Talent and Talent Development in the Classroom


Chapter 5 – Cognitive Ability: Intelligence, Talent, and Achievement

Submitted by Katie Williams


There are two schools of thought about talent; both are up for much debate in the psychological and pedagogical world. One belief is that talent consists of the innate ability to perform a skill well. The other belief is that talent is about intense practice that is repeatedly performed correctly.

Whether you believe talent is natural or a practiced skill, fundamentals for developing a talent are consistent. Below are a list of ways educators can develop talent in students.

Developing Talent

Several ways to develop talent consist of:

1)      Persistence – Setting aside time to deliberately practice a skill and practice it correctly. Deliberate practice means taking on challenging tasks that promote higher level thinking. Educators should give immediate feedback so learners are practicing correctly. This feedback should inform the development of the skill rather than controlling the student. Focus on learning, not on making grades so students are more willing to take risks throughout the development process.

2)      Opportunity – Each child should be given the opportunity to work at the highest level possible. This is why differentiation in the classroom is so important for academic talent to be developed. Distinct planning should go into classroom differentiation. Educators should be able to provide students with the necessary background knowledge to truly foster their development.

3)      Accommodations – Learners are accommodated in honing a skill, whether it is art, music, athletic, or academic talent.

4)      Motivation – Students have a drive to continue with a talent and have a willingness to practice, even when honing the skill becomes more difficult. Set goals with students to motivate them to keep going.

5)      Passion – Create in students a love for the talent they will be practicing and lay the foundation for the talent. This requires teacher knowledge of student needs.

6)      Collaboration and Support – Work with students, parents, and community to encourage the talent. Students need support from everyone involved in order to keep developing a skill and see continuing progress.

7)      Effort – Learners need to put forth effort in order to develop a skill. Help them to see the connection between effort and achievement. Even if students have an innate ability, they must put forth effort to see results.

8)      Relevance – In order to hone talent development and see optimal results. Relevant, accelerated, and high-interest activities create the most appropriate learning environment for talent development.

9)      Celebrate – Learning should be celebrated! This creates a learning environment where students want to continually develop their talents.

Educators are critical to developing talents of their students. When educators understand that rigor, relevance and relationships come together to develop talent, students are sure to succeed at high levels of learning!


Bergin, C. A., & Bergin, D. A. (2012). Cognitive Ability: Intelligence, Talent and Achievement Child and Adolescent Development In Your Classroom (pp. 185-191). Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Gagné, Françoys (2007, Spring). “Ten Commandments for Academic Talent Development,” Gifted Child Quarterly, Spring 2007 Vol 51 (pp. 93-118)

Landvogt J. Affecting eternity: Teaching for talent development. Roeper Review. June 2001;23(4):190. Available from: Academic Search Elite, Ipswich, MA. Accessed September 17, 2013.

Roberts, Julia Link (2008, March). “Talent Development: A ‘Must’ for a Promising Future,” The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 89, No. 7 (pp. 501-506) Phi Delta Kappa International, http://www.jstor.org.proxy.mul.missouri.edu/stable/20442546

Discussion Questions

1)      What are you doing to develop expertise in your students?

2)      What are the qualifications for students to enter a gifted program? Should they be changed?

3)      What talents do you have in your career? How are you developing your talents to better serve your students?

4)       In what ways could school districts address the narrowing view of giftedness?

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3 Responses to Talent and Talent Development in the Classroom

  1. Leslie says:

    2) What are the qualifications for students to enter a gifted program? Should they be changed?

    At our school, students need to be referred for the gifted program. If an elementary teacher notices qualities in a student that is above the average student, they will refer that student for our gifted program. Parents and building principals can also refer students. Our program is called H.A.T.S. It stands for Harrisonville’s Academically Talented Students. Students start to qualify for the gifted program in 3rd grade. After a student is referred, the building principal will look at that students SRI score as well their end of year math assessment from the previous year. If that child scores in the 95% or above, they will continue in the referral process. After that, the child will take the WISC-IV and the Woodcock-Johnson. They must then score 95% or above. Not very many students that are referred make it into the gifted program. I think out of 17 that got referred last year, 1 made it in.
    I think it is a good thing that the program is hard to get into because it makes it very special when a student gets in. If the requirements were low, everybody would be in it and it wouldn’t be as great of a program. The only thing that concerns me is what happens to those 16 other students that didn’t make it in. Clearly they are above average or they wouldn’t have been referred at all. I feel like there should be a special program for them too. Maybe they could create a club or something to challenge those high students that didn’t make it in the top 95%.

  2. Brooke says:

    3) What talents do you have in your career? How are you developing your talents to better serve your students?

    Well this is a fun question to answer! I believe that one of my talents in my creativity. I enjoy and believe I am good at creating activities that give students hands on experiences, while exploring the world around them and simultaneously applying their ELA skills. I like to develop activities that are outside the box, that stray away from textbook learning and get the students excited about class. One project I developed last year with my 7th graders was to develop a magazine. Students worked in groups and read different magazines and then created their own making sure they modeled non-fiction text features, and they wrote their own editorial articles and current events. The activity held student interest and engagement was very high throughout the duration of the project. I think that by pursuing my graduate course work and getting ideas from other teachers and applying other strategies, I am able to develop my talent, share it, and implement it more readily in my classroom.

  3. Drew Ibendahl says:

    4) In what ways could school districts address the narrowing view of giftedness?

    In order for school districts to address the narrowing view of giftedness, there must be a concerted effort on the part of the faculty, staff, and administration to dedicate the extra time, energy, and resources into a broader view of giftedness. The majority of gifted programs in districts I have taught are based on high standardized test scores combined with GPA and teacher recommendations. I feel as though the gifted label most often refers to that small percentage of students meeting the aforementioned criteria and being pulled on a weekly basis from the regular classroom to meet with the gifted teacher. Although these gifted classes do only apply to that small percentage of students, a large population of the students (every other student) is being left out in some way. Should every student every student be allowed the opportunity to take part in this gifted class? I don’t feel every student is truly gifted by this particular measure, but I do feel every student is gifted in some aspect of their learning. How do we as educators address these talents and gifts possessed by students other than those based on test scores and GPA? I have been a part of a school district that developed exploratory classes based on student interests and talents (music, art, athletics, various content areas or topics within content areas, speech, and debate, etc.). Rather than labeling the classes as gifted, they are exploratory classes. Teachers team based on their personal interests and talents and work with their group of students on a weekly basis. Not only are students able to showcase their individual talents, but teachers do as well. In order for this approach to be successful, the teachers had to be willing to make the extra time to plan together for a completely different curriculum, possibly work in their small exploratory groups before and after school and work together with other exploratory groups to make sure students were getting the best possible experience from their groups. In addition, the administration needed to be flexible in the scheduling and budgeting to allow for additional materials for teachers to use with their groups. Unfortunately, not many schools have the opportunity or ability to create programs like this. Although I do not think very student is gifted in the traditional sense we often think of giftedness, I do think every student has gifts that they need to showcase and share with peers to become more successful in school and later in life.

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