Capstone/Dissertation Title

Using the differentiated classroom with gifted students to develop independent learners

Term

2006

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAEd

Abstract

Lacking knowledge of gifted students and my excitement about learning the elements about the differentiated classroom sparked my research study. Having had gifted students in my classroom and not knowing what their characteristics or talents are, has been a weakness in my teaching that needed to be strengthened. Differentiated instruction would enable me to help develop my gifted students as independent learners. Reading such authors as Susan Winebrenner and Carol Ann Tomlinson influenced my thinking in this process. Their opening pages in their books about how the gifted students were the least likely students to make gains in a regular classroom, caught my attention. They formally introduced me to the differentiated classroom and the ability of using this concept to help develop independent learners. Reading articles about independent studies tied the research together with Winebrenner and Tomlinson. The purpose of this study was to allow my gifted and talented students the ability to work on an independent study and to experience how research can change the way they think and learn. By using an independent study in Winebrenner's book, Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom (2001), I was able to implement differentiated instruction to six gifted students in my regular fourth grade classroom. Students were assessed by daily journaling, an observation checklist, and by using a focus group meeting after the independent study was done. The results of the independent study showed how differentiation not only developed more independent learners, but also proved that the gifted students found more satisfaction in choosing their own topics and being able to create their own means of presentation. These findings reinforced the research about the differentiated classroom, and the capability in has to create better thinkers and learners in all regular education.

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