Chapter 7 of our text discusses the characteristics of gifted children and a variety of effective instructional methods. For this discussion, read the article Teaching young gifted children in the regular classroom. Next, respond to the following scenario:Imagine you spent the day observing either a preschool, elementary, or secondary classroom. During your observation, one child exhibits behaviors typical of gifted children. For your post, write a vignette that describes the child and explains why you believe this child may be gifted. Your vignette should include:The child’s name, age, and grade level A brief description of the learning environment At least three academic and/or and social characteristics the child displayed during your observation that makes you believe he/she may be gifted. Be sure to support your description with information from the “Characteristics of Gifted and Talented” section of Chapter 7 of your text as well as at least one outside scholarly resource. make sure to use references and in-text citations from chapter 7.reference:Powell, S. R. & Driver, M. K. (2013). Working with exceptional students: An introduction to special education. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.Students Who Are
Gifted and Talented
1. “Twice-exceptional” students have a disability
comorbid with being gifted. T/F
2. Identifying gifted students became easier with the
creation of the IQ test. T/F
3. The primary cause of giftedness is genetics. T/F
4. Identification of gifted students should occur with
a variety of assessments. T/F
5. Schools advance gifted students a grade level to
address the needs of the student. T/F
Answers can be found at the end of the chapter.
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock
Learning Objectives
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:
1. Define and explain the terms “gifted” and “ talented.”
2. Explain important advances in assessment that have benefitted gifted students.
3. Discuss the characteristics of students with giftedness.
4. Explain some potential causes of giftedness.
5. Explain how gifted students are identified by schools.
6. Explain how gifted students differ based on grade level.
7. Discuss classroom strategies that are helpful for teaching students with giftedness.
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Section 7.1 What Is Gifted and Talented?
ou might be wondering: Why is “gifted and talented” in this book? Gifted students don’t have
disabilities! And gifted and talented is not considered a disability under the IDEA 2004. However, there are three reasons to include gifted and talented in a book on special education:
1. Many gifted students receive individualized instruction through special education services in schools. In fact, some districts even develop individualized educational plans for
their gifted students. (These individualized educational plans do not fall under the IDEA
2004, though, as you’ll learn in this chapter.)
2. Many strategies used to individualize instruction for students with disabilities can also be
used to individualize instruction for gifted students.
3. Students called “twice gifted” or “twice exceptional” are those who are both gifted and
have a disability, so they do qualify for special education services under the IDEA 2004.
Please note that the gifted community does not adhere to people-first language. It is acceptable
to say either “gifted students” or “students who are gifted.” Some people also say, “students who
exhibit gifted behaviors.” This chapter will use several variations.
This chapter first discusses formal definitions of gifted and talented and the prevalence of gifted
students in U.S. schools. It highlights the historical context for providing educational services to
gifted students and the characteristics of students with giftedness. The next sections explore
possible causes for giftedness, the diagnosis of students in schools, and suggestions for teaching
students who are gifted.
7.1 What Is Gifted and Talented?
his section provides definitions of gifted and talented. These definitions do not come from
IDEA 2004 because this legislation does not cover students who are gifted. The section continues with a discussion of the prevalence of gifted and talented students in schools.
Defining Gifted and Talented
Gifted is often used as an umbrella term that describes individuals who are gifted or talented. Students who are gifted demonstrate innate abilities that are exceptional. Students who are talented
demonstrate exceptional performance related to their ability. Most people use the terms gifted
and talented interchangeably.
While there are no universal definitions of gifted or talented, the primary organization that
represents gifted students, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC), provides the
following guideline:
Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined
as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10\% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include
any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music,
language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports). (2008)
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Section 7.1 What Is Gifted and Talented?
According to the NAGC definition, gifted and talented students demonstrate or have the potential
for exceptional abilities in one or more areas.
Another definition, this one from a federal statute, explains that gifted and talented students
demonstrate higher performance or are capable of higher performance in intellectual, creative,
or leadership domains. According to these definitions, which also vary from state to state, gifted
and talented students need specialized instruction, activities, or services in order to develop their
exceptional abilities above and beyond general classroom instruction (Stephens & Karnes, 2000).
Gifted and Talented and IDEA 2004
Giftedness is not a category under IDEA 2004, but many school districts serve gifted students
through special education offices or programs. The thinking is that students with disabilities
require individualized instruction to meet their learning needs, and the same should be true for
gifted students. The wide variability in definitions of gifted by both states and districts, though,
means that many gifted students are not identified and are underserved (Robertson, Pfeiffer, &
Taylor, 2011).
Furthermore, money to provide specialized programs to gifted students does not come from funds
provided to school districts under IDEA 2004. Districts provide services through their district budgets; some schools apply for grant funding or work with private organizations to provide programs
for gifted students.
From My Perspective: Being Gifted
Hi, I’m Garrett, and I’ve been on Earth for 10 years. We exceptionally/profoundly gifted kids may seem like troublemakers.
We get distracted easily during normal school curricula, and
just don’t seem normal. That’s mainly because we aren’t normal. While most kids are happy when they get easier classes,
we aren’t jumping for joy. We’re doing just the opposite. We
want to be challenged. We enjoy having our abilities put to
the test, no matter if it is science or history or the molecular structure of platypi. We seem distracted because it takes
every ounce of our power not to fall asleep during a subject
we’ve already studied.
Most of us require nontraditional teaching or extracurricular academic activities to stay pleased. The
majority of us have trouble interacting socially, too. In my eye, a kid either gets one or the other. You
may have an honor-roll, international-spelling-bee champion student with an IQ well into the upper
100s, but chances are, he or she is socially clueless. Other kids are fairly bright, and most of them are
probably going to be kids you want to be around, usually with great humor and personality. Those of us
in the first group are usually picked on. We have the spot of “useless geek” cut out for us. The thing is,
we’re not. Those of us in the first group need a little extra help, both academically and socially. Teachers (and parents, too!) are in the best spot to give one of us a little assistance. You just might find how
helpful and fun we can be.
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Section 7.2 How Has the Gifted and Talented Field Evolved?
Prevalence of Gifted and Talented
According to state-reported data from the National Center for Educational Statistics (2008), more
than 3 million American students qualified as gifted in 2006. Each school or district, however,
determines its own criteria and process for determining giftedness in both academic and nonacademic areas. Thus, the statistical prevalence of giftedness is difficult to determine and compare
between schools, districts, and state populations (Callahan, 2011). As with students with disabilities, giftedness persists into adulthood (Fiedler, 2012).
Minorities tend to be underrepresented in gifted programs (Ford,
2013), as opposed to overrepresented in disability categories
(Bollmer, Bethel, Garrison-Mogren,
& Brauen, 2007). Reasons for the
underrepresentation of minorities include fewer referrals from
teachers and bias of assessments
for eligibility (Ford, 2013; Hargrove
& Seay, 2011). Also, some minority students may choose to not
participate in programs because of
the negative comments they could
get from peers about being in the
gifted program (Henfield, Washington, & Owens, 2010). While this
is more often reported for minority students, many gifted students
may experience some bullying or
ostracism because of being gifted
(Peters & Bain, 2011).
. Andrew Fox/Corbis
To encourage gifted and talented minority students, many
colleges and universities run special summer programs for
students. Students spend some of the summer taking classes and
living on a college campus. These programs encourage minority
students to explore new academic areas, and the programs help
students get excited about the possibility of higher education
and beyond.
7.2 How Has the Gifted and Talented Field Evolved?
ike students with disabilities, students with giftedness have not always received special services. Toward the end of the 19th century, some schools started to provide appropriate
educational services to gifted students.
One such effort was put forth by William Torrey Harris, the superintendent of schools in St. Louis,
Missouri. Harris ensured that the school curriculum was enhanced to meet the needs of gifted students and incorporated art and music into the school day. By the turn of that century, school districts
in large cities, such as San Diego and Chicago, started creating classes or schools for students who
could handle an advanced curriculum (VanTassel-Baska, 2010). The first school devoted exclusively
to the education of gifted students opened in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1901 (Henry, 1917).
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Section 7.2 How Has the Gifted and Talented Field Evolved?
