Curriculum and instruction for gifted learners should be designed to respond to students’ ability to learn. This is because these learners vary from one to another. As such, there is no specific formula or template, that can be used to design the curriculum and instructions that suit all highly able learners. However, a good curriculum and instructions for advanced learners must make sense and be rich in content.
What does it take to make a good curriculum and instruction appropriate for highly able learners?
The answer to this question varies from one student to another. However, some general answers that may be considered in terms of the degree of challenge are the appropriateness of passing and the pursuit of passion provided by the curriculum and instructions. A good curriculum shall consider the appropriateness of the pace that learners take to gain knowledge, skills, and understanding of a particular topic or concept. Some learners take less time than others, so a good curriculum should allow for adjustment of pace suiting various learners’ needs. (Tomlinson C. A., 2005)
A good curriculum and instructions for highly able learners shall put into consideration the degree of challenge for various learners. Something that is challenging to one learner may be less challenging to another one. The curriculum shall, therefore, be designed to serve the specific needs of learners at a given time. This is important because it enhances the growth of each and every learner. It is worth noting that student learns when he or she is subjected to moderately challenging work. (National Research Council, 2000) (Tomlinson, 1998)
Highly able learners are gifted in a specific area of study. A good curriculum and instructions that are appropriate for these learners help students to focus on those areas in which they have high potentials of performing. The curriculum and instructions shall enable leaner to vigorously peruse his or her passion. (Tomlinson C. A., 2005)
Lesson Plan change-up
The title of the chosen lesson plan is “discovering the arctic: new places, new ideas, and new experiences”. The curriculum focuses on social studies for 8 -8 and 9-12 level grades. The aim of the lesson is to help learners to explore life and adaptation in the arctic region of the planet. They are expected to understand animals, human beings and plants adapted to the weather and climatic conditions in a particular area. The learning objective for the lesson is to help learners analyze and make a comparison of societal patterns for transmitting and preserving culture while adapting to social and environmental changes, understand how an organism’s behavior evolves as it adapts to the environment; and understand that organism population can be grouped according to the functions they serve in the ecosystem.
Learners shall learn in groups and communicate with each other in order to reach the main aim which is to help a learner understand physical features that help animals and humans survive in this region. In addition, they are to conduct research to enable them to learn more about the history of Inuit and Amer-Indian who have dominated this area for centuries. Students are expected to present their findings. Learners are also expected to interactively compile targeted vocabularies by not only making definitions but collecting images, brochures, video images, parts of articles, and other resources that best help to understand the vocabularies.
After the lesson, learners are expected to undergo an assessment which is to determine whether they have understood the topic. This is in the form of questions, evidence, interpretation, cause and effect, change and continuity, and use of history. To enhance this lesson plan, students should visit the area physically and not only view the video. This will help them connect well with what they see and what they learn. The process of learning should be made more practical oriented.
National Research Council. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington DC: National Academy Press.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2005). Quality Curriculum and Instruction for Highly Able Students. Theory into practice , 44 (2), 160–166.
Tomlinson, C. (1998). Curriculum and instruction for able learners in the middle grades: What would it takes? In R. W. (Eds.), Able learners in the middle level school (pp. 21-34). Reston, VA: National Association of Secondary School Principals.