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The Four Components of a GATE Program

  • Acceleration/Pacing - Moving students faster through the curriculum and not expecting them to do what the already know how to do.

  • Depth - Having students become true experts in a given area; giving them an opportunity to find out about certain subjects in great detail.

  • Complexity - Exploring the connection and relationships between things; comparing and contrasting.
  • Novelty - Allowing students to exhibit their creativity in the creation of original projects that challenge their thinking in new and unusual ways.

Differentiating the Curriculum

Differentiating the curriculum of the children means providing each child a curriculum compatible with his or her stage of development, specific needs and interest, irrespective of what is considered a standard curriculum for the child's chronological age (Kanrnes & Johnson in Press-b).
Differentiating the curriculum does not mean teaching children what they already know, nor does it mean providing them with more of the same or merely increasing the pace of learning (Karnes, Scwedel, and Williams, 1983). California Association of the Gifted (CAG) believes that curriculum should be differentiated for all students and that in all classrooms there should be multiple paths for success. The major purpose of GATE differentiating is to challenge the advanced learner.

Key Characteristics

    1. Offering not usually a part of the standard curriculum for young children.
    2. Encouragement to pursue a chosen interest in depth.
    3. Learning based on needs rather than on predetermined order or sequence of instruction.
    4. Activities more complex and requiring more abstract thought and a high-level thinking process.
    5. Greater flexibility in the use of material, time and resources.
    6. Higher expectations for independence and task persistence.
    7. Provisions of more opportunities to acquire and demonstrate leadership abilities.
    8. Greater encouragement of creative and productive thinking.
    9. More emphasis on interpreting the behavior and feelings of self and others.
    10. More opportunities to broaden the base of knowledge and enhance language abilities.

Common Misconceptions Concerning Differentiation

Karnes (1988) described common misconceptions concerning what constitutes differentiation. A program for gifted students is not:

  • Giving gifted students more of the same. For instance, if a gifted student is able to work math problems faster than the average child, it is not appropriate to give him/her ten extra problems of the same difficulty. This type of extra work feels like punishment for being gifted.
  • Teaching gifted students something they already know. They are interested in new learning and applying what they know to new situations. They shouldn't have to study spelling words, do math problems they already know, or reread books they are already familiar with.
  • Assigning work that demands only lower level thinking skills. Students can become resentful, withdrawn, refuse to turn in work, or invest little time or effort in their work.
  • Expecting gifted students to spend too much time helping less able children. Some time spent this way may be beneficial to gifted children, but they need ample time to be challenged.
  • Giving gifted children work designed for older (average) children. They have learning styles that differ from average children. Even though the level of the material may be more advanced, it may not be appropriate. Does it meet the four major elements of designing differentiated curriculum?