The Debut of the Intelligence Quotient Test
With the development of the first intelligence quotient (IQ) test in France in 1905, people began
the attempt to quantify intelligence. The Binet-Simon Intelligence Test was originally designed to
identify students with intellectual disabilities.
Lewis Madison Terman, an educational psychologist at Stanford University, revamped the
Binet-Simon test in 1916 as the
Stanford-Binet IQ test. This test
allowed schools to identify students of below-average or aboveaverage intelligence according to
their scores. Schools could use
the scores to identify gifted students and provide additional or
different programs for them.
After the introduction of the
Stanford-Binet IQ test, schools
began placing students into tracks
Lewis Terman, the father of gifted education, helped develop
(i.e., educational programs based
tests, like the one pictured, to measure student intelligence
on intelligence) in an attempt
while at Stanford University. His studies on the relationship of
to provide appropriate educagenetics and giftedness led to his publication of Genetic Studies
tional services. At the heart of
of Genius (Stoskopf, 2002). This publication followed gifted
this movement was Leta Stetstudents throughout their lifetime to track their successes and
ter Hollingworth, who started
failures (Jolly, 2008).
a “Special Opportunity Class”
in New York City for students
with above-average intelligence. Hollingworth went on to open the Speyer School in New York
(VanTassel-Baska, 2010), which was devoted to educating gifted students. She studied her students over a number of years and wrote the first textbook on gifted students.
Science & Society Picture Library/Contributor/Getty Images
The Push for Educating Gifted Students
In 1954, the National Association of Gifted Children was founded to advocate for specialized programs on behalf of gifted individuals. A few years later in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched
Sputnik, the first artificial Earth satellite, a movement to identify and provide advanced instruction
to gifted individuals took on new life. The United States, fearing that the Soviet Union was getting
ahead in terms of technology and science exploration, began pouring money into educational
programs that promoted science, technology, and mathematics education. Legislation, such as the
National Science Foundation Act and the National Defense Education Act, began providing funds
for the education of gifted students in grades K–12.
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Section 7.3 What Are the Characteristics of Students Who Are Gifted and Talented?
In 1972, the U.S. Commissioner of Education, Sidney P. Marland, Jr., published a report on the
education of gifted students. The Marland report defined gifted as children capable of high performance including those with demonstrated achievement and/or potential ability (Marland, 1972).
The Marland report emphasized that students with outstanding abilities need differentiated
instruction and services above and beyond the typical educational programs (Kaplan, 2011). In
differentiated instruction, students participate in classroom activities and assignments that are
tailored (i.e., differentiated) to the strengths of the individual student.
To be gifted, according to Marland, students needed to demonstrate achievement or potential
ability in at least one of the following areas: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, leadership ability, visual or performing arts, or psychomotor ability (Jolly, 2009b). (Psychomotor ability was later removed from the definition.) To assist in
delivering a proper education to gifted students, the Office of the Gifted and Talented in the U.S.
Department of Education was recognized in 1974.
The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act
A 1983 report called A Nation at Risk announced that students in the United States were not performing as well as students in comparable countries around the world. The report suggested that
gifted students should receive a curriculum that supports their needs. To affirm this idea, the U.S.
Congress passed the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act in 1988. This Act
provided funds for national centers and programs for the education of the gifted and talented.
The Javits Act was included in the authorization of No Child Left Behind in 2001 but has not been
reauthorized since 2011. Without reauthorization, funds to conduct research and outreach in the
area of gifted education are unavailable to research centers and state departments of education.
Even though state and federal standards for students are rising with efforts like the Common Core
and No Child Left Behind, gifted students still require individualized and differentiated instruction
(Johnsen, 2012). In fact, some people feel that such initiatives focus only on raising the performance levels of lower-performing students (Siemer, 2006). Therefore, gifted students may not be
receiving the educational services that are warranted (Hargrove, 2012). Without proper avenues
for research and dissemination (with the Javits Act) and funding opportunities for gifted programming, it is difficult for many school districts to afford gifted programs.
7.3 W
 hat Are the Characteristics of Students Who Are
Gifted and Talented?
he exceptional abilities that gifted students display tend to fall into the categories of creative thinking, general intellectual ability, leadership ability, psychomotor ability, specific
academic ability, and visual and performing arts ability (Amend, Schuler, Beaver-Gavin, &
Beights, 2009; Song & Porath, 2011). Many (if not all) students exhibit one or more characteristics
of giftedness at some time during their school careers. When these characteristics are exhibited
consistently, a student warrants additional or different instruction at school.
The following section discusses the characteristics of gifted students related to their exceptional
abilities and moves on to discuss students who are “twice exceptional.”
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Section 7.3 What Are the Characteristics of Students Who Are Gifted and Talented?
Characteristics Related to
Gifted and Talented
Gifted students often demonstrate a gift or talent in
one or more of the following areas. These areas are
similar to those found in the Marland (1972) report
and those outlined by the National Society for the
Gifted and Talented (NSGT). Students may exhibit
some of these characteristics in one or more of the
following areas (Carroll, 2008; Cukierkorn, Karnes,
Manning, Houston, & Besnoy, 2008; Glass, 2004;
Neumeister, Adams, Pierce, Cassady, & Dixon, 2007;
Renzulli, Siegle, Reis, Gavin, & Reed, 2009):

pow85736_07_c07_231-268.indd 237
General intellectual ability
• Displays advanced vocabulary
• Engages in tasks independently
• Gets excited about new ideas and
information; curious
• Picks up new material quickly
• Remembers information easily
• Asks engaging questions
• Processes information in complex
Many gifted students demonstrate their
exceptionalities from an early age. Gifted
students often sit up, learn to walk, throw
an object, or play with toys earlier than
other students. Also, gifted students often
speak earlier than other students, and
most can read by the age of 4 (McGee &
Hughes, 2011).

Specific academic aptitude
• Eagerly participates in readings
• Reads widely in an area
• Comprehends difficult material
• Reads advanced material
• Accurately recalls facts
• Discovers patterns in mathematics
• Solves problems abstractly or creatively
• Uses a variety of representations

Creative or productive thinking
• Pursues opportunities to work and create with technology
• Enjoys working with hands-on materials
• Invents and creates
• Writes and speaks in creative ways
• Provides several solutions to problems
• Challenged by creative tasks
• Displays mature sense of humor; understands sarcasm
• Grasps metaphors and analogies
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Section 7.3 What Are the Characteristics of Students Who Are Gifted and Talented?

Leadership ability
• Sought out by peers as a leader
• Works well with others
• Expresses ideas fluently
• Acts confidently
• Makes sound judgments and thinks through consequences of decisions
• Is organized
• Likes structure

Visual or performing arts
• Creates
• Observes
• Has a visual memory
• Displays exceptional ability in art, dance, drama, or music
• Reasons well spatially
• Solves puzzles and mazes easily
From My Perspective: Teaching Gifted Students
I’m Kris, and I’ve taught gifted students for over 10 years.
Parallels are often drawn between students diagnosed with
disabilities and those identified as gifted or talented. Setting
aside the fact that many students are both, there is a tempting logic to viewing them as symmetric departures from the
norm. We often use this argument in gifted education to
reinforce the need for special services, including differentiated instruction in response to individual needs and special
training for counselors.
The metaphor, however, only goes so far. For students who
learn easily, the general classroom is often the most restrictive environment, not the least. I have spent most of my teaching career with students who were being
accelerated through middle school into early high school entrance. It was typically a revelation for these
students, who had spent most of their younger days mentally pacing the floor. Many felt at home for
the first time, but our program constantly faced charges of elitism. In contrast to mainstreaming, and
partially due to persistent achievement gaps predicted by race and family income, pushing gifted students academically and preparing them for their role in a diverse democracy are sometimes difficult to
do in the same room.
Image Source/Thinkstock
That being said, I believe the fundamentals persist across all populations. Students defy categorization, and they bring a complex and unpredictable set of capabilities into the classroom. My students
were a constellation of incredible potential and staggering limitation, earnest effort and bewildering
quirk—much, I would guess, like any classroom. Every student is served by a teacher who combines
command of the content with a keen desire to understand and develop the souls they serve. For
teachers of students with diagnoses, I believe that desire is doubly critical, for the real strengths are
often hidden behind the label.
