Extending Approaches for dealing with the Gifted

Schools practice can be summarised into the following general progressions: • Progression of process skills used for learning. In the gifted these appear to be equivalent to those expected for the next Key Stage. Subject teaching can make use of these by developing advanced tools for learning like mapping, grids, and SWOT style activities • Use of language is often extensive with use of words outside their peer group usage. It is often very precise and concise but with the desire to experiment with language to describe events and phenomena. They recognise words as concepts and develop ideas. A subject can make use of this by demanding more precision in the use of language and variation in genres expected for reporting • Understanding of concepts is often more advanced and they can deal with advanced concepts and model these to solve problems but care needs to taken since many are very able at using misconceptions to create models as shortcuts to an answer. A subject can make use of this by using more advanced work in research activities • Accurate and precise in practical work. Developing mental and physical models using concepts or ideas higher than their peer group. In evaluation they are clear about things that were performed well and critical of those not but with ideas for improvement. A subject can make use of this by demanding more attention to error management • Graphical or mathematical treatments of a problem at a higher level than their peers and do so with confidence and can derive relationships from those graphs. A subject can make use of this by focusing on a consideration of sources of error and its effect upon the results – identify the difference between relationships and correlations • Good control of their creativity by focusing it upon a conceptual idea or skill to produce a performance that is outstanding when compared with their peers. A subject can make use of this by varying the nature of the problem and considering consequences, outcomes and reasons for actions • Good personal understanding of their own learning style and the way they think – metacognition. This enables them to reflect upon their experiences and evaluate those experiences as important or not to their learning. A subject can make good use of this by considering how scientists get to answers and the process of thinking Within the progression of the above skills there are often some important gender differences. The difficulty with trying to understand these are the limited amount of information about whether these are purely gender differences or learned social differences.

Developing Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)
The gifted are frequently quick to pick up knowledge and solve problems but many display, either overtly or covertly, a frustration with the highly structured nature of school subjects. They appear very aware of how to use their thinking and the best approach to use to learn more effectively. They use this awareness of their thinking to maximise their learning strategies by using a number of techniques like mnemonics relating to a sequence of text, words or numbers, mind mapping to organise their knowledge, concept-mapping to indicate links or brainstorming to search for plausible ideas. Creativity is the ability to play imagination games – thought experiments. Tony Buzan observes that breakthroughs in subject have often come about as a result of a dream, daydream, an accident, or a chance happening that moved the dreamer to diverge from the dominant paradigm. In terms of creativity Lewin (1987)i makes a clear distinction between teachers who put more emphasis on cleverness or intellect than upon wisdom or cognition; a clever situation in which the child learns to use verbal fluency to construct answers and yet not display wisdom by the rational use of knowledge to solve a problem or apply thinking. Lewin identifies this as the intelligence trap: A child knows the facts, but not how to use them in an answer. To encourage creativity in thinking there must be a conscious effort on behalf of the school to develop thinking skills and this requires an active inclusion of thinking into all subjects as a topic on equal parity with literacy and numeracy. In focused teaching sessions the children will be engaged upon the following thinking strategies: • Focus and clarify the problem – examine and discuss the problem, being clear about what constitutes the irrelevancies and what is the precise nature of the problem Speculating about the problem - examining ideas that could be applied to the problem by hypothesising about what we know, what that means and what might happen if we change Rehearsing ideas - practise solutions to gather more information about the degree of precision and possible sources of error Looking wider - questioning and checking the solution. Why is it working? Are we still on target or is there another solution? Am I saying what I mean? - Examining the language of answering and saying it precisely but with interest by explaining ideas using different forms of communication What is this event the same as? - Looking for patterns and relationships to help develop shortcuts in thinking about solutions to similar types of problems rather than considering all problems to be unique. With this skill goes the ability to recognise when a problem is unique Sticking to the knitting - remaining on task with the problem and learning to recognise when the pathway is irrelevant or a tangent. This skill is about sifting the knowledge to bring to bear that information which will help to solve the problem

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Be broad but selective - researching more than one source and being able to think about the chain of reasoning to develop a logical progression in the solution Knowing one’s strengths and weakness - learning to recognise where we need to seek some help from someone else. Learning to work in a co-operative group Set your target - be purposeful, know your direction, consider personal targets, link them with those targets set by others so there is compromise and harmony, not clash and discord

A curriculum that seeks to develop the thinking skills should consider the following relationship between the different aspects of thinking skills. It starts with the student’s own beliefs and attitudes related to their personal knowledge and skills. This allows the student to ask questions of themselves about the nature of their thinking and their motivation. Thinking about these allows the student’s metacognitive abilities to determine the best approach and to help them frame the right question to identify the nature of the problem for them as individuals.

