So this is only my second year and my first year having students identified as gifted and talented. I only have two, but on tuesday the entire first grade is taking the NNAT2 and I know there are some who will end up in GT. Anyway, how do you guys and ladies differentiate for them? One of my co teachers just gives the kids early finisher work. Is that how it's supposed to be? I'm really worried because in three weeks I will have to sit in front of a panel to discuss my classroom data and I know they will want to know what I'm doing with those GT students. So far, I usually just tell them to use bigger numbers when we do our authentic assignments. I teach first grade math and science by the way... ANY advice or resources would be great! Thanks so much!

More work? NO!!! Better/more appropriate work? YES! Take reading for example. Differentiation would not be giving your kiddos two books to read while everybody else reads one. Differentiation would be giving them a book at a more challenging level... asking higher level questions... asking them to dig deeper. For example, you might ask your class to identify a text-to-self connection, while you ask your g/t kiddos to write a paragraph putting themselves into the book. G/T kids should never get more of the same though. That's just going to frustrate them. For one, "the same" is too easy to begin with, and for two, it will just feel like punishment to them (why do I have to do 20 problems when Billy only has 10?), especially since they only need less of the same to begin with. Another pitfall... g/t kiddos also should not get more advanced work on top of the regular work. Just as an example... if you have them work with double-digit addition and subtraction, that means you've discovered they already understand the single-digit addition the rest of your class is doing, and aren't making them do the same practice problems, plus the more advanced work. One thing to caution you with though... the NNAT is not the end-all, be-all. For example, you may have ESOL kids get outrageously high NNAT scores. If so... awesome! That means they have the potential to do advanced work... but that potential may not be there yet. They still need to work with the basics, but you should be prepared to assess them somewhat more frequently, because they will probably advance at a quicker pace. Additionally, a kiddo getting a low score on the NNAT does not mean they aren't gifted. The NNAT is primarily intended for non-verbal intelligence. Since you teach math and science, the kids that score high on the NNAT and the kids that are advanced in your class will probably overlap a lot, but that doesn't mean it will be a perfect 1-1 correspondence. Take the NNAT for what it is... it's one snapshot, taken on one day, from 6 year olds.

I know we use NNAT scores as part of our GT application process as well. Yes, they should be going deeper into skills, not just doing more of it. Are you doing small group instruction in math? This is, I think, the best way to target the needs of these kids. Do you use Kaplan's Depth and Complexity? That might be a place to start. Have them compare the perspectives of roots and flowers if you are doing a plant unit. It's an expectation of deeper thought. Give them options in how they apply what they are learning.

I don't understand why they'd place 2-3 GATE kids in a classroom. In my district, GATE students all attend the same school. Isn't there enough students to make at least one GATE classroom per grade-level (if they're pulling from every school in the district)?

I just subbed in a 4th grade class today that had about 6 GATE kids in it. At the end of the day, the GATE kids got extra homework to do. I definitely don't agree with this, for reasons gr3teacher mentioned. When I was in 4th/5th grade, this was the same situation...the GATE kids would be mixed in the other classes. Once I got to middle school, the GATE kids had their own reading/language arts/social studies block (plus math if they tested high enough). I liked this better because I felt that I was challenged ALL the time during my studies, whereas in elementary school I only got challenging things to do during the one hour a week I was pulled from class to do GATE activities. Blah. Good program in theory, but often executed poorly...