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Section 7.3 What Are the Characteristics of Students Who Are Gifted and Talented?
Twice-Exceptional Students
Twice-exceptional students—that is, those who are
gifted and also have a disability—have been recognized since the 1970s (Leggett, Shea, & Wilson,
2010). These students have above-average intelligence, but their disability prohibits them from
reaching their full potential.
Twice-exceptional students can experience giftedness
concurrent with a specific learning disability (Barber
& Mueller, 2011), an emotional or behavioral disorder
(Bianco & Leech, 2010), attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder (Foley-Nicpon, Rickels, Assouline, & Richards,
2012), and autism spectrum disorder (Amend et
al., 2009; Assouline, Nicpon, & Dockery, 2012).
Twice-exceptional students represent a small percentage of students with disabilities. For example,
approximately 3–4\% of students with SLD also experience giftedness (Leggett et al., 2010).
It is often difficult to identify twice-exceptional students, because their disabilities may mask their giftedness or their giftedness may be more obvious than
their disabilities (Morrison & Rizza, 2007). Schools
need to use a variety of identification methods rather
than relying on one assessment or observation (Rizza &
Morrison, 2007). Because of difficulties with identification, twice-exceptional students are underrepresented
across the United States (Bianco & Leech, 2010). That
is, many students who are twice exceptional remain
unidentified and only receive services or accommodations related to their disability and not their giftedness.
Determining best educational practices for
twice-exceptional students can be difficult (Amend
et al., 2009). These students require specialized
instruction and appropriate accommodations and
modifications for both their disability and their
giftedness (Jeweler, Barnes-Robinson, Shevitz, &
Weinfeld, 2008). For example, a gifted student with
SLD related to reading may need disability services
and accommodations related to reading comprehension and test anxiety (King, 2005). This student,
who excels with verbal communication, may need
gifted services or accommodations to promote
her excellent verbal storytelling skills and creative
problem-solving skills. If the teacher only focuses
on the disability, the student’s full potential for academic success may be ignored.
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Time Life Pictures/Contributor/Time & Life
Pictures/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Staff/Getty Images News
/Getty Images
Thomas Edison (a) and Stevie Wonder (b)
are both twice-exceptional individuals.
Thomas Edison had a hearing impairment,
and he became a famous inventor. Stevie
Wonder is blind and musically gifted.
5/7/13 8:17 AM
Section 7.4 What Are the Causes of Giftedness?
In addition, twice-exceptional students may require emotional or social support from teachers
(Foley-Nicpon et al., 2012; King, 2005). For example, both gifted and twice-exceptional students may
be bullied and need help dealing with this abuse (Peters & Bain, 2011). Also, many twice-exceptional
children feel high expectations based on their giftedness, but they have difficulty meeting expectations because of their disability (Barber & Mueller, 2011). These high expectations may come from
the students themselves or from adults or peers close to them.
7.4 What Are the Causes of Giftedness?
ike many disabilities, giftedness has no single cause. The main factors, though, are thought
to be genetics and the environment (Simonton, 2005). Some people may claim that this is a
debate between nature (i.e., genetics) and nurture (i.e., environment of student), but most
in gifted education believe giftedness is a blend of the two (Winkler & Jolly, 2012).
A genetic influence can be seen in research showing that parents who exhibit exceptional abilities
may have children who are also gifted, just as parents with disabilities may have children with disabilities (Simonton, 2005; Thompson & Oehlert, 2010). Students with gifted siblings are also more
likely to be gifted themselves (Ronald, Spinath, & Plomin, 2002). In research related to the brain,
researchers have discovered that gifted students demonstrate brain activation patterns different
from those of students with below-average or average intelligence (Haier & Jung, 2008; Hoppe &
Stojanovic, 2009; Prescott, Gavrilescu, Cunnington, O’Boyle, & Egan, 2010).
Hemera Technologies/
You may have noticed that researchers conduct a lot of studies
with twins. Why? Researchers like studying twins (both identical
and fraternal) because the genetic make-up of the twins is
very similar, and any notable differences can help researchers
determine the genetic tendency of something occurring, such as
giftedness or ADHD.
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The possible influence of the environment can be seen in students
who are exposed, especially at
an early age, to opportunities
that permit them to develop or
enhance their gifts and talents
(Seeley, 2004). Typically, students
from lower-income families and
schools or students with minority backgrounds may not have as
many gift-enhancing opportunities (Gagné, 2011; Seeley, 2004),
so these students may be at a
disadvantage for being identified as gifted. School criteria and
processes may also influence
whether students are identified
as gifted.
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Section 7.5 How Are Students Identified as Gifted and Talented?
7.5 How Are Students Identified as Gifted and Talented?
o one process or assessment exists for identifying students as gifted and talented
(Callahan, Tomlinson, Hunsaker, Bland, & Moon, 1995). Teacher perception plays a significant role in the recommendation of students for gifted evaluation. Interpretations of
giftedness, however, vary by district and state. The identification problem is compounded by the
fact that giftedness itself is manifested differently from individual to individual, and differently in
the same individual at various ages. Regardless of the identification method, most researchers
agree that early identification and early intervention are best for gifted students so students have
many opportunities to enhance their gifts or talents (Wellisch & Brown, 2012).
In the identification of giftedness, students need multiple opportunities to exhibit special gifts
or talents through a range of instruments and performance tasks that align with the areas of
giftedness being evaluated. For instance, a standardized assessment may be more appropriate
to diagnose giftedness in mathematics than in art, where a portfolio of the student’s work would
give a more accurate assessment of exceptional ability.
Schools may use scores on intelligence tests or achievement tests to determine whether students
are significantly above average, range in the top 1–5\% percent, and/or meet their school’s designated criteria for intellectual ability. An intelligence test (i.e., an IQ test) provides a score related to
a student’s potential in terms of intellectual capability; it emphasizes potential instead of showing
how much a student knows. An achievement test, on the other hand, provides a score related to
what a student knows. Achievement tests usually provide scores in the areas of reading, writing,
and mathematics.
To most accurately identify special gifts and talents, a variety of assessments is recommended,
including standardized intelligence and achievement tests, performance tasks, observation checklists, and portfolios (Callahan, 2011).
In a performance task, students complete an open-ended task that offers multiple solution possibilities. Student responses are scored via a rubric that helps determine where performance falls
on a spectrum from novice to expert (VanTassel-Baska, Johnson, & Avery, 2002). On an observation checklist, teachers identify gifted characteristics that students typically display. Many times,
a parent fills out an observation checklist (Figure 7.1) about behaviors exhibited in the student’s
home environment. A portfolio is a collection of student work that is collected to demonstrate a
student’s exceptional ability in one or more areas (e.g., art and music).
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Section 7.5 How Are Students Identified as Gifted and Talented?
Figure 7.1: Observation Checklist
This teacher checklist from the State of Tennessee is filled out by a student’s classroom teacher when the
student is being screened for gifted identification. Information gathered from the checklists helps schools
determine whether students are eligible for gifted programs.
TN Teacher Observation Checklist (TnTOC)
The TN Teacher Observation Checklist (TnTOC) is an important component of this students individual screening and/or
assessment. Please make careful consideration of each behavior characteristic while completing this checklist. Record
on the lines provided below examples of behavioral traits of intellectual giftedness (whether considered socially
positive or negative) that you have observed in this student when compared to others of their age, experience and
Please check those items which are frequently characteristic of this child. It is unlikely that any child will have all of
these attributes.
