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creative thinking and problem solving in gifted education

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Reading and Math Enrichment Activities for Early Finishers & Gifted Students K-5

Reading and Math Enrichment Activities for Early Finishers & Gifted Students K-5

Pencils and Chalk

Enrichment Task Cards BUNDLE | Curiosities | Gifted Independent Activities

Undercover Classroom

SCAMPER Creative Thinking & Problem Solving Packet

Gifted Goodies and Resources

Student Leadership: Creative Group Problem Solving

Making Teaching a Little Easier

SCAMPER Posters Creative Thinking Posters

Spivey Sparks

Also included in:  Creative Thinking Activities

The Great Wall of China Create Problem Solving STEM Activity

The Great Wall of China Create Problem Solving STEM Activity

2nd grade is a HOOT

CRITICAL THINKING ACTIVITY: Math Magician Brain Teasers Problem Solving GATE

Barbara Evans

Logic Puzzles Math Problem Solving

STEM Critical Thinking Warm-ups

STEM Critical Thinking Warm-ups

Meredith Anderson - Momgineer

Also included in:  NEW STEM Teacher Bundle

Upper Elementary Challenging Math Problem Solving

Upper Elementary Challenging Math Problem Solving

Engaging a Creative Classroom

Creative Writing Acitivities | Growth Mindset | Gifted and Talented Curriculum

GATER Educator - Kris Prince

Also included in:  ELA Centers | Enrichment Activities for Gifted Students | Early Finishers 1

Creative Thinking Activities

Creative Thinking Activities

SNIBBLES: REALLY Creative Problem Solving Lessons & Mind-Stimulating Exercises..

SNIBBLES: REALLY Creative Problem Solving Lessons & Mind-Stimulating Exercises..

Sarah Fisher

Critical Thinking Skills Bundle

Teachers Toolkit

Weekly Brain Teasers to Improve Critical & Creative Thinking Skills

Jenifer Stewart

Flexible Thinking Activities | Creative Drawing and Writing | GT Activities

Also included in:  Critical Thinking Skills Bundle

Thinkercises (Level B) Logic & Problem Solving - PDF & Google Drive Versions

Thinkercises (Level B) Logic & Problem Solving - PDF & Google Drive Versions

Challenging Minds

'School Carnival Design' - A group problem solving math project

The Relief Teacher

Dr. Funster's Creative Thinking Puzzlers C1 - Problem-Solving Fun for 9-12 Grade

The Critical Thinking Co.

Spy: Codes and Ciphers and Critical Thinking

KJS Creative Curriculum

Also included in:  Codes, Ciphers and Critical Thinking: Spy Bundle #1

ELA Centers | Enrichment Activities for Gifted Students | Early Finishers 1

ELA Centers | Enrichment Activities for Gifted Students | Early Finishers 1

Introduction to Creative Problem Solving

Introduction to Creative Problem Solving

Ms Haynes Stretching Brains

Also included in:  Enrichment Lesson Bundle

Gifted and Talented - Created Creature Talents Unlimited Unit

Gifted and Talented - Created Creature Talents Unlimited Unit

Learning Highway

Enrichment Activities for Gifted Students | Critical Thinking Activities

Catch My Products

Also included in:  Printable Logic Puzzles and Brain Teasers or Virtual Worksheets

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Thinking and Learning

20 Principles

How Do Students Think and Learn?

Principles 1-8 relate to thinking and learning.

Students' beliefs or perceptions about intelligence and ability affect their cognitive functions and learning

Gifted students are more likely, but not always, to attribute failure to lack of effort rather than question their ability. When students believe their performance can be improved, they are acquiring a growth mindset that can bring to bear motivation and persistence when they encounter challenging problems or material.

Tips for teachers

What students already know affects their learning

Gifted learners tend to learn more efficiently than others. This unique academic need deserves to be addressed equitably in school. Researchers have learned that optimal learning occurs when there is a match between the challenge level of the learning task and skill level of the learner.

Teachers are instrumental in assessing what gifted students already know and providing them with opportunities to learn new material, challenge misconceptions and acquire new skills:

Student's cognitive development and learning are not limited by general stages of development

For students with advanced academic abilities and/or achievement, optimal cognitive and talent development depends on providing them with access to appropriately challenging content that can stimulate them intellectually. It is also important to note that cognitive abilities can be asynchronous (i.e., giftedness can be exhibited within a single domain and not carry over to the same extent to other domains or to noncognitive development).

Teachers should evaluate their students’ domain-specific cognitive reasoning abilities, relevant content knowledge, and social and emotional needs and adjust what material to present to them accordingly. Teachers are encouraged to consider strategies to maximize the growth of gifted students’ reasoning abilities, such as:

Learning is based on context. Generalizing learning to new contexts is not spontaneous; it needs to be facilitated

By using more sophisticated strategies for learning, thinking and problem solving than others their age, gifted students are more likely to spontaneously apply their knowledge in contexts quite different from those in which it was learned. This ability to use previously learned knowledge and skills in unfamiliar tasks contributes to the rapid pace of gifted students’ learning. Like their same-age peers, they can learn more and better ways to transfer and generalize, but peers will need more and different instruction, support and practice.

