What’s in a Word?

Fall 1999 Masthead

Susan T. Dinnocenti
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

A recent issue of the NRC/GT Newsletter (Dinnocenti, 1998) contained an article that featured definitions of Renzulli’s (1997) Five Dimensions of Differentiation. This article provides a list of additional terms and definitions commonly associated with differentiation.

Acceleration- The opportunity to be grade skipped, cross-grade grouped, explore independent studies, complete 2 years in one, early entrance to kindergarten, etc.

Assessment- Methods to determine mastery or prior knowledge of skill or content. Common methods used include pre-tests, performance based, oral, written, or observational assessments.

Compacting- Determining goals of curriculum, assessing student mastery, and providing enrichment opportunities.

Curriculum- District or state agreed upon content areas that are organized by goals and objectives for each grade level K-12.

Differentiation- Matching the given content area with a student’s interests, abilities, and learning styles through various instructional strategies.

Enrichment- Activities related to student’s curriculum or interest area that involve higher level thinking skills and guided problem solving.

High Ability- The capacity to see abstract relationships, make connections through critical analysis, and formulate original hypotheses.

Individualized Instruction- Customizing the curriculum to student’s learning style, social-emotional concerns, interests, abilities, potential, creativity, and task commitment.

Instructional Style- Method of delivery used by teachers to stimulate learning within and beyond the classroom.

Modification- Changing the existing curriculum either by expanding the depth or breath of the content area.

Objectives- Outcomes or behaviors that students attain by becoming successfully involved in the learning process.

Zone of Proximal Development- Difference between actual developmental level in independent problem solving and the potential developmental level with scaffolding or guidance by an adult or more capable peer.

Dinnocenti, S. T. (1998, Spring). Differentiation: Definition and description for gifted and talented. The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented Newsletter, pp. 10-11.
Renzulli, J. S. (1997, July). Five dimensions of differentiation. Keynote presentation at the 20th Annual Confratute Conference, Storrs, CT.


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