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Differentiation for Gifted & High Ability Learners Presented by April Coleman T.A.R.G.E.T. Tuscaloosa County Schools.

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Presentation on theme: "Differentiation for Gifted & High Ability Learners Presented by April Coleman T.A.R.G.E.T. Tuscaloosa County Schools."— Presentation transcript:

1 Differentiation for Gifted & High Ability Learners Presented by April Coleman T.A.R.G.E.T. Tuscaloosa County Schools


3 What does differentiation mean to you?

4 Differentiation is… “Diagnosing the readiness level of each student and customizing instruction so every individual experiences continuous learning.” (Bertie Kingore) “A teacher’s response to a learner’s needs.” (Carol Ann Tomlinson)

5 Differentiation is… Teachers at work refining the art of teaching. Complex and demanding. Never finished! (Bertie Kingore, 2007)

6 Differentiation is not… Giving more of the same kind of work to kids who have shown mastery. Giving busy work to kids who have shown mastery. Tediously planning each aspect of every learning activity for each student at all times. Placing students in inflexible ability groups. Expecting kids who are “gifted” to excel in every subject area.

7 Differentiating Instruction is Easy as ABC…1,2,3! Teachers can differentiate 1.Content 2.Process 3.Product According to a student’s 1.Readiness 2.Interests 3.Learning Styles (Tomlinson, 1999)



10 In what ways do you assess your students?

11 “When all students have the same answers, I have no idea what they really know.” Bertie Kingore

12 Getting to Know Your Students Preassessment is an essential first step in differentiating instruction. Assessment of… Readiness Interests Learning Profile

13 Ideas for Assessing Readiness Assessing Individuals: Pretests Most Difficult First Exit Tickets Assessing Whole Group: Individual Response Boards Four Corners Topic Talk Name Cards/Sticks

14 Pretests Who? Don’t reinvent the wheel: End-of-chapter or skill-based tests work well as pretests. Set a goal for mastery to qualify for compacting – usually 80% to 90% –Talk with principal and parents –What about grades/evaluation? –Students who show mastery will do an alternative activity.

15 Most Difficult First When giving an assignment of skill or practice work, determine which items represent the most difficult part of the entire task. Write the assignment on the board, starring these items. Give students a choice to participate. Name the first student finished to get 4/5 correct as the “checker.” Allow students who show mastery to participate in an alternate activity, according to the “Three Magic Rules.” Winebrenner, 2001

16 The Three Magic Rules 1.Don’t bother anyone else while you’re working. 2.Don’t call attention to yourself or the fact that you’re doing something different – it’s no big deal. 3.Work on activities you’ve chosen or been assigned. Winebrenner, 2001

17 Exit Tickets One Minute Response –Most important thing you learned today –Main unanswered question you leave class with today –Muddiest point (most confused about) A&E Card (Assessment & Evaluation) –Show 3 different ways to complete this math problem. –Briefly explain gravity. Give an example of gravity in the classroom or on the playground. –Which event is most important in the story? Why? 3-2-1 Card –3 key ideas, 2 questions, 1 thing I want to read more about –3 words I think are most important to this topic, 2 connections I made, 1 thing I do not like Kingore, 2007

18 Making Whole Group Assessment More Effective Individual Response Boards Four Corners Name Cards/Sticks Topic Talk –Student pairs discuss a given topic, then switch in the middle when signal is given.

19 Ideas for Assessing Interests Interest Inventory – list of various topics kids might enjoy learning about Note Cards / Sticky Notes KWL Sign-ups – List topics for groups/centers and let kids sign up based on interest.

20 Ideas for Determining Learning Profile Learning styles inventories Multiple Intelligences questionnaire Parent questionnaire Observations The Internet is a great resource for finding ready-to-use student learning styles inventories!


22 Differentiation Strategies Whole Group: Grouping Tiered/Multilevel Activities & Questions Activity Menus Centers Individual Students: Curriculum Compacting Independent Projects Accelerated Learning Mentorships

23 Tiered/Multilevel Activities & Questions Open-ended Activities - allow students to naturally work at various ability levels. Tiered Lesson/Activities – have two or more levels of difficulty/complexity in regard to content, process, and/or product.

24 Activity/Extensions Menus Should include activities… Within a specific concept/topic area or for many subject areas That appeal to multiple intelligences and various learning styles That are equally interesting/appealing Can be used to give choices… To individual students as a differentiation option To all students during or at the end of a unit You may include a FREE CHOICE option on the menu, which will allow students to suggest an additional activity, which you may or may not choose to approve.

25 Learning Centers Based on topics of study & student interests Some may be permanent: –Reading, learning games, computer, etc. Others may change: –Country of the month, author study, art technique, magazines, etc. –Tip: To save time and money, share centers among a group of teachers during the course of a year. May be portable: –file-folder games/activities –“centers in a tub/box/basket”

26 Learning Center Ideas for High Ability Students Nonfiction Books Geography –City/Country of the Month –Magazines (Time for Kids, Ntl. Geographic for Kids) ABC Books Problem-Solving –Logic Puzzles –Analogies Computer –Webquests –Learning Games Science (Hands-on) Creativity –Art –Writing –Origami Real-World Math Interest Center

27 Making Centers Work Task Cards or Center Activity Menus – brief, clear directions for activities students may do at a particular center Center Logs – Students record what they do at a center (may be stored in folders, etc.) Assignment/Choice Boards – Names of groups/individuals are placed in pocket chart labeled with words and/or pictures based on students’ changing ability and readiness on a day- to-day or week-to-week basis

28 Curriculum Compacting Preassess to find out what students already know and what they still need to learn Document to show mastery – Learning Contract Teach remaining skills in a whole/small group or independently. Provide replacement activity: –Extension activity –Learning centers –Independent project –Subject acceleration –Mentorship (Reis, Burns, & Renzulli, 1992)

29 Documentation: The Compactor Form 1.Curriculum Areas to be Considered for Compacting 2.Procedures for Compacting Basic Material 3.Acceleration and/or Enrichment Activities (Renzulli & Smith, 1978)

30 Learning Contract Page/Concept - Lists all page numbers and/or concepts covered in a unit –Check marks identify page/concept NOT mastered during pretest –Student will join class for direct instruction during these lessons OR work in a small group or independently. Extension Options and Your Idea (student suggestion option) Working Conditions (or use chart) Note: Teacher and student sign bottom of form to indicate acceptance of the terms. The contract is only valid as long as the student complies with the Working Conditions.

31 Independent Projects Topic may be related to class subject or interest-based. Use pre-made forms to guide project development. Involve library-media specialist for assistance with finding materials and conducting research. Possible Projects: –Create a class center. –Write and “publish” a book –Technology activities Get more ideas from pre-made lists of projects.

32 Accelerated Learning Should be considered as a case-by-case option. Get prior approval from principal, next grade level teacher, and parents. Allow child to attend class with the next grade level for a subject in which he or she has shown mastery. According to research, acceleration is the most effective strategy for meeting the needs of gifted learners. (Colangelo, Assouline, & Gross in “A Nation Deceived”)

33 Mentorships Requires very little preparation by the teacher. Research-proven to be especially effective for gifted underachievers and low socioeconomic students Ask a community member to volunteer to work one-on-one with a student to develop a special project on a topic of interest. –Ex.: A retired veteran might be willing to work with a student interested in learning more about World War II. –Ex.: A college student in a service club might help a small group of interested students to organize a school service project. Possible mentors: elderly people who are active in the community, stay-at-home parent with special talents/interests, college students in service organizations

34 Think About It… Which of these strategies do you ALREADY USE in your classroom to differentiate instruction? Which of these strategies would you like to BEGIN USING in your classroom to further differentiate instruction?

35 Differentiation in a Nutshell… Assess students’ readiness, interests, & learning styles. Plan replacement activities for students who have shown mastery in specific concepts/skills. Replacement tasks should be respectful work that serves a purpose (i.e. not busy work). Offer choices to all students which appeal to their ability levels, interests, and learning styles.

36 How do teachers make it all work? Start small…. But start somewhere! –Anchor activities –Differentiation for small blocks of time Grow slowly – but grow! –Try creating one differentiated lesson per unit, differentiate one product per month, etc. –Give structured choices more often. (Kingore, 2007;Tomlinson, 1999)

37 Resources Kingore, B. (2007). Reaching all learners: Making differentiation work. Professional Associates Publishing: Austin, TX. Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Meeting the needs of all learners. ASCD: Alexandria, VA. Winebrenner, S. (2001). Teaching gifted kids in the regular classroom. Free Spirit Publishing: Minneapolis, MN. Download this PowerPoint and access many other resources on differentiation at

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