Education Opinion

Gift a Teacher

By Tamara Fisher — October 04, 2011 12 min read
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A couple of months ago, as part of my encouragement to you to help a teacher “see the light” regarding gifted students, I suggested giving a regular classroom teacher a book about gifted education. Some of you asked for specific suggestions, and today I have that list for you. This is by no means a complete list of great options; rather, it’s a list of many good possibilities with which I happen to have some familiarity. Anyone who has another book to recommend that I don’t have on the list below is certainly welcome to mention it in the comments section. In most cases, I have linked the book’s title to the publishing company’s webpage where you can purchase it.

For teachers who want ideas of in-class strategies they can implement to differentiate for their advanced learners:

Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century, by Richard Cash. Along with the enclosed CD-ROM, this handbook is an excellent resource for those teachers who are ready to take their differentiation strategies to the next level.

Assessing Differentiated Student Products: A Protocol for Development and Evaluation, by Julia Roberts and Tracy Inman. This resource offers a multitude of ideas for how teachers can offer and assess a variety of types of student products.

Curriculum Compacting, by Sally Reis, Deborah Burns, and Joseph Renzulli. This book is widely recognized as the complete guide to modifying the regular curriculum for high ability students.

Curriculum Compacting: An Easy Start to Differentiating for High-Potential Students, by Sally Reis and Joseph Renzulli. This is a “compacted” version of the original, more in-depth version mentioned directly above.

Differentiating Content for Gifted Learners in Grades 6-12: A CD-ROM of Customizable Extensions Menus and Study Guides, by Susan Winebrenner. This CD provides detailed information about how to differentiate content for gifted and high-ability learners in the middle and high school grades. It includes more than 140 customizable forms and templates for teachers to adapt to their own purposes and needs. All academic subjects are covered, along with relevant examples.

Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How to Reach and Teach All Learners, Grades 3-12, by Diane Heacox. Together with the included CD-ROM of customizable forms, this handbook outlines the principles behind differentiation along with multiple strategies for classroom implementation.

Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum, by Carol Ann Tomlinson, Caroline Cunningham Eidson, and Cindy Strickland. These handbooks, one designed for grades K-5, one for grades 5-9, and one for grades 9-12, are the ultimate resource on differentiation strategies and philosophy.

Helping Gifted Children Soar: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers, by Carol A. Strip and Gretchen Hirsch. A widely-renowned favorite in the “gifted books” collection, this all-in-one handbook covers every aspect of information about parenting and teaching gifted children.

Making Differentiation a Habit, by Diane Heacox. Together with a CD-ROM of customizable forms, this teacher-friendly handbook offers a plethora of tools and strategies to help teachers make differentiation a habit in their classrooms.

A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students, by Nicholas Colangelo, Susan Assouline, and Miraca Gross. A thorough compilation of 50+ years of comprehensive research on student acceleration. It contains articles, research statistics, and an important discussion of the nuts and bolts of acceleration issues. In particular, the material documents the overwhelming evidence that appropriate acceleration has positive benefits for gifted students. Available for download at the title’s link.

The Practical Strategies Series in Gifted Education, edited by Frances Karnes and Kristen Stephens. All 25 of the books in this series can be purchased individually. Each is a condensed handbook on a specific gifted education topic, excellent for someone who is wanting to begin learning about a specific gifted education topic or someone who wants an easy-to-use handbook for getting started.

Primary Education Thinking Skills: A Curriculum for Higher Level Thinking (four book set), by various authors. Created for K-2 classrooms, these books include hundreds of activities that promote the development of convergent, divergent, visual, and evaluative thinking skills. Books can also be purchased individually.

Raising a Gifted Child: A Parenting Success Handbook, by Carol Fertig. Despite its title, this book is an excellent resource for teachers, too. It covers every angle of information about gifted children together with a comprehensive list of suggested resources.

Re-Forming Gifted Education: How Parents and Teachers Can Match the Program to the Child, by Karen Rogers. From her analysis of research that spans a full century, the author describes various types of gifted children, as well as options for school enrichment and acceleration and the effectiveness of each option. Also shown are practical ways to design ongoing programs that best meet the needs of bright children. (For teachers who would want a very in-depth resource.)

Scamper Combined Edition, by Bob Eberle. Adaptable to any grade level, these activities promote the development of creativity and imagination.

Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom, by Susan Winebrenner. This book offers strategies and techniques every teacher can use to meet the academic needs of gifted and talented students in the regular classroom. It includes information on curriculum compacting and contracting for various subject areas, cluster grouping, characteristic behaviors of gifted and talented students, and ways to create more challenging activities for gifted students, plus more. A CD-ROM of customizable forms in the book is also available.

Teaching Young Gifted Children in the Regular Classroom: Identifying, Nurturing, and Challenging Ages 4-9, by Joan Franklin Smutny, Sally Yahnke Walker, and Elizabeth Meckstroth. This excellent resource provides information on identifying the young gifted child, creating a challenging learning environment, compacting the curriculum, promoting creativity, discovery, and critical thinking, and understanding and meeting a young gifted child’s social and emotional needs, plus more.

For teachers who want to learn about the social and emotional needs of gifted students:

Coping for Capable Kids: Strategies for Parents, Teachers, and Students, by LeoNora M. Cohen & Erica Frydenberg. A thorough look at many issues and problems common to gifted kids, plus strategies for how to deal with them. Includes chapters on perfectionism, boredom, underachievement, drug and alcohol use, anorexia and bulimia, depression and suicide, developing social skills, metacognition, emotional development, goal setting, coping with change, family functioning, dealing with feeling different, and many others.