Generates abstract ideas, or asks complex
Challenges rules, assignments, requests, and
may ask provocative questions
Is curious wants to know “why, how, etc.”; asks
thoughtful, searching questions
Understands puns, political cartoons, etc.,
beyond their peers
Shows desire for knowledge
Is impatient – hurries to complete a task
Exhibits long term retention of school or
non-school related information
Is motivated to high achievement in a lowperforming school environment
Understands relationships among seemingly
unrelated objects, ideas, or facts
Attributes success and failure to fate, luck, or
Often fails to complete schoolwork
Enjoys school
Works and plays well with others
Utilizes advanced language skills and a large
vocabulary in oral and/or written formats
Is most successful in the classroom setting
rather than in after-school activities
Exhibits a wide range of interests
Is eager to please the teacher
Demonstrates intense or focused concentration
Is generally mature
Has a long attention span in areas of interest
Demonstrates an advanced sense of justice and
Enjoys role playing, creative dramatics
Generates a large number of ideas
Enjoys competitive games
Learns quickly and is able to apply new information
in a variety of ways at a faster and more advanced
pace than peers
Does not perform to his/her ability on tests
(e.g., test phobia)
Displays in-depth information in one or more
Has difficulty functioning constructively in
Communicates complex ideas and concepts to
others, verbally or nonverbally
Demonstrates leadership qualities; is able to
influence others toward desirable and/or
undesirable goals
Demonstrates superior ability to hold information
in memory and recall it when necessary
Fine and gross motor coordination skills are
advanced for age
Learns better by doing than from a lecture
Is a keen observer; interprets observations
Likes structure, order, and consistency
Facility with words/oral language exceeds
quality of written work
Demonstrates a depth of perception and
understanding beyond peers in a low-performing
school environment
May lose track of time
Shows little patience with rote learning
(handwriting, spelling, and math skill repetition)
Has an advanced ability to reason and draw
conclusions from given information
Demonstrates superior insight; infers and
connects concepts
Forgets/loses work
Source: From Resource Packet: Assessment of Intellectual Disabilityand Functional Delay, p. 7, Tennessee Department of Education.
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Section 7.5 How Are Students Identified as Gifted and Talented?
Table 7.1 shows a sampling of some commonly used assessments of achievement, performance,
creativity, and problem-solving (Callahan et al., 1995):
Table 7.1: Sampling of Commonly Used Assessments
What it Measures
California Achievement Test (CAT)
Vocabulary, reading comprehension,
mathematics, science, social studies
Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS)
Reading, language, mathematics
Developing Cognitive Abilities Test (DCAT)
Verbal ability, quantitative ability, spatial ability
Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
Vocabulary, listening comprehension, reading
comprehension, mathematics, science, social
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT)
Verbal ability
Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
Writing, reading, mathematics
Stanford Achievement Test
Reading, spelling, mathematics, science, social
Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT)
Creativity with pictures and words
Wallach-Kogan Creativity Instrument
Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal
Critical thinking, decision making
Trained specialists (e.g., school psychologists, gifted teachers), administrators, and guidance
counselors may administer assessments and interpret the scores, depending on school and district guidelines. If observations or portfolios will be used to determine giftedness, a team should
be formed. Members of the team may include the student’s general education teacher, a gifted
teacher or program coordinator, a school psychologist or guidance counselor, and any other staff
members with experience with gifted and talented students.
The student’s family should be interviewed or involved in the decision-making process for eligibility for gifted programs. For students with gifts that might not be apparent in the general classroom, it is especially important that family members and other people close to the student help
show school personnel all aspects of the student’s exceptional abilities. For example, students
with exceptional musical abilities may not be able to demonstrate their skill if the school does not
have an active music program.
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Section 7.5 How Are Students Identified as Gifted and Talented?
Limitations of Assessments
The cultural and linguistic bias in some standardized assessment instruments can influence students’ performance scores. For example, some assessments require the student to read and
respond to questions. If English is not the student’s first language, the student may have difficulty with the reading. If the assessment were administered in the student’s first language, the
student’s score might be a better indicator of performance. Additionally, some assessments ask
questions related to activities that could be considered culturally biased because a student may be
unfamiliar with the content—for example, Halloween trick-or-treating (if not celebrated), remodeling of a house (when living in an apartment high-rise in the city), playing racquetball (if it has
never been played or seen). Teachers have no control over the bias of instruments, of course, but
they can use instruments that demonstrate minimal bias as much as possible.
Teachers may have difficulty spotting giftedness in students who
are English Language Learners
(Harris, Plucker, Rapp, & Martinez, 2009). First, because of difficulties with the English language,
teachers may not readily identify students and refer them for
a gifted evaluation (Harris et al.,
2009). Also, because many students may be working on their
English skills, students may not
participate in activities (e.g., a
problem-solving activity in science class) that would help get
them noticed for demonstrating gifted characteristics (Harris,
Rapp, Martinez, & Plucker, 2007).
. JLP/Jose L. Pelaez/Corbis
Teachers may not realize students who are English Language
Learners (ELL) are gifted if students do not demonstrate
proficiency in English. Some researchers have suggested that
assessments without a verbal component might be helpful in
identifying gifted ELL students, but research in this area is still
under investigation (Lohman, Korb, & Lakin, 2008).
Unintended evaluation bias can
also occur for populations living in low-income communities,
rural communities, or attending low-performing schools (Howley, Rhodes, & Beall, 2009). These students may be considered
for evaluation less frequently and may have fewer opportunities to develop and refine their
talents than if they attended a more affluent school. Ethnic and racial minorities are disproportionately affected because these students tend live in low-income communities more often than
non-minority students, which may be a reason that fewer minority students are identified as
gifted (Callahan, 2011).
Evaluation bias can also occur for students who have been previously diagnosed with a disability and are twice exceptional. Teachers or evaluators may let the student’s disability cloud their
judgment about the student’s potential for giftedness. Indeed, every student has a multitude of
strengths and weaknesses, and all of them must be considered when making educational decisions.
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Section 7.6 How Does Being Gifted and Talented Differ Across Grade Levels?
Response to Intervention
RTI, as you learned in an earlier chapter, is a framework that schools use to provide tiers of services for the diagnosis or instruction of students with disabilities or giftedness. It is especially useful in identifying twice-exceptional students because RTI can assist teachers in determining how
well students respond (or do not respond) in specific content areas (Crepeau-Hobson & Bianco,
2011; Hughes et al., 2009; Pereles, Omdal, & Baldwin, 2007). Using RTI alone, however, may not
be the most viable approach for identifying twice-exceptional students because disability often
masks giftedness (and vice versa), so a comprehensive evaluation might be better for identifying
giftedness in twice-exceptional students.
When Are Students Identified?
Students may be referred for gifted and talented programs at any time. A parent or teacher may
request a gifted screening. When students show exceptional ability in general intelligence, a specific subject (e.g., reading or mathematics), or a nonacademic area (e.g., art or music), the evaluation process can be initiated.
7.6 H
 ow Does Being Gifted and Talented Differ Across
Grade Levels?
ifted and talented students may receive services in several different ways. They may be
“pulled out” of the general education classroom to receive instruction by a teacher qualified in gifted instruction. Middle and high school students may be placed in honors and
advanced placement courses. Acceleration is common for gifted students, either across grade levels or within their grade level curriculum. Gifted students may be promoted to the next grade, or
work through classroom content at a faster pace than their peers. (See the discussion of pull-out
programs and acceleration in Section 7.7.) Students who are gifted in nonacademic areas, such as
arts or music, may enroll in magnet schools, if the local school district provides them.
Magnet schools are public institutions that organize instruction around a particular skill or interest
(e.g., arts and theater, engineering, technology) or academic excellence (e.g., International Baccalaureate program). Courses and curricula at magnet schools include coverage of state standards
as well as instruction specific to the magnet’s area of specialty. Magnet schools often require students to apply, and the selection process can be competitive. Magnet schools are most prevalent
at the secondary level, since they focus on developing skills to prepare students for careers in
specific fields. However, some districts have magnet programs or schools at the elementary level,
which prepare students to apply for magnet schools in middle and high school.
Early Childhood
A child showing early evidence of giftedness might reach developmental benchmarks (language,
counting skills, classifying/organizing objects, etc.) significantly earlier than normal. However,
since children develop at varying rates during their early years, it can be difficult to accurately
diagnose giftedness at young ages.
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Section 7.6 How Does Being Gifted and Talented Differ Across Grade Levels?
There is debate on whether giftedness can or should be identified in early childhood, as well
as whether recognizing giftedness before Kindergarten is necessary for students to realize their
full potential (Callahan, 2011). Some talents may not be evident until children enter elementary
school, and students may not demonstrate giftedness at an early age. Additionally, putting too
much pressure on developing a gift or talent at very early ages can be detrimental to young children’s development. However, once a young child demonstrates a particular gift or talent, adults
can encourage development in a supportive manner. Special education services are typically not
available for young gifted students, but early education teachers and parents can provide opportunities to develop gifts and talents.
