Where in a Lesson?

by Sandra Kaplan

The discussion about differentiation of curriculum for gifted students is predicted on two basic questions:

  1. What constitutes differentiation for gifted students?
  2. Where in the lesson should differentiation be contextualized?

KidsinClassAcceleration, Depth, Complexity and Novelty represent the basic cognitive areas defining differentiation. Areas of differentiation that evoke understanding of the self as a gifted individual are not well defined.  While educators of the gifted have been able to help develop the cognitive abilities of the gifted, the areas that facilitate the gifted students awareness of their potential and talents, along with the realization that these gifts are within their control, is  often absent from their academic lessons.

So, a new issue relative to differentiation emerges: Where within the lesson do teachers of the gifted embed the questions that help gifted students assume both knowledge and responsibility for their abilities?

The set of questions that activate self awareness correspond to the characteristics defining giftedness: interest, abstract thinking, curiosity, learning quickly, etc. The following chart highlights some of the relationship between the traits of giftedness and a set of possible questions that help the students recognize these traits and realize that the development of these traits can be within their control.

KaplanTableIt is the teacher’s use of these questions within the context of lessons that provides the exercises gifted students need to exercise the very traits that distinguish their giftedness.

About the author: Dr. Sandra Kaplan, editor of the GEC, is an active member and past president of the California Association for the Gifted and chair of both the Blue Ribbon Committee and Education Committee for the organization to research a non-traditional identification instrument to recognize the underrepresented students as gifted. Dr. Kaplan has recognition for her work, receiving awards for Excellence from the Council of Exceptional Children, National Association for the Gifted for Service and Achievement and Research awards from the California Association for the Gifted. You can see her full bio here.

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