Illinois Association for Gifted Children

IAGC Question of the Month - September: 2019: How Can I Make My Classroom Welcoming to Advanced Learners?

09/11/2019 12:29 PM | Anonymous member

As the school year begins, a useful ritual is to check out the view from each student’s perspective by sitting in each of their places as we arrange the classroom. How easily can each student see the projector screen? A talkative friend? A view of the playground?

Considering what students “see” can help teachers eliminate distractions and physical obstructions to learning; it can also help us find new ways to motivate advanced learners.

When setting up your classroom, imagine that you are a student. Take a seat, and look around...

  • Role Models and Vision: Is there a picture of an inspiring adult role model who shares my gender, culture, and/or race—a depiction that celebrates his or her contributions and achievements? What does that picture communicate to me about my future possibilities and potential?
  • High Level Questions: Is there a provocative, deep question posted that captures my attention and curiosity? Is there a question that I would like to explore and discuss with my friends and family?  Is there a question that makes me think about how the themes or topics we will explore in the classroom this year may be important or relevant to my life?
  • Rich Vocabulary: Is there a new, rich vocabulary word displayed that would be fun for me to learn and use? How might it relate to math, science, or the world?
  • Personal Interests:  Is there any place in this classroom for my own “learning agenda?” Does this classroom have a place for me and to explore and share what I love to learn? 

When looking through a student's eyes, classroom landscape has tremendous potential to welcome and engage all learners, including advanced learners. And once teachers consider the view from the students’ seats, classroom spaces may provide a beautiful vantage point to “see” more students with gifts and talents than ever expected.

-Patricia Steinmeyer

Adapted from 2016 blog post by Patricia Steinmeyer:

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