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Meeting the Needs of Gifted Learners in the K-12 Classroom

Catherine Zink


Course Description: Knowledge and practical strategies of how to respond to the needs of gifted learners in the regular education classroom. Explore the foundations of how gifted learners think, their social-emotional needs, the strategies of differentiation including Tiered Assignments, Curriculum Compacting, Cooperative Learning Groups, and Cluster Grouping.  Describe the role of assessment in differentiating lessons for Gifted Learners.


  1. Adapt and/or create extension or replacement of the general education curricula through Tiered Assignments and Curriculum Compacting as vehicles to meet the needs of gifted learners.
  2. Describe the learning characteristics of gifted learners.
  3. Describe the behavioral tendencies of gifted learners.
  4. Identify and respond to characteristics and needs of gifted learners.
  5. Defend the vital role of differentiation.
  6. Apply knowledge of gifted learner characteristics to plans, classroom lessons, and assessments.
  7. Describe the imperative nature of pre-assessment and formative assessment to support the needs of gifted learners.
  8. Describe the importance of Cooperative Learning Groups and Cluster Grouping for gifted learners in the regular education classroom.

Instructional Methods: Readings, reflection, application to previously taught lessons, mindset evaluation.



Azzam, A. (2016). Six Strategies for Challenging Gifted Learners. Retrieved from

Betts, G., & Neihart, M. (2017). Profiles of Gifted, Talented, Creative Learners. Retrieved from

Delisle, J. (2015). Differentiation doesn’t work. Education Week, 34(15), 28.

Delisle, J., & Galbraith, J. (2015). When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers. (2nd ed.). free spirit Publishing.

Heacox, D. (2012). Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom. free spirit Publishing.

Lintner, T., & Puryear, A. (2015). Inquiry-Based Learning for Gifted Students in the Social Studies Classroom. Retrieved from

Lockhart, K. (2019). What To Expect When You’re Expected To Teach Gifted Students. Prufrock Press Inc.

Moon, T., & Tomlinson, C.A. (2013). Assessment and student success in a differentiated classroom. ASCD.

Smith, K.J. (2011) Challenging Units for Gifted Learners. Prufrock Press, Inc.

Sousa, D.A., & Tomlinson, C.A. (2018). Differentiation and the brain: How neuroscience supports the learner-friendly classroom. ASCD.

Stanley, T. (2012). Project-Based Learning for Gifted Students. Prufrock Press, Inc.

Tomlinson, C. (2015). To the contrary: Differentiation does work. Education Week, 34(19), 26.

Tomlinson, C. (2014). The Differentiated Classroom. (2nd ed.) ASCD.

Tomlinson, C. (2017). How to Differentiate Instruction. ASCD.

Tomlinson, C. & Moon, T. (2013). Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. ASCD.

Winebrenner, S. (2018). Teaching Gifted Kids In Today’s Classroom. free spirit Publishing.


Course Assignments

  1. Reflection – 20%

Students review the Six Profiles of Gifted Children presented in the slides,

asking themselves if any of their current or previous gifted students fit one of these

descriptions.  Students explain how this student fits in this category and how their new and informed view of this child might change their interactions with him/her. If a student is not currently teaching, or have not had, or have, a gifted student, they will choose a category that interests them and write about why and/or any questions these descriptions have brought about.


  1. Choose ONE of the following two options: (30%)

1. Students revise a previously taught lesson plan, or one they will teach in the future, demonstrating understanding of a Tiered Assignment for three different levels, one being Gifted Learners.

           2. Students modify a previously taught lesson plan demonstrating the strategy of Curriculum Compacting.


  1. Assessments – 30%

Students choose a Pre-Assessment or Formative Assessment and share how they will use this to differentiate instruction for Gifted Learners.


  1. Pre and Post Mindset – 20%

Share how this course has changed your mindset about Gifted Learners. How did you feel before taking this course? After?




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