GIFTED STUDENT HANDBOOK Gifted and Advanced Student Services TABLE OF CONTENTS Definition Characteristics Asynchronous Development Overexcitabilities Perfectionism Underachievement Teasing & Bullying ALP (Advanced Learning Plan) Advocacy Programming DEFINITION Identification in any of the following areas tells you, your parents and teachers that you have the potential to do very well in school. Whether you do is up to you. INTELLECTUAL ABILITY/ACADEMIC APTITUDE This is most often measured with a pencil and paper test. Tests of intellectual ability give you a score of how well you can accomplish school-type intellectual tasks. Achievement test scores tell how well you have learned things you were taught in school. (The Gifted Kids Survival Guide; Judy Galbraith, M.A,) Advanced results on these tests usually identify a student as gifted in a particular subject area. If you are identified as gifted in language arts you most likely enjoy and have an easy time with reading, writing, talking and spelling. If you find math and numbers easy and enjoy science, games, riddles and computers then your tests scores most likely show that you have gifted potential in math. CREATIVE/PRODUCTIVE/DIVERGENT THINKING Tests of creativity, portfolios that show imagination that is advanced for your age, inventive work and your ability to solve a variety of problems are used to identify your potential to be creative. LEADERSHIP ABILITIES There are certain characteristics of people who are leaders. If you are a student who is responsible and counted on by classmates to get things done, communicate well with others, organize things and people, cooperate well with others, but also know how to direct your classmates, you may have been identified as having leadership potential. This is done through checklists of characteristics, interviews and looking at the leadership roles you have had in school such as student council, club president or volunteer and service work. VISUAL / PERFORMING ARTS Gifted potential in the arts is revealed through advanced and unique art products or performances such as plays or concerts. These are evaluated with rubrics that measure advanced works by teachers who are experienced in the arts. For all of the above areas of giftedness, multiple pieces of evidence such as test scores, behavior checklists, and portfolios of work that show advanced abilities are collected for identification. CHARACTERISTICS Students who are gifted have similar characteristics that can make them feel different from many of their classmates. Not all gifted students have all of the traits and you might even see some traits in all students. The difference is that in gifted students these characteristics are strong and show up often compared to other students I am gifted Watch this video to see if you recognize any of these characteristics in you. MORE CHARACTERISTICS OF GIFTED Does this sound like you? • Know a lot about a lot of things. • Curious • Passionate about an area of interest • Get lost in your thoughts • Like a challenge • Usually like to hang out with older friends • Have a good sense of humor Sometimes gifted students experience issues that are challenging for them, and require extra help to understand. Click into any of the words for more information on these topics. Some are: • Asynchronous development (You are advanced in reading, but still at grade level when it comes to sports.) • Overexcitabilities (You may have intense physical, emotional, intellectual or sensory (senses) experiences. • Perfectionism (Thinking that what you do and create should be perfect can lead some people to never start or finish a task or never try to do anything new because they might not do it well.) • Underachievement (A student is not working and succeeding at the level of his or her ability.) • Teasing & Bullying (Sometimes gifted students are teased and bullied by others.) ADVANCED LEARNING PLANS (ALP) School won’t be cool unless you do your part to make it that way. Galbraith As a student you must learn to advocate (support, promote, campaign, fight) for yourself. To learn more about how to advocate click HERE. The Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) is a document that records your achievement and personal goals for a year. This document helps you, your teachers and parents identify your areas of strength and potential, set goals in those areas and follow your growth throughout your school years. The ALP helps your teachers to communicate with one another and keep giving you opportunities to work at your own level and speed. You and your teacher work together to set these goals and share responsibility in achieving them. Your parents can also make suggestions and assist you in achieving your goals. The ALP should record one achievement goal for each area you have been identified as having gifted potential and one social/emotional goal (personal, peer-related, career, college, etc.). GOALS SHOULD BE SMART SMART Goal Examples: I will improve my reading comprehension skills by participating in the advanced reading group and scoring 95% or higher on the unit tests. I will improve my listening skills by talking less in cooperative groups and stating back to group members what they just said. At the end of the semester I will have group members rate my ability to listen using a rubric I make. PROGRAMMING There are a lot of different ways teachers provide advanced learning opportunities for their students. Some options depend on the school you attend and the