Intelligent Life in the Classroom: Smart Kids and Their Teachers, by Karen Isaacson and Tamara Fisher. This book highlights the traits and characteristics of gifted students, told through narrative, real-life examples and with healthy doses of humor and insight.

A Love for Learning: Motivation and the Gifted Child, by Carol Strip Whitney and Gretchen Hirsch. De-motivating factors can lead to underachievement and even depression in gifted students. With the four C’s (Challenge, Commitment, Control, and Compassion) and the strategies described in this book, parents and teachers can pro-actively help gifted students to maintain their motivation.

Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders, by James Webb, Edward Amend, Nadia Webb, Jean Goerss, Paul Beljan, and Richard Olenchak. The traits and characteristics of giftedness share some similarities with various disorders, yet the psychologists who diagnosis these disorders receive no training in their educations about the various manifestations of giftedness and their similarities with these disorders, nor how to distinguish between the two. As a result of their slim knowledge of the gifted, psychologists around the country have mistakenly misdiagnosed many gifted children and adults as having one of these (or other) disorders. This important text is the first to differentiate how giftedness and these disorders - though at first blush similar - are actually separate and distinct. While it is possible for an individual to be gifted and also have one of these disorders (some do), it’s important for parents, teachers, and psychologists to know the differences so that a mistaken diagnosis is not made and so that accurate diagnoses are made.

On the Social and Emotional Lives of Gifted Children, by Tracy Cross. With insights for both teachers and parents, this collection of in-depth chapters provides a thorough examination of the complexity of social and emotional challenges faced by gifted children.

Removing the Mast: Giftedness in Poverty, by Ruby Payne and Paul Slocumb. One volume from Ruby’s renowned collection of works on students from poverty, this book focuses on gifted students who live in poverty and how best to identify them. The book also provides a wealth of examples of the unique needs and issues of gifted students who come from a poverty background.

The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? edited by Maureen Neihart, Sally Reis, Nancy Robinson, and Sidney Moon. A service publication of the National Association for Gifted Children, this book summarizes and highlights all of the best and most current research regarding the social and emotional development of gifted children. Over twenty specific topics are covered.

To Be Gifted and Learning Disabled, by Susan Baum and Steven Owen. The gifted and learning disabled child exhibits remarkable talents in some areas and disabling weaknesses in others. This book covers the research behind this phenomenon and strategies to assist parents, teachers, and students who struggle with this challenge.

When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs, by James Delisle and Judy Galbraith. A comprehensive compilation for any adult who lives or works with gifted students, this book offers proven, practical suggestions for encouraging social and emotional growth among gifted kids. Based on classroom experience, survey data, current research, and contributions from students, it explains what giftedness means and how gifted kids are identified. It also focuses on ways to create a supportive environment for all gifted students, ways to advocate for gifted education, and covers many social/emotional issues common to gifted youth, including perfectionism, boredom, and underachievement.

Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades: And What You Can Do About It - A Six-Step Program for Parents and Teachers, by Silvia Rimm. Underachieving gifted students are a complex and confusing phenomenon to most adults. How is it that such capable children can sometimes not do well in school? This book analyzes the factors contributing to underachievement and outlines a plan for how parents and teachers can help get these students back on track.

You Know Your Child is Gifted When...: A Beginner’s Guide to Life on the Bright Side, by Judy Galbraith. This book blends humorous cartoons with solid information on giftedness -its characteristics, challenges, and joys,- plus reassuring and insightful first-person stories from those who have been there. (Available as a PDF download.)

For teachers who want to challenge their students in specific content areas:

Challenge Math: For the Elementary and Middle School Student, by Edward Zaccaro. With chapters on statistics, probability, trigonometry, algebra, and much more, this great resource is full of challenging problems for students who crave harder math. Each problem includes challenging extensions in Level 1, Level 2, and the Einstein Level.

Plexers: Arithmetic, by David Hammond, Tom Lester, and Joe Scales. Perfect for Math classrooms of grades 6-12, this resource offers 270+ highly challenging word puzzles that all relate to mathematics.

Plexers: Science, by David Hammond, Tom Lester, and Joe Scales. Perfect for Science classrooms of grades 6-12, this resource offers 284 highly challenging word puzzles that all relate to science, including the areas of biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology, and physics.

Plexers: Social Studies, by David Hammond, Tom Lester, and Joe Scales. Perfect for History and Social Studies classrooms of grades 6-12, this resource offers 273 highly challenging word puzzles that all relate to social studies, including the areas of anthropology, government, history, politics, and sociology.

Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers from Pre-School to High School, by Judith Wynn Halsted. This guide for parents, teachers, librarians, and counselors offers updated background information on the emotional and intellectual needs of gifted children, describes typical reading patterns of high ability readers and their need for reading guidance, and includes an annotated bibliography of over 300 books carefully selected to be useful in promoting the intellectual and emotional development of high-ability children.

Super Sentences, by Susan Winebrenner. With sections for different ability levels, this resource provides challenging vocabulary activities for grades 3-12.

The Ten Things All Future Mathematicians and Scientists Must Know (But are Rarely Taught), by Edward Zaccaro. Mathematicians and scientists have been closely tied to many famous disasters. The Challenger explosion, the failure of the Mars Orbiter, and the Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkway collapse all involved thinking errors. This book presents the ten things our future mathematicians and scientists must know to prevent these kinds of tragedies from occurring. Because science and mathematics instruction is often dominated by facts and calculation, children are rarely exposed to these important concepts. Over 50 stories are included that show children the strong connections between mathematics and science and the real world.

(And even more great challenging math books by Edward Zaccaro...)

In addition to the options listed above, you can find many other suggested books in the National Association for Gifted Children online store and at the Hoagies site.

Happy shopping and gifting! :o)

The opinions expressed in Unwrapping the Gifted are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.