Monday, July 13, 2015

LTW: Helping #Gifted Students Make Connections

Helping Gifted Students Make Connections

Welcome back to Lighting the Way: Teaching the Gifted Child. The past few weeks we have been discussing current brain research and how it influence gifted education. I hope you have enjoyed the previous posts. This week we are going to discuss how learning actually occurs in the minds of the gifted. Learning is the process of connecting one idea with another. The learning process does not depend upon the intellectual ability of the student. 

Making Connections

Dr. Pat Wolfe (Laureate, 2012) found that learning occurs when brain cells talk to each other. Dr. Siemens (Laureate, 2012) further explained that the act of learning is the process of creating and navigating a vast array of networks with in the brain. These networks are comprised of neurons that transmit information to other neurons via the axon. The axon is a tiny, rod looking part of a neuron that connects to other neurons. The information is received by a neuron through its dendrites.  Wolfe (Laureate, 2012) found every neuron has between 6,000 to 10,000 dendrites. Gross (2013) found gifted children produce more neurons in the brain than their non-gifted counterparts. This allows for the gifted students to process more complex thoughts. Munro (2013) found the network of neurons within gifted children were more complex than there non-gifted peers allowing for more greater activation in different parts of the brain. The complexity of these networks differs in each gifted child providing a different are of expertise.
One of the most widespread myths about gifted students is that they can teach
themselves. The problem with this myth is that gifted students often times need additional educational support because the unique cognitive difficulties they experience. Treffinger (2004) found meaningful connections cannot be made if there is a breakdown in a student’s focus or the ability to make a connection. Some gifted students have problems making connections they have a slow processing speed caused by ADD/ADHD. Butnik (2013) found gifted students with ADD/ADHD have poor executive functions that inhibit brain-based behaviors. Learning new information and retaining takes extra effort with this population of gifted students because of the problems in the student’s working memory. The gifted student with ADD/ADHD can process large amounts of information but it make take them longer to do so.

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