Gifted Program Overview

RATIONALE FOR GIFTED PROGRAM CURRICULUM

Gifted students are entitled to an education commensurate with their abilities and potential, as are all students. We believe it is critical for this segment of the population to be involved in a program designed to foster the unique academic talents of bright learners. Therefore, gifted students with advanced knowledge and unusual learning capacity are offered curriculum that is differentiated and matched to their unique learning characteristics.

Those characteristics include the capacity to handle content at an advanced level and pace, the ability to explore areas in significant depth, the tendency to ask and grapple with difficult questions, the potential to respond creatively, and the desire to use leadership abilities to make a difference in the world.

Curriculum for gifted students is specifically designed to challenge academically advanced learners and provide experiences that promote critical thinking and reasoning skills, creativity and divergent thinking, research and independent study skills, communication, and interpersonal and affective skills. While engaged in high quality gifted services, the students will have the opportunity to contribute to the strength and vitality of our schools, district and community.

PROGRAM STRUCTURE

Elementary: In JET, or Journeys into Expanded Thinking, students receive one full day of instruction per week. The program is a “pull-out” program whereby the students receive direct instruction in a small group setting from teachers trained to work with gifted students. Students are exempt from all regular class work on that day and are not required to make up assignments. The program is located at St. Peters Elementary and students are transported from their school of attendance to this location. 

Middle School: In GATE, or Gifted and Talented Education, middle school students have gifted education built into their schedules as a regular class.  Students at the sixth grade level receive instruction in the gifted education program daily instead of attending Computer Literacy and an elective. Seventh and eighth grade students are offered GATE as an elective which meets every other day.  There is one gifted education facilitator at each middle school.

High School: Although currently there is no formal gifted program at the high school level, gifted students can continue their academic growth through advanced courses designed to challenge their thinking. Honors classes are offered for all levels and several Advanced Placement (AP) courses are available. Students at this level are self-advocates.  Bright students may take advantage of opportunities to work independently with a mentoring teacher in specific areas of interest. High school counselors are available to meet with gifted students to ensure success in goal-setting, class selection, college and career planning, and social/affective issues such as leadership, stress management, and positive role models.

PROGRAM GOALS

Goals for Graduates

As a result of differentiated curriculum and personalized support, gifted students will have the opportunity to achieve district goals at the level commensurate with their talent.  They will be challenged to apply their knowledge and skills in complex and advanced ways as they continue to develop academically, emotionally, and socially. Provided with the challenge and support that is needed, these students will be college and career ready, prepared to contribute in significant ways to the well-being of the broader community.

Content Area Goals

Students will:

--acquire a solid foundation in the disciplines of communication arts, mathematics, science, and social studies;

--operate at advanced levels within these disciplines;

--apply knowledge of disciplines to produce work that reflects individuality and creativity and is advanced in relation to other students of similar age and experience.

Performance Area Goals

Students will acquire the knowledge and skills in the areas of:

Critical Thinking and Reasoning. Gather, analyze, and apply information and ideas, and recognize and solve problems.

Creativity and Divergent Thinking. Think creatively and take academic risks.

Research. Persevere in the search for advanced knowledge and evaluate in-depth sources.

Communication. Communicate effectively within and beyond the classroom.

Interpersonal and Affective Skills. Work collaboratively with others and demonstrate positive character qualities. Organizational and Time Management. Demonstrate task commitment and work steadily to achieve goals.

SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES

The six performance goals are further delineated in the following specific objectives.


GOAL 1:  Critical Thinking & Reasoning Skills

Obj.  1

Grasp complex or abstract ideas

Obj.  2

Use logical reasoning and problem-solving skills

Obj.  3

Apply learned knowledge to new situations and different contexts

Obj.  4

Analyze relationships; judge between choices; support decisions

GOAL 2:  Creativity & Divergent Thinking Skills

Obj.  1

Generate a large quantity and wide variety of possibilities and responses.

Obj.  2

Design unique products; create innovative solutions

Obj.  3

Develop original ideas; elaborate and expand beyond the basic or obvious

Obj.  4

Show willingness to try new experiences and take risks

  

GOAL 3:  Research Skills

Obj.  1

Persevere in the search for advanced knowledge beyond first or basic answer

Obj.  2

Compile and evaluate in-depth material from a variety of valid sources

Obj.  3

Demonstrate proficiency in using technology to obtain/relay information  

   

GOAL 4:  Communication Skills

Obj.  1

Effectively communicate ideas and experiences through written formats

Obj.  2

Effectively communicate ideas and experiences orally

Obj.  3

Produce high-quality presentations that demonstrate accuracy and clarity

           

GOAL 5:  Interpersonal and Affective Skills

Obj.  1

Demonstrate self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses; exercise personal responsibility; accept constructive criticism

