Helping Gifted Students Analyze Literature
The website Guidelines for Reading and Analyzing Literature was compiled by Dr. Tina L. Hanlon, associate professor of English at Ferrum College in Virginia. Although the guidelines were originally assembled for college students, they are equally applicable to gifted high school students and, with some minor adjustments, also can be used by gifted youngsters in middle school and upper elementary school.
The higher level thinking skills presented on the website provide an excellent model for teachers to use with almost any piece of literature. The guidelines also are helpful for parents who want to have in-depth book discussions with their kids. And homeschoolers: I know that you too will appreciate the useful information provided on this site. Hanlon breaks down the process of reading and analyzing literature into five steps:
Types of Literature
Evaluation and Review
I like this particular website because the information, while extensive, is presented in a form that is very easy to scan quickly. It also contains universal ideas that can be used immediately.
Social Networking and Gifted Education
Although social networks on the Internet started out with connecting friends for purely social reasons, they have since grown into valuable networking tools for adults. Now, parents, teachers, and other professionals interested in the field of gifted education can easily connect with one another over the Internet.
Twitter, Facebook, and online message forums seem to have the most to offer gifted education right now. Educators post information about curriculum, classroom techniques, and upcoming conferences, while parents post interesting family activities, places to visit, and useful links. Questions are often posed through online forums, and answers from online users around the country, or even world, are quickly offered.
You may want to consider becoming part of the following discussion forums, as well:
Social/Emotional Activities for the Gifted
What a surprise! For this week’s blog, I chose the topic of social/emotional activities for the gifted. I like to provide free information to readers, and I thought that it would be easy to find material about this topic to post on the blog. However, it wasn’t easy at all!
There is a lot of information available about why gifted kids may need support, and there are also basic guidelines for setting up support groups. In addition, there are several books available on the subject, but these books can be costly.
When it comes to finding actual, hands-on strategies that a parent or teacher can use with gifted kids, it can be very difficult. My guess is that there are readers out there who have developed their own successful strategies for working with gifted kids. I invite you to share those ideas by adding a comment to this blog entry. There is obviously a strong need for your suggestions. Meanwhile, below are a few links that I did find.
The following links can be used as jumping off points for your own discussions about issues that gifted students may struggle with over time. Frequently, young people may not be able to attach names to some of their issues, and they may not realize that others wrestle with the same concerns. Don’t hesitate to modify the information provided below to suit your group of students.
If you are interested in actually purchasing books, here are a few resources:
- Free Spirit Publishing specializes in social and emotional issues and strategies.
- Prufrock Press also has books on the subject. Search using the words “social emotional” for a list of possibilities.
- SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) lists recommended books under the link to “Articles and Resources.”
Helping Gifted Students Find Their Passions
Passion drives an individual and creates self-motivation. Some students easily develop strong interests that motivate them. However, for many others, discovering their passion is not always so simple.
How can we, as adults, help these kids uncover their desire to learn? I suggest that this can be accomplished in two ways: first, by exposing kids to a wide range of subjects, interests, and experiences, and second, by allowing kids to observe first-hand another person’s excitement for a topic.
Parents and teachers may assume that a student's passion must be academically driven in order to be important. However, this is not true. A student's profound interest in just about any socially acceptable area can be very significant. For example, when a student is driven by an extracurricular passion, they will often find reasons to work harder on academic areas that support that interest.
Eleven-year-old Tyler Befus found his passion in fly fishing. (Listen to this interview to get a sense of Tyler’s intensity, and his ability to articulate his passion.) Fly fishing led Tyler to write two books about the subject, develop his marketing skills, and practice public speaking at a very young age. It also motivated him to study entomology, and master the fine art of fly-tying. In addition, Tyler developed skills through fly fishing that would serve him well throughout his life, such as the ability to organize information and see patterns, as well as the ability to persist in the pursuit of his goals and overcome obstacles. Tyler’s father exposed him to fly fishing at a very early age, and, luckily for Tyler, one of the first interest areas that he was exposed to was one that stuck. Most people need to be exposed to a large variety of topics before they latch on to one that suits them.
Adults should expose kids to a wide variety of experiences, and realize that youngsters may develop interests that are quite different from those enjoyed by the rest of the family. It is also important that adults supplement kids' academic pursuits by introducing them to different types of music, dance, theater, film, sports, hobbies, and people. After all, if a student's exposure to different experiences is limited, then how can they be expected to develop an interest in something suited to their personality?
Once your kid does find a topic that she wants to pursue, support their interest by increasing their exposure to that subject through books, extracurricular clubs, information on the Internet, supplemental classes, or perhaps summer camps devoted to that interest. You may also want to introduce your kid to mentors that have excelled in their area of interest.
Don’t be upset if your kid seems passionate about one topic, and then suddenly wants to move on to something else. This is a time for experimentation, and it may take a while for them to find a passion that sticks. After all, even you may find that your interests wax and wane at different periods of your life.