Enrichment Strategies

posted Sep 16, 2013, 5:58 PM by Shannon Rood

Enrichment Strategies

ENRICHMENT means that the student is working on a topic in more DEPTH or BREADTH than others. The student keeps pace with the rest of his/her classmates but has more time to explore topics of interest. Enrichment strategies include:

Independent study

In an independent study, the student selects a topic of interest in any academic area where he shows strength. The student and teacher work out parameters for process (how much time each day, where research will take place, what materials will be needed, what other persons will be involved, etc) and product (how will the student demonstrate what was learned, will the product be shared, will it serve a real—life purpose, etc.) The independent study suits students who have task commitment and who tend to finish regular work quickly and correctly.

Study contract

A teacher may use a study contract to keep a student working alongside her peers most of the time while allowing her to make choices about what or how to learn. The study contract is used when the student has already met some but not all outcomes for a particular unit. A menu of mutually-acceptable choices should accompany the study contract to ensure the student is using her earned time wisely.


A student with heightened knowledge in a specific academic area may benefit from contact with a specialist in this field. This is particularly the case in lower grades when the teacher cannot keep up with the student’s capacity to learn the subject. A mentor may be a teacher of a higher grade, a community member, an older student or an instructor at a local community college or university. Mentorships vary in frequency of visits and may even take place online. Care must be taken to ensure that the student and the mentor are compatible and that the arrangement is agreeable to both parties.

Complete a learning log

Some gifted students already have outside hobbies and experiences arranged through their parents or communities. This learning can be compatible with the classroom curriculum. The teacher may allow the student to complete a learning log of her experiences to show what she has learned and how it connects to classroom outcomes. This may free up time for the student to pursue other interests during the school day or provide evidence of learning for her to move on to the next unit or level in a particular subject. A learning log is also a good assessment tool for a mentorship.

Create an interest centre

Students with intense interest areas may be willing to share their knowledge with their peers through an interest centre in the classroom or school. The student can use earned time during the school day or create the centre as a result of independent study. Others would be invited to use materials collected and/or created by the student to learn about a special topic which can be embedded in or tangential to the curriculum.

Tiered assignments

Tiered assignments work well in skill areas where the student has not yet met the outcomes but can do so easily and requires additional challenge. For example, in math class the student may be performing similar operations as his peers but using more challenging numbers or complete more steps. In language arts, the student may read more challenging texts, write in a more sophisticated genre, or use more complex words in word study.

Specialized grading criteria

Some students are ready for a greater challenge even when completing similar assignments. For example, when assigning a piece of writing, a teacher may only be looking for ideas, organization and correctness from the class, but a gifted student may also be assessed on voice or word choice. Likewise, the parameters of the assignment may be changed to suit the student's strengths. A science experiment may become a video or PowerPoint presentation; a social studies essay may require three sources from the class and more than five from the gifted student.

Extension activities

Many textbooks and teachers' guides provide follow-up or extension activities as time allows. When gifted students finish early, these may be suitable ways for them to get the challenge and depth of understanding they require. Open-ended, real-world problems are excellent ways to extend students’ learning. 

School-wide enrichment

Many researchers believe that what we label ‘gifted education' is important for all students. A school-wide enrichment plan can provide all students with exposure to new hobbies and experiences through an interest fair format. For one day, community and staff members can offer workshops at the school for which all students sign up. Exposure to these workshops may spark an interest or reveal a talent in particular students, which may then be nurtured in the classroom or through extracurricular activities.

Enrichment clusters

If there is a small group of students in the school with similar interests and aptitudes, they may be brought together for a set period of time each week to pursue a topic of study under the guidance of a teacher or mentor. The topic may change frequently or develop into a long-term exploration, but it should be open-ended and have real-world application. Enrichment clusters may be worked into the schedule of a committed teacher as contact time.

Gifted Education