D I F F E R E N T I A T I O N
A proactive response to diverse learners in a single classroom.
In Okemos, academically talented students are placed in regular, mixed-ability classrooms (with the exception of advanced courses in grades 6-12). This requires an appropriately differentiated curriculum designed to address the unique individual characteristics, needs and abilities of gifted learners. As described by Sandra Berger in her article Differentiating Gifted Students in the Mixed-Ability Classroom (1996), "...it is difficult to generalize about students who are gifted because their characteristics and needs are so personal and unique. However, as a group they comprehend complex ideas quickly, learn more rapidly and in greater depth than their age peers, and may exhibit interests that differ from those of their peers. They need time for in-depth exploration, they manipulate ideas and draw generalizations about seemingly unconnected concepts, and they ask provocative questions." Our gifted education consultant and program coordinator support teachers to design an effectively differentiated program that builds on these characteristics by adapting what students learn, how they learn it, and/or how they demonstrate their learning.
The following information describes the concept of differentiating for gifted learners within the Okemos Public Schools.
Differentiation provides an opportunity for students to benefit from a variety of learning tools that will maximize their potential. High-ability students, in particular, benefit from techniques that provide a flexible atmosphere regarding pace, level of complexity and appropriate peer interaction.
Differentiated instruction "provides different avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas and to developing products so that each student can learn effectively." (Tomlinson, 2001)
Differentiation does not.....
For our students:
For our district: