HiCap FAQs

What is differentiated instruction?

Differentiated instruction is defined as a way of teaching in which teachers anticipate and respond to a variety of student needs in the classroom. To meet students’ needs, teachers may differentiate by modifying one or more of the following:

  • Content (what is being taught)
  • Process (how it is taught)
  • Product (how students demonstrate their learning)

In a differentiated classroom, the teacher is constantly doing quick, formative assessments to determine the on-going needs of students and where the instruction might be modified to ensure student learning is happening. The instruction that is developed as a response to assessment will look different depending on student need.

When possible, a classroom teacher may choose to group students who demonstrate advanced learner needs together for instructional purposes in a given content area. Differentiation can be structured in a variety of ways including:

  • Whole group
  • Small group
  • Individual instruction

What support is given to teachers who provide differentiated instruction?

Northshore’s teachers plan and facilitate lessons using grade level curriculum. Analysis of preassessment and formative assessment data is critical. Analysis of this data will guide a teacher’s instructional plan for all students, including those qualified as Highly Capable.

At any time, professional judgment can be used to access and/or construct lessons or materials to meet the needs of a diverse learning community. Resources available to support the work of teachers serving Highly Capable students within the In-Class model include:

  • Curriculum Resources – Often, standard grade level curriculum includes unit and/or lesson level enrichment and extensions.
  • HiCap Toolbox – An online resource for Northshore teachers. Akin to an “electronic file cabinet,” the Toolbox includes ideas for homework modification, unit level math extensions, learning menus, learning contracts, and short professional development modules.
  • TenMarks Math – TenMarks is a supplemental online math program that is designed to complement core math instruction through small group or blended learning models. Students in Grades 2-5 who are designated as Highly Capable in math, and served in the In-Class model, have been provided TenMarks accounts. Teachers and students now have access to math content through Algebra II. TenMarks is adaptive, offering scaffolded lessons, guided practice, inquiry-based tasks, and assessments. The curriculum can be tailored in scope and sequence, to meet students at their level of readiness. Student accounts are also accessible at home.
  • Reading and Writing Learning Progressions - Available to teachers, Learning Progressions are a tool illustrating how skill acquisition in reading and writing unfolds in a predictable way. The progressions allow for a teacher to intentionally select skills for students that increase in complexity and sophistication. Progressions are available for both reading and writing. In the content area of reading, teachers can access progressions for narrative and informational reading. Teachers also have access to progressions for informational writing, opinion writing, narrative writing, and the writing process.
  • Words Their Way - With Words Their Way, word work lessons are selected based on the learner's stage of development. As needed, students may be provided more advanced levels of word work experiences.

Is there a cost to participate in Highly Capable programs?

There is no fee for access to Highly Capable programs or services. Providing these educational services is part of a student’s basic educational right.

Does my student have to change schools?

A family may choose to remain at their neighborhood school and receive Highly Capable services at that location. Currently, students designated as Highly Capable in math and reading are offered EAP or AAP placement at designated sites. Placement is dependent on space available at those sites.

If a new location opens, are students able to switch schools?

As much as possible, we want Highly Capable students and families to have the option of attending their neighborhood school. Should a neighborhood school site open, a family may have the option of transitioning to their neighborhood school. Families with this transition option would be contacted directly by the Highly Capable Department.