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Gifted in Middle School

"Because middle school educators emphasize the negative impact of homogeneous grouping on at-risk learners, heterogeneity has become a hallmark descriptor of "good" middle schools (Carnegie Task Force on the Education of Young Adolescents, 1989). But educators of the gifted value the benefits of ability grouping for advanced learners..." Carol Ann Tomlinson, Gifted Learners and the Middle School: Problem or Promise?

See also ...  Curriculum Modifications and Grouping and Gifted Adolescents

Mayhem in the Middle: How Middle Schools Have Failed America - and how to make them work Recommended by Cheri Pierson Yecke, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Those [middle schools] that embraced middle schoolism have lost their way. Middle schoolism is partially based on the now-discredited theory... that teaching complex material during that period will have damaging effects. It is time for a thorough reform of middle grade education, including a new focus on high standards, discipline, and accountability for student achievement.  .. (requires Adobe Reader)
Meeting the Needs of High Ability and High Potential Learners in the Middle Grades: A Joint Position Statement of the National Middle School Association and the National Association for Gifted Children Recommended
Curriculum and Instruction: Advanced middle grade learners thus require consistent opportunities to work at degrees of challenge somewhat beyond their particular readiness levels, with support necessary to achieve at the new levels of proficiency... (requires Adobe Reader)
A Myth About College Planning: It's Not Too Early to Start! Recommended by Avis Wright
A college planning checklist for middle school students and their parents, from knowing your support personnel to studying the right subjects to moving ahead with accelerated learning, distance education and advanced classes.  Time management and study skills are another important detail, and...
Smart Teens' Guide to Living with Intensity: How to Get More Out of Life and Learning Recommended by Lisa Rivero
A guide for pre-teens and teens who are a little more... more intense, more creative, more interesting, and yes, sometimes even called "more difficult."  A teen's perspective into growing up as a gifted teen today.  And for the parents, A Parent's Guide to Gifted Teens: Living with Intense and Creative Adolescents Recommended
Surviving or Thriving? Gifted middle school boys with learning disabilities Recommended by Mary Ruth Coleman, in Gifted Child Today
Teachers often view gifted students as outstanding performers and see these students as top picks for their classes. Yet, not all gifted-students thrive in school. For gifted students with learning disabilities, school is not always the most comfortable place. What have we have learned in the last 30 years?
Teaching Gifted Kids in Today's Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use Recommended by Susan Winebrenner
Updated third edition for a new generation of teachers and classrooms.
An excellent guide to modifying curriculum for gifted elementary and middle school students in the regular classroom
Academic Diversity in the Middle School: Results of a National Survey of Middle School Administrators and Teachers by Tonya R. Moon, Carol A. Tomlinson and Carolyn M. Callahan
Teachers and principals report that academically diverse populations receive very little, if any, targeted focus in middle school. They hold beliefs that underchallenge advanced middle school students. The overwhelming majority of responding educators believe middle schoolers are more social than academic, concrete thinkers, extrinsically motivated, and work best with routine. More alarming, nearly half of the principals and teachers believe that middle school learners are in a plateau learning period... (requires Adobe Reader)
The Brain's Left and Right Sides Seem to Work Together Better in Mathematically Gifted Middle-School Youth, an APA Press Release
Mathematically gifted teens did better than average-ability teens and college students on tests that required the two halves of the brain to cooperate, as reported in the April issue of Neuropsychology...
Developing Verbal Talent by Michael Thompson
"Verbal talent is developed by new verbal experience.  If this seems too obvious, we must recall that it flies in the mass face of an educational culture that avoids the shock of difficulty in the name of self-esteem; giving students things they can do, the theory is, builds their self-esteem. Developing verbal talent in gifted children doesn’t work that way..."
Differentiating Instruction for Advanced Learners in the Mixed-Ability Middle School Classroom (ERIC Digest #536) by Carol Ann Tomlinson
An overview of some key principles for differentiating instruction, with an emphasis on the learning needs of academically advanced learners
Educating Gifted Students in Middle School: A Practical Guide by Susan Rakow 
Practical information about meeting the unique needs of gifted students in middle school. Focuses on helping teachers, administrators, and parents to: understand gifted middle school students, implement effective program models, define the role of the gifted teacher, identify best practices for the classroom, and apply curriculum ideas that are effective and research based...
Focus on the Wonder Years: Challenges Facing the American Middle School by Jaana Juvonen, Vi-Nhuan Le, Tessa Kaganoff, Catherine Augustine, and Louay Constant (RAND Publications)
Young teens undergo multiple changes that seem to set them apart from other students. But do middle schools actually meet their special needs?  While not specifically written about gifted children, the proposals in this report would be equally valuable to the middle school gifted child
Four Simple Steps to Self-Advocacy by Deborah Douglas
 I can’t read your mind,” I told my son when he was a teenager, “so give me a little help here. What would make school better for you?” His shrug and blank stare told me that he didn’t really know how to describe what he needed. ... Fifteen years later as a gifted education coordinator, I still get that blank stare from many of the young people with whom I work—who don’t know how to ask, don’t know what to ask for, don’t even know that they can ask. Now, however, I have a plan to help them create a more successful, satisfying school experience...
Gifted Adolescents by Paula Olszewski-Kubilius (or from Amazon)
Focuses on talent development in adolescence, critical issues facing adolescents, and implications for educational practice and parenting...
