High Quality Curriculum for Gifted Learners

What are the components of exemplary curriculum for gifted learners and how does it get implemented in a classroom? Annually, the Curriculum Studies Network solicits PreK-12 curriculum units that are employed with gifted learners in a variety of education settings to go through a competitive blind process and meet exemplary criteria. The following NAGC 2018 Curriculum Studies award winning units span multiple grade levels and content areas. They were selected for including appropriate differentiation to meet the needs of gifted learners, opportunities for talent development, authentic assessments, applied real-world problem solving, and evidence of effectiveness. We congratulate the authors of the winning curriculum units.

Pictured from left to right: Jason McIntosh, Rebecca Brusseau, Dana Plowden, Jesse McHie (representative for Not for Sale), Anne Horak (representative for Not for Sale)

Curriculum authored by teachers, graduate students, and/or university faculty are encouraged to submit units to be considered for the award. See the NAGC Curriculum Studies more information about the review process and guidelines.

Project Kaleidoscope: A Summer Curriculum Unit for Talent Development

Authors: Christine Carr, Barbara Wheatley, Kerrigan Mahoney, Tonya Moon, Catherine Brighton, Helen Michelle Kreamer, Victoria Hobson, and Andrew McCartney

The University of Virginia’s Project Kaleidoscope, funded by the Javits Program, created a dynamic and engaging curriculum for a two-week summer program for culturally and linguistically diverse students in Kindergarten and first grade in a heterogeneous classroom. The curriculum design was driven by the need for a high-quality learning experience for students who have not yet been formally identified for gifted and talent programs in their schools, but demonstrate talent potential. The eight-day summer intersession was led by select faculty hailing from the five participating elementary schools. The Project Kaleidoscope team designed a curriculum around the theme of Kaleidoscope and assigned each day a relevant (and increasingly complex) topic: pattern (day 1), color (day 2), balance (day 3), light and dark (day 4), shadow (day 5), reflection and mirrors (day 6), illusion and vision (day 7), and kaleidoscope (day 8).  While the curriculum was designed around this science-based theme, the overarching goal of the curriculum was consistent with Project Kaleidoscope’s objective: to support children’s talent potential through language and literacy development.  Accordingly, each day of the summer intersession included opportunities for reading, writing, and vocabulary development, and these opportunities are described in the eight daily lesson plans. Contact Dr. Tonya Moon (trm2k@virginia.edu) for more information about the curriculum.

Not for Sale

Authors: Dana Plowden, Rebecca Brusseau, and Shelagh Gallagher

In this Problem Based Learning unit for grades 4-8, students are in the stakeholder role of members of the Baltimore City Parks and Recreation Department. They are in the final stages of planning the redevelopment of an old, abandoned lot into a soccer field when the community begins to raise serious objections. Students will come to realize that long-time residents are concerned that the soccer field signals the beginning of gentrification and all of the negative outcomes that come along with it. After researching gentrification and community building, students will collaborate to devise a plan to build bridges between newer and older neighborhood residents in an effort to try to convince community leaders that the renovation is in the best interest of the entire community. This unit will be available through Royal Fireworks Press.

Dinosaurs to Drones: Investigating the Connections Between Change Over Time and Grit 

Author: Jason McIntosh

This unit consists of thirty individual lesson plans designed to meet the needs of gifted students in 4th-8th grade. A twenty-six chapter novel entitled Dinosaurs, Diggers, and Thieves serves as the backbone to the unit. After reading each chapter, students participate in daily choice activities, shared inquiry discussions, problem-based learning tasks, and hands-on experiences created to help students learn to think like a paleontologist, investigate the physics of drone flight, and explore the connections between change over time and grit. The unit is inter-disciplinary and covers aspects of all major subject areas. Social-emotional topics addressed within the unit include, among others, the concept of flow, the characteristics of the gifted, introversion and extroversion. The unit concludes with a student planned and facilitated Grit Games competition in which students have to apply the skills they have acquired. This unit will be available through Royal Fireworks Press.