Monday, August 5, 2013

Reversing Gifted Underachievement


Inside the Mind of A Gifted Underachiever

this lens' photo
If your gifted child hates school, parents and teachers may be quick to label you as "trouble" or "defiant" or diagnose you with a number of disorders. This is far from the truth. There is nothing wrong with hating school. Oftentime the overlooked gifted child is a non-producer (low test scores/grades), exhibiting behavior problems, such as "cockiness" or "bulling." They may be introverted and quiet, even absent-minded.

Who Is The Gifted/Able Underachievers?


Low self-esteem; feelings of inferiority

Consistently negative attitude toward school and learning; apathetic and unmotivated

Poor attention span/daydreaming where bored

Low tolerance for completing tasks that seem irrelevant/uninteresting

Reluctance to take risks or exhibits inappropriate risk-taking

Discomfort with competition; highly sensitive to criticism

Lack of perseverance

Lack of goal-directed behavior

Social isolation

Low/inconsistent academic performance

Lack of organizational skills; loses or forgets assignments

Disruptiveness in class and resistance to class activities

Power struggles with authorities; questions rules and customs

Common Factors Of Underachievers At School and Home


Negative relationship or lack of student-teacher connection

Lack of supportive classroom climate

Low teacher expectations

School culture perpetuating low expectations or mediocrity; anti-intellectual peer atmosphere

Cultural mismatch between teaching and learning style

Lack of teacher training in culturally relevant or gifted education

Lack of differentiated, motivating instruction with flexibility/choice

Excessive use of competition or measured comparison


Lack of optimism

Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

Less assertive about child's education

Less assertive about child's education

Unrealistic and unclear expectations

Effective Strategy: Setting "Motivation Traps"

If teachers have not learned the effective strategy of motivation traps, they ought to know that this is a way to "bait" or "trap" students with high interest content into using and developing standards-based skills. It's a win-win strategy for both students and teachers. Students are given the opportunity to interact with high-interest topics during the instructional day (rather than being deliberately cut off from these topics), and teachers are able to hook students into interacting and comprehending academic standards.

What Are the Different Motivational Traps?

Some Categories:

Hero Traps-- Children all have heroes, famous athletes, movie stars, musicians, authors, etc. Teachers can find ways to incorporate students' heroes as bait in most disciplines. Examples: Letter writing to heroes, hero biographies, mock interviews of heroes, writing a movie script starring the hero, calculating and creating a statistics report for athletes, creating a budget using a hero's salary, timeline/geneaology chart of a hero's life, direct a music video of a hero's music or write our own music in the same style.

Intense-Interest Traps-- The intense interest can be dinosaurs, cars, video games, fashion, music, basketball, etc. and can be incorporated into classroom lessons or pursued by students through independent study. Examples: Independent study/research in an interest area, draw/label diagrams of interest to create a book, classify and categorize items of interest, measure/compute statistics (weight, price, speed, etc.), historical study of interest area.

Classroom Club Traps-- Promoting high-interest classroom clubs can help students with social and academic growth, combining high-interest "bait" and new peer relationship, thus encouraging leadership opportunities and problem-solving skills. Examples: Cooking Club (create recipes, public and sell cookbooks), Garden Club (study in past, present and future of agriculture), Classroom Journalism Club (interviews, book and movie reviews, editorials, photographs)

Social and Emotional Needs Traps-- Underachievers may grave acceptance and attention, which may be satisfied by this "trap." Examples: Note Passing to peers (involving pen-pal program) and positive notes about peers to report out to the class at a scheduled time.

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