Excel Gifted and Talented
- Program Mission and Objectives
- Program Levels of Service Model
- Program Frequently Asked Questions
- Program Definition of Giftedness
- Program Gifted Identification Process
- Program Curriculum Extensions
- Program Goals for Gifted Students
Identify students who exhibit unique abilities or potential significantly beyond that of their peers of similar age, experience or environment.
Provide levels of service to meet the diverse needs of highly able learners.
Enrich and extend the general education curriculum to engage and challenge highly able learners.
Discover and nurture the unique talents and interests of individual students.
Develop exceptional citizens.
The EXCEL Gifted and Talented Program provides services for students in grades one through eight at Rockford Elementary Arts Magnet School and Rockford Middle School - Center for Environmental Studies.
Many students will benefit from EXCEL services, but to differing degrees. Our levels of service model provide opportunities to meet the unique needs of individual students.
Our process to determine appropriate levels of service will consider multiple criteria including: Cognitive Abilities screener and test (CogAT-7), Scales for Rating the Behavior of Superior Students (teacher observation tool), "Things My Child Likes to Do" (parent observation tool), student survey, and academic performance indicators such as NWEA-MAP and MCA scores.
The EXCEL program model is based on Treffinger’s “Levels of Service;” which is a model built around four levels of service. In this model, services are leveled; not students. Through the identification process, we will strive to provide the appropriate service or services that individual students need to be engaged and challenged. Level I and II services do not necessitate formal identification. Level I services will be available to all students and Level II services to most students. Identification for Level III and IV services will be more specific, using the subjective and objective criteria listed. EXCEL services are grounded in research-supported best practices in gifted and talented education. Programming will include a combination of send-out services, collaborative teaching, varied grouping strategies, acceleration, differentiation of curriculum and instruction, enrichment and talent development opportunities, and individualized educational plans.
Level I services are available to all students and may be provided by the classroom teacher, a guest speaker or volunteer, media specialist, arts specialist, environment/STEM specialist, or any person with knowledge or expertise that could enrich the general education curricular environment. Services may be offered in the form of presentations, lessons differentiated by level and choice, Arts Magnet programming, site-based learning, and extracurricular opportunities. The EXCEL educator will also be available to collaborate with classroom teachers and provide support.
Level II services are available to many students and may be accessed by student choice or teacher referral. Examples include participation in Battle of the Books, Book Club, History Day, Arts Magnet opportunities beyond the curriculum, STEM opportunities beyond the curriculum, Destination ImagiNation, Young Scientist Roundtable, or additional curricular or extracurricular opportunities deemed appropriate.
Level III services are available to identified students (approximately 10-15% of students per grade level) who meet specific criteria. Students will be clustered in mathematics and language arts classrooms with students who have similar abilities. Identified students may also be sent-out of the classroom to participate in extra curricular opportunities. Examples of Level III services provided within the classroom may include Fermi Math, Stock Market Game, Envirothon, and Word Masters. The curriculum is modified and accelerated in ways determined by the classroom teacher or resource teacher to be necessary for students to be challenged and engaged.
Level IV services extend to approximately 5-10% of the student population who are selected based on specific criteria and who demonstrate abilities far beyond those of their grade-level peers (generally at least two grade-level deviations). Level IV services may be offered in the classroom setting, but more likely will occur through send-out programs, grade acceleration, subject-level acceleration, mentorship, or individualized academic programs. Send-out services will be designed as needed to include extension opportunities in the areas in which a student demonstrates exceptional abilities, as well as providing social and emotional education. EXCEL educators will work directly with individual students to meet their specific needs. Though the process will include many data-driven factors, it will be imperative that strong collaboration exists between parents/guardians, general education teachers, students, and EXCEL educators.
What grades will the EXCEL program serve?
The EXCEL program will provide services to students in grades 1-8.
How does a student qualify for the EXCEL program?
