Gifted Learners at Kaiser Elementary have had the opportunity this year to participate in a weekly enrichment time. Twice a week, GT students were able to all gather together to collaborate, express creativity and sharpen critical thinking skills. During this time, students in grades 2-5 worked interdependently. When they showed mastery of standards the rest of the class was learning, they were able to meet with their gifted peers to challenge their creativity and follow threads of interest.
Besides using this time to complete a research pathway, one of their latest challenges, the Cardboard Challenge, had students working in a partnership to design an arcade game using only a few select materials. Partners had to problem solve as they worked together to experiment and create an engaging game. Two third grade GT learners dove head first into this challenge with great enthusiasm. When asked about the challenges of this activity, one said that figuring out which materials would work best on certain parts of the game was difficult. The other said working cooperatively was a challenge because, “…that really wasn’t my thing, but I am better at it now.”
Sometimes, we get caught up in the intellectual needs of our gifted learners. We, as teachers, are worried about challenging them with our curriculum. But, as seen with this activity, maybe the learner’s greatest need is not intellectual, but rather a social-emotional need. Collaborating is a real-life skill that all kids need to learn. Because this student now realizes that is not his strong suit, he can focus on improving his skills in the future. Sometimes, letting the gifted learners build, create, and design can be more beneficial than curriculum extensions alone.
This year, Kaiser GT students have really been given the opportunity to think outside of the (cardboard) box! For the Cardboard Challenge and other divergent thinking challenges, you can visit John Spencer’s YouTube channel here.