Teachers use Kaplan’s icons of depth and complexity when creating and teaching lessons. These concepts were developed by Dr. Sandra Kaplan, President of the National Association for Gifted Students and a Clinical professor of Education at USC, with the intention of meeting the needs of the gifted student. The dimensions of depth/complexity allow all teachers the opportunity to define, implement, and evaluate their differentiation of instruction and to plan learning experiences that provide activities suited to the content and learners’ needs.
Depth refers to the concept of challenging learners by enabling them to dig deeper, venture further and more elaborately into a current area of study. Complexity refers to the concept of broadening the learners understanding of an area of study by making relationships and associations between and across subjects and disciplines. Depth includes a set of eight elements that help facilitate learning within a discipline at differing levels of sophistication.
Language of the discipline– specialized vocabulary, skills and tasks particular to people working within the discipline
Details– parts, attributes, factors, elements, variables
Patterns– repetition, predictability
Trends– influence, force, direction, course of action
Unanswered questions– discrepancies, missing parts, unclear ideas, incomplete ideas
Rules– structure, order, hierarchy, explanation
Ethics– points of view, different opinions, judging
Big ideas– generalizations, theory, principles, overarching ideas
Complexityis the set of three elements that help facilitate learning content or subject matter by focusing on the relationship between various disciplines, analyzing how disciplines have changed overtime, and examining various issues from a variety of perspectives.
Overtime– relationship between past, present, future, or within a time period
Multiple perspectives– opposing viewpoints, differing roles and knowledge, different perspectives
Interdisciplinary relationships– within the discipline, between/across disciplines