At my school there definitely aren't enough GT kids to make up a whole class, but we do cluster them into one room. This is my first year with the GT cluster, and I'm working with the GT teacher. We're still working on doing initial assessments, and I'm meeting with her this Wednesday for the first time. Overall my class is pretty high, but I will probably end up with about 6 kids that qualify for services from the GT teacher. I've always found reading very easy to differentiate. I use The Daily 5, so they write and read at their ability level. Pretty simple. During guided reading groups and conferring, all students are working towards their own goals, while reading books at their own level. The same is true for writing. Each child is working towards his or her own goal(s), so differentiation is easy. I may end up pulling 3rd grade rubrics for some of my higher kids if they have mastered the 2nd grade skills. I think math is going to be a little more difficult. I'm going to be constantly re-assessing to see what they know. I do Math Daily 3, and while the rest of my class is working independently on tasks that are at grade level, my GT kids are going to be working on more advanced skills. Once I make sure they can meet 2nd grade benchmarks, I'm going to look at the CCSS for 3rd grade, and take it to the next level. So, for most units, they'll probably participate in the first few lessons, take the assessment, and move on to higher-level work. I will meet with them in a small group every day, and create online classes in Schoology for them to complete during independent work time. They will also be working on projects during math.

Differentiation for gifted/talented students Some schools DELIBERATELY place 1-3 gifted students in each of several classes of one grade, "spreading them around". They said that the idea was that the advanced students would help the other students in the class. Parents (the few I knew of) went to great lengths to get their kids into a another school, private or not.

Whoa.... Not understanding why it is perfectly acceptable to spread around the LD children but the advanced kids get to have their own classrooms/sections. Now, don't misunderstand, I am ALL FOR ability grouping. But why is it that the expectation is that a class NEEDS to have a handful of lower-ability students to make them empathetic and better students, but not the higher-ability students to show them what other abilities are out there?

First of all we are talking about GT students, not simply ones that are advanced. There is a level of training/skills that teachers need to effectively teach GT students. Not all teachers have this, so it makes sense that these children would be placed together with someone who has the qualifications to properly challenge them. If that doesn't happen, as has been mentioned here, quite often they just turn into the ones "helping" other students and their differentiation consists of more work when they finish their assignments quickly.

Every school I've ever worked at has put all the special ed students in one classroom at a grade level.

Our students who are identified gifted (this happens during their grade 3 year, not before) are able to attend a special gifted program that is held at another school in the district. Most parents, however, chose to have their children remain at their community school, so the students are in regular classes, with enrichment support from the classroom teacher and the Special Education teacher. Right now, in my building, we have either 5 or 6 students identified as gifted, ranging from grade 4 to grade 8. A separate class or teacher for them would be impossible.

I would agree with this with the thought that you should not limit access to higher level assignments just to children who test well. Open the advanced assignment as an alternative to any student who feels he/she can work quickly and would enjoy the additional challenge. You probably have GT students who don't test well, but would benefit from more advance work. You may find some of your GT students would prefer the easier assignment and need to be encouraged to try something more interesting.

As a teacher and parent of GT students, I would strongly object to using ability grouping to teach either the high or low students. There is so much research showing the harm this can do. There are teaching techniques that will challenge all levels of a class according to their abilities. For example, reading: Using a whole class novel, the goal for the class is to learn to write in the style of the author. After reading a chapter together, the class figures out how the author developed suspense or a character and tries to write something that seems like the author wrote it. The GT student will have a chance to soar and the SPED student can copy a paragraph from the book swapping out the nouns. Putting all the GT students together is something their parents always seem to want, but it's not best for the students.

I'll vigorously disagree with you, Tyler. Students for whom being in a distinctly grouped GT program isn't optimal tend to be high achievers, rather than truly GT, and a "GT" program populated primarily by high achievers inevitably tends to cater to the high achievers and consequently still doesn't serve the GTs. I've seen and lived it both ways.

I've taught GT, I was GT, I've done significant research on Gifted learners. There is absolutely nothing in anything that I have seen or experienced that makes me think GT kiddos are best served in a heterogeneous setting. Nothing whatsoever.

Actually that is not correct. The research says it does not benefit the low, but it actually does benefit the high students. I teach a homogeneous GT class and I can tell you that their needs are being met in a much more effective way than they would be if they were incorporated into the other "regular" classes. I incorporate the GT curriculum on a daily basis for the whole class.