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The Seven Components of Successful Programs for Mathematically Gifted Children (page 4)

By National Association for Gifted Children
Updated on Jan 15, 2009

Luke played soccer for years and eventually because of his perseverance and passion for the game, made and played on his high school team. He also had an ambition to make the All-State choir. To that end he practiced for years without success. The noises coming from his room were not always pleasant, but he continued to rehearse several hours each day until he finally made All-State in his senior year of high school.

Today Luke is not involved in either mathematics or violin. He is the vocal director and teacher at a high school in Wisconsin and also the varsity soccer coach and, from what I can see, very happy and content with his life’s direction.

6) Mathematically gifted children must be given material that truly challenges them and appropriately challenges them.

Bright math students usually pick up concepts so quickly that they are left with very little to do intellectually while the rest of the class masters the new material. In addition, the consequences of not challenging elementary children can be serious because children who are bored tend to develop thinking skills and work habits that are less than ideal.

One solution to this dilemma is to differentiate instruction. Look at the problems below. Notice how the complexity and difficulty increase as the levels increase. When children are presented with various degrees of difficulty, they are able to attempt problems that are just within their cognitive grasp. This not only enables them to grow intellectually, but also helps nurture a passion for mathematics.

Level 1: Eight gallons were poured into a gas tank that was 1/4 full. Now the tank is 3/4 full. How many gallons does a full tank hold?

Level 2: Sound takes 5 seconds to go one mile. Clark is standing near a rock wall and when he shouts, it takes 20 seconds for the echo to reach his ears. How far away is the rock wall?

Level 3: A sprinkler that waters in a circular pattern shoots water to a distance of 15 feet. If the sprinkler is set in the middle of a 30 foot by 30 foot yard, how many square feet of the lawn does the sprinkler miss?