· Introduction
· Individualization
· Subject-Based Acceleration
· Grade-Based Acceleration
· Grouping
Developing An Educational Plan/Curriculum
Instructional Management / Individualization
by Karen Rogers, Ph.D.
Excerpted from
Re-Forming Gifted Education

It is important to distinguish between the terms curriculum and instruction. Curriculum, in general, is the content that a teacher or school plans to teach. Depending on how broadly or narrowly the term is defined, content is generally the “what” children will be expected to learn. The “what” could be facts and terms, concepts, principles, rules, generalizations, or even standards or outcomes that need to be mastered for state- and national-level competency tests or exams.

A well thought out curriculum will often have a “scope and sequence” so that teachers know specifically what to teach at each grade level and to what depth or degree they are to teach it. Many experts in the field of gifted education have argued that the general school curriculum does not contain enough breadth or depth of content for bright, eager learners who crave knowledge. As a result, many professionals in gifted education have attempted to develop examples of extensive and broad-based “gifted” curricula.

If curriculum is “what” is being taught, the term instruction refers to how the curriculum will be taught. Components of instruction include: (1) management, (2) delivery, and (3) process modifications.

Managing the Curriculum

The first component of instruction is management, which refers to how children will be grouped (or not grouped) to receive their curriculum. One form of management is called individualization, which is further broken down into two separate techniques. Individualization could be either: (1) making individual decisions for a single child in how he will either proceed with or bypass the general school curriculum, or (2) allowing a group or class of students to move at their own pace through the general school curriculum. The following table lists some of the strategies or techniques that would be examples of individualization.

Types of Instructional Management Services for High Potential Children


Grouping by Ability or Achievement


Credit for Prior Learning

Full-Time Ability Grouping (Tracking)


Individual Educational (or Learning) Plan

Regrouping by Achievement for Subject Instruction

Early Entrance to School

Talent Development

Cluster Grouping

Single Subject Acceleration

One-on-One Mentoring or Tutoring

Partial Day (or Send-Out) Grouping

Grade Telescoping

Independent Study

Within-Class Performance

Concurrent Enrollment

Non-Graded/Continuous Progress Classes

Cooperative Grouping with Like-Ability Learners

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate

Multigrade Classes

Cross-Graded Classes

Early Admission to College



Credit by Examination

How is Instruction Delivered?

Instructional delivery — the second component of curriculum — refers to the various strategies and techniques a teacher may use to bring the curriculum to the student.

Renzulli (1975) identified nine instructional delivery modes. These methods are listed below.

  1. Discussion — small group or whole class sharing ideas about some idea or concept all have learned in common.

  2. Drill and recitation — teacher asking specific questions from materials students were responsible for learning.

  3. Projects — small groups of students working together on a product that reflects their shared learning.

  4. Independent study — students selecting a topic of interest and working on it individually.

  5. Lecture — teacher orally sharing the knowledge and skills the students are to learn.

  6. Peer tutoring — students who have already mastered the curriculum working one-on-one with students who still need to master it.

  7. Programmed instruction — students working at their own pace through a set of materials that teach the knowledge and skills needed.

  8. Simulations — students developing a scenario and then practicing role-playing to learn knowledge and skills.

  9. Educational games — competitive quizzes or contests testing whether the students have mastered the required knowledge and skills.

Modifying the Curriculum

Now that instructional delivery has been described, it is time to go back and look at curriculum to see how it, too, can be modified using additional methods and techniques. June Maker 1983) identifies three components of curriculum — the content, the processes used to learn, and the products or outcomes.

The processes, which are the methods that teachers can use for instruction of gifted students, are described in the nine instructional delivery methods described above.

The content taught in a curriculum may be composed of the facts and terms of a specific subject or can be the big ideas, concepts, rules, principles, generalizations, or theories of a subject area. Content can also be outcomes or standards for a subject are mandated by a local school board, a state department of education, or a national organization or educational agency.

The product component of a curriculum is the actual criterion used to indicate that students have learned the knowledge (content) and skills (process) of the curriculum. In addition to a test or paper, some examples of possible products could include a poem, chart, video, skit, debate, or diorama. The criterion performance or achievement might be designed by a teacher or by the school.

Looking at these three curriculum components (content, process, product) and modifying them appropriately to match your child's needs are the next steps in changing a gifted child's curriculum.

Content Modifications for Gifted Children




Going beyond surface information; symbolism, underlying meaning of content


Providing more difficult and intricately detailed content


Connecting content and ideas across disciplines


Changing the sequence for how content is taught

Study of People

Relating content to the people in the field, famous people, human situations and problems

Method of Inquiry

Relating content to how things work, methods that are used in field

Product Modifications for Gifted Children



Real World Problems or Situations

Providing learners with a problem or situation to solve or work on that is relevant to their own lives

Real Audiences

Providing children with experts in a field the child is studying to evaluate child's work; presenting work to a live audience.


Encouraging nontraditional products and performance that require transforming what has been learned into some visual, dramatic, or other useful form



Developing an Educational Plan/Curriculum

Educational Settings

Extracurricular Opportunities