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Since these children often prefer to learn all they can about a particular mathematical idea before leaving it for new concepts, a more expansive approach to mathematics based upon student interest may avoid the frustration that occurs when the regular classroom schedule demands that it is time to move on to another topic.
A more linear approach to mathematics is often a better match for gifted children instead of the spiral curricula often found in textbook series and followed by classroom teachers.
However, according to the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, 2000, p.
13), these students must be supported so that they too have an opportunity to reach their mathematical potential.
This article discusses the identification of the characteristics of the gifted math student, how school districts comply with the child’s needs, and how teachers can learn the importance of differentiation of instruction. Johnson began her 3rd-grade math class by reading aloud a thinking puzzle: Charlie, the dog, was tied to a 2-meter rope. Nathan’s hand flew into the air just microseconds after his teacher finished posing the question.All too often, the regular curriculum is insufficient in depth, breadth, and pace to meet the needs of the gifted child (Wolfle, 1986). In addition, the recent emphasis on state standardized testing programs has increased the use of basic skills instruction and drill in an attempt to assure that all students will be successful on these tests (Moon, Brighton, & Callahan, 2002). His favorite ball was lying in the grass at least 10 yards away from him. While his classmates were pondering the problem, Nathan had already formulated the answer. Johnson, Nathan immediately found the lateral thinking puzzle required little effort and absolutely no math.While other students were converting meters to yards, moving decimal points, and drawing pictures, Nathan realized that the other end of the rope was not attached to anything; the dog merely had a 2-meter rope tied to his collar, but was not tethered at all.
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For example, when the topic of decimals is introduced, children with mathematical talent can be allowed to delve much further into the topic, learning practical applications for decimals and the connections between decimals and other mathematical topics.