Making it Maker’s Model

It’s the English teacher in me! I love alliteration. The deliberate play with words creates emphasis and draws attention to an area of the text. It also creates sound – in this case, MMM, like looking forward to a yummy piece of cake or a great cup of coffee. It can provoke insight into what the author wants to say, MMM is the sigh of reflection, contentment, and well-being. Like the feeling of success at the end of a long teaching day – when it has all gone well. You know those days when my students behaved, the lesson went well, and the weather was just right!

Alliteration is a powerful tool, that can elicit all these emotions, an imaginative form of language use, is inventive and creative. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a curriculum tool, powerful, creative, evoking contentment, to use with those high-achieving students in our classrooms? Let me introduce you to Maker’s model of differentiation.  Most often associated with gifted and talented students, the Maker Model is about creativity, abstraction, and complexity. More than that (like the image below), it is about creating a space for these students to flourish and move beyond the boundaries of normality to dream about what might be!

Maker Model of Differentiation

Why the Maker Model

Research on teachers’ perspectives of accommodating gifted and talented students in inclusive classroom settings, shows that teachers feel they face overwhelming pressures. Many do not feel prepared to address these students’ very diverse needs. This is because:

  • Of the necessity to cover a wider range of content in the same short amount of time;
  • The inability to focus on them, often due to the excessive classroom management needs of other students at the same time; and
  • A lack of time to prepare appropriate lessons that require sufficient depth and breadth for these students.

The Maker Model, developed by June Maker (1982) can help teachers overcome some of these pressures. It offers a structure to curriculum planning, which supports the learning needs of gifted and talented students in the classroom. By using it for their lesson, program and unit planning, the Maker Model can support both the teacher and the students supporting their well-being in the classroom. It helps ensure teachers differentiate appropriately for the needs of these students, but without creating too much extra work. Drawing on the curiosity, creativity and courage of the student, working side-by-side with the teacher, it encourages innovation and risk-taking. What makes this model so powerful?

The four-part Maker Model

The model is focused on differentiating the four areas of a teacher’s classroom practice. Modifications are made to the ContentProcess, Product and Learning Environment. The aim is to facilitate opportunities for gifted and talented students to engage in learning that reflects their potential.

  • The learning content should extend their thinking, encourage risk-taking, and build knowledge and skills.
  • The process should focus on developing higher-order thinking skills – not to the exclusion of lower-order thinking skills, however. There is always a need for both!
  • The product should focus on the real – real problems, for real audiences, which encourage real deadlines!
  • Finally, the learning environment should be student centred, open-ended, and encourages independence. This is where Maker’s Model differed substantially from others that June Maker built on (for example William’s Model, and Bloom’s),

By following the suggested modifications, the teacher should be able to differentiate the learning for their students. It will encourage gifted and talented students to reach their full potential. It is not about being safe. And to be honest, the student will not ‘burn out’ if identified and stimulated in this way from an early age. Instead, it is about encouraging gifted students to break new ground. We need these students to flourish – we have an obligation to them as teachers.

A concluding comment!

But it does not end there! For although June Maker was originally about gifted and talented, her model has been widely adopted to provide teaching and learning for all students in a classroom. Often referred to as the differentiated curriculum model, it can be used with all students – and this is what makes it much less work! It can also be used in combination with other models to help the teacher consider the specific needs of students.

Want to know more?

Curriculum-Journeys-coverDo you wish to learn more about using Makers’ model of differentiation? My book, Curriculum Journeys – Towards Inclusion (A Journey through the world of Curriculum Frameworks for the inclusive education of ALL students), gives more detail on this as well as the other curriculum frameworks mentioned, as well as on the process of planning for an inclusive classroom. Framed as a journey through curriculum frameworks, the book takes you, the practising teacher, through seven different planning frameworks for developing a 21st Century inclusive classroom learning environment, one where all students can learn. You can find it on Amazon now!


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Dreaming of Differentiation

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