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Gifted and Talented Students

Characteristics of effective provision in the subject

There are clearly issues surrounding the provision for more able students in history. There may be very few 'more able' students within a classroom; the class might be mixed ability, which makes a distinctive curriculum yet more difficult to implement for the more able; there are also issues surrounding the identification process and some teachers still feel that a distinctive curriculum for the more able is divisive and unfair. American research into the effectiveness of a clearly defined gifted and talented programme make the need to develop these strategies clear.

Gubbins (research should inform Practice, The National Research Centre on the Gifted and Talented, 1997 Spring Newsletter) reports that:

Delcourt, Loyd, Cornell, and Goldberg (1994) examined the effectiveness of various service delivery models on students' cognitive and affective outcomes and concluded:
Gifted children in Pullout, Separate Class, and Special School programs showed higher achievement than gifted students who were not in programs and, in most cases, than those from Within-Class programs and nongifted students.
Although a limited amount of time was spent in the resource room (approximately 2 hours/week), the emphasis on academics with the Pullout model appears to have contributed to the achievement of these students.
Students from the Separate Class programs scored at the highest levels of achievement and at the lowest levels of perception of academic competence, preference for challenging tasks, and sense of acceptance by peers, internal orientation, and attitudes toward learning.
Further to this, she reported that Delcourt, Loyd, Cornell, and Goldberg found that:
The results of a national survey of middle school administrators mirror some of the results we gleaned from a focus on elementary classrooms:
There is much room for greater awareness of the needs of academically diverse populations in the middle school and the specific instructional skills required to meet these needs.
Classroom standardization and a "one-size fits all" environment pre-dominate over classroom flexibility as the norm in today's middle schools.
Educators' beliefs about differentiating the curriculum through instructional strategies do not convert into practice. Therefore, instructional and structural strategies, which support curriculum differentiation, appear to be under used.
Middle school practitioners who perceive the middle school learner as being in a plateau period tend not to create and deliver high level, engaging curricula, but rather to teach basic skills, low-level thinking, and less complex reading assignments. (Moon, Tomlinson, & Callahan, 1995)
This research, albeit in American middle schools, shows that programmes for gifted students work and that a failure to provide a distinctive curriculum for these students often results in poor levels of attainment. What can a department with finite resources; time and staff do to provide for the gifted and talented then?
In the majority of cases, the department will already have a framework in place that is suitable for effectively providing for the more able. Structures to allow for the regular monitoring of work and expectations alongside rigorous assessment and recording procedures will enable a department to fulfil it's role effectively. In general, departments providing effectively will have most of these characteristics:
An agreed statement of practice with regards the teaching of the more able student
An action plan for the implementation and review of a programme for the more able
High expectations and demands for students that are clearly defined within the classroom
Access to performance indicators and a system for using these to inform teaching and medium term planning
Clear schemes of work that indicate where differentiation for the most able must take place
Regular assessment opportunities
Procedure for the moderation of assessment
Agreed format for providing feedback on work to students and parents
A variety of resources suited to the needs of the more able
Inset programme with regards issues surrounding gifted and talented education
Close contacts with other History Departments in the locality and an agreement with these to pool ideas and resources

The support of other departments and collaboration with them is also of course essential. Funding, likewise, is paramount to the long-term success of the initiative as time and resources are needed to look at provision in any detail. Monitoring of teaching and constructive feedback on teaching effectiveness, which will be done through Performance Management in any case, is also of great value when evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of current provision.

Pages within this article.

Introduction,Defintions and Identification of Gifted and Talented Students,Characteristics of effective provision in the subject,Ideas for classroom provision,Withdrawal groups,Differentiating by task,Enrichment,Conclusions



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