An honors course parallels the curriculum offered in the corresponding standard course, yet should be qualitatively and quantitatively different, providing more depth and complexity to a range of students who are high achieving, passionate, and/or innately curious. An honors course demands the highest level of participation, effort, and quality, as well as the willingness to take academic risks from students.
As with any class, a teacher of an honors class develops and implements effective high-quality curriculum and experiences which recognize variance in learner needs. An honors course differs from the corresponding standard course in three ways: complex thinking, depth, and use of time.
Complex thinking: Honors course learning requires the advanced ability to problem solve, synthesize knowledge, and use increased levels of divergent, critical, logical, and abstract thinking. In an honors course, the content includes more abstract concepts and more interdisciplinary connections than in the regular classroom.
Depth: An honors course allows students to dive deeper into the content and moves students toward greater expertise in a subject area. Students will examine the big ideas, patterns, and ethical dilemmas related to topics within the course. Students are encouraged to write, read, reflect, and discuss like an expert in the field.
Use of time: An honors course allows for an increased amount of time for depth and breadth, with not as much time spent building recall knowledge. The content will have less repetition and fewer teacher led examples allowing students to engage more deeply with the content independently and collaboratively.