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A recent article I read, “How ‘Slow Looking’ Can Help Students Develop Skills Across Disciplines,’ talks about how slowing down and pulling apart the whole to analyze its parts, helps develop critical thinking in learners. Gifted and twice exceptional learners, I believe, will greatly benefit from this approach. ‘Slow looking’ is the practice of “observing detail over time to move beyond a first impression and create a more immersive experience with a text, an idea, a piece of art, or any other kind of object.” The author maintains that “‘slow looking’ helps students navigate complex systems and build connections.”

This practice made me think about strategies I suggest parents use with their children who have word retrieval challenges. The idea is to slow down and consider all angles, to define a word using as many descriptors as possible or, after hearing descriptors, coming up with the word just described. For example, you might ask someone challenged with word retrieval to identify as many words as they can to describe an object like a tomato or a tree. Another exercise might include asking the person to break down a specific activity into all of the tasks required to complete that action, like “what are the steps in making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

‘Slow looking,’ the article maintains, fosters empathy. By incorporating different vantage points, perhaps looking with the naked eye, then through a microscope or asking how an object might look to someone smaller or bigger than you, allows the person to consider perspective. ‘Slow looking’ also fosters cooperation, sharing ideas and perspectives as you consider the whole and its parts of an object, a word, etc.

I love this approach and especially how it mirrors a strategy used to strengthen skills for someone with a learning difference. It’s another argument  that breaking down learning deepens learning for everyone. For sure our gifted and twice exceptional learners, appreciate going deep. Where it once was thought that strategies like these were meant only for special needs students, we see from this article and many classroom accommodations, that the only ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is the approach that everyone can benefit from an intentional and meaningful approach.

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