grade your are in. Check out the list below for examples of the types of activities that can accelerate, extend and enrich your learning. ELEMENTARY • Working on advanced work in place of regular classwork. • Independent study projects MIDDLE SCHOOL • • • • • Honors classes High School classes Socratic Seminars Independent study Competitions & clubs • Work with tutors & mentors on advanced topics • Competitions & Clubs • Use of advanced text books and resources • Work with tutors & mentors on advanced topics HIGH SCHOOL • AP, IB & honors programs • Concurrent enrollment • Mentorships & Internships • Socratic Seminars • Competitions & clubs Some of the options above may not be available at all Adams 12 schools. to Characteristics ASYNCHRONOUS DEVELOPMENT It can be very frustrating to be able to read two grade levels above your classmates but not be able to play sports or watch the same movies as your above grade level classmates. This is what we call asynchronous development—when what you can do in your area of giftedness is way beyond your social, emotional or physical development. You might be gifted in language arts, but still need to work at grade level in math and science. This kind of uneven development calls for some strategies to help you, your parents and teachers better understand and deal with the situation. Don’t be surprised if sometimes you need to talk with a counselor about how to keep the gift of being gifted in balance. TIPS FOR BALANCING ASYNCHRONOUS DEVELOPMENT • You might have to remind yourself and others that you are still a kid first and gifted second. Sometimes everybody forgets that. Just because you can work at an advanced level, and like to work with students and adults older than yourself doesn’t mean you are an adult and should be expected to be treated like one or act like one. • Understand that socially and emotionally you may have different needs from your classmates on or above grade level. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for an adult to talk to about any feelings or problems you might be experiencing. • Remind your parents and teachers that you need time to be with other gifted kids. Ask them to give you some scheduled times to work and play with other kids that think like you and have some of the same interests. You might even want some time to speak with adults who are experts in a topic you are passionate about. • Don’t be concerned that you are not gifted in everything. Some people are good at sports, but can’t sing or dance. Some people can heal the sick and others faint at the sight of blood. Gifted doesn’t mean you have to or even can be good at everything. OVEREXCITABILITIES to Characteristics The idea of over excitabilities was developed by a Polish psychiatrist and psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski. He found that more gifted people (not all) have overexcitabilities than the general population. The types of over excitabilities are: • • • • • Psychomotor—need for action, love of movement, energetic Sensual – intense pleasure or displeasure from sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing Intellectual – curious and active mind seeks understanding, truth and knowledge Imaginational – play of imagination, visualization, vivid dreams, confuse reality and fiction Emotional – intense and extreme feelings, concerns, emotions STRATEGIES FOR DEALING WITH OVEREXCITABILITIES Be sure to communicate your needs to your parents and teachers so they can help you with these strategies. • PSYCHOMOTOR: Build physical or verbal movement and activity into your daily schedule. Be sure to choose a time and activity that is not disruptive to others. • SENSUAL: Create a calm place to work. Wear headphones to drown out noise and keep lights low. Be aware of what distracts you and try to find ways to eliminate or limit those distractions when you need to concentrate. • INTELLECTUAL: Look for ways you can turn moral and ethical concerns into actions that make a difference. Also be aware that being overly critical of others may keep you from making and keeping friends. • IMAGINATIONAL: Create your own way to stay organized and keep on task. Write down or draw factual information you learn before going on to imagine new and creative ways to use or add to the facts. • EMOTIONAL: Learn how your body warns you when you are overwhelmed by your feelings. Do you get headaches, stomachaches or sweaty palms? Knowing the signs will help you to catch yourself and use deep breathing or other techniques to lower the stress of your emotions. http://www.sengifted.org/archives/articles/overexcitability-and-the-gifted PERFECTIONISM to Characteristics It’s easy to see why many gifted kids think they need to do everything perfect. Parents, teachers and even classmates sometimes think that because you’re gifted you should be able to get A’s and first place in everything. When you start believing this myth too, you begin to think and act like a perfectionist: • Feeling inferior • Believing nothing you do is good enough • Doing things to please others not because you want to • Stop trying new things because you are afraid you won’t be able to do them perfectly. THREE GREAT TRUTHS ABOUT PERFECTIONISM (The Gifted Kids Survival Guide; Judy Galbraith, M.A,) 1. Nobody’s perfect, and no one is good at everything. 2. It’s perfectly okay to be perfectly imperfect! (We learn best from our mistakes.) 