Go Beyond Your Grade-Level Standards
By: Dana K. Davis

If a student has mastered all content for a certain year then those student would need to move on to the next grade level. The following will address those students who have not yet mastered the entire subject, but they have mastered certain areas or units of it which most of their peers have not. My research will cover what a teacher needs to do in order to continue to challenge and provide genuine learning experiences for those gifted students.

“ Your grade-level curriculum standards are the floor, not the ceiling.”

In Chapter 10 of Heacox’s Making differentiation a habit the next step for the teacher of gifted and talented or GT students is to go beyond the standard and develop plans that challenge students on many levels.
This is the attitude a teacher should have when approaching any curriculum. Of course we should teach students what they MUST know, but what about the students who already know all of that? What is there left for them? (Heacox, 2009) Maybe we should think first of what happens when there is nothing for them left to do but more of the same work…they are left then, to challenge themselves and in most cases their efforts are counter-productive to the instructor’s and usually get them into trouble. So instead of spending time dealing with what may become a classroom management problem, spend that time planning the NEXT STEP and be ready to reach that student by…

asking yourself…
1. What would be a natural grade-level extension for this particular standard?
2. What do you envision as the next step in learning for those most talented in this curricular area?
3. What would be more cognitively complex learning related to this grade-level standard or goal?
(Heacox, 2009)

Gifted and talented students crave challenges, complexities and operate on higher levels of thinking than his/her age peers. (Inman, 2007)

What does that NEXT STEP look like in MY classroom?
∙ Give credit for concepts the student has clearly mastered by pre-assessment.
∙ While the class works on those concepts, he may work on the same concepts/content but on a HIGHER level.
∙ This may take the form of internet exploration on the topic, enrichment project, long-term independent study of content, visual display of content, etc.(Inman, 2007)

In my regular drawing class I teach the basics such as drawing geometric shapes in three-dimensional forms on a two-dimensional surface like cubes for instance. When a student knows how to draw a cube correctly they have mastered a skill and may move on, but there are students who are ready for more complex work so I would GO BEYOND by allowing them to have computer access during my lesson to research M.C. Escher and his work on optical illusions then for the student to design their own optical illusion using the style prevalent in Escher’s work.

It would be impossible for me to list the millions of different assignments that could be used in each and every classroom to take students BEYOND your basic content but the list below is from chapter 10 of Heacox and I have used it to help inspire practical ideas of how GOING BEYOND may look in your classroom.

Ask your students to GO BEYOND by…
1. Using the vocabulary of the mastered content. (perhaps in a narrative, short story,play, debate, poem,etc.)
2. Exploring specific details. (Researching the internet, interviewing a member of the community, viewing a video, or reading a book that takes them more in depth and presenting their findings)
3. Identify Patterns. (Allow students to make connections between subjects, content and eras in history)
4. Identify Trends. (Map it out through time connecting the dots along the way)
5. Consider unanswered questions. (Have students create a new theory based on the evidence they have now)
6. Identify rules. (Pose questions based on what would happen if those rules were broken or did not exists)
7. Explore ethics. (Essay, play or work of visual art based on the ethical dilemmas posed by the content)
8. Identify the “big ideas.” (create a brain map, a journal, or web that illustrates those points)
9. Examine concepts over time. (Make a chain like the Christmas chains that link events that have cause and effects)
10. Identify different points of view. (Have students create and hose a debate)
11. Make interdisciplinary connections. (Collaborate with teachers from other disciplines and create a project that corresponds with your content)
(Heacox, 2009)

For example if you are servicing those gifted in…
Visual and/or Performing Arts:
-Provide students with their own set of art materials that they may have access to during lessons, this will allow them to use resources to create and elaborate on concepts during class.
-Allow those students to read provided material and create a visual display that addresses key points in the lesson. Then allow time for the student to present their work to the class analyzing and explaining how it ties to the content.
-Through research allow the student to gather and explore the content and create a skit/sketch based on the key characters/important people that are a part of the content being taught. There are usually volunteers eager to act it out along-side the student when it comes time to presenting.
Trigger words are highlighted

I placed the above here because I have helped many teachers to implement the arts into their curriculum especially where is concerns GT students. Simply getting teachers to think about the next step will inspire them to work towards moving many more of their students to a higher level of learning and increase rigor overall. And increasing rigor in the classroom is never a bad idea!

Heacox, D. (2009). Making a differentiation a habit. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.

Inman, T. (2007). What a child doesn't know. The Challenge, 17-18.

Gifted Web Resources
Center for Gifted Studies http://www.wku.edu/Dept/support/AcadAffairs/Gifted/cmsmadesimple/

KAGE (Kentucky Associate for Gifted Education www.wku.edu/kage

National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) www.nagc.org