Early childhood teachers can provide activities that are enjoyable and engaging for young children.
If a child shows talent in art or science, creative activities, such as art projects and experiments,
can encourage this interest. Additionally, providing praise and practice for students who show
academic excellence in areas of early literacy and mathematics can be beneficial. In any case, early
identification of exceptional talent can help parents and pre-school teachers encourage ability and
facilitate access to opportunities.
From My Perspective: Gifted in Preschool
I’m Caity, and in our school district, anyone who feels their child
may be gifted can have their child tested for the Encore program. The Encore Program serves intellectually gifted and academically talented learners and helps develop their hands-on,
concept-based, real world problem solving skills.
The process for qualification begins with several pages of
paperwork. My husband and I, as well as my daughter Claire’s
preschool teachers, had to fill out paperwork detailing the
reasons we suspected Claire to be gifted. These forms asked
questions about her milestones as a baby (sitting, walking,
talking, etc.) all the way up to her current interests and talents. The forms were then sent to our school district’s psychologist for processing. After the forms were
received and processed, we were called in for some testing.
Claire was given a screening measure (Woodcock-Johnson-III-NU, Tests of Achievement, Form B).
Because she reached the minimum requirement on that test, she was given an additional test (Reynolds
Intellectual Assessment Scales). The testing took place on one day and took less than two hours. The
school psychologist let us know that she had qualified for Encore and could begin attending the Encore
classes immediately.
Claire attends Encore once each week for 3 hours. Her class has seven children, one teacher, and one
aide. Right now they are working on a science unit focused on chemistry. Each day they spend time
in “the lab,” where they do simple experiments and explore topics like mixtures, acids and bases,
and chromatography.
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Section 7.6 How Does Being Gifted and Talented Differ Across Grade Levels?
Elementary School
Once in elementary school, gifted students are more likely to be diagnosed. Schools provide services for elementary students with giftedness in several ways. Often the responsibility falls on the
general education teacher, who may accommodate gifted students by differentiating instructional
activities, grouping students by ability, or allowing acceleration within the curriculum (all of which
will be described in detail in “How Do I Teach Students with Giftedness?”). Teachers must be careful that their instructional decisions and student groupings are not rigid and that they allow all
children opportunities to move forward.
Gifted services that are offered outside the general education classroom are typically led by a
gifted education teacher and may or may not be grade- or subject-specific. Schools may offer
special classes for the whole day for students who are gifted in all academic subjects. More often,
though, students are pulled out for content-specific enrichment in addition to their general classroom instruction. Academic enrichment typically takes the form of projects and activities that
encourage higher-order thinking about the classroom content (e.g., project-based learning in
which students recreate westward expansion). Arts or music enrichment may include additional
instruction and practice on different types of art genres.
Secondary School
Once students who are gifted move on to middle school, they are more likely to be placed in
honors and high school level classes. Gifted high school students are commonly placed in honors,
Advanced Placement (AP), and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) classes. Honors classes typically incorporate more rigorous assignments than the general class curriculum. AP classes offer
students the opportunity to earn college credit by passing an intensive exam at the end of the
course. Students must apply to the IB program, which is highly competitive and rigorous. IB students are also prepared to take AP exams at the end of each year to earn college credit while still
in high school. Gifted high school students also may elect or be selected to attend magnet schools
to develop their talents in specific areas, such as creative arts or engineering.
Ensuring that students who are gifted find the appropriate level of challenge and rigor is especially
important in middle and secondary school. Increased peer pressure to fit in socially, coupled with
high academic expectations, can influence students’ desire to achieve. Depending on a student’s
interests and social group, achievement in school may not be widely accepted. Additionally, gifted
students often face high expectations from parents and teachers because of their recognized talent. Encouraging student motivations and interests can help keep them focused on realizing their
full potential. Summer and afterschool programs can encourage talent and skill, while also providing students with opportunities to build a social network with peers who share their interests.
Ensuring students see the connections between their gift or talent and future career opportunities is also important to keep students motivated.
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
Gifted students’ transition to post-secondary outcomes and opportunities is different from those
of students with disabilities. Since giftedness is not an exceptionality classification under IDEA,
teachers and parents may elect whether to create a transition plan for students. Students who are
twice exceptional will likely have a transition plan that incorporates goals for both giftedness and
disability. Please refer to the Chapter 3 section on transition for more information on transition
plans for students with disabilities.
Gifted students may or may not be interested in pursing their gift or talent as a career. Students
who are motivated to do so can benefit from summer or afterschool programs that develop particular skills and interests. These programs can enable students to make contacts in their field of
interest that lead to future opportunities. Acceleration (and its potential pitfalls) is also something to consider for a gifted student’s transition from high school. Students who have accelerated
through school may be able to take college coursework at a much earlier age than class peers, but
social and psychological support may be helpful or even necessary for gifted students to adjust
(Cross, 2011). Mentoring, goal setting, and career planning can also be beneficial for gifted and
talented students in post-secondary environments.
7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
eachers can choose from among teaching strategies used for all students to improve the
instruction and outcomes for gifted students, and no one teaching model or strategy is considered best. These students should receive instruction that enhances their individual abilities (Tomlinson, 2005). A team of school staff (e.g., general education teachers, gifted teachers or
specialists, school psychologists) should consider student strengths and weaknesses and develop
an individualized program for each gifted student.
Some schools put together a Gifted Individualized Education Program (GIEP) that functions similar to an IEP for students with disabilities. Please note that a GIEP has no connection with IDEA
2004 or special education funding. However, a GIEP helps the school staff (and the student’s family) understand what specialized programs or accommodations are available to provide enriched
experiences for a gifted student. For example, a student’s GIEP may highlight how a student’s
academic program will be accelerated (i.e., covering more academic material in a shorter amount
of time) or gifted programs in which the student may participate.
General classroom teachers can enhance the education of gifted students by employing various
strategies related to accelerating or enriching the learning of gifted students. Often, gifted students can be grouped together for such instructional purposes. Two common approaches to providing gifted students learning opportunities within the general classroom include differentiation
and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Student Grouping Strategies
Schools may group any students for social, political, or instructional reasons (Kettler, 2012). Social
grouping includes keeping siblings with the same classroom teacher or distributing males and
females across classrooms. Political grouping deals with fairness. For example, a school may feel
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
it fair to distribute gifted students among classroom teachers instead of placing all the gifted students with one teacher. Instructional grouping allows teachers to tailor instruction for a group or
classroom of students. Often, the way students are distributed into classrooms (i.e., grouped) is
determined at the school or district level.
Regardless of the grouping strategy (i.e., social, political, instructional), students may receive
gifted services in a variety of ways:

Self-contained classrooms or programs. In a self-contained classroom, all students
have similar needs (e.g., they are all gifted). A teacher who is familiar with specializing
instruction for gifted students provides accelerated and differentiated instruction for
the classroom. Elementary schools that group students by ability create self-contained
classrooms within each grade level. In secondary schools, self-contained classrooms
are created when students are placed into tracks by ability. For example, an Advanced
Placement (AP) or honors class might be considered a self-contained gifted placement.
(These classes, however, might include students who are bright or hard-working but
who do not qualify as gifted. Often, these students also benefit from the accelerated
curriculum of the self-contained classroom.)
Pull-out programs. Pull-out programs group similar students together and provide
them with instruction outside the general classroom (McAllister & Plourde, 2008). In
many school districts, the gifted program may take place one afternoon each week.
At that time, all gifted students are pulled from their general classroom to participate
in gifted programs for the time period. Pull-out programs allow gifted students to
explore topics in more depth than in the general classroom, or allow them to participate in problem-solving activities, such as Odyssey of the Mind.
Cluster groups. In a cluster group, several gifted students are placed together within
a general classroom. This strategy works well for both elementary and secondary students because schools do not always have the resources for self-contained classrooms
or pull-out programs. Typically, students are in groups of four to eight students (Pierce
et al., 2011). The clustering enables the classroom teacher to tailor the content, products, and learning environment to meet the needs of the gifted students while the
rest of the classroom participates in the general curriculum.
