficult for gifted students to gather thoughts that make perfect sense to them and go through the excruciatingly slow process of organizing and communicating those thoughts on paper (or screen). I like to compare it to asking an adult to write down the instructions for tying a shoelace or walking. Sometimes we just know things, and we don’t find it pleasant to try to tease out the details.
The above article suggests a writing exercise that turns the task into more of a challenge. I haven’t tried it with my students, but I have learned that giving them unusual rules or restrictions often seems to motivate them more than unlimited freedom (which usually just paralyzes them). This article from Alice Keeler also recommends adding constraints to writing, and she provides a spreadsheet template to help this process.
Unexpected topics can also stimulate ideas. You can find some fun video writing prompts here. “Writing Sparks” from Night Zookeeper offers random topics. (Click on “Create Spark.”) Different perspectives can also galvanize student writing. And one of my favorite online tools that has never failed to intrigue my students with its incredible illustrations has been Storybird.
Writing can be a challenge for anyone. Students with high I.Q.’s are not immune to academic difficulties. What may be perceived as laziness can often be just a matter of fear of failure. With a bit of creativity and lot of support, students who “hate” to write may discover a strength they didn’t know they possessed.
I landed in a new Twitter chat this weekend (#ecet2 – Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers). The moderator was @AngelaAbend, and the topic was gifted students. Here is one of the threads from the discussion when we were asked to describe gifted children:
I don’t like to over-generalize gifted students. Some can be hard on themselves and do their best in school. But there are others who do so well at the beginning of their school careers that they receive more compliments than challenges. Without sufficient problem-solving practice during these formative years, these students may never learn what to do when answers do not immediately appear in their heads. By assuming young, successful students will “be fine,” we inadvertently cripple them later in life. It’s essential that we target every child’s Zone of Proximal Development regularly so they can be equipped with tools and strategies for dealing with difficulties.
During the chat, Angela Abend tweeted the video, “James and Susie,” which illustrates the need for all children to be challenged.
When my gifted students say, “This is hard!” I tell them, “Good! That’s my job! If it was too easy, I’d be worried.” Of course, there are students like my 5th grader from last year who would say, “This isn’t in my ZPD!” with a sly grin on his face. “Keep trying! You’ll figure it out,” I always responded. And he would.
As our school year begins to wind down, my 5th grade gifted students are attempting to synthesize all that they have learned by determining what they “know for sure.” While browsing the examples on Laura Moore’s TCEA Hyperdoc website (click here for my original post about her Hyperdoc presentation), I found this “Manifesto Project.” When I showed it to my students, they were excited about designing their own manifestos. We did a lot of brainstorming and discussion before the students started working on Canva. The examples I am showing you are just rough drafts (including mine), but I think they are off to a great start! Knowing the personalities of these students, I am very impressed by how the students were careful to choose words and designs that really reflect their values and beliefs.
I remarked that it might be fun to make each manifesto into a t-shirt, and the students got super excited about the idea. So, if anyone has done something like that before, please give me suggestions in the comments below!
If you are interested in more ideas for using Canva in the classroom, here is a link to their lesson suggestions.
Even though I teach elementary gifted students, I consider myself an advocate for all students. When I brainstormed titles for this blog many years ago, I chose, “Engage Their Minds,” because I believe all students have a right to learn through lessons that are exciting and relevant to their lives. That being said, it bothers me that students who are identified as gifted sometimes don’t receive a lot of support because they are perceived to need less help – and this is certainly not the case.
I ran across this video while researching an upcoming presentation I will be doing. Here are some gifted kids speaking out about the myths that have unfortunately impacted their educational careers. Hopefully, sharing this will help to dispel some of those myths.
Be sure to click on the menu items at the top of the page to find suggestions on how to use Depth and Complexity for Math, Language Arts, and more. Many of the pages have free, downloadable pages to use with your students.
Depth and Complexity does not have to be reserved for use with gifted students. By integrating these icons into your classroom, you will find that students will apply the icons in ways that reflect their understanding of topics – giving you a naturally differentiated curriculum.
Two other sites I always recommend for Depth and Complexity ideas are: “Byrdseed” (best for 4th grade and up) and “Not Just Child’s Play” (great for primary).
My absolute favorites as a child were the Mr. Mystery Secret Agent Spy ones. (You can find More Mr. Mystery and The Return of Mr. Mystery online as well.) I loved the challenge of the puzzles and the independence that the invisible ink pen gave me to become a detective in my own imaginary world.
I got my daughter one of these a couple of years back for an upcoming trip, and I think she enjoyed them just as much as I always have. Of course, in retrospect I probably should have gotten one for myself, too!