Developing gifted students’ transfer and generalization is best done by having them engage in activities that do the following:

Acquiring long-term knowledge and skill is largely dependent on practice.

Intelligence and talent provide the grounding for more efficient and effective use of instruction and practice. Many gifted students are capable of efficient knowledge acquisition and developing innovative mechanisms for encoding new information, retrieving knowledge, and applying skills. However, higher stages of skill and knowledge acquisition will inevitably require practice, concentration and targeted experiences.

Gifted students, like all students, must practice acquiring knowledge and skills they have not mastered and practice should be designed to appeal to their goals and aspirations, which can be gaining access to more enjoyable and creative work once mastery is achieved.

Clear, explanatory and timely feedback to students is important for learning.

It is preferable that when gifted students are working on problem solving and open-ended tasks, they be given opportunities to work through the problem-solving process and evaluate their progress independently rather than rely solely on a teacher’s external evaluation of their work. Teachers can facilitate this process by providing feedback at key stages that is clear and timely, providing scaffolding for complex tasks.

Students' self-regulation assists learning; self-regulatory skills can be taught.

Two types of learning strategies are crucial for self-regulated learning (SRL): cognitive learning strategies (e.g., rehearsal, organization, and elaboration strategies) and metacognitive learning strategies (e.g., self-assessment, goal setting and monitoring). Especially during their first years of schooling, gifted learners often achieve at high levels without relying on such learning strategies. However, when they transition into more challenging learning settings, or when they begin to work on attaining excellence in a given talent domain, SRL becomes essential for gifted learners, too.

Student creativity can be fostered

The relationship between creativity and giftedness varies — with some seeing creativity as a separate but related construct from giftedness; others seeing it as a component of giftedness; and still others seeing it as a subcategory of some other trait, such as intelligence, that contributes to giftedness. However, no matter the view, creativity can be fostered and enhanced in all leaners. 

The creative process is often misconstrued as being purely spontaneous or even frivolous, yet creativity and innovation are the result of disciplined thinking. For this reason, teachers can employ instructional strategies that can foster creativity by:

Creative, Talented and Gifted Principles

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creative thinking and problem solving in gifted education

What is Creative Giftedness, and How Can Creativity be Nurtured in Gifted Children?

Dr. Tali Shenfield | April 20, 2021

One of the most common misconceptions about gifted kids is the idea that these children automatically excel in every area. In reality, like all children, gifted kids have distinct individual aptitudes. This is especially apparent when it comes to creativity: Contrary to popular belief, not all intellectually gifted children are inherently creative , and not all creatively gifted kids are academically adept. Indeed, research indicates that possessing a high level of intelligence is not in itself a good predictor of creative ability.[1] Most experts therefore feel that advanced creativity constitutes its own distinct form of giftedness.

How Do Creatively Gifted Kids Differ from Intellectually Gifted Kids?

All gifted children tend to be imaginative and exhibit a heightened capacity for abstract thought. However, not all intellectually gifted kids prioritize academic achievement. This makes differentiating intellectually gifted children from creatively gifted children a challenge: Parents and educators can’t simply look at a child’s grades or examine which subjects he (or she) excels in and determine whether he’s intellectually or creatively gifted. Complicating matters further, not all creative individuals demonstrate remarkable skill in the visual or performing arts. Some creatively gifted children show a philosophical bend, for example, rather than taking an obvious interest in drawing, creative writing, or acting. Instead, to identify creative giftedness, parents and educators have to examine a child’s core traits. They have to look at the way he thinks, not just where he prefers to direct his energy. Some of the primary hallmarks of intellectual giftedness and creative giftedness are outlined below:

Traits of Intellectually Gifted Children

Traits of Creatively Gifted Children

Though all gifted kids face a risk of “falling through the cracks,” creatively gifted children are particularly difficult to identify and diagnose . If you suspect that your child is creatively gifted, it’s essential that you have your child assessed by an educational psychologist who is familiar with this distinctive set of cognitive abilities.

Nurturing Creativity in Gifted Children

Whether your child is intellectually or creatively gifted, helping him hone his creativity can improve his self-esteem, build upon his existing talents, and give him a vehicle for self-expression. Nurturing creativity at home will also counteract some of the unwanted effects of academic education: Research has shown that multiple aspects of the classroom environment suppress, rather than encourage, creativity. Evaluation, surveillance, deadlines, competition, and external rewards (like grades and privileges) have all been proven to lessen the intrinsic motivation that feeds creativity.[2] To make your home a fertile plain for the imagination, implement the four parenting strategies below:

1. Provide your child with the tools and materials he needs to express himself.

Having access to art supplies, an inexpensive camera, costumes for dress-up, and toys that facilitate creative play (e.g., building blocks) will go a long way towards helping your child express himself. Kids also benefit from having a dedicated space where they can make a mess, i.e., a room where they can build forts, leave partially completed projects out for days, etc.

2. Encourage imaginative play.

While your child is still small, teach him how to “play pretend.” If your child loves dinosaurs, for example, try suggesting that you both pretend to be prehistoric creatures. Pretend play has been shown to improve a number of skills that are essential for creativity, such as language skills, abstract thinking, and various social and emotional skills.

