Developed in 2004 by GERRIC (the Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre) based in the School of Education at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, the Gifted and Talented Education Kit is a comprehensive and completely free CPD package for teachers available online. It’s a must for any educator who wishes to explore the area of gifted education while gaining insight and practical strategies into how to identify and support exceptionally able and twice exceptional students. I first came across this course many years ago and it was my “go to” recommendation for teachers across all levels. Unfortunately it disappeared for a while from the net but I’m glad to say it’s once again freely available to download from the GERRIC website as a series of PDFs. This self-directed course is incredibly comprehensive and very easy to navigate with icons highlighting different learning paths for different school roles, so it’s quite easy to find learning content applicable to your needs. The overall aim of the course is to help teachers identify exceptionally able students in their classroom and once identified to decide on an appropriate course of action best suited to that particularly student, from curriculum differentiation to enhancement through to academic acceleration.
There are six modules in all with each module further broken down into Core, Extension and Specialisation levels. The core level is the “need to know” section, containing the key course essentials together with practical strategies for the identification and support of gifted students. Within this core section you can choose between Early Children, Primary or Secondary levels. It’s strongly advised that you complete the core levels first before exploring the Extension and Specialisation levels which builds and expands on the core level learning. Activities at these higher levels are more focused on reflecting on your current teaching practices, your school’s policies and how these can be improved to enhance your exceptionally able students’ learning, engagement and academic achievement. Participants are also encouraged to produce an action plan demonstrating practical application of that particular module’s learning outcomes. From Module 2 onwards there are also opportunities for teachers to test out their prior knowledge prior to completing the section, the idea being that if you “test-out” at this stage you can simply move on to the next section; nice touch. The pre-tests are also great learning opportunities.
This isn’t a lovely “bells and whistles” MOOC type course with lots of multi-media content together with opportunities for participant interaction with instant feedback; as far as online learning goes this is a basic self directed PDF based course for download. In that way it’s showing its age a little but that being said the information and content is second to none and it’s amazing that such a resource is free rather than monetised. Without anything of this depth covering all educational levels being freely available in the Irish context, this course really is a gift for those wanting more information and practical approaches on how best to support, engage and challenge their exceptionally able and twice exceptional students. Its well worth the time of any educator across early years, primary or second level, to review and gain a greater understanding of those students who can often challenge and delight in equal measure.
Module One: Understanding Giftedness: “Understanding the nature of giftedness and talent; what the terms mean; levels and types of giftedness. Cognitive and affective characteristics of gifted and talented students; ways in which these students may differ from their classmates – even if at first we don’t observe this.”
Module Two: The Identification of Gifted Students: “A range of practical identification procedures, with particular attention to procedures which are effective in identifying gifted students from culturally diverse and disadvantaged groups. We’ll be emphasising the use of a combination of approaches rather than a single measure such as IQ testing or teacher nomination used in isolation.”
Module Three: Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Students: “Understanding the social and emotional characteristics and needs of gifted students. Ways in which gifted students may differ somewhat from their classmates in their social and emotional development. Supporting gifted students and their parents. Teaching strategies and class structures which foster the development of positive social attitudes and supportive peer relationships in gifted students. “
Module Four: Understanding Underachievement in Gifted Students: “Understanding the causes of underachievement in gifted students. Identifying gifted underachievers and planning interventions designed to prevent and reverse cycles of underachievement.” I particularly like the discussion of flow here.
Module Five: Curriculum Differentiation for Gifted Students: “Teaching strategies and methods of curriculum differentiation which enhance the learning of gifted students in the regular classroom. Appropriate use of different enrichment models that international research has found to be effective with gifted and talented students. Practical applications of pre-testing, curriculum compacting and individualised programming.”
Module Six: Developing Programs and Provisions for Gifted Students: “Practical strategies for the establishment and monitoring of ability, achievement or interest grouping, and the many forms of accelerated progression. Particular attention will be paid to the effects of various strategies on students’ academic and social development.”