Mini-Course: The Musts of a Differentiated Classroom

Thank you for your interest in th This mini-course is designed by the NAGC Education Committee to help educators plan a differentiated classroom in the era of the Common Core State Standards. In this mini-course, you will explore a different view of developing potential and gain a greater understanding of the essential components of a differentiated classroom. 

Course Structure

This NAGC Mini-Course on Differentiation consists of watching video lessons, reading selected course materials, reflecting on the lessons individually or as a team, and completing an activity.

On this page, you have all the pieces of the course so you may move through it at your own pace.

We welcome comments, feedback, and questions  Feel free to send an email at any time.

Lesson #1: The Myth of Average

Our first lesson focuses on exploring the "myth of average." In this lesson, you will watch a lecture by Dr. Todd Rose, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In this provocative video, Dr. Rose shares his journey from a high-school dropout to becoming a faculty member at Harvard. He offers a fresh perspective on our role in nurturing individual potential.

Reflection Questions

After watching the video lecture, reflect on the following questions:

  1. In what ways does the YouTube Video The Myth of Average apply to gifted education in the Common Core era and what are the implications for teachers?
  2. If during the first 5 or 6 years of school, a child earns good grades and high praise without having to make much effort, what are all the things he/she doesn’t learn that most children learn by 3rd grade?


Lesson #2: The Musts of a Differentiated Classroom


I hope that you enjoyed the last lesson and activity! Our second lesson focuses on the essential components of a differentiated classroom. You will learn that differentiation does not merely mean individualized lesson plans, a set of strategies, a list of choices, or more work.  Rather, it is about high-quality curriculum, ongoing assessment, respectful tasks, and proactive planning to match curriculum to learner needs.

Reflection Questions

After watching the video lecture, download and review the Effective Differentiation Model handout. Then:

  • Reflect on what “Musts” of a Differentiated Classroom are evident in your classroom/school and determine what important steps you/your school needs to take to more effectively differentiate curriculum and instruction for gifted learners.

You are almost there! Your last lesson on the introduction of differentiation introduces you to a variety of resources on leveraging the Common Core State Standards to support advanced learners. In this lesson, you will gain awareness of NAGC resources and reflect on your current instructional practice.

Click on the image of the books below and read the page.

Reflection Questions

After reading the NAGC Webpage on the Common Core, reflect on the following questions:

  1. What do you want students to know, understand, and be able to do?
  2. Who already knows, understands, and has demonstrated these skills?
  3. What can you do to elevate learning to higher levels for gifted students?

This is your last activity and assignment for the NAGC Mini-Course on Differentiation. Thank you for pariticpating. We hope you enjoyed the activites and learned about pracitices and tools that you can use to support advanced learners.  Please share with us your experience going through this course.

Additional Learning Resources

To support your continued exploration on the topic of differentiation, we compiled a list of resources.

NAGC Position Statement: Differentiating Curriculum and Instruction for Gifted and Talented Students

NAGC Research & Evaluation Network Resource: Excerpt from R&E Network Newsletter on Differentiation

Berger, S. (n.d.). Differentiating Curriculum for Gifted Learners.  ERIC Digest #E510.