Differentiation for Gifted Learners: Going Beyond the Basics (Free Spirit Professional®) (Paperback)

Differentiation for Gifted Learners: Going Beyond the Basics (Free Spirit Professional®) By Diane Heacox, Richard M. Cash Cover Image

Differentiation for Gifted Learners: Going Beyond the Basics (Free Spirit Professional®) (Paperback)

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Revised and updated edition helps educators increase rigor and depth for all advanced and gifted learners to fulfill their potential.

With increasing numbers of students receiving gifted services every year, it’s more important than ever for differentiated instruction to go beyond adjusting content levels, task complexity, or product choice—it must truly challenge and support learners on all levels: academic, social, and emotional. This award-winning resource in the field of gifted education has been revised and updated to include:

  • a discussion of underserved learners—particularly English language learners, students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and economically disadvantaged students
  • updated information on learning standards, MTSS, and universal screening
  • new guidelines for honors courses
  • a focus on scholarly questioning, ethics, and empathy
  • a novel new strategy to increase curricular depth and complexity
  • information on learning orientations
  • new research on neurological differences of gifted learners
  • the pros and cons of co-teaching and how to assess its progress
  • new tools to increase achievement, plus a discussion of “underlearning”
  • the benefits of coaching and lesson study
  • the authors’ perspectives on and guidelines for grading


Downloadable digital content includes customizable reproducible forms and a PDF presentation; a free PLC/Book Study Guide for use in professional development is also available.

Diane Heacox, Ed.D., is a consultant and professional development trainer focusing on strategies to increase learning success for all students. She is professor emerita at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a national and international consultant and professional development trainer to both public and private schools on a variety of topics related to teaching and learning.

Dr. Heacox has taught at both elementary and secondary school levels and has served as a gifted education teacher and administrator, as well as an instructional specialist in public education. Dr. Heacox is also the author of four books. Her first book for Free Spirit Publishers was Up From Underachievement: How Teachers, Students, and Parents Can Work Together. Her second book, Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How to Reach and Teach All Learners was updated and re-released in 2012. Making Differentiation a Habit earned the 2010 Association of Education Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award and was updated in 2017.

Her book coauthored with Richard Cash, Differentiation for Gifted Learners: Going Beyond the Basics, received the 2014 Legacy Book Award for Educators by the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented. Dr. Heacox’s books have been translated into Dutch, Hungarian, Korean, Arabic, and Portuguese.

Her Differentiation Classroom Practices Inventory was used by the Ministry of Education in Portugal for conducting a national survey of classroom practices. Dr. Heacox serves on the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (MN ASCD) and the Minnesota Department of Education Gifted Education Advisory Board.

She is the past chair for the Middle Level Network and the Education committee for National Association for Gifted Children and the current facilitator of the Higher Education Division for international ASCD.

Dr. Heacox was recognized by the Minnesota Educators of Gifted and Talented as a Friend of the Gifted for service to gifted education. She is also in the University of St. Thomas Educators Hall of Fame for contributions to the field of education.


Dr. Richard M. Cash is an award-winning author and educator who has worked in the field of education for over thirty years.

His range of experience includes teaching, curriculum coordination, and program administration. Currently, he is an internationally recognized education consultant (www.nrichconsulting.com). His consulting work has taken him throughout the United States, as well as into Canada, the Czech Republic, China, England, Indonesia, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Oman, Poland, Qatar, Spain, South Korea, and Turkey. 

Richard received his doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Along with his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota, Richard holds a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. For over ten years, he codirected a children’s theater company in Minnesota and coauthored four award-winning children’s plays.

He was the recipient of the National Association for Gifted Children’s Early Leader Award (2011), recognizing his leadership in programming for gifted children. Richard was also named the “Friend of the Gifted, 2016” by Minnesota Educators of the Gifted and Talented. His areas of expertise are educational programming, rigorous and challenging curriculum design, differentiated instruction, 21st-century skills, brain-compatible classrooms, gifted and talented education, and self-regulated learning.

Dr. Cash is the author of Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century (2011/2017), a finalist for the Association for Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Award and winner of the The Legacy Book® Award; Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn (2016); and coauthor of (with Diane Heacox) Differentiation for Gifted Learners: Going Beyond the Basics (2014/2020), winner of The Legacy Book® Award.

Richard lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Palm Springs, California.


Product Details ISBN: 9781631984327
ISBN-10: 1631984322
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2019
Pages: 264
Language: English
Series: Free Spirit Professional®
Heacox and Cash hit a home run again. With a strikingly fresh and updated perspective, the authors take Differentiation for Gifted Learners: Going Beyond the Basics to a new level of possibilities with their revised and updated edition. If you liked the original book, you will love this new edition. It promises to be a must-have classic that all educators should read. This book is not to be missed!
— Patti Drapeau, adjunct faculty at University of Southern Maine, founder of Patti Drapeau Educational Consulting Services, and author

The highest praise for the authors! This new revision spans the gamut of how all aspects of teaching can be differentiated using formative assessments to create authentic learning and real-world connections. Heacox and Cash skillfully consider the roles of teaching and leadership, defensible gifted programming, and how to ensure equity when differentiating instruction. Through surveys, questionnaires, reflection guides, and observation and feedback forms, the authors show teachers how to design lessons that engage and challenge all learners. They then provide an abundance of practical templates, lesson plans, and ideas that create a complete system for taking differentiation beyond the basics.
— Dina Brulles, Ph.D., director of gifted education, Paradise Valley Unified School District, and School District Representative, National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Board of Directors

I have been referencing and recommending the first edition of this book, from its first release, to student teachers and practicing teachers. This new edition is even more helpful in establishing a solid foundation in the topics that are so crucial for the field today, especially in areas of equity and in comparing and contrasting historical practices and improvements. At a time when gifted education courses struggle for enrollment numbers and gifted programs around the country are being debated for closure, discussions of defensible practices are critical for meeting the needs of the real students. Teachers also need to see how gifted education fits within the larger scope of education. This book has practical ideas, a clear writing style, and many avenues for conversation. It should be used in teacher preparation courses and professional development opportunities to build expertise and reflection. I look forward to the conversations that I will have with both new and experienced educators as a result of this new edition.
— Nikki Myers, founding director of Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning and member of the Colorado Academy of Educators for the Gifted, Talented, and Creative

In the new edition of Differentiation for Gifted Learners, Diane Heacox and Richard Cash truly do go beyond the basics to help teachers extend their knowledge of the skills needed to differentiate instruction and apply this knowledge to a variety of student populations. Both Heacox and Cash have written and presented extensively on differentiation, and their knowledge of context truly enriches the content in this important book. I was especially interested in the focus on underserved populations, including ELL students and students who have ASD or ADHD and/or face other learning or behavior challenges. This addition is in sync with the trend in gifted education that emphasizes the fact that we teach all types of gifted students and must program for them. I personally appreciated the information in chapter 5, which offers guidelines for creating honors/advanced courses and a curricular framework that infuses the pedagogy of gifted education into secondary courses. Too often we forget secondary gifted students, but Heacox and Cash do not. I endorse this book and encourage those who are serious about meeting the needs of gifted students to read and apply the information presented.
— Felicia A. Dixon, Ph.D., educational consultant and professor emerita, Department of Educational Psychology, Ball State University