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I've been teacher gifted kids art exclusively for the past ten years. I
teach, at varying times, k-8. In Florida, my state, that mean intellectually
gifted. Translation: IQ over 130. That said, let me add that I dislike the
term "gifted" and have a lot of trouble with IQ tests as a total indicator,
but there it is.
There really is very little written about teaching art to intellectually
Everything I now say, of course, is generalization, and like all
generalizations, probably far too generalized!
Not all gifted kids are "talented." (we did this debate a while back, I
think) However, you will find in general that the quality of the product
produced is higher than in a "regular" (yuk..that word is worse) classroom. I
think there are a number of reasons for that. The kids catch on fast to what
you WANT and they love to deliver what the teacher wants. It's their strong
point! Also, they tend to have better small muscle coordination. There IS one
exception here, and this sounds sexist, I know. But a lot of the little boys
who get into the program because of high performance IQ (math-type stuff) have
a lot of trouble with small motor skills and their handwriting is usually
awful. They need a lot of reassurance. I find that the kids whose strengths
are in the verbal areas have an easier time in the artroom.
You will find you can move rather quickly through the curriculum, but have
something to do for the early finishers, and something challenging, like brain
teasers. And refuse to give the answers until next week. It also helps to put
in a bit of competition when doing difficult puzzles, etc., for motivation.
Gifted kids are kind of an anomoly. On the one hand, they want challenge, but
they get frustrated if it doesn't come immediately and demand the answers.
However, they are also known to analyze to the nth degree and not come up for
Don't talk down to them. Probably the biggest indicator of giftedness I see
personally is vocabulary. Major vocabulary. And they are master
manipulators. Don't get into verbal arguments with them.
A word about their parents. They can be a real challenge, from the most
wonderful, helpful souls to the parents from hell. And a gifted parent from
hell is a PROBLEM. Keep the lines of communication open between you and
home....lots of letters home, etc. I find virtually all the parents have
email, even those who are less affluent. I send most of my communication via
email, with hard copies for kids who want them. I almost always get a reply
and it keeps me informed. In the beginning of the year I send a note home
asking for it, and I stamp Mona Lisa on the hands of the kids who bring it
Jen in Tallahassee, where it starts again on Monday
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