Taught by Jessica Manzone, EdD, each module provides the classroom teacher, school administrator, or Gifted and Talented coordinator with the curriculum and lesson design elements that are appropriately responsive to the needs, interests, and abilities of gifted students. The curriculum provided in the program consists of a series of lessons to be taught with the students in your classroom. The lessons focus on developing the self-regulatory abilities of K-12 students as they discover how to think about learning and examine content with greater sophistication. Templates for the lessons have been constructed using best practices of gifted education and curriculum pedagogy and have the flexibility and elasticity to accommodate any grade level or content area.

Diagram of Differentiated Curriculum ProcessProminent features of the course include an application-based approach to curriculum and instruction conducted through weekly coaching sessions using your school site, classroom, and students as a laboratory. Participants also receive weekly coaching and feedback as they teach lessons in their classrooms. Each module includes the following:

  • watch the demonstration lesson
  • download the strategy-ready lesson
  • receive personalized coaching to adapt the lesson to your curriculum
  • teach and review the lesson
  • share lesson results with colleagues
  • connect online once a week with faculty to discuss your lessons


Course I

Critical and Creative Thinking – introduces K-12 students to the critical thinking and creative thinking skills embedded within the core or standards-based curriculum. Course one is divided into two distinct units: the introduction of critical thinking skills and the introduction of creative thinking skills. Unit one introduces teachers to the critical thinking skills defined in the literature by Ennis and others. Connections between critical thinking skills and basic skills will be highlighted. Unit two introduces students to the creative thinking (SCAMPER) skills found in 21st Century learning. Both units reinforce the connections that exists between (a) critical, creative, and basic skills, and (b) critical and creative thinking skills and the Common Core State Standards. This unit also focuses on the writing of a differentiated learning objective that serves as a foundation for generative various types of lesson plans. A major outcome of this course is the development of K-12 students’ abilities to learn how to think divergently, value creativity, and integrate critical and creative thinking skills with content.

Course II

Dimensions of Depth and Complexity – introduces the prompts of depth and complexity and applies these to content across the disciplines. This course is made up of two units. In unit one, students will learn to define different types of prompts and how to use specific prompts to provoke interest and attention. Unit two focuses on the art and types of questioning and guides students in applying these questions to different disciplines. During Class Time each week, we will discuss the relationship that exists between the critical and creative thinking skills (presented in Course I), the prompts of depth and complexity, and the Common Core State Standards. We will also practice embedding critical and creative thinking skills AND the prompts of depth and complexity into the types of questions that we ask of students and they ask of the content (building on the question types presented in Course I).

Course III

Universal Concepts and Big Ideas – is divided into two distinct units. Unit one introduces and discusses universal concepts and big ideas, such as Change, Power, Systems, Relationships, Conflict, Structure, Structure, Patterns, and Order vs. Chaos. Unit two expands on these ideas and provides stu­dents with an opportunity to make connections between and across disci­plines. Unit two also reinforces the connection between universal concepts and big ideas and how a combination of big ideas and universal concepts can intersect and build upon each other within a lesson. This is one of the major goals inherent in a differentiated curriculum appropriately designed for gifted and high-ability learners.

Course IV

Independent Study – takes participants through the selection and completion of an independent study project. This includes the explicit presentation of the steps of independent study such as selecting a research topic, developing research questions, conducting and organizing the data, and presenting and assessing the findings. Independent study also helps participants develop learning-to-learn skills and develop self-directedness and self-regulatory behaviors. These behaviors are directly aligned with the Common Core State Standards and the 21st Century Skills.

Continuing Education Units

CEU credits are available for this program if you complete all modules and requirements. CEUs are recognized nationwide as a standard measurement of an Individual’s continuing education activity and serve as a permanent documentation of your professional development coursework and are presented in the form of a University transcript.