Gifted and Talented Students



Definition and identification

In any teaching group, it is the case that some will achieve, or have the potential to achieve, at a level higher than their peers. Identification of these students is crucial as without tasks tailored to their needs they may become disillusioned with the subject, under perform or become disruptive influences within lessons. Early identification allows challenge to be built in to the curriculum, the use of more interesting and varied resources and will help to maintain History's position within the Curriculum.

What then is a 'gifted' student within the History classroom? Welding (1998) (Welding. J. (1998) The identification of Able Children in a Secondary School a study of the issues involved and their practical implications. In Educating Able Children Volume 2) offers a series of generic characteristics of gifted students, in general they have or are able to:

1) Ability to understand abstract/ difficult concepts quickly
2) Lucid expression of understanding orally
3) Lucid expression of understanding, in writing
4) Ability to link ideas and concepts
5) Development of own ideas
6) Thirst for knowledge
7) Independent thinking
8) Analytical thinking
9) High powers of reasoning
10) Ability to transcend the confines of the work set

This model acts as a useful starting point for the history teacher looking to identify students who are more able. Within History, I would suggest a modification of these characteristics, too:

1) The able Historian will be able to work thematically and will understand the implications of the chronological framework surrounding the theme.
2) The able Historian will be able to put events into the context of the time and articulate, verbally or through writing, different representations of events.
3) Historians that are more able draw upon a wide number of themes and events to explain why events occurred in certain ways.
4) They have the confidence to express and justify a belief that may not necessarily be accepted by their peers or the teacher.
5) Curious to find out the minor details.
6) Ability and desire to find alternative or additional representations of the past in order to fully satisfy themselves.
7) An insatiable desire to prove everything.
8) High Powers of reasoning.
9) Able to draw upon general historical and political knowledge to substantiate responses, or to divert attention to areas of a greater personal interest.

Clearly, students will not always demonstrate each of the suggested characteristics, nor will they always be the students who attain most highly. It is quite possible for the more able historian to be analytical in thought and verbal expression but to fail to articulate these successfully in written form. The able historian may occasionally also be identified through the disruptions that they create within the classroom. Rushed, untidy and work that lacks thought and development can be a sign of a disillusioned or unchallenged youngster. When formally identifying a cohort of more able students these factors ought to taken into account.

Attempting to analyse each student against these definitions would no doubt prove to be a very tiresome task. In practise, it is best to look at levels of attainment and make a judgement as to whether or not students are achieving to their potential. This needs to take into account the teachers own observations of the student within the context of their classroom. To identify a cohort of 5-10% of a year group for the purpose of Excellence in Cities provision I would suggest considering assessment levels, performance indicators such as MIDYIS, general performance within class and your professional judgement as to whether or not the student has the potential to attain highly.

The process that I followed for identification was:

The department drew up a list of the top 10% of each year group based on professional judgement with the above definitions as the guidelines for selection.

Identification of top 10% based on average NC level over previous four assessments (SAT's results and any other available data is used early in Year 7).

Identification of top 10% based on performance indicators (Midyis test results).

This data is then analysed to see which students appear to have the highest level of potential and a cohort of more able students is then finalised following discussions within the department.

Within ordinary schools, it may often be the case that the 'cut off point' for inclusion or exclusion from the gifted and talented cohort is arbitrary to say the least. My experiences suggest that only 3-5% of students within any given year group stand out as being particularly able in comparison with other 'top set' students. There will often be other students who demonstrate some of the characteristics of 'able students', some who constantly attain slightly below the cohort and others who are erratic in terms of the standard of their work. There ought to be regular reassessment of these students and opportunity made for them to participate in some of the activities designed for the most able students. In order to allow these students to prove themselves worthy of inclusion in the more able cohort their needs to be flexibility and practicality in the curriculum model for the more able.

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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Page last updated 04/05/01
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