Gifted Readers and Reading Instruction (page 2)

By — Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education)
Updated on Jul 26, 2007

According to Levande (1993), "reading programs for the gifted should take into account the individual characteristics of the children, capitalize on the gifts they possess, and expand and challenge their abilities." Shaughnessy (1994) also recommends expanded literacy activities, such as guest speakers in the classroom, creative writing, and tie-ins of books with television or movies.

Most schools and teachers have the leeway to choose the instructional method and materials or gifted reading program that best fit their students' needs. There are several diverse specially designed programs that are popular with many school districts. Dooley (1993) cautions that "a stimulating reading program for gifted readers has at least two major components: provisions for mastering the basic curriculum quickly through curriculum compacting, and a differentiated curriculum created through modifications of the content and the processes used to explore that content." We will return to Dooley's points a little later in this Digest.
Levande (1993) cites the triad enrichment model, inquiry reading, and the Junior Great Books Reading and Discussion Program as being used most frequently in American classrooms.

The triad enrichment model is based on giving gifted children the opportunity for self-directed reading and independent study. The enrichment triad incorporates three types of activities: (1) exploratory activities in which students examine areas of interest and then decide on a problem or topic to study in depth; (2) activities in which students are provided with the technical skills and thinking processes needed to investigate the research topic selected in the first step; and (3) activities in which students explore their topic through individual or small group work. The end result should be a product which documents the student's learning process (Levande, 1993).

Inquiry reading is a 4-week program which enables the gifted reader to research a topic in which he/she is actively interested. The program is geared for third grade and above. The student selects the topic, researches it, and presents his/her findings to the other students. Levande (1993) points out that this approach can be used in a classroom that uses basal readers, during the time that the basals are being used by most of the students.

The Junior Great Books Program offers a series of literature readings for grades 2 through 12 (Halsted, 1990). It is a well-known and venerable program, complex and highly structured, and challenging for the student.

Levande also advocates investigating the following recommended instructional models for gifted readers: AIME, reading-strategy lessons, DRTA (Directed Reading Teaching Activity), and vocabulary development through literature.

With the current emphasis on whole language instruction comes the elimination of ability grouping and thus, a special challenge for educating the gifted reader. Ganopole (1988) advocates a certain degree of flexibility in reading instruction in whole language classrooms, and emphasizes the use of authentic materials in meaningful contexts, a modified use of basals, acceptance of divergent student responses, etc.

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