Lateral Thinking Processes
For many students, taught within a rigid National Curriculum key stage structure, there is a tendency to develop ‘box’ or absolute thinking. In that students actively seek the right answer where there may not be one or, they become suspicious of probability style or correlational answers. For these students in order to develop effectively higher order thinking skills there does need to be some supplement with other more lateral thinking exercises such as those designed by de Bono (1989)ii: For example: • Breadth of perception - In a genetic experiment there is an opportunity to redesign the human body, what things would be candidates for redesigning and why? Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices – Mosquitoes spread Malaria and the mosquito has become more widespread across the world. Malaria is becoming more resistant to the present drugs that treat for malaria. DDT can effectively kill mosquitoes and greatly reduce the spread of malaria but DDT affects wild birds and animals if used extensively. What course of action would you take to continue the search for a new drug and risk the possibility of widespread malaria or use DDT for a limited time? Explain your reasoning. Consequence and sequel – In the local wood a person has spread a selective poison that lasts for 5 years and has killed all the insects. And any insects that attempt to settle in the wood are killed. The wood is now an insect free area. What is likely to happen in next few years? Hypothesis, Speculation and Provocation – Why do you think mice have long tails? Put forward two different hypotheses. Or because of genetic variations and environmental effects cows are recently being born very small. This is resulting in the large species of cow being quickly swamped and overtaken in numbers. What would be the consequences of this event?

Thinking and Questioning
Thinking coupled with explorations can develop trial work and allow students to consider the important aspects that relate to the formulation of questions and the evaluation of the work. Teachers can concentrate upon developing the link between questioning and investigating by asking questions in a progression from knowledge style to synthesis and evaluation style such as below: • • • • • • • Observation - “What do you see?” “Look carefully and describe how it happens.”

Prediction - “What will happen if ….?” “What’s the next thing to happen when ….?” Causal reasoning - “This happens because …. happened.” “If you do this then …. will happen.” Application - “If we consider this problem ….” “What do you think will be the important thing to do to make …. Happen?” Correlational reasoning - “It could be …. are connected and so …. will happen and ….. will change by ….” “These two factors could be connected.” Synthesis - “What would you want to investigate to explore this problem?” Evaluation - “What would be the consequence of that event?” “Would it happen every time or are there other conditions which would help it to happen?”

This approach to questioning has been modified by DfES into the following (DfES 2003iii):
Cognitive objective Knowledge What Students need to do Links to thinking Students are more likely to retain information if it is needed for a specific task and linked to other relevant information. Do your questions in this area allow students to link aspects of knowledge for the task Possible question stems Describe what you see … What is the name for … What is the best one … Where in the book would you find … What are the types of graph What are we looking for? Where is this set? How do you think … Why do you think … What might this mean … Explain what a spreadsheet does … What are the key features … Explain your model … What is shown about … What happens when … What shape of graph are you expecting? What do you think will happen?… Why? Where else might this be useful? How can you use a spreadsheet to …? Can you apply what you now know to solve …? What does this suggest to you? How does the writer do this?

Recall Describe Label Identify Match


Explain Translate Illustrate Summarise Extend

Comprehension questions require the students to process the knowledge they already have in order to answer the question. They demand a higher level of thinking and information processing than do knowledge questions.


Apply to new situations Demonstrate Predict Employ Solve Use

Questions in this area require students to use their existing knowledge and understanding to solve a new problem or to make sense of a new context. They demand more complex thinking. Students are more likely to be able to apply knowledge to a new context if it is not too far removed from the context with which they are familiar.


Analyse Infer Relate Support Break down Differentiate Explore

Analysis questions require students to break down what they know and reassemble it to help them solve a problem. Those questions are linked to more abstract, conceptual thought that is central to the process of enquiry.


Design Create Compose Reorganise Combine Assess Evaluate Appraise Defend Justify

Synthesis questions demand that students select and combine information from different sources to respond to unfamiliar situations or solve new problems. There is likely to be a great diversity of responses.


Evaluation questions expect students to use their knowledge to form judgements and defend the positions they take up. They demand very complex thinking and reasoning.

Separate … (e.g. fact from opinion) What is the function of … What assumptions are being made … What is the evidence … State the point of view … Make a distinction … What is this really saying? What does this symbolise? Propose an alternative … What conclusion can you draw … How else would you … State a rule … How do the writers differ in their response to … Which is more important/moral/logical … What inconsistencies are there in … What errors are there … Why is … valid … How can you defend … Why is the order important? Why does it change?

