Elementary Gifted Program
Gifted resource teachers push into first and second grade classrooms in order to teach thinking skills lessons to all students. At times, the gifted resource teacher also works with small groups of students in these same skill areas.
These lessons focus on convergent and divergent or inventive thinking skills. During whole group thinking skills lessons, the classroom teacher completes an observational checklist. The teacher looks for specific characteristics that are usually associated with gifted behaviors. The Gifted Resource Teacher and the classroom teacher work together to provide challenge work that gives children opportunities to demonstrate characteristic behaviors of convergent and divergent or inventive thinking.
Some of the characteristics of convergent thinking are as follows:
- Grasps concepts quickly
- Recognizes flawed reasoning
- Intuitively sees correct answers
- Sees interrelationship of clues
- Defers judgment
Some of the characteristics of divergent or inventive thinking are as follows:
When working on critical thinking skills, the Gifted Resource Teacher leaves additional challenge work for the children so they can continue this work within the classroom. The GRT collects work samples and analyzes them to determine their propensity towards giftedness.
(Grades K-5 if children have been identified as needing gifted services.)
Enrichment mods are interest based and meet the needs of children who have been identified as needing enrichment services. Mods often meet as cross-grade level groups.
Within the K-3 enrichment mods, students receive instruction in four thinking skill areas - convergent, divergent, visual thinking, and evaluative thinking. The goal of this portion of the program is to strengthen student’s reasoning skills.
In addition, students participate in topic immersions designed to introduce them to topics across a variety of content areas. The goal of each immersion is to spark interest and to increase knowledge in topics not ordinarily covered in the regular education curriculum. Each topic immersion lasts from 2-4 classes, based on student response to the topic.
Finally, students have the opportunity to develop in-depth projects in areas of interest. They may choose to return to an immersion topic or to follow a passion of their own.
STEM Design Challenge: When posed with an engineering problem, a small team of students must work collaboratively to develop, troubleshoot, and implement a possible solution using K’Nex pieces. A new problem is explored each year. Teams compete regionally and are judged on creativity, teamwork, design, and presentation.
Depending on their individual needs, elementary students who have been identified as needing gifted services may receive services from their classroom teacher, the gifted resource teacher, and/or other teachers in the buildings. These services may focus on the following:
- Academic support to enrich and/or accelerate the school curriculum through the process of compacting
previously-mastered or quickly-acquired material
- Enrichment activities that require application of academic concepts using higher order thinking skills
- Opportunities to work with and discuss issues with academic peers
Students who demonstrate a need for additional support in language arts meet with the gifted resource teacher for 60 minutes per four-day cycle. Within this time, students read and discuss literature and nonfiction pieces at an appropriate challenge level. Based on the strengths of the students, teachers select from a variety of materials in order to meet their needs. A few examples are provided below.
Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension program - Developed by the Center for Gifted Education, the Jacob’s Ladder program targets reading comprehension skills in high ability learners. After reading short passages, students work through skill ladders that move from lower order, concrete thinking skills to higher order, critical thinking skills. The passages cover a variety of genres, from fiction to nonfiction to poetry.
Novel study – Advanced readers develop their skills in critical analysis and interpretation of literature through higher order thinking questions and activities. Students are asked to compare and contrast literature with other texts, explore themes and concepts, identify literary elements, and make real world connections.
Mathematics instruction follows our school curriculum but is delivered at a faster rate than in the classroom. Instructional practices include pre-testing and compacting known skills. It also may include less repetition and practice when new concepts are easily grasped and retained. Once students have demonstrated mastery of grade level skills, they receive either enrichment or acceleration based on individual need.
Enrichment in mathematics is designed to provide greater breadth and depth within the curriculum. Projects, problems, and online activities are some of the available options that allow students to apply and deepen their understanding of mathematics. Students also have opportunities to work on coding and other computer science skills.
An example of an enrichment activity related to place value is the study of the Egyptian Number System. Students learn hieroglyphics for numbers, the values of the hieroglyphics, and how the hieroglyphics are used to represent numbers. The Egyptian system is then compared to our number system. By comparing the number systems, students get a deeper understanding of place value while having fun learning a new “language.”
Accelerated students complete more than 1 year’s worth of curriculum in a school year. Their math time is supplemented with enrichment opportunities leading to a holistic approach that combines a challenging pace with a greater depth of study.