We frequently receive requests for resources to support advanced learners in specific areas of the curriculum in which students are working beyond grade level and could benefit from extra challenges or enrichment. Here we have collected a variety of resources that can be used to provide extensions for students who are advanced in math, science, and language arts.
Also, here are some thoughts and questions to consider when determining how to use extra resources or enrichment with advanced learners. If you need assistance discussing any of these considerations, please contact one of us and we are happy to help!
1. Before beginning, pre-assess the student. Advanced learners generally are more engaged and produce more when working in an area of passion. What is their area of greatest interest and how can this be incorporated into all aspects of their learning? How advanced is the student? Do we need further information in terms of testing grade-level knowledge or overall cognitive abilities? What kind of extra challenges will the student be able to do, and will it be with or without adult supervision?
2. If additional extension activities are being offered, how will it replace the regular curriculum so as not to overburden the student with an extra work load? For example, if the student is participating in a District Challenge Program, he or she would not be expected to complete work missed while away from class, as the enrichment from the program replaces classroom work.
3. How will the extra extensions be documented or assessed as part of the reporting process? Is there a student learning plan or IEP in place that documents the work? What will be the process for checking in with the student and where will they work on these extra activities? Has the student shown proficiency in grade-level curriculum prior to being provided enrichment, or can they do this through the extra opportunities, replacing classroom work?
4. Are the extension activities being balanced with grade-level or other school activities to provide the student sufficient time with peers? How are the student`s social and emotional needs being balanced with their cognitive ones?
5. Before moving to extension activities or acceleration, is there a way to provide greater depth and complexity to the grade-level curriculum in the classroom? Approaching the curriculum from a conceptual perspective and encouraging the student to broaden or deepen their questions can help create greater engagement for advanced learners and all students. Advanced learners are often quick to jump to the `big idea’ before other students; however, their focus can be on taking more time to ask quality questions that help deepen their understanding of a topic.
6. How can the week be structured so the student knows exactly what they are working on from day to day? If a student is working independently, provide variety such that he or she is alternating between online, hands-on, and project work. Also, provide opportunities to work with an adult or to share work products with grade-level peers.
7. If a student is particularly advanced in a subject area, are they mature enough to consider acceleration or visiting another classroom for that subject area? We encourage students to work within their grade level with extra support, and acceleration is considered only in special circumstances where the student is far advanced in a subject area and has the maturity to work independently in a higher grade level. This decision is made by the school`s resource team and we are happy to assist with these discussions.
Our resources include:
The Identification and Designation Package for the District (password protected, contact one of us to view)
Articles on Understanding Advanced Learners
Kits at the DLRC specific to Advanced Learners
IPad Apps in math, language arts, and science
Resources to help students develop their Questioning skills
Information on Learning In Depth (LID) to provide a focused, independent, longer-term research option for students
Using the Depth and Complexity model in the classroom to broaden questions and deepen understandings of curriculum
Websites and printables to support Math
Websites and printables to support Science
Websites and printables to support Language Arts
Contests and Projects of interest to Advanced Learners