Examples of Thinking Starters
• • • • • • Brainstorming – think of as many solutions or examples in a specified time period Classification exercises – sorting ideas into correct groups Mapping activities – Map those examples, with justification, into specified categories or classifications such as on a concept map Flash cards or relating photographs – making sense of a photo such as the Methane Worm example or relating the photo to some event with justification Reading Photos – looking closely at a photograph and making deductions about its subject, origin, place in time and emotions it strikes Taboo – describe something to someone but without using certain specified words e.g. describe the operation of the heart but do not use the words pump, heart, blood

Examples of Thinking Developers
• Mysteries – relate to cause and effect in that the students are given an hypotheses or question and a set of cards with statements on some of which are irrelevant or not strongly associated with the question or hypothesis. They sort the cards and relate the relevant ones to the question or hypothesis and formulate a solution using the information on the card as evidence. Odd One Out – a classification exercise using key vocabulary related to characteristics but one or more do not comfortably fit. They need to justify. Living Graphs – similar to Archimedes Bath exercise. Students are given a graph of change with events or statements made by people relating to change and the student must place them on the graph at the most appropriate place. Can be effectively used with timelines incorporating graphical changes. Mind Movies – students are asked to close their eyes, place their heads down (this cuts distraction and reduces self consciousness) and listen as you read them a real account of something. They need to imagine the account in their heads. After finishing reading tell them to keep their eyes closed and keep the movie running in their heads – ‘What Happens Next?’ Put them into pairs to discuss their movies the other person must take notes which are to be shared between two groups of pairs by considering:

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o What was similar between the four accounts? o What was different between the two accounts o What was surprising about the accounts Story telling – relating a concept into a context such as tell the story of a bottle thrown into the sea just off Jamaica Fact or opinion – students work in small groups with viewpoint sheets containing facts opinions and views. They read these points and record them under the headings of Fact or Opinion with justification. Two groups then compare their lists with each other discussing the justifications. Ambassadors – in groups of three they read and research a topic and help one person to become an ‘Expert’ on the topic. They then exchange places with another person from another group and they tell that group about the topic while the group of people have the right to ask questions on the topic Philosophy through the subject – students create a situation, consider the implications of that situation and communicate it to others with empathy towards the balance of ideas about that event. Imagine witnessing the hanging of a young boy for stealing in the 19th century and conveying the event to another person.

Examples for Thinking Plenary
Many of the starting activities can be used as plenary activities but others are: • The answer is but what might the question be • What if examples • Target mapping – central is the key concept then in the next circle are the key words and the outer circles contains the examples • Bubble Maps – Concept in the centre and connected to the central concept are the details relating to the concept • Clustering – linking ideas learnt into clusters with a common theme or criteria • Affinity diagrams – the content of the lesson is grouped under four headings such as action, people, facts, words • Tree diagrams – main ideas are at the top of the tree while below on the branches are linked ideas and below that are the details e.g. the story of the three pigs Three Little Pigs


Wolf Patient Actions Qualities Straw Types

Houses Materials





The same can be done using a concept trees at the top is the main concept and this goes down to the first proposition and the first level linked concept, then another proposition leading to a second proposition Self-assessment is also a worthy use of this time and this can be accomplished in the following way: • Paired marking and paired testing • Paired questioning

Self-assessment of learning – use of a structured sheet with questions such as I have learnt …, Two areas of strength in my learning are …, An area of weakness in my learning is …

How can we create challenging units of work?
• Be clear about your learning objectives and convert them into behavioural objectives to give them to the pupils (QCA Schemes of Work Expectations can help here): o o Subject specific – content, concepts skills Level of language development - identify real roles and audience for the activity so the pupil can identify with the language expected.

Go for simplicity and open-ended activities first it is easy to plan but more important these often offer the deepest thinking Decide upon the verbal and thinking skills to be addressed and how they are to be developed in the activity this can be accommodated by specifying the audience the student will be communicating with. Consider previous learning by using a simple diagnostic assessment such as concept mapping or cartoons. Use the information when planning activities. Provide challenge at an appropriate level and with appropriate structure so that learners engage in a variety of tasks and processes, which enable each of them to learn something new or consolidate previous understanding. Structure carefully with time – Gifted students can cope with extended work since they have the ability to ask questions and reason out language and so can access the curriculum themselves and can become independent learners. Less able students lack sufficient reasoning skills to deal with extensive language so they need carefully prepared worksheets and very structured time spans a good rule is 10 minutes on task followed by 5 minutes reflecting on progress towards the objectives. Decide on your formative assessment criteria and inform the pupils by the use of the behavioural objectives. These can be obtained from the QCA SoW outcomes to ensure pupils have a framework for achievement and both they and you can measure their attainment and your provision. Evaluate the activities so that good practice can be shared. Ask the students to evaluate their own learning by means of: o o o Suggesting further extension work or enrichment work How they think the activity could have been improved Completing a questionnaire on what they have learnt and how important that is to them.

