So where does our conversation begin with a group of newly identified gifted learners? In this activity, students create a 3D metaphor which serves as a vehicle for opening important conversations about giftedness.
We all know that addressing the social-emotional needs of gifted learners is an important part of any gifted and talented program; however, will a barrage of information about giftedness serve anyone well in the first hours of contact? Not likely.
On the first day, students are wondering what they’ll do in the gifted and talented program. There is an excitement at hand—but a cautious one. Parents are wondering what the GATE program entails and at the same time likely think back on their own experiences as gifted learners—experiences that may have been good or bad. At the same time, gifted learners’ classmates are wondering where their friends are going once a week or every day when they leave the classroom with that mysterious GATE teacher.
This opening 3D metaphor and discussion activity is designed to help students begin to understand giftedness and to provide a way for young gifted learners to talk to their friends about what this “GATE stuff” is all about. The activity also serves to open a line of communication between parents and the gifted and talented resource teacher. Furthermore, students begin working with metaphors on the first day and start to see that not all questions have right or wrong answers, but supporting opinions with details lends value to understanding.
As an opening session to GATE, this activity is not meant to be a comprehensive examination of giftedness and social-emotional awareness. Rather, the activity will lay the groundwork for important social-emotional issues which students will return to again and again throughout their program (and most likely throughout their lives): What is giftedness? What is perfectionism, and does it apply to me? How do I maintain friendships? What can I do with my gifts and talents?
Number one on the list of Delisle and Galbraith’s 8 Great Gripes of Gifted Kids is “No one explains what being gifted is all about—it’s kept a big secret.” Let’s start our discussion right there and continue by creating a “people” paper chain metaphor which will help students understand giftedness and provide them with a way to talk to their friends about gifts and talents. Finally, we’ll end our first day with a bit of homework as students take their precious gift metaphor home with them and invite their parents to learn about what they’ve created in their first GATE class.
This publication includes instructions and explanations concerning social-emotional issues GATE students face, discussion ideas for creating and examining the “people chain” metaphor,” a ready-to-print graphic organizer which can be used for unlocking the meaning of the metaphor (with sample responses), and a handy communication form which students can take home with them.