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6 Ways to Deliver Differentiated Instruction for Gifted Students

What does gifted mean.

Before we discuss how to differentiate instruction for gifted students, we should explore what gifted means. There isn’t a simple definition. In fact, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC)’s 2018–2019 State of the States in Gifted Education report shows that nearly every state has its own definition of gifted, and some states don’t even define the term.

The definition used by the state of New Jersey gives one such example, which states that a gifted and talented student is a “student who possesses or demonstrates a high level of ability in one or more content areas when compared to their chronological peers in the school district and who require modifications of their educational program if they are to achieve in accordance with their capabilities.”

It’s important to remember that students can be gifted in different ways—such as athletics, leadership, or social and emotional skills—and nobody is gifted in everything. “There are lots of different areas that people can be gifted in, but in school, we rely on the academic piece because that’s what we serve,” says Jennifer G. Beasley, EdD, director of teacher education at the University of Arkansas. “Since there is no common definition of gifted, we need to appropriately assess students to discover the strengths and areas we can support.”

It’s also important to remember that the strategies discussed in this blog can be used for “non-gifted” students as well.

Why Do Gifted Students Need Differentiation?

Just as a student who finds the classroom material overwhelming may zone out or misbehave, so too may a gifted student. Even worse, when students who are gifted are routinely unchallenged, they may never learn how to learn. Gifted students need opportunities to analyze, evaluate, create, and reflect. They should gain experience by asking and investigating complex questions and completing challenging tasks.

Although we are focusing on differentiated instruction for gifted students, it is important to note that the strategies discussed in this blog can apply to all populations of students. “Differentiation is meeting the needs of learners where they are at,” says Beasley. “It’s a philosophy—not a bag of tricks or a strategy. It’s about thinking about the pieces we can differentiate by readiness, by interest, by learning profile, and so on, for whatever type of learners are in your class.”

How to Differentiate for Gifted Students

Teachers can differentiate content, process, or product (see chart below), but they need to start by building the right kind of classroom community. “If a student—gifted or not—doesn’t feel safe and accepted by their teacher or classmates, it will be difficult for them to trust what you’re doing or take risks and learn and grow,” says Beasley.

Other key principles of differentiation include flexible grouping, a high-quality curriculum, and ongoing assessment. If one of these factors is missing, it will be more difficult to differentiate . Once these principles are in place, there are a variety of strategies teachers can use to differentiate instruction for gifted students.

6 Ways to Differentiate Instruction for Gifted Students

1. create tiered assignments.

Tiered assignments allow learners to complete the same assignment at different levels of difficulty. By varying the level of difficulty, you’re letting each student demonstrate understanding. Some teachers do this by designing an assignment for the middle tier and then adding in an additional challenge for students who are gifted. For example, you could ask gifted students to apply a skill in two ways instead of one. Other educators prefer to plan the lesson for the students who are gifted and then differentiate by providing support for the rest of the class. Differentiation expert Carol Ann Tomlinson believes that this method “challenges advanced learners more than trying to pump up a ‘middling’ idea—and serves other students better as well.”

Beasley has gotten this strategy down to a science. She’ll collect data, do a quick assessment, and plan two levels of an activity. “We typically think of planning for three levels of an activity, but it depends on what your assessment shows. There may not actually be any students that are above grade level on a particular skill.” She starts by planning the above-grade level task because that’s where she wants everyone to be, and then adds in scaffolding, such as a graphic organizer or supplied reading material, for the students who are at- or below-grade level.

Tiered assignments can be time-consuming, with lots of upfront work. Beasley suggests collaborating with colleagues. If you do it for one unit or chapter, might another teacher do it for a different unit or chapter?

2. Allow Gifted Students to Work at Their Own Pace

By giving a pre-assessment at the start of each unit, you can let students who already know the material handle the lessons differently. Perhaps there’s an independent project related to the topic that a gifted learner could work on, or maybe the student could skip some of the earlier assignments. How about letting the gifted students work on two assignments at once or giving them fewer directions?

3. Offer Open-Ended or Self-Directed Assignments & Activities

Open-ended tasks can have many valid approaches, and students can apply their unique skills and ideas. In addition, an activity that is open-ended can stimulate higher-order thinking. Let gifted learners be responsible for their own development by giving them a say in how far they take their own learning. Ask higher-level questions and encourage students to offer creative responses, work in pairs to question each other, and find ways to stimulate further exploration. You may even allow your students who are gifted to work on an independent study in an interest area whenever they have free time.

4. Compact the Curriculum

Whether it’s an entire unit or a lesson, if you can give students the opportunity to show they already understand the material, they can move on to something else. “Compacting” refers to tossing out the part of the lesson that students already know, which frees them up to work on something more challenging. In a math class, for example, you might choose the essential problems that demonstrate mastery. If students can correctly solve those problems, they can move on to an extension activity.

Beasley calls this the “Five Hardest First.” For any assignment, she’ll choose the five most difficult questions and let all students attempt to answer those first. “If the students understand these five, I know they have met that learning goal.”

5. Deliver Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning (PBL), which the Buck Institute for Education defines as a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects, lets students who are gifted flex their intellectual muscles. More than “just a project,” PBL encourages intellectual and emotional development by asking students to conduct deep research, ask complex questions, exhibit critical thinking and problem-solving, collaborate, and improve time-management skills. To solve problems or come up with physical solutions, students need to develop timelines and summon inner strength if their solutions don’t work. In some schools, students can display or present their projects, helping them develop public speaking skills. These types of projects give students increased independence and the ability to study material at their own pace. PBL is a great strategy for all types of learners, but it can be particularly compelling for gifted learners due to its depth and complexity, student choice, real-world skill development, and collaboration opportunities.

6. Pair Gifted Students Up

NAGC research shows that allowing students who are gifted to work together in small groups boosts their achievement because they challenge themselves. The Davidson Institute says that academic competition is important for gifted students to learn how to deal with success and defeat. In fact, the Institute lists academic competitions that are designed to entice students to work independently or in teams; this kind of work helps gifted students handle pressure and gain experience in real-life challenges. When you let gifted students work together, they can work on advanced content or assignments at their level. Because students can be talented in different ways, you can use this strategy to help them learn from each other and expand their horizons.

Communicating Your Goals

Whichever of these differentiation strategies for gifted students you use, by doing so, you’ll be helping to meet gifted learners’ needs. Communicate your goals and plans for differentiation to your students and their families and caregivers. “Be sure to introduce and define differentiation,” says Beasley. “Let students know that their classmates may be doing different things, and that just means we have different interests.” By getting buy-in upfront, you can help everyone understand your methods. It’s important for everyone to be in the know about the ways we educate.

