Talent & gifted: Programs and characteristics

Contents Overview

This page includes general information related to talented and gifted programs. Information to use when developing, planning, implementing, and evaluating them. And specific information for the development of talent and characteristics of talent in mathematics and science.

Questions to guide selection of ideas for curriculum development & talented & gifted programs

Ideas to consider when designing, planning, and implementing curricular and pedagogical decisions.

The big question:

What kinds of individuals should talented and gifted learners become as a result of their educational experiences you could provide?

Some basic assumptions.


Questions to help elaborate your ideas.

Research on gifted & talented programs

Research findings.

Development of talent

Talent may just happen or be encouraged. It includes three levels of development, which are also characteristics of involvement.

  1. First, is the enjoyment level. A person enjoys participation in an activity that will lead to the talent. It can be pure personal enjoyment derived from a value or external support.
  2. Second, is effort and deliberate practice. A person sets goals to practice and attempt to deliberately get better at the activity or particular elements of the activity. Practice can be solitary or involve or include other participants as competitors, collaborators, supporters, observers, or coaches.
  3. Third, is a commitment to become really good, professional, or to achieve a fairly sophisticated goal. Whether you use Malcolm Gladwell’s 10 000 hours from Outliers as the time required for becoming an expert or you believe talent can decrease or lack of talent increase those hours of commitment and practice, I believe everyone will agree a lot of practice is essential for those with talent, or those to develop talent to become an expert.

Talent in science

Activities and experiences that influence science development:

  • Early involvement in science activities.
  • Parents interactions with their children. Asking why questions. Sharing information related to science. Probing understanding of explanations. Modeling ideas and explanations. Doing science related activities with their children.
  • Experience with cooking, building, tinkering, construction, art, sewing, electronic kits, science kits,
  • Visit science centers and museums.
  • Experiences with nature, playing outdoors, visits to parks, nature centers, gardening, bird watching, collecting insects.
  • Watching science centered videos.
  • Reading science centered media.
  • STEM and STEAM experiences.
  • Electing science courses when offered as electives.

Characteristics to recognize science talent

  • Demonstrate intense involvement in self-selected tasks.
  • Is ready to get to work with out directions.
  • Asks questions.
  • Learns from people.
  • Wants to know how things work. Takes things apart and puts them together.
  • Is curious about what she or he sees, feels, and hears.
  • Is interested in a variety of subjects.
  • Enjoys collecting objects related to science interests.
  • What to identify objects in collections.
  • Invents games related to science.
  • Possesses a "let’s try" approach.
  • Looks at pictures in books and magazines to learn.
  • Is a very good observer.
  • Notices detail others miss.
  • Uses words in unique ways to express feelings, observations, and knowledge.
  • Uses metaphors and analogies to explain.
  • Talks in a conversational manner. Listens and responds appropriately.
  • Organizes materials in meaningful ways.
  • Shows interest in and understanding of numbers, counting, quantity, measurement.
  • Avidly explores and enjoys nature.
  • Enjoys exploration of materials and ideas, both old and new.
  • Is easily motivated by field trips, books, and new materials.
  • Responds positively to adult suggestions that broaden the task being explored.
  • Accepts a challenge, expresses little fear of the unknown or difficulty.
  • Is persistent in science tasks.
  • Contributes ideas when problems occur.
  • Is creative in associating ideas with materials.
  • Is independent in thought and work habits.
  • Enjoys the spatial challenge of new and difficult problems.
  • Is self-confident
  • Assumes a leadership role


Talent in mathematics

Characteristics to recognize mathematical talent

  • Recognize patterns and rules
  • Organize materials
  • Apply patterns and rules in situations different from one experienced
  • Understand representations
  • Creates problems related to ones experienced often spontaneously
  • Handles data in a flexible manner
  • Organizes data in a systematic manner
  • Can generate a variety of ways to manipulate data or ideas
  • Has a fluency of ideas
  • Creates original interpretations
  • Has versatility to transfer ideas within mathematics and connect them to everyday life and the world
  • Uses mathematics and mathematical ideas to view and explain their observations and interactions with the world
  • Has the ability to generalize
  • Often prefer oral communication to written
  • Sometimes finds it difficult to explain their thinking
  • Sometimes finds it enjoyable to teach and sometimes difficult to teach
  • Less patient with routine and repetitive performance of algorithmic procedures
  • Prefer complex problems to simple
  • Use estimation and approximation routinely
  • Tend to move to abstract thinking quickly
  • Uses reversibility when solving problems
  • Able to use models, diagrams, illustrations, and other graphic material for mathematical purposes
  • Values metacognition, self talk, or discussion with peers during problem solving
  • Persists when doing mathematics
  • Enjoy doing mathematics
  • Has a desire to find the most elegant solution to problems
  • Left - handed, Allergic, near-sighted
  • Learn rapidly, retain what they learn

Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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