New tricks from an old dog

27th January 2006 at 00:00
Gifted and Talented Pupils

As you get to grips with your teaching you will start looking for strategies to support outstanding pupils. Gifted and talented pupils can be tricky to teach as they require work that stretches and challenges them, and not more questions to answer as "extension".

First, identify those pupils in your mark book. Highlighting them in one colour is the simplest way. Data such as quartile ranges and Sats scores will help show who these pupils are, but also go on "gut instinct".

Gifted and talented pupils can benefit from being guided to more complicated texts to support their learning, and should be encouraged to read around the subject independently. They can also benefit from being given specific targets for their work. For example, you might choose to produce work that can be used to teach pupils in the year above, or for upper-level examination criteria. This can also work if you ask the more able pupil to produce writing frames for less able pupils, or to prepare their work as if they were to teach a class in the year below.

Giving more able pupils a challenge is also an effective way of stretching them. You can ask them to be umpires or coaches in practical subjects, or chairperson or arbiter in subjects that afford discussion and debate. Hot seating is also good. Like Mastermind, seat the pupil in a chair and get classmates to ask them questions.

Allowing gifted and talented pupils the chance to shape their own lesson will also stretch them. For example, set up an investigation linked to a topic and get them to write a mark scheme to assess the work. This remodelling of content is important in challenging and extending more able pupils. In some cases it may be appropriate for more able pupils to plan and teach parts of a lesson to their classmates. Look specifically at producing lesson starters or plenaries. Likewise, these pupils can support peer marking if you put pupils into mixed ability groups.

Away from class, look for local and national competitions and clubs that you can get the pupils involved in. Overall, look for a range of challenges to stimulate and encourage gifted and talented learners.

Roy Watson-Davies is an advanced skills teacher at Blackfen school for girls, in Sidcup, Kent. His books Creative Teaching and Form Tutors Guide are available from www.teacherspocket

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