brain gear imageThis short post is an introduction to the Maker Model of differentiation, most commonly used with students who are gifted and talented. Like the image embedded above, it is about creating a space for these students to flourish and move beyond the boundaries of normality to dream about what might be!

Why the Maker Model

Yet, research on teachers’ perspectives of accommodating students with diverse needs in inclusive settings (Schumm and Vaughn, 1991) showed that teachers face overwhelming pressures. Many do not feel prepared to address students’ diverse needs. This is because:

  • Of the necessity to cover a wide range of content in a short amount of time;
  • Due to the excessive classroom management needs; and
  • A lack of time to prepare lessons.

This has not changed, if anything the pressures have increased, as teachers must often do this now without proper resourcing.

How can we then support the learning needs of students in the classroom? How can teachers make sure they differentiate appropriately for the needs of students, given these pressures? The Maker Model, developed by June Maker (1982) can help teachers overcome some of these pressures. By using it for their lesson, program and unit planning, the Maker Model can support both the teacher and the students. It is most often associated with supporting the particular needs of Gifted and Talented students.

The four-part Maker Model

The model is focused on differentiating four areas of a teacher’s classroom practice. Modifications should be made to the Content, Process, Product and Learning Environment. The aim is to facilitate opportunities for gifted 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 content should facilitate them to build a learning base that moves beyond the basics. It encourages students to go deeper, encourages complexity, and helps them to be more diversely organised. The table below shows how the various modifications may be made:

Content Process Product Learning Environment
Abstraction Higher order thinking skills Real world problems Student centred
Complexity Open-ended processing Real audiences Encouraging independence
Variety Discovery Real deadlines Open – avoid conformity!
Organisation Proof & reasoning Evaluations Accepting
Study of people Freedom of choice Transformation Complex
Methods of inquiry Like-minded group interactions Flexible – high mobility

Following these modifications, the teacher should be able to differentiate the learning for the students. It will encourage gifted and talented students to reach their full potential. It is not about begin ‘safe’. 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.


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The Maker Model of Differentiation
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