Besides these strategies for differentiation for gifted learners, older gifted students may benefit from being challenged with college-level material. Request an online preview of any of our AP and elective courses across math, science, and social studies.

Giving students a head start on college-level coursework with the HMH Advanced Placement & Electives .

Get our free guide to differentiated instruction.

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7 Ways to Differentiate Lessons for Gifted Students

Students raising hands in a gifted classroom.

  • Teaching Strategies

What does “Gifted” mean?

  • Why differentiate instruction for talented students?
  • 8 Differentiation strategies for gifted students

1. Create tiered assignments

2. shorten the explanations.

  • 3. Flexible apps
  • 4. Offer open-ended and self directed assignments
  • 5. Introduce project based learning
  • 6. Compact curriculum

7. Pair gifted students up

8. always keep learning, gifted education pitfalls to avoid.

  • Creating a learning environment for every student

All students are unique and special in their own way. Each learns in a different way and needs their education to be individualized. 

But differentiating lessons for gifted students can require even more thought and extra planning. 

Gifted learners tend to go through their learning activities rapidly and require modifications to their education for them to be fully engaged in the classroom. 

If you’re struggling to know exactly how to differentiate lessons for gifted students, this is just the article for you. We’ll highlight instructional strategies to use that will meet your student’s need for enrichment in the classroom, as well as pitfalls to avoid.

The National Association for Gifted Children defines gifted as “ students with gifts and talents performed or capable being performed at higher levels compared to others the same age, experience, and environment. ”

If your school has a gifted program, they likely also have their own definition and benchmarks that qualify a student as gifted. It is important to note that there is not a unified definition from all the states concerning what gifted means. 

Gifted students are seen across all racial, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. 

And there is no one behavior or skill set that defines a gifted learner. Some are gifted in athletics or leadership while others are gifted in the sciences or social skills.

Why is differentiated instruction needed for talented students?

Gifted students are often bored in a typical classroom. This can result in them just zoning out of the lesson or misbehaving. In situations where gifted students are left unchallenged for long periods of time, the students may never learn how to learn in a classroom. 

These students need unique opportunities to analyze, evaluate, create and reflect in challenging ways. Differentiating the lesson according to their strengths can help make this happen. 

Building differentiated lessons is about the philosophy and practice rather than a strict step-by-step process. You can tweak this practice to match your students’ readiness, interest, learning styles and academic needs.

In general, differentiating lessons is a helpful strategy for all student learning. Education scholar Carol Tomlinson emphasizes, “ Differentiation really means trying to make sure that teaching and learning work for the full range of students .”

However, this article will specifically focus on why it’s necessary for gifted students. When a student is contemplating skipping a grade but isn’t quite ready to make the leap or is only gifted in a particular subject, differentiated lessons are a great solution. 

8 Differentiation strategies for gifted learners

There are a lot of ways to use differentiation with a lesson. Different approaches will likely work better for a particular topic or student. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Tiered assignments allow learners to complete the same assignment at different levels of difficulty.

How you implement this strategy will vary based on your classroom. For example, you may design an assignment for the middle tier of students and then add additional challenges for gifted students. 

Another option is designing a more difficult assignment and then adding scaffolding, such as a graphic organizer or supplied reading material, to those at or below grade level. 

With this strategy, it is important to routinely assess your students to understand where they are at. This way you will always know who needs advanced content and who needs more help.

Did you know?

If you're teaching math to students in 1st-8th grade, you can use Prodigy's Assignment tool to easily set tiered exercises. With your free teacher account , simply select the skill you want to set as an Assignment and have your students play Prodigy Math .

And the best bit? You won't have to do any grading, it's all done automatically!

Gifted students typically understand a concept the first time it is explained, whereas their peers may need the content to be taught a few different ways.

Try giving a short pre-assessment or a pop quiz once you have taught the concept one time to see if the gifted students can move on to the next topic. 

Doing this will hopefully prevent boredom and, in turn, misbehavior from gifted students.

3. Use flexible apps

When bringing technology into your classroom and blending the learning experience , choose apps and games with flexibility. Look for options where gifted students can work on more complex concepts while other students work closer to grade level. 

There are plenty of apps, like Prodigy Math , that engage students and evaluate their skills to determine if they are learning math problems at the right level. Prodigy Math then uses adaptive algorithms to continue to challenge the student. 

Apps like this can also help strain teachers less when planning differentiating lessons since they don’t have to design the tiers themselves.

4. Offer open-ended and self-directed assignments

Open-ended tasks are great for differentiated lessons because they leave plenty of room for students’ skills and ideas to shine. They are especially good at stimulating higher-order thinking skills such as problem-solving. 

Self-directed assignments give gifted learners responsibility for their own development and let them decide how far they want to take their own learning. Assignments with open-ended questions encourage students to offer creative responses, work in small groups and build other ways to further explore. But make sure you deliver open-ended sessions with an end goal rather than leaving the students alone.

5. Introduce project-based learning

Project-based learning is effective since it mimics the real world. In a project-based assignment, learners conduct research, ask complex questions and improve management skills. Oftentimes, projects end with a presentation, which is great for practicing public speaking. 

Projects can be completed in small groups or by each student individually. This learning method is especially beneficial for gifted learners due to its depth, student choice, real-world learning and collaboration opportunities.

Project-based learning tends to go over the best when the assignments relate to a student’s interests.  For example, a high school student interested in social studies could be tasked with designing advocacy around an issue of their choice.

6. Try a compact curriculum

A compact curriculum is similar to shortening explanations, but it will actually throw out whole lessons that the gifted student already understands. Instead, the gifted student will be given lessons on content they’ve never been exposed to. 

Most often in this method, students will be given a pre-test that allows them to show mastery over various problems. Then, the curriculum is adjusted. 

It’s important to remember that curriculum development for gifted students is a dynamic process.

Another strategy is being more intentional in how you pair students up in collaborative projects. Putting gifted students together in cluster groups boosts their achievement since they are able to work at a faster pace. 

You may even find that in specific subjects, students that are gifted in that area can be paired up for their own differentiated lesson while you teach the rest of the class. These pairs can work on advanced content and learn from each other.

Teaching requires constant innovation and growth with a new classroom of kiddos each year. You will always be tweaking what you are doing based on new things that you learn. 

In the last two years, the pandemic has required flexibility and accelerated digital learning in ways we had never seen before. 

The challenges that came with this got teachers talking and opened up a dialogue about what learning strategies work. It created a community where more experienced teachers could impart their knowledge to others. 

Here's more strategies and ideas to help you differentiate learning

Looking to learn more about differentiation? Check out our list of 20 differentiated instruction strategies for more inspiration on how to level educational content in your classroom, with examples included!

As with any strategy, there are ways to do it well and ways to do it that are not so great. Try to avoid these three common mistakes when differentiating lessons for gifted students.

1. Using gifted students as teaching assistants

While gifted students may seem like a great help in the classroom, they should not be tasked with mentoring or tutoring other students. They need to be challenged in their own education and reteaching a concept that they already know doesn’t do that. 

A different way to go about this is having flexible grouping projects that let students work together for a short period of time. These projects allow gifted students to practice interacting with their peers and allow other students to learn from gifted students, but it’s temporary. 

This method allows gifted students to learn and avoids attaching a ‘teacher’ role to their interactions.

2. Working independently without oversight

A differentiated lesson for gifted learners should lead to more collaboration and content enrichment without the learner working constantly on their own. Assigning open-ended tasks without oversight or accountability can actually have the opposite effect of what you’re going for with gifted learners.

Ensure that lessons allow for student choice while still conforming to school district standards. And check in often with your gifted students.

3. Assuming mastery in all subject areas

Don’t assume that just because a learner is gifted in one area means that this means they are gifted in every area. For example, a student may be reading at a high school level but is not a strong writer. Or they may excel at math problems but struggle to understand graphs in science. 

Evaluate each subject area individually before assigning advanced lessons to gifted students.

Creating a learning environment for everyone

Differentiated lessons can be a great tool for gifted students in your classroom. But there are best practices to keep in mind when you’re constructing lessons. Differentiating lessons helps challenge gifted students and keep them engaged in your classroom.  

If starting the process of planning differentiated lessons feels overwhelming to you, using Prodigy can be a great first step.  

Whether you’re teaching in a math or English classroom, Prodigy is a fantastic free teaching resource that customizes each student’s experience with adaptive content.

Prodigy helps make it easier for you to differentiate instruction across your classroom, with no grading required! Teachers simply select what curriculum-aligned skills they'd like to test on their students or let Prodigy's adaptive algorithm assign content to help a student grow, including those in gifted or talented strands.

It's also free for teachers and schools! See how it works below:

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Use of a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) provides responsive services for all students. It is a process that provides high-quality, research-based instruction based on learner needs. Needs are identified by monitoring students’ progress. Adjustments to instruction and interventions are based on students’ performance and academic growth. MTSS promotes a well-integrated system, connecting general, gifted, and special education with intervention and enrichment services.

The MTSS process addresses academic, social and emotional needs. Under the MTSS model, student needs are categorized under three tiers of support.

Tier 1 refers to the instruction that occurs within the classroom. The majority of students’ needs are met within this tier. The five core best practices in gifted education to form the foundation of differentiation for gifted learners include: pre-assessment, compacting, learning contracts/independent study, tiered instruction and assignments for depth, complexity and higher-order thinking, and grouping strategies that allow for a like-ability learning cohort.

Tier 2 interventions are utilized with a small percentage of identified students after documented Tier 1 interventions haven’t supported achieving appropriate growth. Students who require this level of intervention are typically outliers, even within the gifted population.

In rare cases, a student may require Tier 3 interventions. This level of intervention involves significant changes to a student’s learning experience.

Individual schools are the primary resource for information on gifted education and the front line of communication for families. The Gifted and Talented Department focuses on providing professional development and serving as a resource to district staff. 

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Tukuna kia rere.

tiered instruction for gifted students

Tiered instruction

The use of tiered instruction and student choice allows learners to work within their zone of proximal development, which means they are working at a level that suits them.

Tiered instruction combines assessment and instruction

"Tiered instruction aligns complexity to the readiness levels and learning needs of students. The teacher plans different kinds and degrees of instructional support and structure, depending upon each student’s level. Tiered instruction allows all students to focus on essential concepts and skills yet still be challenged at the different levels on which they are individually capable of working (n.p)."

Kingore (2006)

Examples of tiered instruction:.

  • Tier 1: Tasks for learners with advanced readiness and skills for the curriculum level.
  • Tier 2: Tasks for learners with readiness and skills for the curriculum level.
  • Tier 3: Tasks for learners with less readiness and skills for the curriculum level.

Tiered instruction readings and links

Target Activity

Kingore, B. (2004). Tiered Instruction in Differentiation: Simplified, realistic and effective . Austin: Professional Associates Publishing.

Edward S. Shapiro, Center for Promoting Research to Practice,

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Home / Differentiation for Gifted

Differentiation for Gifted


Students who are gifted and talented will often spend a majority of their school day in the regular classroom. Gifted students often receive gifted support in the form of pullout programs or other enrichment programs. These programs are often not more than a couple hours a week. It is important to remember that gifted students are gifted at all times of the day and should be appropriately challenged no matter where their education is happening.

Definitions of Differentiation Components :

  • Content – the specific information that is to be taught in the lesson/unit/course of instruction.
  • Process – how the student will acquire the content information.
  • Product – how the student will demonstrate understanding of the content.
  • Learning Environment – the environment where learning is taking place including physical location and/or student grouping

To meet the needs of gifted students, school districts will often differentiate instruction. There are many differentiation strategies that districts will often use to meet the needs of gifted students.

Below are some popular strategies:

  • Anchor Activities: Provides students with meaningful activities that can be completed independently. May be leveled to students individual needs.
  • Also known as choice menus.
  • Integrate student choice, multiple learning strategies. Menu could be content specific or cross subject.
  • Allows students to think in multiple directions and to differentiate process and product for students with different learning strengths.
  • A popular model in the gifted world. Allows curriculum to be adjusted or skipped based on prior knowledge. Students received pre-assessment to find out what they already know and what they still need to be taught.
  • Students research topics based on interest. With gifted students, try to use connections to real life problems or situations.
  • Centers may be permanent or temporary. Could be author study, specific content, etc.

Signs that Differentiation is occurring in the classroom:

  • Consistent use of pre-testing.
  • Decrease in the frequency of large group activities and increase in the frequency of activities utilizing small flexible groups
  • Evidence of advanced content and acceleration opportunities.
  • Collaborative effort among teachers, students, and parents.
  • Encouragement to complete assignments in alternative environments such as the library, art room or another classroom more conducive to the requirements of the assignment(s).
  • Increase use of a variety of materials, community resources, and technological services.
  • Learning objectives that vary in depth and breadth.
  • Instruction that uses a variety of teaching methods such as inductive, deductive and hands-on strategies
  • Use of flexible pacing.
  • Use of curriculum compacting, tiered assignments, and parallel curriculum.
  • Products that vary in complexity and abstractness.
  • Differentiated homework assignments – elimination of drill and practice – based on student’s needs
  • Open-ended questioning and assignments – use of Bloom’s Taxonomy to provide challenge.
  • Emphasis on higher order thinking skills.
  • Use of Learning Contracts.
  • Flexible Teacher who is willing to negotiate assignments-one who encourages student self-advocacy.

tiered instruction for gifted students

Differentiation and Interventions

Differentiation and strategies - gifted and mtss.

What is Differentiation? Know the learner, Assess the learner, Adjustable Assignments, Questioning Strategies, Curriculum Approaches

Instructional Delivery

Accelerated pace of presentation:.

Substantial increase in tempo of content presentation and acquisition.

Conceptual Discussions:

High level discussions of themes, concepts, generalizations, issues, and problems, rather than review of facts, terms, details.

Flexible Project Deadlines:

Occasional renegotiation of when projects or assignments will be due, especially when high-quality work has already been shown.

Flexible Tasks:

Allowing students to structure their own projects and investigations according to their strengths and interests.

Learning Contracts:

Student and teacher jointly develop a contract for accomplishment of learning outcomes; often involves a streamlining of regular class work.

Personal Goal Setting:

Teaching students to identify personal goals and how to prioritize time and activities to reach those goals.

Problem-Based Learning:

Providing students with unstructured problems or situations for which they must discover the answers, solutions, concepts, or draw conclusions and generalizations.

Curriculum Modification

Abstract content:.

Content that goes beyond surface detail and facts to underlying concepts, generalizations, and symbolism.

Communication Skills Training:

Training in how to express oneself appropriately for full understanding of intention and acceptance of other perspectives.

Complex Tasks:

Providing multiple-step projects for advanced knowledge and skill acquisition.

Critical Skills Training:

Training in critical thinking skills such as cause and effect, sorting of relevant data, induction, deduction, generalization.

Cultural Enrichment in the Arts:

Providing knowledge and skills in art, music, theater, dance, creative writing, graphics, particularly the history, aesthetics, and criticism aspects of these art forms.

Dilemmas, Conflict Resolution Tasks:

Providing hypothetical and real ethical dilemmas and conflicts in behavior/intent for discussion, solution, simulation exercises, etc.

Early Content Mastery:

Giving students access to knowledge and concepts in a content area before expected grade- or age-level expectations.

Early Exposure to the Basics:

Access to the basic knowledge and skills of the range of academic subject areas considerably before expected age or grade.

Grade Telescoping:

Also called “rapid progress.” Shortening the time of progressing through a school level, such as junior or senior high by one year, while still covering all curriculum.

Organizational Management Training:

Training in how to break down projects and goals into manageable and sequential steps and to estimate the time needed to accomplish these steps.

Planning Techniques:

Training students in “backwards planning,” task analysis, flowcharting, etc., to break down projects and goals into intermediate, manageable sequences of time-related steps.

Self-Concept Development:

Provision of activities, discussion for the development of self-awareness, self-confidence, and improvement of self-esteem.

Self-Direction Training:

Training in autonomous learning skills, independent thinking, and personal goal setting.

Service Learning Projects:

Provision of academic credit for student volunteer work on community and welfare projects. Social Issues Discussions: Provision of current events, political, philosophical, and social issues for discussion.

Study of People:

Relating a topic of study to the famous people and human issues within that field.

Subject Integration:

Also known as “thematic approach.” Uniting two or more disciplines and their content through a conceptual theme, such as “origins,” “change,” or “friendship.”

Time Management Training:

Training in how to make the best use of time available through prioritizing of academic and personal goals.

Instructional Management

Ability or achievement grouping:.

Children of high ability or with high achievement levels are put into a separate group for differentiating their instruction. Can be full- or part- time, permanent, or flexible sorting.

Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Courses:

Provision of course with advanced or accelerated content at the secondary school level affording student opportunity to “test out” of or be given credit for completion of college-level course work.

Cluster Grouping:

Identify and place top five to eight high-ability students in the same grade level in one class with a teacher who likes them, is trained to work with them and devotes proportional class time to differentiating for them.

Compacted Curriculum/Compacting:

Streamlining the regular curriculum to “buy time” for enrichment, accelerated content, and independent study. Usually involves pre- assessment or pretest of what the students have already mastered.

Concurrent Enrollment:

Allowing students to attend classes in more than one building level during the same school year.

Cooperative Learning Groups:

Providing grouped activities for developing peer interaction skills and cooperation. May be like- or mixed-ability groups.

Creative Problem-Solving:

Practice in various creative thinking skills, such as fluency, flexibility, elaboration, risk-taking, SCAMPER, synectics, morphologies, analogies, imagination.

Credit by Examination:

Provision of testing programs whereby the student, after successful completion of a test, will be offered a specified number of course credits. The College Level Examinations Program, or CLEP, is the program widely used at the university level.

Credit for Prior Learning:

Allowing students to demonstrate mastery of previously learned material through some form of assessments; same as “testing out.”

Cross-Grade/Cross-Age Grouping:

Grouping children by their achievement level in a subject area rather than by grade or age level. Currently known as multiage classrooms.

Early Admission to College:

Permitting a student to enter college as a full-time student without completion of a high school diploma.

Early Entrance to School:

Allowing selected gifted children showing readiness to perform schoolwork to enter kindergarten or first grade one to two years earlier than the usual beginning age.

Grade Skipping:

Double promoting a student such that he or she bypasses one or more grade levels.

Independent Study Projects:

Structured projects agreed upon by student and supervising teacher that allow a student to individually investigate area of high interest or to advance knowledge.

Individual Educational/Learning Plans:

(IEP or ILP or EP) Provision of formal written plan for managing and delivering the curriculum for a child with extraordinary differences in ability or educational needs.

Individualized “Benchmark” Setting:

Working with an individual student to set performance outcomes for the student’s next product or performance.

Like-Ability Cooperative Learning:

Organizing groups of learners in three- to four-member teams of like ability and adjusting the group task accordingly.

Magnet School:

Provision of a separate school focused on a specific subject area or areas (arts, math, etc.) or on a specific group of students (academically gifted or mathematically talented) with students gifted in that area.

Establishment of one-on-one relationship between student and outside-of-school expert in a specific topic area or career.

Multigrade/Multiage Classes:

Combining two or three grade levels into one classroom and placing the brightest children with the youngest children in the class.

Nongraded Classes:

Placing learners in a classroom without regard to age or grade and allowing them to work through the materials at a pace and level appropriate to their individual ability and motivational levels.

Partial Day/Send-Out Grouping:

Removal of gifted children from a regular classroom for a specified period each day or week to work with a trained specialist on differentiated curriculum.

One-on-One Tutoring/Mentoring:

Placing a gifted student with a personal instructor who will offer curriculum at the appropriate level and pace.

Regrouping by Performance Level for Specific Subject Instruction:

A form of grouping, usually sorted, for once a year that delivers appropriately differentiated curriculum to students at a specific ability or achievement level.

School for the Gifted:

Provision of a separate school with admission requirements that students be identified or “certified” as gifted.


Gifted students are placed in self-contained classes at every grade level in an otherwise heterogeneous school.

Single-Subject Acceleration:

Allowing students to move more quickly through the progression of skills and content mastery in one subject where great advancement or proficiency has been observed. Other subjects may be at grade level.

Talent/Ability Grouping:

Grouping students of like ability or like interest on a regular basis during the school day for pursuit of advanced knowledge in a specific content area.

Talent Development:

Provision of experiences for an individual student with demonstrated high performance or potential in a specific area either through individual work or with a group of students with like talent.

Talent Search Programs:

Provision of highly challenging, accelerated learning experiences, usually on a college campus in a specific talent area (math, writing) for highly talented students.

Telescoping of Learning Time:

Any technique that shortens the amount of time a student is provided to acquire content and skills, e.g., rapid progress, acceleration, compacting, tempo. Can be subject specific or across a grade level.

Tracking or Full-Time Ability Grouping:

Sorting students, usually once a year, by ability level and then scheduling all their academic (sometimes nonacademic) classes together.

Within-Class Ability/Performance Grouping:

Sorting of students, topic-by-topic or subject-by-subject, within one classroom for the provision of differentiated learning for each group.

Process Modification

Occasional renegotiation of when projects or assignments will be due, especially when high quality work has already been shown.

Higher-Order Thinking Skills:

Questioning in discussions or providing activities based on processing that requires analysis, synthesis, valuation, or other critical thinking skills. Intuitive Expression Practice : Providing tasks in which students put themselves “in the shoes of” another person, situation, object through guided imagery, role-playing, etc. Personal Goal Setting: Teaching students to identify personal goals and how to prioritize time and activities to reach those goals.

Problem-Solving Skills Training:

Providing students with problem-solving strategies matched to differing problem types.

Proof and Reasoning:

Requiring students to cite their evidence to support ideas or concepts they generate.

Systematic Feedback:

Consistent, regular evaluations of student’s products, performance, knowledge acquisition for both corrective and reinforcement purposes

Visualization Techniques:

Providing students with role-play scenarios or guided imagery that encourages them to create images in their minds.

Product Modification

Open-ended assignments:.

Providing students with tasks and work that do not have single right answers or outcomes. The task may have timelines and a sequence of activities to be accomplished, but outcomes will vary for each student.

“Real Audience” Feedback:

Using out-of-school experts to evaluate student work in a specialized area of study.

Real Life/“Real World” Learning Experiences:

Provision of tasks or projects that relate to current issues and problems in society or student’s own world.

Talent Exhibition:

Providing the venue in which a student may demonstrate individual talents (academic or artistic), such as concert, show competition, fair, etc.

Transformational Products:

Requiring students to show how to use what they have learned by creating a “product” in a nontraditional, often visual medium.

Tier 1 refers to classroom instruction for all students that utilizes evidenced-based materials and practices to teach core subject areas.

Assessment data is used to monitor and maintain the ongoing cycle of skill success for all students. Screening for giftedness looks for exceptional abilities compared to age-mates. Differentiated instruction occurs in flexible small groups within the instructional time.

Tier 2 refers to evidence-based targeted supplemental skill-building intervention.

This instruction may be matched with the specific skill deficits of Twice Exceptional students who do not meet the Tier 1 benchmark. Tier 2 is systematic, explicit, and aligned with Tier 1 instruction. Instructional interventions are typically delivered in small groups of students with similar strengths and interest needs. Instruction is based on the needs of individual students as determined by the assessment data.

Tier 3 refers to evidence-based intensive targeted interventions for students whose academic and intellectual needs are not being met by Tier 1 or Tier 2. This small percentage of students requires radical acceleration, dual enrollment, early entrance, specialized counseling, long-term mentorships, or participation in specialized classroom or school for gifted students.

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tiered instruction for gifted students

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How MTSS Supports Gifted Students

How MTSS Supports Gifted Students

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The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights estimates that six percent of public school students are enrolled in gifted and talented programs ( source ). 


The Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a framework that supports all students —students below grade level, students at grade level, and students above grade level in need of enrichment. 

But how do we identify gifted students? How do we find and provide the right accelerated enrichment support programs for gifted students? How do we even know if these supports are working and how do we adjust supports if they’re not working? And how can we do all of this equitably?

Before we get lost in the frantic fray of Google search results, let’s take a step back and see how the Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) can help districts and schools support gifted students. Because you may have heard that MTSS can help scaffold support for struggling students to meet grade-level standards, but have you heard that MTSS can also provide advanced learning and enrichment supports for gifted and talented students?

In this article, I’ll offer a quick refresher on the definitions of MTSS and gifted students; then we’ll go over what gifted students need, and finally, break down how MTSS supports gifted students, and share some helpful resources along the way. Let’s get to it!


What Is MTSS?

Who are gifted students, what do gifted students need.

  • How Does MTSS Support Gifted Students' Needs?

What Does Supporting Gifted Students Through MTSS Look Like in Practice?

  • Why is it Important to Properly Identify and Support Gifted Students?

The Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a system-level structure that provides academic, behavioral, social-emotional, and attendance support for all students. In MTSS, data are gathered and utilized to address academic and non-academic needs, such as attendance and social-emotional concerns, ensuring a holistic approach to support.

There are three tiers in MTSS:

  • Tier 1: whole class data-driven differentiated core instruction,
  • Tier 2: whole-class differentiated instruction + small group targeted instruction (in addition to core instruction), and
  • Tier 3: whole class core differentiated instruction + additional targeted instruction (often small group in addition to core instruction) + intensive support.

MTSS is commonly discussed with the focus on providing interventions for at-risk students not meeting grade-level standards. Yet, the MTSS pyramid provides that same structural tiered support approach to gifted and talented students needing enrichment.

MTSS pyramid

According to the National Association for Gifted Students (NAGS), “Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).” 

Gifted students can also be referred to as “ asynchronous learners ,” as they can have significant variations in cognitive, physical, and emotional development within themselves and develop unevenly across skill levels. With this distinction, it’s important to remember that the traits of one gifted child may be extremely different from another, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach for gifted children.

Inequality Amongst the Identification of Gifted Students

It’s important to note that gifted students come from all ethnic, cultural, and racial populations and all economic classes. The percentage of students served in gifted education programs doesn’t presently reflect the general student population. 

According to an article published by the Associated Press in 2021, a recent analysis of the most recent federal data indicated that nationwide, 8.1% of white and 12.7% of Asian American children in public schools are considered gifted, compared with 4.5% of Hispanic and 3.5% of Black students.

White students are often provided more access to gifted programs. “In its own recent analysis, Seattle public schools found only 0.9% of Black children had been identified as gifted, compared with 12.6% of its white students,” for its Highly Capable Cohort gifted program.

There is controversy around having gifted programs to begin with, with some calling them “exclusive and exclusionary.” This is because most gifted and talented programs have depended on tests to decide eligibility, and some families spend thousands of dollars on tutoring and expensive specialized programs to boost scores and increase their children’s probabilities of obtaining a coveted spot. 

MTSS creates an inclusive learning environment for all students, where students needing enrichment begin to receive those resources immediately after universal screening assessments.

Need #1: Gifted students require adequate access to appropriate learning opportunities to discover their potential.

It’s imperative that gifted students have opportunities in early education to participate in challenging and/or enriched programs. And schools need to consider the context of the individual's previous opportunities to learn, not just grade-level performance.

Gifted and talented students who aren’t appropriately challenged are at a higher risk of dropping out of high-achieving groups during elementary and secondary school. This is because these students grow disengaged with learning and are sometimes flagged as “failing students.” For those in lower socioeconomic circumstances, this can more often be the case due to a lack of adequate identification.

Need #2: Gifted students can have learning and processing disorders that need specialized intervention and accommodation. 

Some gifted students are considered to be twice-exceptional , meaning they are gifted and talented while also having a disability such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dyslexia, etc. It’s crucial that these students have accurate and timely identification to ensure they receive the right social-emotional and/or academic support.

Need #3: Gifted students need support and guidance to develop socially and emotionally as well as in their area of talent.

Gifted students can also require support for social-emotional development. Educators and parents of gifted students need to provide and foster holistic social-emotional learning (SEL) . Emotional regulation, self-perception, social skills, ability to cope with challenges and handle criticism, willingness to take strategic risks, motivation, and confidence should all be taken into consideration. 

Need #4: Gifted students require various services/supports based on their shifting needs. 

A gifted and talented student will often need a fluid/readily adjustable framework of support, because their needs and educational environments change over time. Needs can also differ among gifted students based on readiness for advanced curriculum and support. It’s important to note that these needs are on a continuum in both cognitive and affective areas. 

How Does MTSS Support Gifted Students’ Needs?

The short answer is that MTSS is a layered continuum of supports for all students—whether below grade level, at grade level, or above grade level—in academic, social-emotional, and behavioral growth. And the framework assists in identifying students who are in need of supplemental instruction and/or enriched instruction.

MTSS Provides Gifted Students with Enrichment Learning Opportunities 

One of the biggest concerns for gifted students is that if they’re not challenged in the everyday classroom at Tier 1, they are at risk of becoming disengaged from learning and potentially failing and/or dropping out. And this doesn’t mean they lack a skill level, but because the instruction isn't meeting their needs and they grow uninterested.

In MTSS, gifted students often receive individualized instruction or practice appropriate for their higher skill level. That way, they remain engaged at the Tier 1 level .

For example, they might be placed in small groups in Tier 2 that contain enrichment opportunities that build upon the Tier 1 curriculum (such as moving through content at a faster or deeper pace, doing projects, accessing advanced course material, etc.). At Tier 3, these students will continue to be in Tier 1, but they will also be in an individualized program that allows them to work with higher-level material and with a gifted support teacher .

The table below shows enrichment opportunities for each tier level.

MTSS Supports Gifted Students' Variety of Needs Through Targeted Evidence-Based Interventions and Resources

Some gifted students may need enrichment in one subject area; while also needing support in another subject area where they aren’t meeting grade-level standards. For example, a student may be gifted in math and need enrichment in that area while also being below grade level in English and needing more intervention support in that area.

MTSS Supports the Whole (Gifted) Child

MTSS Cycle

MTSS integrates academics with social-emotional learning and behavioral learning.

Remember, gifted students may need a variety of services/supports based on their shifting needs, whether that be social-emotional, behavioral, or academic. The comprehensive framework of MTSS best ensures gifted students receive well-rounded support in areas they need enrichment and areas they need help. 

MTSS Utilizes Data to Help Identify & Support Gifted Students

Need #4: gifted students require various services/supports based on their shifting needs.  .

In addition to supporting the whole child, MTSS is a continuous data analysis system. As students’ needs shift, they are proactively identified with universal screening assessments to determine what level of support they need to continue to make progress in their learning.

Intervention plans provide targeted resources for all students receiving tiered support, including students requiring extra challenging material from core curriculum. Progress monitoring assessment tools provide guidance by determining if intervention plans are effective.

➡️ Learn more about MTSS and Assessment Data

It’s important to note that gifted and talented students need frequent assessments to ensure that they are receiving the “just-right” support, not too difficult and not too easy. This is especially true if they skip a grade level or are identified as needing Tier 3 enrichment support.

Understandably, it can be overwhelming for a school or district to track all of this assessment data and find the “just-right” course of enrichment and/or interventions if they are below grade level in other subject areas.

An MTSS Management platform, such as Branching Minds, helps keep track of assessment data and progress monitoring data and presents to help you identify gifted students in need of enrichment, collaborate on surveys to determine the root of each unique student’s challenges, and streamline documentation to quickly understand student progress and areas of need. ➡️   Request a demo .


To stay engaged, gifted students need appropriate pace and level of complexity, opportunity to demonstrate mastery, time with others of like-ability, high levels of thinking, both critical and creative, acceptance, respect, encouragement, and feelings of success with hard work.

Tier 1 for Gifted Students

Tier 1 core instruction should be differentiated for all learners, including gifted students. Differentiated instruction should be supplied to accelerate/deepen learning for gifted students to maximize their achievement as part of core instruction.

It’s important to note that differentiated instructional practice for gifted and talented learners must often contain higher-order thinking and questioning, additional open-ended assignments, preference, and proof and reasoning.

According to Bertie Kingore in Differentiation: Simplified, Realistic, and Effective; How to Challenge Advanced Potentials in Mixed-Ability Classrooms, some guidelines for creating a differentiating learning atmosphere for gifted learners are to:

  • Promote success for all students as they learn important information in different ways.
  • Encourage respect, responsibility, ownership, and pride. 
  • Allow students to polish and refine their craft. 
  • Recognize where each student begins, and enable each to experience as much progress as possible. 
  • Invite challenge and complexity in both thought and production. 
  • Integrate high-order thinking, including the encouragement of abstract thinking and symbolism. 
  • Involve students in planning and organizing learning. Extend students from consumers to producers.

Tier 2 for Gifted Students

In Tier 2 , students can receive targeted supplemental interventions in addition to core instruction. For gifted learners, Tier 2 instruction can provide enrichment by being systematic, explicit, and aligned with ongoing universal tier instruction. It parallels what is going on in Tier 1 (the everyday classroom) with adjustments to abstraction, complexity, pace, and depth. 

Tier 2 enrichment is based on individual needs. However, instructional interventions are delivered in small groups of students with similar strengths, interests, or needs as determined by assessments and observations.

The key is observing and assessing each advanced learner’s progress based on their potential. Once a teacher understands what progress is transpiring during the gifted student’s period in the classroom, recommendations can form for supplementary interventions to assist the student in achieving their full potential.

Tier 3 for Gifted Students

Students who will need Tier 3 enrichment are highly or exceptionally gifted. Accelerated support options can range from curriculum compacting in the regular grade-level classroom to skipping whole grades to early entrance to college. Less intensive forms of acceleration (such as curriculum compacting) may occur in Tier 1 or Tier 2. 

Students in need of Tier 3 enrichment require a curriculum that differs greatly in pace, level, complexity, and abstraction from same-age peers. Tier 3 enrichment may take place in addition to Tier 2 supplemental enrichment and Tier 1 enriched differentiated instruction, or it may supersede it altogether. If a student’s support services shift from Tier 1 and Tier 2 to intensive in Tier 3, the core curriculum should be examined to pinpoint gaps in learning.

For some gifted students, standard differentiation and instructional management/delivery are not adequate. The higher the IQ or ability of the gifted student, the more acceleration and modifications must be put in place to preserve the balance between the student and curriculum.

In Conclusion: Why is it Important to Properly Identify and Support Gifted Students?

Without the proper identification and support, gifted students may never reach their full potential and they may even eventually become disengaged, which could lead to low grades and/or even dropping out. 

And just as there have been many students demonstrating the need for Tier 2 and Tier 3 support by not meeting grade-level standards due to the interruptions caused by remote learning from COVID-19—gifted students also haven’t received the equivalent level of enriched instructional programs/support during COVID-19 learning interruptions.

While there is no easy-fix-all solution to identify and support gifted students equitably, a framework such as MTSS can help schools and districts know when a student is demonstrating a need for enriched support.

Check out these organizations for more information on gifted students:

➡️ National Association for Gifted Children

➡️ The Association for the Gifted

➡️ Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted

  • Kingore, B. W. (2004). Differentiation: Simplified, realistic, and effective: How to challenge advanced potentials in mixed-ability classrooms . Professional Associates Pub. 
  •,in%20gifted%20and%20talented%20programs .

Lindsay McCance

Lindsay McCance

Lindsay McCance is the Associate Marketing Manager at Branching Minds. She considers herself a jack-of-some-trades, having formerly worked for an entertainment company and a government contracting company. Though, she’s happy to have landed in the EdTech space and is fortunate enough to be working with the group of passionate educators and learning scientists at Branching Minds.

Connect with Lindsay McCance

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Differentiation for high achievers, engagement and growth for high flyers.

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High Achievers vs Gifted Students

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Gifted Learners

  • Gifted students resist work that is repetitive and beneath their learning level.
  • They will stretch themselves to do challenging work if they are convinced: They will not have to do more work than their classmates.
  • AND ...Advanced work will not lead to lower recorded grades.

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What is Differentiated Instruction?

Paragraph picture


Definition of pre‐assessments.


  • ‰Review portfolios/products ‰
  • Use unit tests, generally given at the end of instruction, as a pretest ‰
  • Observe student during various tasks and activities ‰
  • Observe independent reading of fiction/nonfiction ‰
  • Incorporate students’ interests

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How to Differentiate Instruction-Content, Process, Product

For our purpose, we are looking at the left column: numbers 1-7.

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1. Bloom's Taxonomy

  • The Differentiator is based on Bloom's Taxonomy , Kaplan and Gould's Depth and Complexity , and David Chung's product menu .

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Unlock The Real Power of Content Imperatives

2. layered or tiered lessons.

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Clear Expectations and Scaffolds For Students At Any Level

From Expectations and Scaffolds from Byrdseed: Gifted Learners

Two patterns :

  • Establish clear expectations.
  • Make it easy for students to achieve those expectations.

This helps the most struggling of students and the most advanced kids. Everyone needs the expectations and everyone benefits from scaffolding to achieve those expectations.

Example & Non-Example

There’s something so powerful about seeing an example and a non-example.

  • Want your students to write a better paragraph? First, write a cruddy version. Then create the exemplar.
  • Want papers set up a certain way? Show them how not to do it, then show them how do do it.
  • Want them to be nice to the lunch lady? Act out a non-example, then show the right way.

This works with almost anything: from hanging up backpacks to writing research reports. Kids need to see the bad and the good.

Sentence Frames

Internet pal, Shannon Houghton, helps run the #TeachersWhoGame panel at a gaming conference. To make her Q&A session go more smoothly, she created sentence frames for the adults attending her panel! Amazing. Everyone in your class can benefit from similar sentence frames. They can scaffold everything from appropriate class discussions to joining a game at recess.

Break Down The Complex

Without realizing it, we often ask kids do things without clear steps. For example, “revise your writing” is complex. It requires scaffolding – specific steps students can climb up:

  • Count the number of words in each sentence. Is there lots of variety, or are they about the same length?
  • Look at the parts of speech that start your sentences. Is there a variety of nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc?
  • How many times do you use similes or metaphors? Zero is too few. Every sentence is too many.

And if I, as the teacher, can’t break the task down, it means that even I don’t really know what I want! This happens more often than we realize.

Classroom Friendliness

“Everyone find a group” might be the least scaffolded thing we say as teachers. It’s so easy to say, yet it leads to complete panic.

So, set a clear expectation for joining groups. Mine was: if someone wants to join your group, the only answer is “yes, please!” And, since there are many ways to say “yes, please!” I demonstrated an example/non-example:

  • Example: I smile, pull out a chair, and say “yes please” in a welcoming voice.
  • Non-Example: I roll my eyes, exhale loudly, and murmur “yes please” while turning my back.

It was quick, kids thought it was hilarious (since I hammed it up), and it set clear expectations of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

What’s The First Thing?

When giving students a task, ask them: “what’s the first thing you’re going to do?” This gives everyone a starting point and a chance to build some momentum.

All Students, All Tasks

Whether it’s an academic task, like writing a paragraph, or a social situation, like finding a friend on the playground, everyone can benefit from clear expectations and specific steps.

3.  Anchoring Activities

3. Anchoring Activities

3.  Anchoring Activities

4. Adjusting Questions

5. learning contracts.

Big picture

  • Learning Contracts

Learning Contracts are written agreements between students and teachers that grant the student certain freedoms and choices about completing tasks yet require the student to meet certain specifications. They outline what the students will learn, how they will learn it, how long they will have to learn it, and how they will be graded or evaluated.

Purposes of Learning Contracts

• Enrich or extend the essential curriculum

• Challenge the abilities of all students

• Provide alternative activities that address the differing abilities, interests, or learning styles of students

• Help students learn to make decisions about their learning

•Help students learn to manage their time

• Can be used to support all learners

• Help the teacher differentiate

Components of Learning Contracts

1. Outcome(s) - specify what is to be accomplished, the conditions under which learning will be demonstrated, and the level of proficiency required to meet the outcome.

2. Resources - including print, media, and human

3. Learning Alternatives - include reading, writing, viewing, creating, interviewing, and other activities the student experiences to accomplish the outcome.

4. Reporting Alternatives and Assessment - should provide evidence as to whether the outcomes have been accomplished and include a self-assessment. Conferences, tests, projects, presentations, real world products, portfolios of work are examples of reporting alternatives.

Advantages of Learning Contracts

• Can be written for any curriculum area

• Provide rigorous and challenging learning activities

• Can be used to target specific learning activities for individuals or groups

• Promote flexible grouping in the classroom

• Accommodate students’ needs by blending skill-based and content-based learning

• Promote creative and critical thinking for students

• Develop students’ time-management, planning, and decision–making skills

• Allow students to work at an appropriate pace

• Recognize students’ prior knowledge • Eliminate boredom by minimizing repetition for students

• Increase students’ independence, motivation and class participation

“Think Abouts” for Creating Learning Contracts

• Essential curriculum standard(s) upon which the learning contract will be based

• Ways to incorporate student choice in the portions of the contract related to process or product

• Clear and challenging criteria for success (time lines, quality of work, etc.)

• Skills and content based on student readiness as well as interest and/or learning profile

• Criteria to be used in assessing and evaluating student work

• Expectations of positive work behaviors

• Clear directions and expectations

Management Tips for Learning Contracts

• Notify parents of learning contract implementation and expectations

• Require parent, student, and teacher signature on contract

• Set dates to meet with individual(s) or group(s) of students to monitor and discuss progress

• Allow time to accommodate student questions and/or concerns

Options for Assessing and Evaluating Student Work on Learning Contracts

 Select specific tasks to be evaluated; it is not necessary to evaluate every task.

 Provide a combination of teacher-selected tasks and student-selected tasks; see the “Product Idea” web available at the gifted and talented curriculum link at

 Use rubrics created by the teacher or the student that incorporate neatness, thoughtfulness, accuracy of information, originality (if appropriate)

• explain the role & function of contracts

• start small (1 or 2 day) contracts

• negotiate contracts with students whenever possible

• help set realistic deadlines

• renegotiate the contract if it isn’t working

• solicit student feedback on process

• gradually involve students in contract development

•expect all students to use contracts effectively at the beginning

• expect all students to like contracts

• assume contracts can take the place of regular instruction

• use contracts without a good management system

Learning Contracts

6. Curriculum Compacting

To “compact” the curriculum is to give students full credit before you teach the content for what they already know. ™ With new content, we compact by allowing advanced students to move at a faster pace.

Some ways to Compact:

Pre-Test And Choose From Alternate Work (Compacting one week at a time)

  • Offer voluntary pretest at beginning of each unit
  • Do NOT quickly review what will be tested
  • Those who demonstrate 90%receive mastery grade
  • They then do contract activities for the rest of the week

Nuts and Bolts of Compacting

Most teachers and parents like the strategy of curriculum compacting, but they are often unaware of what exactly occurs when this method is used. Below are practical ideas and suggestions for implementation.

  • The teacher meets with compacting students to decide with them on which alternate activity or activities they will work.
  • Some type of a time line is established, including when the students will meet with the teacher again and when the alternate activity is due. Compacting students can work independently or together, but it is important that they touch base with their teacher often.
  • The score that determines mastery is also the score that goes in the grade book. Students may receive extra points, if necessary, for compacting activities, but they should not be penalized with a lower grade if they work on a more challenging activity and do not get a high score. High achieving students are sometimes reluctant to work on alternate activities because they think a possible lower score will negatively affect their grades. Steps must be taken to ensure that does not happen.
  • Sometimes compacting students from several classrooms are grouped together for an alternate activity and work with one of the grade level teachers while the rest of the students are working with other teachers at the same grade level. This functions well if all teachers at a grade level are targeting the same skills and content at the same time.
  • The most important rule for a compacting student is: "The one choice you never have is the choice to do nothing!" This is because learning time is so valuable. Therefore, it is important that it never be wasted.
  • Each student should be responsible for keeping his/her own compactor folder with the work in it. This is a good way for disorganized gifted students to learn skills in organization, and it gives them practice in taking responsibility for their own work and their own learning.
  • Even gifted students have some academic weaknesses . Most gifted children compact out some of the time and usually in a specific subject. Very few compact out all of the time or in every subject.

7.  Independent Study

7. Independent Study

7.  Independent Study

  • Accelerating Gifted Students In The Classroom
  • Anchor Activities
  • Assessing 21st Century Skills
  • Challenging Gifted Students in Every Classroom
  • Differentiated Instructional Strategies for Middle School
  • From Expectations and Scaffolds
  • Carolyn Coil: What is Curriculum Compacting?
  • Differentiation For High Achievers
  • Meeting the Needs of Gifted Students: Differentiating Mathematics and Science Instruction
  • Teaching Gifted Learners: Independent Learning Contracts

Teaching Gifted Students Through Independent ... - Gifted and Talented

Troutman Middle School

Iredell-Statesville Schools


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