3. Dong things perfectly doesn’t make you a more successful person. Other things count, too. UNDERACHIEVEMENT to Characteristics Lots of students, not just gifted students, do not get the best possible grades they can based on their abilities and potential. Adults call this underachievement or working below a level that is expected. The bad news is that underachievement is a behavior you learn. The good news is you can learn how to change it. If you have ever been told you are an underachiever or think you might be one, answer the following questions to help you better understand where your underachievement might be coming from. Are you successful and perform at high levels in activities outside of school? Don’t overlook all the things you do well. If you are not doing well in a particular subject in school keep in mind that school should be challenging. It takes work to learn and there is nothing wrong with asking for extra help so you can do your best. How important are grades? Some students aren’t satisfied unless they get A’s. Other students don’t think anything above an F is a failure. What are your feelings about grades? How about your parents? Do you welcome or fear mistakes? Do you see yourself as a failure? Do you think any successes you have are because of luck or something someone else did? Are you afraid to make mistakes? If you answered yes to any of these questions you or others might think of you as an underachiever. In that case, talk to your parents, a teacher or counselor about your behaviors and how they might be able to help you better understand everyone’s responsibilities for your success. When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers; Jim Delisle, Ph.D., & Judy Galbraith, M.A. TEASING & BULLYING to Characteristics Many students are teased and bullied by others. Gifted students are no exception. There are many reasons why kids tease each other, but no matter the reasons you have control over whether you decide to let the teasing bug you or not. The Gifted Kids Survival Guide suggests you ask yourself three questions the next time someone teases you for being smart. Then see if you don’t feel better about the situation. 1. Who’s doing the teasing? Is that person’s opinion important to you? 2. Why are they teasing me? Are they doing it for fun, because they’re jealous or do they really not like you? 3. Do I accept the teasing? Do you let them hurt your feelings or ignore them and walk away? Bullying is far more serious than teasing. If you are being bullied, try one of the following suggestions: • • Do the following to stay as safe as you can from bullying: • Look at the kid bullying you and tell him or her to stop in a calm, clear voice. You can also try to laugh it off. This works best if joking is easy for you. It could catch the kid bullying you off guard. If speaking up seems too hard or not safe, walk away and stay away. Don’t fight back. Find an adult to stop the bullying on the spot. If you don’t have a teacher who is as wise as the one in this video, find an adult who can help you with any bullying problems you might have. Ask a teacher to let you pair up with someone you feel comfortable with and is mostly likely not to bully or tease you. http://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/what-you-can-do/ • • Talk to an adult you trust. Don’t keep your feelings inside. Telling someone can help you feel less alone. They can help you make a plan to stop the bullying. Stay away from places where bullying happens. Stay near adults and other kids. Most bullying happens when adults aren’t around. ADVOCACY to Characteristics Advocacy is all about knowing what you want and need out of school, and being able to plan ways to get it. This takes a lot of preparation on your part to understand how you learn best, make a realistic plan for your learning, and then politely convince your teacher to help you do it. Here are some ways to learn that you might want to ask your teacher to let you try. Take a pretest to find out what you already know. Then skip over that work and use the time to do a challenging project or independent study of interest to you. Take a chapter, unit or end of year test to see if you could go to the next grade for that subject or work out of a more advanced text book. Help to plan and organize mini-classes for subjects not taught in your school. Show what you have learned in new and unusual ways like designing a Web page, writing a play, making a video. Get an “any-time-of-the-day” library pass so you can learn on your own. Sometimes when you advocate the answer is no. You need to take chances and keep trying even when things don’t work out the way you want them to. Remember: You won’t know if you don’t ask. Follow these Ten Tips for Talking with Teachers when advocating 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Make an appointment. If there are other students with the same needs, go in and speak as a group. Be prepared and think what you want to say before you meet with the teacher. Be positive and choose your words carefully. Come with ideas. Don’t expect the teacher to do all the work and have all the answers. Be respectful. Talk about what you need, not what the teacher is doing wrong. Be sure to listen at least as much as you talk. (You have two ears and only one mouth.) Bring your sense of humor so you don’t take things too seriously, and can laugh at your own misunderstandings and mistakes. 10. If the meeting isn’t successful, get help from another adult. When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers; Jim Delisle, Ph.D., & Judy Galbraith, M.A.