3. Make free time part of your child’s schedule.

Though it’s true that gifted kids need routine, it’s equally important to make sure your child isn’t perpetually occupied with homework and extracurricular activities. Our minds require unstructured time in order to generate new ideas. To cultivate creativity in your child , provide him with regular blocks of time where he’s free to pursue his own interests.

4. Help your child explore his ideas.

Feel free to debate concepts with your child and challenge his views, but don’t shut down his ideas—no matter how strange they seem. Instead, you should prompt your child to look at the same problem in different ways in order to generate multiple solutions. Your child should know that it’s okay to disagree with you; doing so won’t make him wrong or foolish.

Actively nurturing creativity will help your child develop a balanced, well-rounded intelligence. Intellectually gifted children who prioritize creativity feel more personally fulfilled and are less prone to perfectionism and “tunnel vision.” Creatively gifted kids who are given an enriching environment in which to explore their skills become more focused and goal-oriented. Regardless of your child’s intellectual status, self-expression and self-exploration are key components of happiness.

[1] Wellesley College (2005). The Study of Giftedness and Creativity-Two Separate But Parallel Trajectories. https://nrcgt.uconn.edu/newsletters/fall052/

[2] Amabile, T. M. (1983). The Social Psychology of Creativity. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.


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How to Foster Creative Problem-Solving in Gifted and Talented Students

Published On:    January 10, 2022

Updated On:     

Gifted and talented students might have an easier time understanding academic subjects, but these students still face their own set of challenges in the classroom. As high performers, they face heightened expectations, and when they do encounter a difficult situation, they can be prone to impatience or perfectionist tendencies.

Gifted and talented students often encounter social challenges such as trouble making friends, identity issues and even bullying. Teaching these students to problem-solve such issues on their own is a critical lesson, and a Master of Science in Education (MSE) degree with a major in Gifted, Talented, and Creative (GTC) from Arkansas State University arms educators with the necessary tools and knowledge to help students learn creative approaches and solutions for any situation.

Project-Based Learning

Projects outside of routine assignments can be a way to encourage alternative types of expressions and ideas . Many gifted students do not need to be lectured to or re-learn topics that they already understand. Instead, a project can be a way to harness that existing knowledge and channel it toward a different kind of challenge. This can be a great way to further the students' existing understanding. These projects can also offer an alternative outlet for students who learn differently and showcase their creativity or understanding of a subject or topic.

Computational-Thinking Lesson Plans

Computational thinking identifies a troubleshooting style of problem-solving that many people employ every day, often unconsciously. Originally coined in the computer science field, the process of computational thinking ​​"focuses on efficient data analysis, identification of solutions, persistence, solution implementation, and algorithmic thinking," according to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) . It's a way to combine different types of information to brainstorm wholesale solutions. NAGC suggests that the skills developed from computational thinking are applicable to any field, despite its origins in STEM fields.

In practice, computational-thinking lesson plans can also be quite simple. Data collection could be as easy as keeping track of daily weather conditions, with data analysis taking place when students are asked to create graphs or map out the weather and identify patterns. When students create directions, such as a cooking recipe, they can grasp the idea of algorithms and procedures. These kinds of active learning exercises help develop creative problem-solving as well as social-emotional skills like patience and communication.

Small Group Work

Even among gifted and talented students, no two learning styles are the same. As the Davidson Institute points out, "strategies that work for one group of gifted students won't necessarily work for all gifted students." Small group work can be a way to accommodate these differing styles by grouping together students who learn in similar manners. This can help create a more functional group dynamic.

Small groups also benefit gifted students by allowing them to work with peers of similar competency levels. Davidson Institute writes that asking gifted students to help tutor struggling students is a common mistake when teaching gifted students, as it creates a difficult interpersonal dynamic for both individuals. Smaller groups with other skilled peers can help gifted students remain challenged and engaged.

Creative Learning

One of the simplest ways to think about creative learning is taking an open-minded approach to how we think about expression and evaluation in the classroom. Creativity manifests itself in myriad ways, so it's important to allow for those avenues. As the American Psychological Association notes in its education blog, modern experts think of creativity as a set of attributes "that anyone is capable of: tolerating ambiguity, redefining old problems, finding new problems to solve, taking sensible risks, and following an inner passion."

This way of thinking about creativity helps us understand its value on a wider spectrum. Creativity is not a fixed trait; therefore, it manifests itself in many different ways on many different avenues. Teachers have options for promoting creative attitudes: They can offer chances for unrestricted creative journaling, foster an environment where creative risk-taking is accepted and encourage autonomy. Helping students understand when overly creative approaches are not necessary is an important counterbalance to creative expression as well.

Social Learning (Discussion)

Discussing ideas with teachers and peers is a crucial way for gifted students to understand what they've learned in context. It's also an important method of social development, the chance to share ideas with others and learn from them. The conversations and questions can challenge children's views and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of a subject.

Learn more about Arkansas State University's MSE in Gifted, Talented, and Creative online program .

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