Strengths-based learning curriculum takes into consideration how best a student learns and relies on the student’s individual profile. It focuses on the student’s interests; is modified through ongoing assessment; and recognizes a student’s advanced abilities. Strengths-based learning does not focus on areas of weakness and therefore is not predicated on remediation.
To encourage growth: twice-exceptional (2e) learners need a psychologically safe environment, tolerance for asynchronous behaviors, time, positive relationships; and a strength-based, talent-focused environment. (Baum, Schader, and Owen 2017) Neurodiversity-inspired educators create positive ecosystems within which students with learning differences can learn according to their strengths rather than their weaknesses. (“First Discover Their Strengths” Tomas Armstrong. Educational Leadership October 2012)
Emphasizing 2E students’ strengths provides opportunities for student choice, links new content to previous knowledge, and provides appropriate support from both gifted and learning support teachers and staff. Strengths-based learning includes support for social emotional needs of 2E students through provision of extra time to complete assignments, developing self-advocacy skills, and the teaching of stress management skills.
How does one discover student’ strengths? Students can engage in self-reflection: “What am I already good at?” “What will help me get to my goals?” “How can I use my strengths to achieve my goals?” Profiles can be created based on past performance, current interests, and teacher and parent observations.
Engaging students in strengths-based learning starts by offering an entry point related to an area in which they’ve already shown talent; perhaps in performance arts rather than writing. Students may respond positively to strengths-based learning through using novel introduction of new concepts such as involving guest speakers, experts demonstrating concepts, or field trips.
How can teachers incorporate dual-differentiation effectively in the classroom? Dual-differentiation requires that teachers and staff coordinate efforts and engage in extensive planning before introducing differentiated curriculum. Whenever possible, consider highly personalized curriculum to meet student needs. Ability grouping and flexible grouping can improve the effectiveness of strengths-based learning. Grouping can be predicated on ability, interests, and desired outcomes. A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.
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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: email@example.com
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad