Differentiated Instruction for Rapid Learner Students

  • Differentiation is a term that refers to the tailoring of the teaching environment and teaching practices in order to provide different learning experiences for different students. It is the method of meeting the needs of diverse learners and tailoring  programs so that each student is able to learn at a level that is appropriately challenging.
    In differentiating curriculum, we recognize that there are many possible answers to prompts and that there are many ways to arrive at an answer. Thus, we teach the methodology of thinking. We ask our students to become specialists in the disciplines that we study.  Our classrooms allow for independent work, but they also rely heavily on collaborative work where students think critically and creatively, and spend a great deal of time communicating their ideas to one another. Our students work in an interdisciplinary environment where connections across the curriculum can be made in the minds of our developing intellects.

    For accleratoed students, differentiation may include:

    • Removing already mastered material from the curriculum
    • Adjusting the expectations of the curriculum in the areas of content, process or product
    • Accelerating the curriculum for able students

    The California Association for the Gifted and the California State Department of Education have identified four areas in which differentiation is mandated in an advanced program. Those four areas are:

    • Acceleration and Pacing
    • Depth
    • Complexity
    • Novelty


    Acceleration and Pacing:

    Acceleration and Pacing means moving faster through the material under study. The key component is assessing the students' needs and then moving at a pace that is appropriately challenging. This enables students to move forward at a pace that does not bore him or her due to repetition, but also in a way that allows the student to be successful at his or her highest level. Students are not asked to do things that they already know how to do nor are they kept waiting for the rest of the class before being allowed to move forward. Acceleration of knowing is accomplished by thinking like a disciplinarian and creating a curriculum that is integrated across all disciplines. 


    Depth is what allows a student to become an expert in an area of study. Students learn more about a topic than what is taught in the standard curriculum. Students often go outside of traditional resources and are challenged to analyze the content with the idea of becoming a scholar. Those pursuits are often driven by the student. Depth is the component that provides a student to begin thinking like a disciplinarian in the field that is being explored.
    students working


    Complexity defines how topics are related or are connected to each other. Students see the world as a connective whole rather than isolated segments. In order for children to make sense of the world, they need to see the connectivity between ideas and disciplines. Holistic organization of the material better reflects the real world and allows students to connect their learning between school and their community. Students become more involved in their learning because the context is more understandable to them and this type of learning reflects how young students' brains process information. When students are challenged to think of how their science unit connects to their reading book or social studies, they are thinking with complexity.


    This is the creative thread in differentiation; it is the creativity of the student that novelty enhances. By encouraging novelty, a teacher expects students to demonstrate uniqueness and creativity in their work. The students will "stretch their wings" in a manner which will show their understanding of the material. Critical thinking is a necessary component of novelty. Novelty permits students to rewrite the rules and document their knowledge in new ways that may not have been within the realm of thinking when the study of a topic began. Teachers set up the learning experience and then step out of the way-a gifted student is at work!
    Picture of a path surrounded by green grass leading up a hill to a sunset

    Do not go where the path may lead;

    go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
    The Rapid Learner teachers at Del Paso Manor have been trained in using the four components of differentiation and employ them every day within each lesson. Our goal is to maximize the potential for each and every student and through differentiation, we are able to do our best in meeting that goal.
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     DPM horse
    Del Paso Manor Mustangs
Last Modified on March 12, 2020