Helping when gifted students fall behind

Working with gifted/talented students who are not accustomed to being challenged by coursework can be a challenge for teachers and mentors. These issues can be compounded if challenging coursework is also presented on a self-paced platform, such as in IOAPA courses. Educators will want to help students shift their mindsets surrounding the amount of time homework for an advanced course might actually take. Previously, they may have been able to put off homework until the last minute and still complete it on time because the material was less challenging. Now, they need to allocate extra time to work through difficult assignments. Additionally, with the self-paced component, students must adjust to a new level of responsibility by providing their own reminders to stay on track as opposed to being reminded by their teacher of upcoming due dates at the end of each class.

What are some ways we can help students develop these important and transferable skills?

If these are new skills, sometimes even the brightest students need some scaffolding for how to tackle these problems.

One easily explainable and structured way to do this is learning to set SMART goals.

SMART goals, while not a new concept, may be new to students and can be used in a variety of contexts. The SMART goals process provides some guidelines for setting goals that are attainable and have a built-in timepoint for follow-up, so they can be adjusted as needed. The acronym stands for:

  • Specific – make the goal as clear as possible
  • Measurable – think of how you would know that you have reached it
  • Attainable – make sure goals are realistic (this may need to be adjusted when put to the test)
  • Relevant – in this context relevance might be built in, but it never hurts to stop and think about why it is important to them
  • Time-bound – decide when it should be completed

This page describes this concept in more detail and provides questions that can help students with goal generation.

Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) is a partnership between the Belin-Blank Center and the State of Iowa to provide free access to 30 advanced online courses for Iowa students. This program is for Iowa students who would otherwise be unable to find these courses offered in their school district and therefore reduces geographic and resource-related barriers to success. IOAPA classes include Advanced Placement® courses for high school students as well as high school-level courses for eligible middle school students.

As always, please feel free to reach out to us at with any questions.

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