Service-learning connects students to their community through community service, exploration and action. Students learn and develop through curriculum integration and active participation in thoughtfully organized service experiences that address needs in their community. Service-learning for gifted students can be a starting point for a differentiated curriculum enhancing critical thinking, problem-solving skills and talents.
Gifted students should be provided “curricula with strong affective and process components that complement cognitive components; helping gifted adolescents become more sensitive to community problems and needs.” (Passow 1989) Schools need to design and implement learning opportunities within the classroom and also identify learning resources and opportunities in the community to be integrated into the classroom. (Passow 1995)
How can we prepare gifted students to cooperate and collaborate; to truly respect one another? “Community action, most appropriate for gifted youth, involves a high degree of service that produces a broad community impact and the highest degree of learning. Implementing service-learning programs in schools for our gifted may help nurture the development of more highly moral people.” (A.W. Terry 2008)
Higher levels of service-learning can provide opportunities for educational experiences that help gifted children develop socially, morally, and ethically. By working in their communities, gifted students can come to a greater understanding of how others experience life different from themselves. It can provide a path toward empathy.
Why do some people use their intellectual, motivational and creative assets to make a positive difference in the world? When provided an opportunity to experience what others need, it can propel many to focus using their abilities in service to others. While using their abilities in service to others, gifted students will increase their own “self-esteem, leadership, and a sense of mission results.” (B.A. Lewis)
Carol Raymond, teacher/parent advocate for gifted and 2E individuals from Texas, shared about a student group she sponsors as an example of service learning. Aphelion is a dedicated group of young people looking to help improve the lives of kids just like them by providing the resources they need to get an education. They create jewelry, art, poetry, and coordinate awareness events to sponsor two young women, Regina and Beatrice, from Kenya through the Maasai Girls Education Fund.
Successful service-learning will emphasize that it is an ‘open-ended’ endeavor; one which appeals to gifted students who abhor predetermined outcomes. It allows for the expression of creative solutions. Service-learning should address real needs; be made a requirement; include student involvement; provide mentorships for students; require demonstration of a final product; and self-assessment. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at 2 PM NZST/Noon AEST/1 AM UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Starfish Story (YouTube 1:10)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.