Curriculum Compacting: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

In this lesson, you'll learn what curriculum compacting is, how to identify students who would benefit from this form of differentiation, and steps teachers can take to achieve this for their gifted students.

What Is Curriculum Compacting?

Educators work hard to make sure each student in the classroom is challenged and succeeds. They use differentiation techniques to adjust what they teach, the way it is taught, and how it is assessed. Some students need extra time and attention to achieve grade level expectations and goals; other high-ability or gifted students, those who are working consistently above level, need more challenging material.

Teachers can use a technique called curriculum compacting for students who already know much of grade level content. They pretest students to determine what material has been mastered, and then create alternative work and activities to supplement learning and challenge students. Students spend some time with the grade level content, and some time with the more challenging content. This way all students are challenged, continue to learn important information and skills, and are able to make progress at school.

Curriculum Compacting in Action

Marie is a seasoned teacher who is experienced working with all types of learners. She is skilled at providing instruction for students above, below, and at level. She uses many techniques to adjust curriculum to meet the needs of her students. Marie is working with a new teacher, Cecil, to help him use curriculum compacting. Cecil has several students who consistently master content and are bored in class. What can he do to modify curriculum for these students?

Marie suggests Cecil follow these steps:

  1. Determine learning objectives
  2. Pretest students
  3. Identify mastery
  4. Choose activities and lessons

She explains what is involved for each of these steps.

Cecil first needs to decide what the unit goals and objectives are, using the curriculum guide and other resources. For example, a math objective may be for students to subtract two-digit numbers using borrowing techniques.

Next, Cecil will give a pretest. Simple paper-pencil tests work well as they easily indicate one right answer. However, he can also use observations or samples of student work to determine mastery.

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