Obj.  2

Listen effectively to others; respect and appreciate a variety of perspectives

Obj.  3

Contribute to and function effectively in a cooperative setting

Obj.  4

Demonstrate positive character qualities such as self-control, leadership and empathy


GOAL 6:  Organizational & Time Management Skills

Obj. 1

Organize ideas and materials

Obj. 2

Demonstrate task commitment; work steadily to achieve goals on time

Obj. 3

Follow through to completion; provide full and complete products


BENCHMARKS

In order to ensure that students are continuing to develop these skills in an ongoing manner throughout their involvement in the program, general benchmark levels have been determined as explained below.  Students are introduced to all key areas in the primary grades and continue to grow and mature in their application of those skills throughout their involvement in the gifted program. The progression of these performance skills is as follows:

Primary Grades (K-2)  BEGINNING

Students are introduced to the skill areas and begin to apply the strategies.

Intermediate Grades (3-5)  DEVELOPING AND EXPANDING

Students will progress in their development of the skills and show an expanded ability to utilize them.

Middle Grades (6-8)  ELABORATING AND REFINING

Students further build their capacity to apply the skills and refine the techniques and methods they have learned.

High School (9-12)  DEMONSTRATING ADVANCED PROFICIENCY

Students mature in their abilities and display a high level of competence and expertise in the skill areas.


Rather than quantifying the individual components of the key areas, students at all levels can be instructed and challenged in all of the areas, in an increasingly complex manner, and in accordance with their age and development, rather than having to wait until a higher grade level to be introduced to some of the important skills of the six key areas.  

GIFTED CURRICULUM

Curriculum offered to gifted students is interdisciplinary and developmental, with skills introduced at the appropriate level for each student.  At any grade level, the focus of gifted curriculum is on skills that can be applied to all content areas and to success in later life. Gifted students can be expected to learn and apply these skills at an earlier age and at a more advanced level than their grade-level peers.  The curriculum typically is formatted in units, enriched by supplementary creative and problem-solving activities.

Curriculum Alignment

Units developed for the gifted and talented program are linked to the six specific performance goals of the program, and intentionally integrate a wide variety of advanced-level content areas.  As well as aligning with the district program goals, gifted curriculum units also align with the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) Standards and the Missouri Learning Standards for College and Career Readiness.

College and Career Readiness

Throughout the gifted curriculum, teachers integrate appropriate content and processes related to gender equity, racial/ethnic equity, application of technology, research strategies, and workplace readiness skills to ensure that graduates successfully meet the Missouri Learning Standards for College and Career Readiness.  These standards are as follows:

They demonstrate independence. As self-directed learners, students effectively seek out and use reference materials in order to comprehend and evaluate complex ideas, discern underlying concepts, and convey intricate or multifaceted information.

They build strong content knowledge. Through purposeful research and study, students become proficient in a wide range of subjects, gaining both general knowledge and discipline-specific expertise in order to engage and produce works of quality and substance.

They respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline. Students attend to nuances of varying situations, and adapt their communication in relation to audience, task, purpose, and discipline accordingly.  

They comprehend as well as critique. Students are engaged, open-minded, and discerning readers and listeners.  They work diligently to understand what an author or speaker is saying, questioning their assumptions and premises, while assessing the veracity of claims and the soundness of reasoning.

They value evidence. Students cite specific evidence when offering an oral or written interpretation of a text, use relevant evidence to clarify and support their own points, and constructively evaluate others’ use of evidence.  

They use technology and digital media strategically and capably. Students select and employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their communication, acquire useful information efficiently, and integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline.

They come to understand other perspectives and cultures. Students appreciate and actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures, communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds, and evaluate other points of view critically and constructively.


Units of Study

Students participate in a wide variety of advanced-level units of study designed to meet the goals and objectives of the program.  Topics are often interdisciplinary, involving several subject areas simultaneously. Units typically include an introduction of new concepts, followed by the application of the concepts to ensure comprehension.  Students are then expected to analyze material, create new products, and evaluate a variety of outcomes. There are ample opportunities for independent research and hands-on investigation. Students are given opportunities to share their conclusions and products with a variety of audiences.

Units are developed with student interests in mind, and include opportunities for student choice.  Some units last a few weeks, while others take an entire quarter. Topics tend to focus on content and/or concepts not typically covered in the regular classroom, which are of high interest to gifted students.

Student Assessment

Students are assessed in an ongoing manner throughout the school year in terms of the goals and objectives of the program.  Specific expectations for particular unit activities are provided, and students are evaluated according to their success in meeting those expectations as well as the overall objectives of the program.  Pre-unit surveys allow students and teachers to gauge current levels of understanding, and opportunities for both self- and teacher evaluation provide constructive feedback for future growth. At the middle school level, parents and students may track their progress online.  In terms of the report card, the class is ungraded in order to encourage intellectual risk-taking among these high achieving students who might otherwise be overly concerned about their grade point averages. Sample assessment forms are provided in the Appendix.