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While it is true that gifted students need the 'freedom' to brainstorm
and come up with creative solutions they also yearn for a mentorship
relationship with their teacher(s). We can not assume for example, that
because a student wants to do it their own way, that that is enough. I
have challenged them to complete that thesis statement and document
their brainstorming so that they can sit back and objectively see what
works and doesn't and chart their own progress. I believe all humans
have a need to see that they CAN go forward with purpose and take
ownership of that progress. So often gifted kids will dismiss what they
do as minimal because they have been 'deemed' gifted...you know the kid
that draws well, feels that it is just something they know how to
do...but ask them to take their drawing one step further, to think and
create, to make aesthetic decisions, we help them feel that it is not
enough to be gifted and do better than most with ease, but that this
giftedness (for lack of a better word) is a means to an end.
This year I am teaching 30 "gifted and talented" kids (don't get me
started on who decides these catagories and who fits in them), in the
9th and 10th grade level, hoping to follow with a G&T class for 11/12.
Their first project was to create a lamp, based on the 7 intelligences,
rooted in a specific time in history. (I acted as facilitator when it
came to materials---). Not only did they learn basic lamp-wiring
(because I only supplied the wiring, bulb, nuts, and battery), they
produced lamps that surprised the heck out of all of us....a lava lamp
that worked!!, a replica of Paul Revere's (British are coming!) lamp! A
TeePee that was made from hide, branches, and when turned out played
Native American music recorded off the internet!, A memorial Lamp to the
dropping of the Atom Bomb, complete with mournful music, and a Replica
of Enola Gay!,
Multiply those examples by 6.
My point: While I never told them how or what to do, their lamps had
guidelines, and when they stood up in front of the class with the lights
out, told us what their thesis statement was and turned on the lamp, we
all went "Ahhhh" as if we were at the 4th of July Fireworks.