Gifted and in the Middle: Addressing the Needs of Gifted Middle School Students by Joseph S. Renzulli and Susannah Richards
A series of techniques that are designed to assess each student's mastery level of regular curricular material; adjust the pace and level of required material to accommodate variations in learning; and provide enrichment and acceleration alternatives for students who have, or can, easily master regular material faster than the normal pace (requires Adobe Reader)
Gifted Education and Middle Schools an ERIC Mini-bibliography
Gifted Learners and the Middle School: Problem or Promise? (ERIC Digest #535) by Carol Ann Tomlinson
Historically, tension has existed between gifted education and middle school education, leaving some advocates of each educational practice suspicious of the other, and gifted middle school students in a sort of educational no-man's-land
Helping Adolescents Adjust to Giftedness (ERIC Digest #489) by Thomas M. Buescher and Sharon Higham
 The developmental issues that all adolescents encounter exist also for gifted students, yet they are further complicated by the special needs and characteristics of being gifted. Once counselors and parents are aware of these obstacles, they seem better able to understand and support gifted adolescents...
High End Learning in the Diverse Middle School: Investigating the Possibilities by Catherine Brighton and Holly Hertberg
Achieving middle school classrooms where all learners find both acceptance and genuine challenge requires a shift in how we conceive the roles of students and teachers
Importance of Assessing Spatial Ability in Intellectually Talented Young Adolescents: A 20-Year Longitudinal Study by Daniel L Shea, David Lubinski and Camilla P. Benbow
"...Spatial ability added incremental validity to the SAT-M and SAT-V assessments in predicting educational - vocational outcomes over these successive time frames [age 13, 18, 23, and 33].  It appears that spatial ability can compliment contemporary talent search procedures..."  (requires Adobe Reader)
Influences of Gender on Academic Achievement by Miriam R. Linver, Pamela E. Davis-Kean and Jacquelynne S. Eccles
For both boys and girls, math grades fall over the course of junior high and high school. Young women achieve at comparable or higher levels in math as males, but their interest especially for the high achieving females, is the same or lower than males. Our results, also, suggest that for young men in higher-level math tracks, math interest is much more strongly related to math school grades than for young women in the same math courses...
Journal of Secondary Gifted Education
Offers education professionals comprehensive and critical information needed for building an effective educational environment for gifted adolescents
Middle-School Parents Have Good Intentions but Little “College Knowledge” in the Duke Gifted Letter
Despite good intentions, few parents of middle-school children are taking the actions needed to ensure their children can attend college.  Many families of middle-school students...are not sufficiently aware of postsecondary education options...
NAGC Middle Grades Division
NAGC division dedicated explicitly to this unique population.  Don't miss the Middle Matters Newsletter Archives  (requires Adobe for newsletters), especially
bullet Grouping
bullet April 2006 - IB-MYP and Pre-AP
bullet July 2006 - Underachievement and Gifted Students
Parenting Gifted Adolescents by Glenda L. Griffin, Gifted Child Today ($)
A great guide to the adolescent years with our gifted ... young adults!
Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Guidance on teaching the Gifted + Talented
For teachers, coordinators and others involved in teaching the gifted and talented in the context of an inclusive curriculum. Now includes information and case studies on providing for gifted and talented 14- to 19-year-olds...
Schools seek to kindle gifted by Heather Woodward, The Olympian
"The Challenge Academy was created to meet the special academic needs of our middle school gifted population. There is often the expectation that gifted kids will learn in spite of whatever curriculum they have, but we want them to learn because of it."  The academy is intended to fill a previous gap between North Thurston's gifted elementary school program and the Advanced Placement classes for high school students.
Talent Development: Accommodating the social and emotional needs of secondary gifted/learning disabled students by F. Richard Olenchak
Secondary school students who are concomitantly gifted and learning disabled is especially at risk for poor academic performance. Often, their sense of self has been damaged by schools' overemphasis on their disabilities at the expense of efforts aimed at enhancing their strengths.  This exploration advocates the development of individual student talent as a philosophical theme for schools to accommodate the social and emotional needs among gifted/learning disabled youth. Descriptions of several educational innovations and reform components, likely to enhance talent development, are included...
Teenage Brain: A work in progress by National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH)
A brief overview of research into brain development during adolescence.  ...NIMH's Dr. Judith Rapoport and colleagues were surprised to discover a second wave of overproduction of gray matter, the thinking part of the brain—neurons and their branch-like extensions—just prior to puberty...
Also read Imaging Study Shows Brain Maturing and view the time-lapse 3-D movie that compresses 15 years of human brain maturation, ages 5 to 20...
The War Against Excellence: The Rising Time of Mediocrity in America's Middle Schools by Cheri Pierson Yecke
Radical activists do not see the American middle school as an organization to impart academic knowledge, but as an instrument through which they can force social change. Yecke, an experienced teacher and administrator, shows how these activists have implemented their plans and endangered the education of all middle school children--especially those who are gifted... 
Why Nerds are Unpopular by Paul Graham
I know a lot of people who were nerds in school, and they all tell the same story: there is a strong correlation between being smart and being a nerd, and an even stronger inverse correlation between being a nerd and being popular. Being smart seems to make you unpopular.  Why?

See also ...  Curriculum Modifications and Grouping and Gifted Adolescents

Last updated December 01, 2020

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