Students in 1st-3rd grade with needs for more advanced work will be identified through informal, classroom-based measures. Students in 4th-8th grade will be identified using a formal combination of objective and subjective measures. These include, but are not limited to:
CogAT-7 testing (verbal and quantitative/nonverbal), NWEA-MAP data, MCA III data ,Classroom Performance, Teacher Referral, Parent Survey, Student (Self) Survey
When will students in grades four through eight be identified?
The CogAT screener test will be administered to all students at the end of third grade. A certain percentage will take the full CogAT test. These test results in conjunction with other assessment data, achievement, and teacher/parent referrals will drive the identification process. Please see the identification process outline for more information.
How many students will be included in the EXCEL program?
There is not a limit to the number of students per grade level who may participate in the program. However, according to the National Association for Gifted Children, 5-7% of school-aged children need services beyond those provided in the general education classroom. We will be using a leveled services model which means that students will receive the level of service that they need to be appropriately challenged in a subject area. For example, a student may need more intense EXCEL services in mathematics than in reading. A different student may be challenged by grade level curriculum but show interest in enrichment activities. The EXCEL program is designed to be flexible enough to meet the individual needs of students.
What is the difference between services for students in 1st-3rd grade and those in 4th-8th grade?
There is no formal identification process until the end of 3rd grade. We acknowledge the need for heightened challenge and experiences before then however so have put a talent development program in place for primary grades.
For 1st-3rd graders, EXCEL services are indirect. The EXCEL resource teachers supports highly able learners by assisting teachers as they differentiate their units of instruction. This may involve finding advanced content for students to use, creating and supervising tasks at varying levels of difficulty or complexity, and helping with time-intensive units that allow students to choose different products to show their knowledge and understanding. Whole-group lessons that provide creative, intellectual enrichment to students in all classrooms may also take place. During this time, homeroom teachers will have the opportunity to observe their students from a different vantage point which will further develop their knowledge about their students By using an indirect service model for our youngest students, we are more fully and effectively supporting several objectives written into our program design. The first is that we will identify students who exhibit unique abilities or potential significantly beyond that of their peers of similar age, experience, or environment. The second is that the general education curriculum will be extended to engage and challenge these highly able learners. These goals are echoed in the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Program Standards (2010).
We believe 4th-8th graders who have a formally identified need for Level 4 EXCEL services require a learning experience different from that of their classmates. Therefore, we have established a setting for the exchange of ideas with other gifted students. There is a formal EXCEL class in place for a number of students every day. This occurs during the intervention periods. The purpose of this time is to provide daily opportunity for critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and independent learning. Goals include growth of personal and academic self-discipline, pursuit of unique investigations, development of problem solving techniques, development of realistic and healthy concepts of self and others, and willingness to assume leadership and responsibility. By participating in this class, students will be able to be challenged in a learning environment in which they are encouraged to go beyond the known and obvious, where process is emphasized over factual learning, and scholarly exploration is expected and facilitated. More information on curricular goals can be found on the EXCEL website.
If included in the EXCEL program, how often will my child meet with the EXCEL teacher?
That will depend on the level of service. (Please see the separate document for more detail.) Many EXCEL services will be offered in the general education classroom. The EXCEL resource teacher actively collaborates with teachers to create extension and enrichment opportunities for students. This may look different at different points of the year. At all grade levels, EXCEL programming may be a combination of any of the following: send-out services, varied grouping strategies, acceleration, differentiation of curriculum and instruction, and enrichment and talent development opportunities. This is a wonderful improvement on the traditional gifted and talented services, which typically only involved send-out services. EXCEL no longer revolves only around the EXCEL teacher because devoting time to “indirect” services (like planning content and bringing in programs for teachers to use with gifted children) allows more students to be reached. It is a shift worth making because it’s best for kids.
That being said, some students will participate in a needs-based classroom experience (commonly known as pull-out classes). This begins in 4th grade. Formally identified students will meet with the EXCEL teacher every day to participate in activities designed to address their verbal, nonverbal, quantitative, and affective needs.
How can I learn more about the EXCEL program?
Annual Parent Open House
Parent-Teacher Conferences - Fall and Winter
Contact Coordinator - Holly Biorn
Does a definition matter? For the purposes of a school program, yes.