Use Bloom’s Taxonomy of skills and language as a guide. See following:

Using Active Language for Targets in relation to Thinking Skills Some of the active words that could be used for objectives and target setting are listed below under the thinking skills employed: Knowledge Observations and recall of information Remember Recognise Repeat/recall Find Know Identify Copy Describe? Observe Recite Memorise Tell Fill in missing information Recite or write down Comprehension
Describe what you mean Application

Explain Provide example Translate Interpret facts Reason Summarise Infer Compare Solve Understand Précis Order + predict Restate

Use knowledge and information in different contexts Select Solve
Use other
Information Prior knowledge Methods Concepts

Build Communicate Construct Describe Measure Create Experiment/make/trial Present Prioritise Solve problems

Creative Thinking
Analysis Organising and recognising components which apply to learning Sort Explore Classify Categorise Sequence Compare/contrast Cause/consequence Bias Problem-solve Hypothesise Be critical Question Review See patterns

Critical Thinking

Relate knowledge and understanding from a number of areas Create Construct Combine Hypothesis/prediction Invent Correlate Think up solutions Transfer understanding Negotiate Form theories Enquiry Problem solving Complex thinking Investigate Compose

Can make judgements based on intervention Assess Appraise Justify Review Prioritise Grade Recommend Estimate Decision-making Reasoning Draw conclusions Compares discriminate Judge Research Verify Recognise subjectivity Make objective choices

Using the QCA Schemes of Work as a Starting Point
The subject curriculum for the gifted should integrate process, concepts and content and not separate them into simple structured activities since this will lead to the use of lower level thinking skills. Secondly the objectives to be attained should be explicit in the scheme of work appropriate to the level of expectation to enable a teacher to measure there class against those objectives and set their own expectations as a challenge to the students and to match as closely as possible those stated. The starting place is to examine the Expectations Box in the QCA Schemes of Work and look at the progression of expectations for the low attaining to higher attaining students for example in the Y8 example: Enquiry Skills Some students will not have made so much progress and will: find information from selected secondary sources about elements and their properties; describe some hazards in preparing oxides and describe the results of their investigations Most students will: select information about elements and their properties from a range of secondary sources; describe how to deal with hazards when preparing oxides; identify an approach to finding out whether a material is an element or not and explain how their results provide appropriate evidence Some students will have progressed further and will: select secondary sources to provide the information needed about elements and their properties; identify limitations of evidence obtained about whether a substance is an element or not, where appropriate, suggesting alternative explanations

Conceptual and Knowledge Some students will not have made so much progress and will: name some elements and represent these by symbols; distinguish between symbols for elements and formulae for compounds; name a wide variety of materials Most students will: recognize that there is a small number of elements and name some of these; explain that compounds are made when atoms of different elements join together; begin to use symbols for elements and to represent reactions in word equations Some students will have progressed further and will: identify elements whose properties do not fit the general pattern of metals and non-metals; begin to represent compounds by formulae This identifies a progression in learning skills and allows teachers to either design specific tasks or design activities with an open outcome that meets this range of outcome. Examination of the above objectives allows us to apply Bloom’s progression in the following way:

Bloom’s Conceptual Taxonomy Knowledge and recall of facts: Understanding of concepts: Application of concepts

Active function in the pupil’s learning Pupil learns the language, processes, hypotheses, theories, concepts, terminology, and convention of the subject under study. Pupil’s ability to explain and interpret information and express it in alternative communication modes. Pupil selects relevant information from their own knowledge to apply understanding to familiar unfamiliar or novel situations. Pupils look for patterns in data and evidence and organise the knowledge into groups or classification. In some circumstances this is mathematically modelled using graphs and statistics Pupil breaks down information into constituent parts and reconstructs the information to produce a new structure and model. Pupil tests the information to evaluate its validity and reliability in the learning or problem-solving situation

Analysis of concepts

Synthesis of concepts

Evaluation of concepts

i Lewin, R., (1987) A Practical Problem Solver’s Handbook for Teachers and Students Royal County of Berkshire ii de Bono E., ( ?? ) ‘Teach Your Child to Think’ London; Penguin iii DfES (2003) Teaching and Learning in Secondary Schools: Pilot – Unit 4 Questioning. London: DfES

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