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A Different Kind of Bright, Part 1: Liam

by Thérèse McNamara

Liam is a puzzle kid. Given the right circumstances, he can demonstrate his learning and thinking quite admirably — and not just within the bottom categories of Bloom’s Taxonomy… When engaged, and working one-to-one, he can respond orally to describe characters’ motivations and authors’ intents or to express opinions about subjects (like science) that interest him. He notices minute details and occasionally comes up with pretty original ways to solve grade-level math problems.

 Liam is bright, but not necessarily in a way that might show up on a standardized assessment. Most days, he needs prompting to move on to read the next word, to write the next letter or number, and to move to the next task. Some days, he needs tricks, cues or aids to trigger his memory. He needs you to repeat prompts or directions, giving him more time to process. Left to work on his own, he’s unable to shift from one step/action/activity to the next.

Tools that can help him shine bright in any classroom.

All of our students can show us the many ways in which they are bright, if we provide them with the tools and opportunities they need. As educators, is it not our responsibility to help them discover and nurture their talents and the alternate ways of showing how they are bright, rather than attempting to have them fit their square peg into the round hole of traditional teaching/learning methods?

Are there puzzle kids in your day-to-day work life? Tell us about your experiences with the many ‘different kinds of bright’…


Note: The name of the child has been changed for protect his privacy.

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Thérèse McNamara is a school administrator, special education resource teacher and mother. In her 30+ years as an educator, she has worked as a classroom teacher, computer/curriculum consultant, and education officer. She holds a Masters of Education degree with a focus on Literacy and has taught additional qualification courses for 3 universities. She has reviewed and written a number of professional learning resources and supports the application of evidence-based, best practices to support all students.

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