- It provides a foundation for making program decisions.
- It helps teachers identify children who would benefit from programming.
- It determines identification criteria.
- It guides provided services.
A definition should be broad, yet specific, inclusive yet focused on particular qualities that set some children apart from their age peers, and indicate the need for different types of educational opportunities. There is no one right, absolute, or generally accepted definition of giftedness.
Rockford Area Schools Definition:
The EXCEL Program exists to serve students who exhibit unique abilities or potential significantly beyond that of their peers of similar age, experience or environment. The program provides four different levels of service to meet the diverse needs of these highly able learners.
Minnesota Department of Education (MDE)
Gifted and talented children and youth are those students with outstanding abilities, identified at preschool, elementary and secondary levels. These students are capable of high performance when compared to others of similar age, experience and environment, and represent the diverse populations of our communities. These are students whose potential requires differentiated and challenging educational programs and/or services beyond those provided in the general school program. Students capable of high performance include those with demonstrated achievement or potential ability in any one or more of the following areas: general intellectual, specific academic subjects, creativity, leadership and visual and performing arts.
Minnesota Council for Gifted Children (MCGT) Conference (2012)
Giftedness is a greater awareness, a greater sensitivity, and a greater ability to understand and transform perceptions into intellectual and emotional experiences. Giftedness is someone you are...not something you do.
National Association for Gifted Children
Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).
Joseph Renzulli, National Research Center on Gifted and Talented
Gifted behavior occurs when there is an interaction among three basic clusters of human traits: above-average abilities (general and/or specific), high levels of task commitment (motivation), and high levels of creativity. Gifted and talented children are those who possess or are capable of developing this composite of traits and applying them to any potentially valuable area of human performance. As noted in the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, gifted behaviors can be found "in certain people (not all people), at certain times (not all the time), and under certain circumstances (not all circumstances)."
The Columbus Group
Defining giftedness as behaviors, achievement, products or school placements, external to the individual, necessarily misses the essence of giftedness – how it alters the meaning of life experience for the gifted individual. Achievement remains an interesting and significant expression of giftedness but is not the most important aspect of it. Giftedness is ‘asynchronous development’ in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally. These children usually do not fit the developmental norms for their age; they have more advanced play interests and often are academically far ahead of their age peers
Jim Delisle & Judy Galbraith (Authors of When Gifted Kids Don’t Have all the Answers)
There is no one “portrait” of a gifted student. Talents and strengths among the gifted vary as widely as they do with any sample of students drawn from a so-called “average” population. Some educators distinguish between academically gifted and socially gifted; between highly gifted and normally gifted; and between highly creative and highly talented students. Many other breakdowns and categories exist. (p. 29)
Some are outgoing risk-takers, challengers of the status quo. Some are quiet, satisfied with their private world. As learners, some need constant feedback, others don’t. Some need a tremendous amount of encouragement to perform, or a lot of structure. Others ask for help after class, or years later.
When compared against other kids the same age, (child’s name):
Is easily bored by routine tasks
Can play and work independently
Prefers complex tasks and open-ended activities
Rebels against conformity
Creatively makes toys or tools out of anything
Asks probing questions
Make connections between ideas that classmates “don’t get” (but you do)
Has an “adult” sense of humor; understand irony and puns
Susan Winebrenner (Author and Consultant, Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom)
The Short List: I believe any student who possesses most or all of the following five characteristics is probably gifted. To be gifted, one does not have to possess all of these characteristics. However, when you observe students consistently exhibiting many of these behaviors, the possibility that they are gifted is very strong.
- Learns new material faster, and at an earlier age, than age peers.
- Remembers what has been learned forever, making review unnecessary.
- Is able to deal with concepts that are too complex and abstract for age peers.
- Has a passionate interest in one or more topics, and would spend all available time learning more about that topic if he or she could.
- Does not need to watch the teacher to hear what is being said; can operate on multiple brain channels simultaneously and process more than one task at a time.
