The problem with test reviews is that many gifted kids will already thoroughly understand the concepts and won't need much, if any, review. So how do we keep them engaged when we are preparing for unit or end-of-year assessments?
The importance of reviews
First of all, it's very important that they participate in a review of some type. It's not just because they need to be doing what the rest of the class is doing – it's because they need to be firmly grounded in the subject matter of the test.
Gifted kids have to pass assessments just like other students and their scores count for reporting purposes. Plus, a solid review is a best practice for anyone taking a test – it's often necessary for kids to answer questions and explain their work in particular ways in order to demonstrate that they have mastered the standard.
You're going to be reinforcing all of this during your test reviews, so it is very important that your gifted kids hear, practice and demonstrate how well they understand the concepts to be tested.
Still, there will come a point when they simply don't need any further review and have demonstrated that they are ready… and this may come well before the rest of the class has reached the same point. Here are two ideas about how to keep them involved and on topic.
Helping with review prep
If you anticipate problems up front with some of your gifted learners, you can have them help with the review prep. Give them the task of coming up with a PowerPoint review for one or more of the standards that will be tested.
Be sure to get them started on the right foot by giving them the correct “I Can” statement and having them confirm their understanding before they get started on the slideshow.
Of course, you'll want to check in on that PowerPoint before they present it to the class! Not only does this ensure they are teaching the standard properly, but it will help them work out any nervousness they may have about presenting it.
They then present their review to the class and explain it as they go. Ideally, they will also come up with a few reinforcement activities or problems to hand out after they've completed their presentation. To wrap up, they can walk the rest of the class through correcting the review items by projecting a paper on the overhead screen using a document camera.
Talk about engagement! And all the time, they've been completely on task with the same standards as everyone else in your class.
Video tips: projects for gifted students
Review extension activities
The next approach is to simply have your gifted students focus on creating reinforcement activities (such as worksheets) without doing a presentation.
In this case, they can work on a broader range of standards. They can even work on standards that you are also reviewing with the class; they create extra problems or questions that are even more challenging than the ones you come up with.
Again, they are completely on-topic, on task and on-standard but are extending their own knowledge.
The payoff for gifted students
Certain standardized tests allow students to keep pushing to higher and higher levels if they keep getting problems correct. I have experienced gifted students in my fourth-grade classroom testing out at the high school level for some concepts.
These are the kids who really pushed forward with my encouragement to extend their learning into related but advanced standards.
Do you want to experience a motivated gifted kid? Then watch their faces while you tell them they scored at the ninth or tenth grade level on a particular standard! That will really fuel their desire to keep challenging themselves.