Traditional Teaching Strategies
Quite a few traditional teaching strategies can be employed to improve the educational programs
of gifted students in any grouping situation (Brulles & Winebrenner, 2011). These methods include
acceleration, compacting, enrichment, and independent studies.
As with all effective instruction, proper teacher training is vital (Brulles, Saunders, & Cohn, 2010).
Teachers cannot implement strategies or programs without an in-depth knowledge of how to
apply them with gifted students. Teachers also need to gather observational and academic data
to understand whether gifted students are benefitting from the evidence-based strategies that
teachers are using (Eyre, 2007). If students are not demonstrating appropriate performance gains,
then teachers need to re-evaluate their instructional strategies and try another strategy.
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
Acceleration is a process in which students work through materials at a quicker pace or earlier
than other students. For example, a student may learn about cell mitosis in one week instead of
three. Acceleration may also mean that a student skips a grade in school. Some high school students accelerate their instruction by taking college courses while still in high school.
Acceleration has been shown to be a viable strategy for providing a challenging curriculum to
gifted students and for setting gifted students up for later success in life (Gross, 2006; Vialle,
Ashton, & Carlton, 2001). To effectively implement an accelerated program, however, teachers
need to work with students to prepare them academically and emotionally. Many gifted students
experience a drop in self-esteem once they start an accelerated program because the work is challenging and not as easy as they are used to. With proper support, however, students will learn to
succeed in their accelerated curriculum (Chapman, 2009).
Whether acceleration that involves skipping grades in school is the best choice for gifted students is controversial. Some experts express concern about the emotional and social needs of the
students, while others have demonstrated that gifted students who skipped grades or entered
college early seem to be happy and content with their acceleration (Boazman & Sayler, 2011;
Steenbergen-Hu & Moon, 2011).
To use the strategy of compacting, the teacher assesses (either formally or informally) what a
student already knows about a topic and then allows the student to skip known material and
move to learning new material (Sutton, 2001; Winebrenner, 2003). Compacting can be used at
the elementary and secondary levels (Lewis, Cruzeiro, & Hall, 2007). For example, if a middle
school teacher is planning a two-week unit on the core of the Earth, the teacher could administer
a pre-test. If a student already knows most, if not all, of the material, the teacher could compact
the unknown material into two or three days and then move on to another science unit with this
student. Without compacting, many gifted students are bored because they are reviewing material they already have learned.
To provide enrichment, teachers provide extension activities for gifted students. Typically, enrichment activities go into more depth than typical classroom activities (Miller & Gentry, 2010).
An effective enrichment activity gives students a choice about what or how they will learn and
then provides challenging activities or assignments accordingly (Pereira, Peters, & Gentry, 2010).
Enrichment might involve assigning alternative readings that cover a specific topic in greater
depth (Halls, 2011). For example, in a classroom unit on Egypt, the student may read books about
writing in hieroglyphics and the process of mummifying bodies. In mathematics, students might
be presented with open-ended problems that require a variety of upper-level mathematics skills
to solve (McAllister & Plourde, 2008). In a history class, student learning might be enriched by
research into local history and participation in hands-on activities as well as field trips (Morris,
2005). Students can conduct interviews with people who have lived in the community for years
and then write and act in a play about the history of the community.
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
Enrichment can occur during the school day in a general classroom or a gifted program. It can
also occur in Saturday programs or summer programs for gifted students (Pereira, et al., 2010).
Some gifted programs are connected with local colleges and universities, rather than a school
district; other gifted programs may be connected with private organizations (e.g., an engineering
lab, a medical school, or a creative writing center). Typically, these organizations reach out to local
schools to help with recruitment of gifted students.
From My Perspective: Ethan’s Enrichment Program
Hello, my name is Ethan, and I’m 11 years old. When I was in
third grade, I was identified as gifted. In fourth grade, I entered
a program called FUTURA that was run by my school for the
gifted kids. We went to a different school one day a week to
learn about topics we would never be taught in regular school.
It continued through fifth grade, but when I went to middle
school, it changed to SPECTRUM, which I have once every other
day for 45 minutes. Being gifted means a lot to me. I think of
myself very confidently and know that I’m going to do well in
life. I hope to get into a good college and fulfill my dream of
being an engineer. It will probably help a little on my college
application to say that I’ve been in gifted programs and camps.
There are some things I like about being called academically talented, such as taking more advanced
courses in school that make me think and having classmates look up to me. I remember in second grade
that whenever someone didn’t know how to spell a word, they always came to me. Also, in fifth grade,
my teacher let a couple of kids from FUTURA teach a math lesson, and I was one of them.
Independent Studies
Students engaged in independent studies investigate a topic in depth with monitoring and guidance from a teacher or mentor. Mentors are often community members (e.g., architects, musicians, journalists) who work in the student’s area of interest. Independent studies work well when
students decide (or have a choice) about what they would like to learn and investigate (Delisle,
2012; Powers, 2008). Students can also be provided with open-ended tasks that allow them to
decide which approach to use to solve a problem (Gadanidis, Hughes, & Cordy, 2011). For example, a student may decide to investigate the effect of recycling on their community. This task does
not have a “yes” or “no” answer, and the student makes choices about how to do the research and
measure the effect of recycling. Students should also be presented with authentic reading experiences to pursue their independent learning (Moore, 2005). A student can read books, magazines,
plays, newspaper articles, or diaries to learn about a topic.
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
Technology can be used to provide instruction to gifted students (Thomson, 2010), especially
in schools with limited resources, a small number of gifted students, or a rural location without
access to gifted services and programs. At internet portals, students can work with other gifted
students in other locations to solve problem-based scenarios (Eckstein, 2009). Online learning
portals can connect students with appropriate mentors to engage in meaningful learning opportunities. Of course, teachers need to ensure that the technology sources are appropriate (i.e.,
age-appropriate, content-appropriate, and with credible information) for their students to use
(Johnson, 2008).
Differentiated Instruction
Differentiation of instruction is probably the most mentioned approach for teaching reading and
mathematics, as well as content-area subjects, such as science and history, to gifted students
(Chval & Davis, 2008; Park & Oliver, 2009). In differentiation, the content (i.e., what the student
learns), process (i.e., how the student learns), and product (i.e., how the student shows what she
has learned) are differentiated by student (Tomlinson, 1999). Differentiation works well for gifted
students because the curriculum is adapted based on the student’s readiness, interest, and learning profile. For twice-exceptional students, differentiation can be used for both remediation and
extension or advancement (Manning, Stanford, & Reeves, 2010; Rock, Gregg, Ellis, & Gable, 2008).
Differentiation is not a specific program, but an approach to designing instruction for students.
The proper differentiation of instruction for students requires quite a bit of training and preparation on the part of teachers (Dee, 2011). Teachers determine their students’ interests and abilities
(Manning et al., 2010). They then individualize the content, process, and product for students
based on each student’s readiness, interest, and learning profile (Tomlinson, 1999).
Differentiating the Content, Process, and Product
Teachers can differentiate the content, the process, and the product. Content refers to the material
covered during instruction. Process refers to how students will access and interact with material. Product refers to the ways that students demonstrate their knowledge or understanding of the material.
To differentiate by content, teachers can adapt current instructional materials or change the ways
that students interact and work with those materials (Tomlinson, 2001). Some ways to differentiate by content include teaching concepts (rather than procedures), compacting, developing learning contracts, conducting mini-lessons, and using a variety of materials and resources.
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
Learning contracts are an agreement between the teacher and student about what and how the
student will learn. The student is held accountable for ensuring that he or she is making adequate
progress toward meeting goals. Mini-lessons, which work well in general classrooms, involve
teaching students in small groups, in which teachers can extend or remediate work.
To differentiate by process, teachers develop meaningful ways for students to learn the materials.
Strategies that help differentiate by process include having students in interest groups, providing students with different types of graphic organizers, providing complex and varied instruction,
allowing students to work independently, and accessing the multiple strengths of students.
Differentiating by product entails creating assignments or outcomes that truly show what a student has learned. These products should be interactive and engaging; traditional end-of-chapter
tests often are not effective products. See Table 7.2 for some examples.
