Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classrooms
Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom: Strategies and Techniques 4th ed.
By Susan Winebrenner and contributing author Dina Brulles
(Free Spirit Publishing, 2018 – Learn more)
Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
This is an excellent book for both beginning and veteran teachers. The headings are well-delineated, and it contains tons of highly valuable information written in a concise user-friendly format.
Gifted students are often the forgotten portion of the special education spectrum. Although they are can be a huge asset in our future, their needs are often overlooked as they do just fine in terms of grades and standardized tests without any extra help, as we focus on the low performers.
The result: Far too frequently we miss out on the opportunities to challenge our most capable learners.
Gifted students not only need relevant and challenging tasks, but also support, especially since they probably have not had many opportunities to experience productive struggle before.
It’s true – it can be overwhelming for teachers to think about meeting the needs of all the various students in our mixed ability classes along with all the other demands that are on us from above. All that while we’re being asked to be sensitive to both the emotional and academic needs of gifted students.
This book will help you work through these obstacles, with clear consideration of teachers’ time, risk taking (both on the part of the teachers and the students, such as allowing students who have mastered the content to skip it and go on to something that actually challenges them), and the needed emotional support.
Detailed resources for challenging tasks
The authors provide step-by-step directions on how to create challenging tasks and how to document student mastery, including examples and all the forms, ideas, and contracts that you will need to provide both choice and challenge.
They also provide tips and important notes on how to proceed successfully and complete with the why of every little step – such as having students keep their contracts with them if they go to another room on campus, but not allowing these forms to go home. This way the form, with all of the requirements, is always at hand when needed, never lost.
The authors even advise that if students go to the media center or computer lab to work, that they be required to return with at least five minutes remaining so that they can complete their forms for the day.
While these items may seem like common sense to a veteran teacher, they are a good reminder. There are many other tips and notes that are counter-intuitive at first glance, but when you read the authors’ explanations, the tips make perfect sense.
In this edition we are provided clear methods to use to differentiate in a variety of scenarios. In fact, just when you the reader is about to say, “yes, but what about ______” the very next sentence has the answer to your question.
Winebrenner and Brules tell us what to do, how to do it, how to explain it to students, parents and administrators, and how to grade and manage the paperwork efficiently.
Resource packed chapters and digital content
There are also lots of places where they give us the precise language/wording to use to motivate and support our students, both academically and emotionally. Additionally, each chapter ends with a question and answer section and a chapter summary.
Finally, there is additional digital content that can be accessed online using the password provided in the book – including, for example, an entire chapter on helping parents to support their gifted child, offered in PDF format that can be shared with our parents.
In addition, the online resources include all of the reproducible forms from the book, additional extension menus, and a PDF presentation that can be used for faculty professional development.
This is an excellent resource for anyone working with gifted students, as I now do. I highly recommend it.
Dr. Laura Von Staden is currently a Middle School Gifted Math and Science teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees in her school district, works closely with the local university, and writes curriculum. She is also a professional development consultant and previously served as an Exceptional Student Education Specialist and as a mentor.