National experts in the fields of math education, mathematics, and gifted and talented education and teachers designed the curriculum. The content units of instruction are based on the NCTM Content Standards (2000) and include Number, Algebraic Thinking, Geometry, Measurement, and Data Analysis and Probability. The NCTM Process Standards (2000) are embedded in these units concentrating on communication, reasoning, connections, and problem solving.
A special focus emphasizes the development of critical and creative thinking skills in problem solving. Content experts reviewed the units to establish content validity. The curriculum was revised, refined, and implemented a second time. In addition, units of instruction at each grade level were modified to provide learning activities that meet the needs of all students.
The curriculum design follows the tenets of The Multiple Menu Model:
A Practical Guide for Developing Differentiated Curriculum (Renzulli, Leppien, & Hays, 2000) and The Parallel Curriculum, A Design to Develop High Potential and Challenge High-Ability Learners (Tomlinson, Kaplan, Renzulli, Purcell, Leppien & Burns, 2002) published by the National Association of Gifted Children. This model adheres to the belief that "most, if not all, learners should work consistently with concept-focused curriculum, tasks that call for high level thought, and products that ask students to extend and use what they learned in meaningful ways" (Tomlinson et al., 2002, p.13).
We used this model as the basis for the design of our curriculum, focusing on the Core Curriculum with the Big Ideas of Mathematics in each unit and the Curriculum of Practice, an outgrowth of the Multiple Menu Model. Using the Multiple Menu Model, we help students assume the role of mathematicians as they develop critical and creative thinking skills in solving real problems. Projects are included in the units and used as a way for students to pursue some of their own interests.
This combination of the NCTM Content and Process Standards, an increase in depth and complexity, and best practices in the field of gifted and talented curriculum development create the type of mathematics that is both truly challenging and enjoyable for talented math students.