Table 7.2: Differentiation by Products
Sample Products
Design a game
Make a documentary
Conduct an interview
Conduct an experiment
Write a biography
Circulate a petition
Write letters to an editor
Design a costume
Write a song
Present a news report
Create a recipe
Write a new law
Write a musical
Design political cartoons
Conduct a training session
Be a mentor
Write a book
Plan a journey
Write a poem
Lead a symposium
Present a radio program
Put on a puppet show
Design a web page
Develop an exhibit
Source: Tomlinson (2001).
Differentiation by Readiness, Interest, and Learning Profile
Teachers determine a student’s readiness, interest, and learning profile and use this information
to differentiate by content, process, and product. Readiness refers to how well a student understands underlying or prerequisite material before the teacher begins presenting new material.
Once a teacher has assessed what students already know (determined their readiness), he or she
should provide learning opportunities that push students to learn new material or that which is an
extension of previously learned material.
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
To formulate an approach to differentiating instruction, Tomlinson (2001) encourages teachers to
think about the following:

Should representations be more concrete (i.e., hands-on, easy-to-understand) or
abstract (i.e., less easy to picture)?
Should resources and materials be simple or more complex?
Should problems have a single approach or many approaches?
Should transfer to novel problems be a small leap or giant leap?
Should solutions and approaches be more or less structured?
Should students have less or greater independence?
Should the pace of learning be slow or quick?
In addition to readiness, teachers need to gauge their students’ interest, or engagement, in learning. Teachers need to understand the interests of their students, play into them, and help students develop new ones (Tomlinson, 2001). For example, a student who loves dinosaurs might be
encouraged to learn about other prehistoric animals and plants. Table 7.3 lists ways teachers can
differentiate based on a student’s interests.
Table 7.3: Differentiation by Interest
Students choose a topic to work on. Students set goals about their
learning, work towards their goals, and assess how well they met
their goals.
Group investigation
A group of students work together to investigate a topic of the
group’s choice. Collaboration is key.
Students work independently to answer their own questions.
A group of students all learn about different parts of a similar topic
and then share their ideas.
Literature circles
Students read up on topics of interest and share their readings with
other classmates who read the same or similar material.
Negotiated criteria
A teacher gives the students an outcome (e.g., develop a movie), and
the students use their personal interests to help with the outcome.
Students create their own questions and find ways to answer their
questions. Students then share their information with peers.
Source: Tomlinson (2001).
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
Another way teachers can differentiate learning is according to a student’s learning profile, which
describes how an individual student learns (Tomlinson, 2001). The student’s learning profile is
how, where, and with whom the student learns best. There are many aspects that can go into
preferences based on learning style (Figure 7.2).
Figure 7.2: Differentiation by Learning Profile
All students learn in different ways. What ways do you like to learn?
• Creative or
• Adult
• Expressive or
• Groups
• Independent
• Peers
• Combination
• Inductive or
• Interpersonal or
• Analytic
• Creative
• Kinestetic
• Mathematical
• Musical
• Practical
• Spatial
• Verbal
• Flexible or
• Quiet or noisy?
• Still or mobile?
• Warm or cool?
• Linear or
• Oral or visual
or kinestetic?
• Reflective or
Source: Tomlinson, 2001.
Teachers who consider all the strengths of a student who is gifted, then, can differentiate instruction for that student. Differentiation does take a lot of planning and teacher education, but it can
be a good approach for students who require individualized instruction either because of giftedness, a disability, or both.
Universal Design for Learning
Universal Design for Learning (UDL), discussed in Chapter 2, is also useful to gifted students. The
principles of UDL encourage teachers to present content in different ways, allow students to present what they have learned in different ways, and engage in the content in different ways, which
is fairly similar to differentiation. UDL and differentiation do share many of the same ideas. UDL,
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
however, was developed with special education students in mind (whereas differentiation was a
general education initiative), and UDL emphasizes the use of technology more than differentiation. Of course, gifted students can clearly benefit from instruction in which the content and interaction with the content are individualized to fit their needs.
Motivating Gifted Students
Many gifted students do well in school and need little motivation to keep up their enthusiasm for
learning. Some gifted students, however, may underachieve rather than excel in school. This underachievement is often attributable to boredom, lack of challenge, or social pressure to perform at or
below average. It also may be a reaction to family members’ extremely high expectations (Callahan,
2011). These factors can compound over time and lead to an increased risk of dropping out of school.
Minimizing this risk and helping underachievers can be difficult for general educators who are faced
with the need to simultaneously challenge and support students who are below, on, and above
grade level. Teachers must find a balance between engaging disinterested gifted students and fostering habits and mindsets to help students participate even when they find the material boring.
From My Perspective: Parenting a Twice-Exceptional Child
Hi, I’m Stephanie. I am the parent of a twice-exceptional child.
The school system can be a challenging and frustrating place
for gifted students and their parents. We want to believe the
teachers know everything, but gifted kids may be labeled as
uncooperative, lazy, inattentive, or even ADHD when they
are, in fact, just bored. The number one thing parents need
is for teachers to listen. We all want to believe our kids are
gifted. . . but some of us are right!
As a parent, I would like for teachers to know that many of us
raising gifted children do not think our kids are better than
others, but we know they are different. They are more challenging behaviorally because they will not sit still while the class reviews a concept again and again. A
gifted child only needs to be taught a new idea a couple of times to fully understand it. An exceptionally
or profoundly gifted child only needs to hear the lesson one time to both comprehend and remember it. For the parents, this is both fascinating and exhausting. Personally, I see my son most content
and engaged when the teacher can provide differentiation in the lessons. Let the speed-learners work
together in a small group or on independent projects.
My son looked forward to starting kindergarten and the flood of knowledge in which he expected to revel.
He was disappointed to the point of tears to discover the class was going to learn the alphabet, and math
class would not include the multiplication table he had been begging to learn. As a 5-year-old, he could not
comprehend why the teacher thought he was “stupid” and would not teach him anything new. For all of
his academic intelligence, socially and emotionally my son was 5 years old and unprepared for the experiences of the average classroom as experienced through the eyes of a gifted child. One of my requests was
for the teachers to provide the suggested reading list for higher grades. I struggled to find reading material
that was appropriate for an 8-year-old reading at a high school level. My son read at an accelerated pace
from an early age and supplying books that provided interesting content without mature themes was
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Section 7.7 How Do I Teach Students With Giftedness?
From My Perspective: Parenting a Twice-Exceptional Child (continued)
and still is a huge challenge. Having a toolbox of ideas ready to challenge a gifted learner can change
the child’s perception of school from a fancy daycare where the teachers hold him back to a fascinating
mental playground where he can experience the joy of learning. Gifted children, especially at the higher
levels of giftedness, can be very anxious. For the first few years of school, my son worried that he might
not get perfect scores on all his work. That was a lot of pressure for a first grader to put on himself. I
worked with his teachers to reinforce that we did not expect him to know everything immediately and
that learning was a process. From talking to other parents and consulting with teachers, I’ve learned
this perfectionism can be very difficult for the student to handle. Even the brightest students need to
know it is okay to get an answer wrong or conduct an experiment that does not work. We bought my
son books on “successful” mistakes throughout history to help him see the value of errors, too.
Gifted children can also be “twice exceptional” (“2E”), and that is even more confusing for parents, especially if teachers do not realize the issues involved. We often heard from teachers that our son’s ideas were
outstanding—if they could only read his handwriting. It took several very frustrating years to discover that
our son has dysgraphia, so writing by hand is very difficult for him. Providing keyboarding instruction and
access to a computer for longer assignments allowed him to enjoy writing and greatly improved the quality of his work. I have spent time with other parents of 2E kids who are helping their children navigate
through giftedness and dyslexia or giftedness and Asperger’s. We know this can be hard to detect, especially in today’s classroom, where teachers have many competing demands placed on them.
Case Study 1: Determining Appropriate Intervention Based on the Idea
That “More Work Is not Better”
Sofia is a student in your sixth-grade honors mathematics class. She picks up new concepts very quickly
and always seems to know the correct answer. Sofia earned 100\% on every assignment, quiz, and unit
test throughout the first 9 weeks of the school year. She has told you that she had a gifted teacher in
elementary school and has always made straight As. Her parents are very involved in her education and
have proactively contacted you multiple times since you met them at the initial open house.
