Advanced Learning in Primary Grades

Students with advanced learning needs in the primary grades are engaged in challenging learning opportunities throughout the day by their classroom teachers who are coached by the Advanced Differentiation Specialist, Colleen Bergh.

Advanced learning strategies we are focusing on at Whittier in primary grades right now include:

Socratic Seminar and advanced instruction in literacy: Socratic Seminar is a process for engaging students in discourse and inquiry. Just as Socrates taught by perplexing his students, the Socratic Seminar process demands that participants question everything from their own perspectives to the authority of the author. Students inquire into perspectives inherent in and around “texts” of all kinds: a piece of literature, essay or speech; a work of art or musical composition; a primary, historical document; a mechanical model; a mathematical concept.

Tiered and compacted learning in math: Some advanced learners know much of the content in a unit of study before that unit is taught. In fact, according to a nation-wide study, most advanced learners already know an average of 50% of the content being taught at the beginning of the school year (Westberg, et. al., 1993). Curriculum compacting has teachers assess what content students have already mastered in advance of  a unit, and provide them with alternatives and new learning in its place. Curriculum compacting extracts only the parts of the core resources advanced learners need, making room for more challenging work.