Jewells Primary School

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Catering for gifted opportunity class students

So, how do we cater for gifted students in Jewells opportunity class (OC)?

Differentiating core curriculum for gifted learners

A differentiated curriculum for gifted and talented students is a set of learning experiences that are designed to cater for the needs of individually gifted children or a group of gifted children.

In a differentiated classroom teachers are aware that students respond differently because each individual's innate learning style, learning rate and interests differ.

Learning experiences need to encourage the learner to accept responsibility for his own learning, supported by teacher guidance and encouragement.  The ultimate goal is for the student to come to realise that he is competing against himself, rather than his peers and to realise that learning requires sustained application.

The student, we hope, will come to appreciate that the process is just as vital as the end product, that risk-taking can be a stimulating component of learning, allowing the student to explore beyond the boundaries of preset thinking modes.

When examining ways in which the curriculum can be differentiated to suit learning styles and needs, teachers consider modification of content, process, product, environment and assessment:

1.  Content modifications (what students will learn and the resources to be employed) for gifted students should:

  • be abstract, complex, varied
  • involve issues of organisation, study of people, methods of inquiry

2.  Process modifications (the learning experiences in which children will be involved) for gifted students should:

  • promote creative and critical thinking
  • require problem solving
  • involve group interaction
  • have variable levels of pacing
  • allow for debriefing of the process
  • involve open-endedness
  • allow for freedom of choice
  • involve higher order thinking processes

3.  Product modifications (how students will demonstrate their understanding) for gifted students should:

  • involve real world problems
  • be for real world audiences
  • require real deadlines
  • require transformation of learning
  • involve appropriate assessment and evaluation
  • involve extended or accelerated outcomes

4.  Learning environment (physical structure and tone of the classroom) modifications for gifted students should:

  • be flexible and open
  • encourage independent and intrinsic learning
  • be accepting and non judgemental
  • encourage complex and abstract thought

5.  Assessment (achievement of outcomes) modifications for gifted students should:

  • Assess students' prior skills and understandings
  • Use pre-assessment to identify students who have already mastered core content
  • Use tiered assignments and/or assessment tasks

Differentiating core curriculum for gifted learners

Differentiation of instruction

Is a teacher's response to learner's needs guided by principles of differentiation such as: respectful tasks, flexible grouping, ongoing assessment and adjustment.

Teachers can differentiate-Content, Process and Product according to student's readiness, interests and learning profile. 

Differentiation is provided through a range of instructional and management strategies such as:

Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, Independent Study, Edward DeBono's Thinking Hats, Bloom's Taxonomy, Learning Contracts Interest Centres, Interest Groups etc.

(adapted from "The Differentiated Classroom" by Carol Ann Tomlinson, p.15)

Comparing classrooms

Traditional classroom

  • Student differences masked or acted upon when problematic
  • Assessment most common at end of learning
  • Relatively narrow sense of intelligence prevails
  • Single definition of intelligence exists
  • Student interest infrequently tapped
  • Few Learning profile options are taken into account
  • Whole class instruction dominates
  • Coverage of text and curriculum guides and drives instruction
  • Mastery of facts and skills out of context is the focus of learning
  • Single option assignments are the norm
  • Time is relatively inflexible
  • Single Text Prevails
  • Single Interpretation of ideas may be sought
  • Teacher directs student behaviour
  •  Teacher provides whole-class standards for grading
  • Single form of assessment is used

Differentiated classroom

  • Student differences taken into account when planning
  • Assessment is ongoing and diagnostic and includes the student
  • Focus on multiple forms of intelligence is evident
  • Individual growth from a starting point
  • Interest based learning choices
  • Many learning profile options are provided for
  • Many instructional arrangements used
  • Student readiness, interest and profile shape instruction
  • Understanding key concepts and principles is the focus of learning
  • Multi-option assignments used
  • Time is used flexibly according to need
  • Multiple materials provided
  • Multiple perspectives and ideas are often sought
  • Focus on students being self-reliant
  • Students work with the teacher to establish class and individual goals
  • Students assessed in multiple ways

(From "The Differentiated Classroom" by Carol Ann Tomlinson, p.16)