Recently Sofia’s grades on weekly assessments have been lower than normal. She has become reluctant to volunteer answers in class, and has even started exhibiting minor misbehaviors, such as passing
notes to friends during classroom instruction. You believe it is not that the new content is too difficult
for Sofia, but that she is not putting in the effort. You talk to her after class, and she tells you she is bored
in class and doesn’t really like math anymore.
Questions to Consider:
1. What could you adjust in your class to challenge Sofia at a more rigorous level? Specifically:
a. How could you differentiate the complexity and level of work?
b. How could you adjust the frequency of assignments and activities for Sofia? Why might
adjusting classroom pace be helpful?
c. How could you use student groupings to engage Sofia in classroom instruction?
2. How would you approach your concerns with Sofia’s parents?
3. What additional information do you need from Sofia to motivate and re-engage her in your class?
4. How would you address habits (such as perseverance and discipline) to build long-term traits and
mindsets in Sofia that will help her in other classes she may be bored in?
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Case Study 2: Advocating for Gifted Education
Ja’marcus is a fifth-grade student in your self-contained special education classroom. Ja’marcus is African American, qualifies for free/reduced lunch, and attends a school labeled as “academically unacceptable” by the state accountability system. He has a specific learning disability in reading, writing, and
mathematics. By January, Ja’marcus has made impressive progress towards all of his academic goals.
In addition to his academic progress, you’ve noticed that he is extremely talented in drawing. He loves
to draw after completing every assignment. Some of his drawings are more intricate and precise than
what most adults could produce. After getting a few other opinions, you believe that Ja’marcus may be
gifted in art. When you bring this up with his mother, she agrees that he is incredibly talented but confides that she has not had the financial resources to put him in any art classes or programs. Additionally,
Ja’marcus’ school does not offer any gifted services, and he has never been evaluated.
After doing some research, you learn that there is one public middle school in the district that serves
as the gifted magnet program for creative arts. Since Ja’marcus has never been identified as gifted, he
needs to submit a portfolio of several different types of artwork to be considered for the school. Since
Ja’marcus has never received any formal art training, you recruit all of your artistic friends willing to give
free Saturday tutoring. Within two months, Ja’marcus has learned to paint using watercolors, sketch
with charcoal, sculpt with clay, and is in the process of compiling his best work.
Questions to Consider:
1. What impact might attending the gifted art program in middle school have on Ja’marcus’
2. What additional steps could you take to ensure Ja’marcus is most competitive for the magnet
art program?
3. How could you work collaboratively with Ja’marcus’ mother so she is best prepared to
advocate and seek out opportunities for his extraordinary talent?
4. How could Ja’marcus’ elementary school have better helped him realize his talent?

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There is no singular definition of gifted and talented.
Gifted students do not receive services under IDEA 2004.
Gifted students have received attention over the last century with the creation of assessments that can readily quantify the intelligence of students.
Gifted students typically exhibit exceptional characteristics in one or more of the following areas: intellectual ability, academic aptitude, creative thinking, leadership, or visual
and performing arts.
Students are likely gifted because of a combination of genetics and factors in the student’s environment.
Schools have different ways to identify gifted students. Researchers suggest using a
combination of formal assessments, observations of the student’s work, checklists of the
student’s behaviors, and portfolios of the student’s work.
Gifted students typically exhibit gifted behaviors from a very early age.
General education teachers can adapt classroom teaching strategies to extend the curriculum for gifted students. Often, gifted students can be grouped together to provide
specialized instruction to the group.
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1. What does twice exceptional mean?
a. A student is gifted in two areas.
b. A student will skip two years in school.
c. A student is gifted and has a diagnosed disability.
d. A student has two disabilities.
2. Which of the following must a student do in order to qualify as gifted?
a. Meet the federal definition.
b. Meet their district’s definition.
c. Demonstrate high performance on an IQ test.
d. Read before the age of 4.
3. How do schools provide gifted services to students?
a. Under IDEA 2004
b. From Section 504 funds
c. Under the Javits Act
d. Varies according to the local school
4. Which of the following is not a general characteristic of gifted children?
a. Creates
b. Questions
c. Scores highest on tests
d. Self-starts
5. How are gifted students typically identified?
a. Through an evaluation with multiple types of assessments
b. Parent referral
c. Through a classroom observation
d. Teacher referral
6. What are some ways to group gifted students for instruction?
a. Pull-out program and self-contained classroom
b. Extra computer practice
c. Universal Design for Learning
d. Independent study
7. Which is not an example of acceleration?
a. Participation in an honors class
b. Skipping the second grade
c. Graduating high school early
d. Participation in an extra science experiment
8. Why is differentiation a helpful strategy for gifted students?
a. It provides individualized instruction for the student.
b. It is easy for a teacher to implement.
c. It is cheap for districts to implement.
d. Students always get to choose what they want to learn.
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Additional Resources
9. What strategy enables students to avoid wasting time on already-learned material?
a. Enrichment
b. Universal Design for Learning
c. Compacting
d. Learning contract
10. How can districts provide appropriate services to students with special talents?
a. Send the student to a private school.
b. Create magnet schools or after-school programs.
c. Apply for IDEA 2004 funding.
d. File a Section 504 plan.
Answers: 1 (c); 2 (b); 3 (d); 4 (c); 5 (a); 6 (a); 7 (d); 8 (a); 9 (c); 10 (b)
Discussion Questions
1. How do you feel about proponents of gifted education stating that gifted students need
the same access to individualized instruction as students with disabilities?
2. Do you feel that IQ tests accurately portray a student’s intelligence? Should IQ tests be
used to identify gifted students?
3. How would you, as a teacher, accommodate a gifted student in your classroom when
you also have to meet the needs of all the other students?
Answers and Rejoinders to Pre-Test
1. True. Students who are identified as “twice exceptional” have an identified disability
and have also been identified as gifted.
2. True. The IQ test made identifying students with above-average intelligence easier,
and schools use IQ scores to identify gifted students.
3. False. Researchers agree that there are likely two causes—genetics and the student’s
environment—that contribute to a student being gifted.
4. True. Rather than relying on one assessment, the identification of a gifted student
should rely on several assessments and include observations and assessments of
student work.
5. False. Some gifted students may advance grade levels, but many students will remain
in their grade level and participate in gifted programs. Teachers will use teaching
strategies to enhance the curriculum for gifted students.
Additional Resources

pow85736_07_c07_231-268.indd 260
The National Society for the Gifted and Talented helps gifted and talented students connect to appropriate resources.
The National Research Center on Gifted and Talented from the University of Connecticut
has lots of information about evidence-based practices.
National Association of Gifted Children provides information for parents and teachers of
gifted students.
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Key Terms
Acronyms Used in Chapter 7
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Advanced Placement
California Achievement Test
Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills
Developing Cognitive Abilities Test
Emotional and Behavioral Disorder
English Language Learner
Gifted Individualized Education Program
International Baccalaureate
IDEA 2004
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Intelligence Quotient
Iowa Test of Basic Skills
Learning Disability
National Association for Gifted Children
National Center for Educational Statistics
National Society for the Gifted and Talented
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test
Response to Intervention
Scholastic Aptitude Test
Specific Learning Disability
Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking
Universal Design for Learning
Key Terms
acceleration When a student works through
classroom material at a quicker pace than
other students.
cluster group When several students with
similar needs are grouped together in the general classroom.
achievement test A type of assessment that
aims to quantify what a student knows in a
specific area (e.g., reading, math, science).
compacting When a student skips known
classroom material to work on unknown
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differentiated instruction Instruction that is
tailored and individualized to the strengths of
a specific student.
intelligence quotient (IQ) test A type of
assessment that aims to quantify a person’s
intelligence (i.e., how smart a person is).
enrichment Extra extension activities for students that are typically provided outside of the
general classroom.
pull-out program A program in which students with similar needs are pulled out of the
general classroom to receive extra support.
gifted A student who demonstrates exceptional ability in one or more areas.
talented A student who demonstrates exceptional performance related to his or her ability.
independent studies When a student works
on material individually with help from the
teacher or mentor.
twice exceptional A student who is gifted and
has a disability.
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