RTI or Response to Intervention is all the rage in education today. Originally intended for lower performing students, it has been adopted in many school districts as a way to provide differentiation for gifted students. Students’ abilities are assessed periodically and teachers use flexible grouping to provide extra support in areas of weakness. During this time, gifted students can be given a more advanced curriculum thus extending lessons without burdening them with more work than their classmates. Many times these students can work independently or with minimal support and this gives the teacher more time to work with other students.
The idea of differentiating work in a classroom is not a new idea. For years, many forward thinking teachers did this by allowing gifted students to choose an area of interest and then develop a project around that interest or topic. These projects took the form of research papers, science projects, and creative writing assignments; just to name a few.
Another instructional strategy that works well in science or mathematics is accelerated pacing. It is used when students display academic abilities in these areas. It has been found that accuracy and retention can be increased if the material is covered at a significantly faster rate. However, teachers must be specifically trained to teach at an increased pace which can be 2 to 3 times greater than experienced in a regular classroom.
One of the biggest complaints expressed by gifted students concerning school is boredom. A simple strategy employed by educators is to reduce or even eliminate excessive reviews or drills. Once the student is able to show they have mastered the content, it should be reviewed no more than two or three times. Again, teacher training is essential to making this work. Additional materials need to be provided for the extra time that is freed for students to pursue other projects or interests. There is new evidence that this is a strategy that can be used across the curriculum. Teachers have seen this motivate students to delve deeper into the content being studied.
These are just a few strategies to help gifted parents know what is available out there. Hopefully, you will find teachers who will be willing to work with you in providing the best learning opportunities for your child. Remember that relatively few teachers are exposed to any training in gifted education. Sharing information can go a long way in building a solid relationship with your child’s teacher.