"Identification and Nurturing Mathematically Gifted Elementary School Students in Cyprus" is a three year project (December 2008-November 2011) with four partners from two countries, Cyprus and Israel. The project is funded with the support of the Research Promotion Foundation of Cyprus, under the call ΑΝΘΡΩΠΙΣΤΙΚΕΣ/ΠΑΙΔΙ/0308(ΒΕ).
The project aims at the identification and nourishment of gifted students in mathematics at the elementary school level.
This was obtained through:
- The development of methods and instruments which enable teachers and researchers to identify mathematically gifted elementary school students (MGESS)
- The development of a program that enhances MGESS abilities, creativity, motivation and interests
- The design of a training program and ongoing professional development for elementary school teachers, providing methods and tools to nurture MGESS
The scientific objectives of the proposed project are:
- The clarification of the definition of MGESS
- The supply of corresponding valid and reliable identification tools
- The supply of curricular materials for MGESS and their teachers
The technological objectives of the proposed project refer to the development of technological tools for the identification and education of MGESS, and to teacher preparation for nurturing MGESS. These tools, based on a computer environment, focus on the development of students' mathematical abilities, creativity and entrepreneurship. These instruments take advantage of computer potentials in educational practice. The development of these tools is possible by designing appropriate activities (multiple solution tasks, open-ended problems, problem solving and problem posing etc.), software (mathematical applets) and webpage.
It can be argued that the most able students are also the most neglected in realizing their full potential, and consequently Cyprus does not benefit from their potential capabilities. To date, there is no enrichment programme for the mathematically gifted elementary school students in Cyprus. In the future, these students will most likely be the backbone of scientific and technological developments in Cyprus, and it is, therefore, important to encourage and facilitate them in the directions that they excel. Cyprus will certainly benefit from the maximization of the potentials of the gifted. Moreover, there are no assessment tools for the identification of these students in elementary school in Cyprus. In addition, there is a lack of any kind of training courses for teachers and material that will help them differentiate their teaching so as to facilitate mathematically gifted students. Teachers cannot enhance these students' abilities through the standard activities used in class.
To sum up, for Cyprus, this is the first experience regarding multiple-perspective treatment of gifted students in elementary school mathematics. For the international community, this is a unique combination of identification, curricular and teachers development tools. At the same time, the combination of deepening and broadening of the curriculum is also original.
From the theoretical perspective:
We have clarified the definition of mathematical giftedness and creativity which is not clear enough at this stage as it appears from the research literature. We also defined the profiles of MGESS. The tools developed in the project allow identification of students' strongest abilities and those that need to be developed in order to allow maximal realization of students' potential. The tools cover visual, logical, numerical and symbolical students' abilities as well as mathematical creativity in different areas of mathematics.
From the methodological perspective:
This research project suggests valid and reliable technologically supported tools for the identification of MGESS.
From the practical perspective:
We have developed materials that are ready to use in school education and teacher education.
The curriculum is innovative in terms of the following: