Road Map for GATE in Creating Innovative Differentiated Approaches to Skill Development

Road Map for GATE in Creating Innovative Differentiated Approaches to Skill Development

Kathryn L. Lubniewski, Mary Brennan
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5879-8.ch018
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This chapter discusses differentiated instruction for the gifted and talented educator. The first section focuses on the foundations of differentiated instruction (DI) including the definition with examples of DI. The second section discusses specific skills identified for the GATE teacher with examples of instructional methods for the skill and examples of specific assessments to evaluate the skill. The chapter concludes with a wrap up of skills and DI methods related to instruction and assessment for the GATE teacher.
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Road maps help individuals navigate a particular area with specific boundaries and points of interest. Like a road map this chapter will (1) describe the area: differentiated instruction and gifted and talented educators (GATE), (2) provide specific boundaries: specific skills for GATE with methods and assessments, and (3) discuss the points of interest: conclusions and next steps for working with GATE.

Before beginning the journey, we need to identify the passengers on the journey: teacher candidates who are gifted and talented. And then we need to discuss the foundational information of the map. In this case, what is differentiated instruction? Why is it important for teacher candidates who are gifted? What does this look like in higher education?

When using a map, it is important to note that usually there are many directions you can take to arrive at your end destination. This is true for differentiated instruction. One path or type of teaching may not be the best depending on the individual that you are working with. Differentiated instruction is a philosophy of teaching that promotes the belief that students learn their best when teachers accommodate based on the individual’s differences in their various readiness levels, specific strengths and needs, interests, backgrounds, and learning profiles (Parsons, Dodman, & Burrowbridge, 2013; Taylor, 2017; Tomlinson, 2005). Identifying the readiness level is critical for students who are GATE because here the teacher is able to assess their ability to understand abstract concepts, think creatively, take on challenge, and identify where to accelerate the curriculum.

Every student can learn, and the philosophy of differentiated instruction seeks to provide an appropriate challenge for each individual learner. It avoids the pitfalls of the one-size-fits-all curriculum (McBride, 2004), and incorporates current research into the workings of the human brain while supporting the multiple intelligences and varying learning styles (Morgan, 2014; Tuttle, 2000). The use of the term “students” as described above can be those in K-12 as well as at the collegiate level classrooms. In the differentiated classroom, the teacher focuses on the same principles or objectives for all students; however, the process toward understanding these concepts varies (Dixon, Yssel, McConnell, & Hardin, 2014). The students are first looked at as a whole, and then individual needs are met (Tomlinson, 2001). This type of philosophy forces teachers to shift their thinking from traditional education, to catering to more individualized teaching (Subban, 2006). By creating this type of classroom, every student is learning as quickly and deeply as possible (Morgan, 2014; Tuttle, 2000).

The makeup of the classroom has been changing in the past decade as there has been an increase in full inclusion and heterogeneity of classes, in turn, making curricular and instructional differentiation even more important (Dai & Chen, 2013). Due to this increase, there is a wide variety of ability levels of students now spending most of their school day in general education classrooms (Tomlinson, 2004), including those that pursue college degrees and students who are gifted. Dai and Chen (2013) found that, specifically for students who are gifted, curriculum and instruction should be adapted to the needs of students on an individual basis. They note that there is a wide range of differences in learning demonstrated by students who are gifted (e.g., subject-specific, open to change, domain-general, permanent). As stated above, differentiated instruction has been supported to address the issues of appropriate content, pace, curricular depth, individual interests, and learning styles, which are specifically connected to learners who are gifted, as well (Callahan, Moon, Oh, Azano, & Hailey, 2015; Plucker & Callahan, 2014; Tomlinson, 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Differentiated Instruction: A philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues to learning (often in the same classroom) in terms of acquiring content; processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.

Accommodations: Change how a student learns the material.

Flipped Classroom: A pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.

Learning Styles: The preferential way in which the student absorbs, processes, comprehends, and retains information.

Paradigm: A system of thought or practice that dominates thinking, feeling, and doing in a field, so much so that it becomes the norm, deviation from which can be quickly and easily detected.

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