By Morgan Dixon | iCEV Education Specialist on September 3, 2019 at 11:43 AM
In the final post of the Special Populations & iCEV blog series, we will discuss how to engage Gifted & Talented students in CTE classes. If you would like to review any of the previous blog posts in this series, follow this link.
Every state has a slightly different definition of the term “Gifted and Talented (GT).” Generally stated, GT students demonstrate high intellectual ability, creative problem-solving skills or an aptitude in visual or performing arts. A 2018 study reported 3.2 million students are enrolled in GT programs in public schools. Unfortunately, a large portion of GT students are unidentified and not receiving appropriate instruction. It should be noted, not every student labeled GT will always receive high grades. As with every special population, there are variations in ability and interest level.
Though Perkins V does not include GT in the definition of special populations, this type of student is found in almost every classroom and has specific educational needs.
Differentiated Learning Speeds
When it comes to the way GT students learn, there are two generally accepted types of students: those who learn at a quicker pace and those who desire to gain a deeper understanding of the material. One of the most difficult parts of teaching in a differentiated classroom is keeping students engaged, on task and focused on the same topic.
It is difficult to teach in a classroom where such a diverse level of learning is happening. iCEV can be used with just a teacher subscription or with student licenses. By implementing the student licenses, the teacher will have access to a variety of interactive pieces on the iCEV platform, including computer-graded assessments, vocabulary practice and student notes. The teacher will also have complete control to decide when students are exposed to every lesson, activity, project or assessment. For example, the principles of business, marketing & finance course has an economic concepts lesson with four assessments, 10 activities, three projects and five types of interactive student notes. The teacher can hide any assignments he or she does not wish to cover, as well as set deadlines for the interactive pieces to be completed and even allow students to take the assessments as many or as few times as he or she wants. Teachers and students are gone throughout the year for competitions, contests or illness. iCEV can be accessed from any device that has access to the internet, limiting the large amount of makeup work that comes after an absence.
Connect Learning to Interests
GT students tend to have either a wide array of interests or an intense focus on one interest. The majority of students are not going to be completely invested in every subject they take; luckily, CTE courses are often electives, allowing students to choose those that already have some level of connection to their personal interests and goals. Allowing students to explore various careers and how to turn their hobbies into something lucrative will benefit students long after they graduate high school.
Teachers should be aware of what their students are doing outside school hours and help them make connections to their learning. Almost every interest can be applied to the curriculum if the students are given enough freedom to do so. The counseling & mental health course delves into mental health of all age groups, from young children to adult seniors. One of the projects included in the maintaining mental health lesson asks students to research the benefits of therapy. Therapy can be found in a variety of different forms, one of which includes exercise. For a student with a love of skateboarding, he or she could research different forms of therapy utilizing skateboarding and the benefits found from that form of exercise. The same goes for students interested in cooking, farming, crochet, etc.
It can be easy for teachers to get used to utilizing GT students as peer tutors. This strategy is at times beneficial for both students but should not be used as a regular practice. Gifted students thrive when given the opportunity to work with their gifted peers. Grouping students according to how well they understand the concept being taught is advantageous for everyone; the teacher is able to spend more one-on-one time with students struggling to grasp the concept while those who have mastered it work on more difficult and hands-on projects that will challenge them academically. Like other student populations, GT students will not always grasp the concept on the first try.
One of the first lessons studied in the fashion marketing course is fashions of yesterday & today. It is important for fashion students to understand looks from the past and how they influence fashion today. The fashions in the past activity asks students to research and print images of fashion from various time periods. The students who understand the concept should be grouped together and required to take the assignment a step further. One option would be for students to sketch designs from the time they are studying or recreate the look using only articles of clothing found at home or a thrift store. The key to teaching GT students is to challenge them and establish a deeper connection with the learning.
Regardless of what special population—if any—students fall under, the most important thing teachers can do is create relationships with their students. Every single student who walks into the classroom has unique needs, goals and interests. It is nearly impossible to individualize every lesson for every student, but showing you care about your students and want nothing more than to help them succeed goes a long way in creating a positive classroom culture.
We hope you enjoyed the Special Populations & iCEV blog series. If you liked this series and would like to stay up to date with iCEV’s weekly blog posts, click the Follow button at the bottom of this page to get email notifications for each new blog.
For more information regarding gifted and talented students and teaching special populations, feel free to contact Morgan Dixon via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 806.745.8820.
About the Author
Morgan Dixon is the Education Specialist at iCEV. She previously taught 7th English and Reading for six years. Morgan has a passion for special populations and understands how difficult it is to differentiate instruction for diverse classroom populations. It is her goal to make teachers’ jobs a little easier and provide resources that benefit both teachers and students.