Action for Bright Children (ABC) Calgary Society

Characteristic Behaviors of Gifted & Talented Students


from Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom by Susan Winebrenner

Gifted students may exhibit many, but not all, of these characteristics. When you observe students consistently exhibiting these behaviors, the possibility that they are gifted is very strong. Trust your own observations more than the "evidence" of mediocre standardized test scores or poor grades.


Advanced vocabulary for chronological age

Outstanding memory; possesses a lot of information

Curious; asks endless questions (why? and then... what?)

Has many interests, hobbies and collections

May have a "passionate interest" that has lasted for many years (example: dinosaurs)

Intense; gets totally absorbed in activities and thoughts

Strongly motivated to do thins that interest her/him; may be unwilling to work on other activities

May be reluctant to move from one subject area to another

Operates on higher levels of thinking than his/her age peers; is comfortable with abstract thinking

Perceives subtle cause and effect relationships

Prefers complex and challenging tasks to "basic" work

May be able to "tract" two or more things simultaneously (example: her/his daydreams and your words)

Catches on quickly, then resists doing work, or works in a sloppy, careless manner

Comes up with "better ways" for doing things; suggests them to peers, teachers and other adults

Sensitive to beauty and other people's feelings and emotions

Advanced sense of justice and fairness

Aware of global issues many age peers are uninterested in

Sophisticated sense of humor; may be "class clown"

Transfers concepts and learning to new situations

Sees connections between apparently unconnected ideas and activities

May prefer the company of older children or adults

May prefer to work alone, resists cooperative learning

Bossy in group situations

Needs to constantly share all he?she knows; impatient when not called on to recite or respond

May be "street smart" while not doing well on school tasks


Displays original ideas

Sees endless possibilities for various situations or uses for objects

Says what she thinks without regard for consequences

Brilliant thinker, but absentminded about details or where her/his work might be found

Outstanding sense of humor; loves to play with words and ideas

Passionately interested in some topic or field of endeavor

May be talented in the fine arts

Fluent in idea generation and development

Able to elaborate on ideas

Experiments with ideas and hunches

Great imagination; frequent daydreamer

Values nonconformity in appearance, thought, etc.

Standardized test scores may be significantly better than class performance


Believes he/she is valued for what he/she can do rather than who she/he is

Has been praised consistently for her/his "greatness and exceptional ability"

Fears he/she will lose the regard of others if he/she loses that exceptionality

May cry easily in frustration that her/his work at school can never be perfect

Works very slowly in hopes that her/his product will be perfect

Discovers a mistake in her work; erases until there is a hole in the paper or crumples up paper and throws it away

Asks for a lot of help and reassurance from the teacher (Is this all right? Is this what you want? Please repeat the directions.)

Cannot take any criticism or suggestions for improvement without being defensive

Expects other people to be perfect, too

Resists challenging work for fear his/her struggle will be seen by others. (If my teacher and peers see me struggle, they will conclude I'm not so smart)

Procrastinates to the point that work never even gets started

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