Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Teaching Gifted Students

Gifted students, by definition, are those who passed a two-phase exam of academic achievement and aptitude tests held by the Education Bureau. The three main categories of gifted students are general, language, and math and science. Based on their different certificated academic areas, special classes are conducted to further develop and fulfill their potential, according to The Special Education Act. There is no doubt that they tend to excel in every academic subject, and teaching those special students is no easy task at all. 

My goal for those students is to provide challenging tasks that require not only their knowledge of English but real application and combined skills of the language to complete different projects. My approach is to use the principles and techniques of Task Based Learning and Project Based Learning to apply their critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. In other words, they make choices about their products or processes as they learn. They are learning while DOING. 

Lesson planning is quite demanding and time-consuming as well. However, because of their higher proficiency level, I also get to enjoy the freedom of using English as the medium of instruction without worrying about whether they can understand or not. Other than classroom language, I'll also use English to elaborate on not only difficult words but my opinions on hot topics in the news. With their relatively larger vocabulary compared with other students, I can use a variety of intriguing materials as I want, such as Breaking News English, Taipei Times, Youtube vloggers, movie clips, picture books, to name just a few.

Making videos and presenting them in English is an exceptionally amazing combination of English speaking as well as editing skills. My students need to apply their writing skills for the scripts, complete with presentation skills for introducing the assigned topics. On top of that, they also get to bolster their computer and creativity competencies during the process of making and editing videos. Of course, prior to that, I will always demonstrate and provide sufficient scaffolding with Backward Design Model for my students to connect the dots.

I'm learning a lot with my gifted students along the way as well because they'd keep on challenging me to come up with more innovative tasks to engage them. Of course, I've suffered setbacks and felt quite disappointed with myself when desired results failed to be achieved, too. However, I also really appreciate and cherish this great opportunity to do what I believe is right for gifted students, instead of just teaching them with senior high English textbooks.  

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