For my practicum last year, I was primarily teaching math and English to a grade 7/8 gifted class at Henry Larsen Elementary School in Orleans. At first, it was a real challenge because they would come up with theories, explanations, and answers that I had difficulty understanding! However, with the support of my associate teacher and my co-student teacher, I was able to successfully teach them content and make them think critically about their tasks at hand.
For math, they enjoyed the Problem of the Week problems set out by the University of Waterloo (access them here). My associate teacher had previous year’s problems (and solutions) in a neatly organized binder, so I would print a few off as extension / follow-up activities to the main lesson (which was usually either handouts, textbook work, or questions / hands-on activities for them to explore). The students enjoyed doing these in pairs or in their table groups and were always able to come up with a solution and eager to show the class. Fortunately, we had a document camera that made it easy for students to come up and explain their thinking.
In addition to the University of Waterloo’s weekly math problems, I used the student textbook (Nelson Mathematics, Grade 7, Grade 8; access the student centre here), Leaps and Bounds, and the TIPS4RM resources from the Ontario Ministry of Education. You can check out the unit and subsequent lesson plans that I planned and used for 3D Geometry and Measurement here.
Teaching gifted students definitely kept me on my toes- they always had questions, theories, and ideas that they wanted me to answer, discuss, and approve. The students taught me that there are many ways of interpreting and solving problems, and I learned that open-ended questions that extended their critical thinking skills was an effective way to challenge their learning.