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     One of the foundations of gifted education in West Virginia is that students identified as gifted in West Virginia have special needs that must be met in order to provide an equitable education. Their instruction must be differentiated to include more depth and complexity of content, flexible processes and creativity in product, in order to maximize their academic growth.

     To improve instruction and increase cognitive demand, West Virginia's content standards were revised to include more critical thinking and problem solving skills. Gifted education teachers must be aware of and have a deep understanding of the content standards and objectives and the achievement levels across grades so that they can provide direct services instruction and consultation that will impact student learning and assure that students identified as gifted also make yearly progress.

     Advanced Content- Creative Product-Different Process

Critical Characteristics of the Gifted Learner On Which Differentiation Is Based

* Precocity

* Intensity

* Complexity

(Van Tassel-Baska, 2003)

Differentiated Content:
In West Virginia, most delivery systems for students identified as gifted offer opportunities for both acceleration of the student's learning pace as well as learning extensions and enrichment to increase the depth and breadth of the student's knowledge. There is no set "program" or practice. Experiences may include advanced content (i.e., more depth and complexity) and/or content that is accelerated to higher grade level if the student has demonstrated proficiency at grade level.

Differentiate Process:
To address the differentiated process dimension, the teacher may provide opportunities for brainstorming, flexible thinking, generating multiple ideas, exploring alternate solutions and taking responsible risks. In addressing issues and concepts, the teacher may provide opportunities to explore conflict in history and literature, rights and responsibilities, resources/scarcity, cultural differences: systems in social studies and science; and patterns in mathematics and art. (Tomlinson & Doubet, 2006)

The teacher should consider different learning styles (not necessarily ability level):

     * Visual/spatial learners- use mind maps, charts, draw a picture or diagram
     * Verbal/Linguistic learners - use text for reading, audio/video recordings for listening, relating
     * Logical/Mathematical - use problem solving techniques, show by equation, if this, then what

Differentiated Product:
The product should be a performanced based product. Creativity should be encouraged, providing alternatives for products and allowing flexibility in the above learning styles.

Graphic organizer showing Content nesting inside Concepts inside Thinking Skills inside Habits of Mind inside Outcomes


     Acceleration is "the process through which students can obtain mastery of content at a faster or earlier rate" (WV Board Policy 2510, p. 52). Acceleration is available to all students in West Virginia who demonstrate the academic readiness. Some options include, but are not limited to, early entrance, single-subject acceleration, whole-grade acceleration and testing out (at the high school level). The requirements are decided at the local level.

Instructional Strategies:

Acceleration in Single Subject Area

     After demonstrating mastery of the grade-level subject, the student is accelerated to the next grade level in that single subject. The student does not remain with same age peers in the single subject, but does remain with same age peers in other subjects.


Cooperative Learning

     Students work in small groups (typically 2-6 students) with a common goal in a learning activity. The goal may be to complete a unit of study, solve a problem, complete a project or complete a laboratory assignment. The experience usually involves peer reviews and discussion which enhances learning and increases retention of information. More information at Cooperative Learning.

Curriculum Compacting

     Curriculum compacting is characterized by pre- and post-testing. The general curriculum is then "compacted" or condensed and streamlined to reduce repetition of previously mastered material. "Compacting" what students already know allows time for enrichment beyond the basic curriculum for students who would otherwise be simply practicing what they already know.


     Grade telescoping involves allowing a child - or preferably, a group of children of the same age - to complete the school's curriculum of several years in less time. "For example, a middle school student could complete the three years' curriculum of middle school in two years." The student does not skip any subject areas of the curriculum but moves more rapidly through them. (Rogers, 2002)


Biographical Method in Gifted Education

     The biographical method is a method of investigating and analyzing facts and artifacts (interviews, personal documents, etc.) about a person's life in order to give an in-depth account of the person's whole life or a portion of his or her life. Rather than a focusing on a particular event, the biographical method probes more deeply into the person's life experiences and social connections that may provide a better understanding of the person.

     The biographical method may produce an account of the person's life in text, images, a movie or a combination of methods.


Interdisciplinary/Integrated Curricula around a Theme

     Thematic units which make connections across multiple curricular areas.

Organizational Skills

     Many students who are identified as gifted and are not achieving at expected levels - possibly not even achieving at grade level, may lack organizational skills. They may need explicit instruction in managing their time and materials effectively. Setting goals, making lists and prioritizing are all elements of organizational skills. Teaching organizational skills also includes an element of positive behavior support.

     Graphic Organizers

Models of Thinking

  Many models exist to help educators categorize thinking skills. Links to information on four of those models are provided here. Knowledge of these models will facilitate planning instruction and organizing activities that promote deeper thinking. In addition, students who understand and apply a model of thinking can take charge of their own academic learning.

Bloom's Taxonomy of Thinking Skills

Marzano's Dimensions of Learning

Costa and Kallick's 16 Habits of Mind

Partnership for 21st Century Skills;  

Teaching with Models - Gifted Education (College of William & Mary) - Power Point Presentation

Parallel Curriculum

     The Parallel Curriculum Model is a set of designs that revises, while remaining aligned with, the existing curriculum to include opportunities to learn the enduring facts, key concepts and principles related to the core content.

Project-Based Learning Model

     Projects are a natural way to engage students in learning. A project begins with a question or a challenge that the students encounter in every day life. It may be prompted by a headline in the news, a show on TV, a conversation with parents or friends or some other trigger.

     The students then compile what they already know, what they need to know and what they expect to learn from the project (KWL chart). The initial question may or may not result in a problem. If the students already know the answers, there is no problem. If they do not know all the answers, the students proceed to the next step; defining the problem.

     Next, the students gather information, record the results and share the information. From the information, they generate possible solutions.

     Finally, they determine the best solution and present their findings.

     Problem-based learning places the student in the active role of solving problems in real life situations.

     For Project-Based Learning (PBL) ideas, visit this link.

Research Model

Six Hats Thinking

     "Six Hats Thinking" is a creative thinking method developed by Dr. Edward de Bono. Link to site.

Socratic Seminar

     The art of "Socratic Questioning" involves over-arching questions that support thinking skills and help students see connections between the subjects and gain a deeper understanding. See also "The Taxonomy of Socratic Questioning," created by Richard Paul.

Exceptional Gifted - Grades 9 through 12

    In West Virginia, gifted education is addressed through Advanced Placement and Honors courses as appropriate through a Four-Year Education and Transition Plan for students not eligible as Exceptional Gifted - Grades 9 through 12. For students eligible as Exceptional Gifted, an IEP is developed. The focus of an IEP for Exceptional Gifted is generally on 1) creativity skills, 2) social emotional issues, 3) career studies, 4) personal interests, 5) leadership and/or 6) organizational skills.  These are generally delivered through conferencing with the student.


Fogarty, Robin (2013) Creativity: The Premier 21st Century Skill

Rogers, Karen B. (2002) Re-Forming Gifted Education, Great Potential Press, Inc., P.O. Box 5057, Scottsdale, AZ 85261. www.giftedbooks.com

Tomlinson, Carol Ann and Doubet, Kristina (2006) SMART in the Middle Grades, National Middle School Association, Westerville, Ohio. 43081 www.nmsa.org.

Van Tassel Baska, Joyce (2003) Content-Based Curriculum for High-Ability Learners, Prufrock Press, Inc., Waco, TX.

West Virginia State Board of Education Policies

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

NAGC Pre-K--Grade 12 Gifted Program Standards