Curriculum & Instruction

High ability children benefit from differentiated instruction (i.e., adaptations or modifications to the general curriculum), instructional environments, methods, materials, or a specialized curriculum tailored to best suit their educational needs. Parents can discuss high ability students’ needs for specially designed instruction with high ability and regular education teachers, their school’s administration, and support staff. This specially designed instruction should be based on an assessment of each student’s needs and should not be a one-size-fits-all program.

When educators design such a program of individual instruction, they should keep in mind three fundamental differences that distinguish high ability learners from other learners:
  • *The capacity to learn at faster rates, more in-depth and with greater complexity;
  • *The capacity to find, solve, and act on problems more readily;
  • *The capacity to manipulate abstract ideas and make connections.

Curriculum, Instruction, Process, and Product

In developing specially designed instruction, educators should consider the following four concepts in their framework: Curriculum, Instruction, Process, and Product. They are the fundamental principles that provide a guide for high ability program development.

Teachers should:
  • *Include more elaborate, complex, and in-depth study of major ideas, key concepts, and themes that integrate knowledge within and across disciplines;
  • *Make it an extension of core learning, using both acceleration and enrichment strategies to streamline or compact curriculum that the student can master quickly;
  • *Encourage exposure to, selection of, and use of varied, challenging, and specialized resources;
  • *Provide opportunities for students to recognize complex relationships and arrive at sound generalizations;
  • *Stress higher-level thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills;
  • *Set high standards that demand rigorous expectations for student work and performance demonstration.

Instruction should:
  • *Promote in-depth learning and investigation that deals with real-life problems and issues;
  • *Include content and concepts that promote students’ involvement as practitioners of the discipline;
  • *Allow for the development and application of productive thinking skills to enable students to re-conceptualize existing knowledge and/or generate new understanding;
  • *Be flexibly paced and matched to the student’s ability, pre-assessment data, learning style, interest, and motivation.

The Process should:
  • *Have strategies for the development of critical and creative thinking embedded in the instruction.
  • *Provide students with the freedom to choose topics to study and the methods to use in manipulating and transforming information;
  • *Promote independent, self-directed, and in-depth study. Encourage the application of advanced research and methodological skills;
  • *Focus on open-ended tasks;
  • *Provide opportunities to develop leadership and group interaction skills;
  • *Allow student-centered discussion, Socratic questioning, and seminar-type learning.

Teachers should:
  • *Encourage the development of products that challenge existing ideas and produce new ones;
  • *Incorporate the application of discipline methodologies in product development;
  • *Promote products that are comparable to those made by professionals in the designated field;
  • *Require that products of high ability students represent application, analysis, and synthesis of knowledge;
  • *Provide the opportunity to create products/solutions that focus on real-world issues;
  • *Establish high-level and exemplary criteria to assess student performance and products.