A planned approach to education for gifted learners should be comprehensive, taking into account their cognitive, social, cultural and emotional needs.
According to MoE (2012):
Designing a curriculum that is appropriately differentiated to address the diverse needs, strengths, and identities of gifted and talented students can seem a daunting task. It can be made easier through the use of a curriculum model. These models, ranging from theoretical to practical, abstract to concrete, have been developed and implemented by educators of gifted and talented students throughout the world (p. 70).
The goal in selecting and adapting models is to create educational programmes that enhance the strengths and abilities of gifted learners and reflect the school’s definition and identification procedures. Intertwining enrichment and acceleration opportunities should also be an expected outcome. The models should ‘support students to develop and use metacognitive knowledge and skills and higher order thinking in rich tasks that are meaningful for them’ (MoE, 2012, p. 71). The model should be aligned to the kura/school/ECE settings vision and/or graduate profile.
Maker and Nielson (1995) provide the following factors to consider when examining potential models:
The following list, developed by New Zealand educator Angela Bell (2010), based on her review of the literature, states that a suitable curriculum model:
The Autonomous Learner Model (ALM) can be adapted across year levels and curriculum subjects, which means that it is popular in New Zealand schools.
The model is based on five interactive dimensions:
June Maker developed a practical model that allows teachers to adapt content, product and process easily to meet the needs of gifted learners. It encourages the use of ‘real-world’ problems and audiences. This model has been expanded by many other gifted and talented theorists.
The Maker model focuses on four areas of differentiation:
Developed by June Maker along with Robert Zimmerman, Abdulnasser Alhusaini and Randal Pease, the REAPS model is presented ‘as an evidence-based teaching-learning model that can be effective in a variety of settings, cultures, and types of programmes designed to serve gifted and talented learners’ (Maker, Zimmerman, Alhusaini, & Pease, 2015, p. 2).
The REAPS model has been utilised recently in a Teacher-led Innovation Fund pilot programme, The Ruamano Project (Sylva, 2015), which aims to increase Māori and Pasifika gifted and talented secondary school boys’ achievement and participation in learning.
The REACH model, developed by Rosemary Cathcart and the REACH Education Consultancy, is the only model to have originated in New Zealand. It has been used in the ‘One Day School’ programme administered by the Gifted Education Centre (replaced by MindPlus administered by the New Zealand Centre for Gifted Education), which was delivered in many centres throughout New Zealand. Currently, it is the basis for the online Certificate of Effective Practice in Gifted Education and a range of professional learning and development packages for schools.
The model consists of five key concepts for embedding content, process and product differentiation:
Like the Maker model, the Kaplan model is based on four areas of differentiation. It focuses on a central theme, as gifted learners have the ability to learn holistically and make connections between ideas:
This model was developed by Joseph Renzulli and is ‘perhaps the most widely used curriculum model in gifted education’ (MoE, 2012, p. 72). Its main focus is enrichment and it should be used only as a part of a gifted education programme.
The model is made up of three interrelated types of enrichment:
These three types of enrichment are not sequential but tend to flow freely from one to the other (MoE, 2012), as shown in the diagram below.
This model was developed by Frank Williams in 1993 and is based on the following three dimensions:
The Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM) (Tomlinson et al, 2002) provides teachers with a comprehensive framework with which they can design, evaluate and revise the existing curriculum. According to the MoE (2012), the ‘model has the potential for successful adaptation to the New Zealand educational context’ (p. 12).
The PCM has four strands, as set out in Gifted and talented learners: Meeting their needs in New Zealand schools (MoE, 2012):
This approach involves the integration of multiple disciplines, allowing learning across wide issues as opposed to narrow topics. For example, the themes of discovery, survival or exploration may be umbrellas under which many disciplines and sub-topics are explored. Social action can be either the vehicle or the outcome. This approach can be used with all learners and all levels, giving gifted learners the freedom to pursue topics of choice/inquiry in accordance with their individual strengths.
There is sound research underpinning the Integrated Curriculum Model and the curriculum units that have been developed to support it. However, professional development is key to its successful implementation (Van Tassel-Baska et al., 2009), and Riley (2011) warns that the model units are closely aligned to the United States context and would require careful thought to ensure they are appropriately adapted for use in New Zealand. There are three main elements in the Integrated Curriculum model:
Gifted and talented learners: Meeting their needs in New Zealand schools (MoE, 2012, p. 75)