In More Detail
The gifted child (refers to girls and boys):
- Is extremely precocious, when compared to his age peers, in any area of learning and/or performance. Learns at a much earlier age than is typical and makes much more rapid progress in certain areas of learning.
- Exhibits asynchronous development. May be highly precocious in some areas while demonstrating age-appropriate or delayed behaviors in other areas. Example: Can read at an early age but can’t tie his own shoes until age 5 or later. Note: Not all gifted kids learn to read before starting school; not all kids who do learn to read before starting school are gifted. One significant indication of giftedness might be the child who literally teaches himself to read, with little or no adult intervention or help.
- Has an advanced vocabulary and verbal ability for his chronological age.
- Has an outstanding memory. Possesses lots of information and can process it in sophisticated ways.
- Learns some things very easily with little help from others. May display a “rage to master” what he studies.
- Operates on higher levels of thinking than his age peers. Is comfortable with abstract and complex thinking tasks.
- Demonstrates ability to work with abstract ideas. Needs a minimum of concrete experiences for complete understanding.
- Perceives subtle cause-and-effect relationships.
- Sees patterns, relationships, and connections that others don’t.
- Comes up with “better ways” for doing things. Suggests them to peers, teachers, and other adults—not always in positive, helpful ways.
- Prefers complex and challenging tasks to “basic” work. May change simple tasks or directions to more complex ones to keep himself interested.
- Transfers concepts and learning to new situations. Sees connections between apparently unconnected ideas and activities. Makes intuitive leaps toward understanding without necessarily being able to explain how he got there.
- Wants to share all he knows. Loves to know and give reasons for everything.
- Is curious about many things and asks endless questions. Each answer leads to another question.
- Is a keen and alert observer. Doesn’t miss a thing.
- Is very intense. May be extremely emotional and excitable. Gets totally absorbed in activities and thoughts; may be reluctant to move from one subject area to another; may insist on mastering one thing before starting another. May experience periods of such fierce concentration that he is literally unaware of what is going on around him.
- Has many, and sometimes unusual, interests, hobbies, and collections. May have a passionate interest that has lasted for many years, such as dinosaurs.
- Is strongly motivated to do things that interest him in his own way. Loves working independently; may prefer to work alone. Enjoys making discoveries on his own and solving problems in his own way.
- Has a very high energy level. Seems to require very little sleep, but actually has a hard time calming down and going to sleep because he’s so busy thinking, planning, problem-solving, and creating.
- Is sensitive to beauty and other people’s feelings, emotions, and expectations.
- Has an advanced sense of justice, morality, and fairness. Is aware of and empathetic about global issues that most of his age peers aren’t interested in; can conceptualize solutions to such problems when quite young.
- Has a sophisticated sense of humor.
- Likes to be in charge. May be a natural leader.
Behavior, Motivation, and Attitude Problems
Gifted kids get frustrated when they are having to "practice" something they already know. The personality type determines whether that frustration is bottled up because of self-control (still not good) or whether it comes out as misbehavior. There is some work that has been done on negative expressions of gifted traits. It's a sketchy area though because it can give teachers the wrong impression...they start nominating children with misbehaviors who don't have academic strengths. Provided the student DOES have academic strengths, it may be important to consider negative expression of gifted traits.
As with all good things, there are challenges associated with having outstanding talents. These challenges are often perceived as behavior, motivation, or attitude problems. The gifted child whose learning needs are not met in school might:
- Resist doing the work, or work in a sloppy, careless manner.
- Get frustrated with the pace of the class and what he perceives as inactivity or lack of noticeable progress.
- Rebel against routine and predictability.
- Ask embarrassing questions; demand good reasons for why things are done a certain way.
- Resist taking direction or orders.
- Monopolize class discussions.
- Become bossy with his peers and teachers.
- Become intolerant of imperfection in himself and in others.
- Become super-sensitive to any form of criticism; cry easily.
- Refuse to conform.
- Resist cooperative learning.
- Act out or disturb others.
- Become the “class clown.”
- Become impatient when he’s not called on to recite or respond; blurt out answers without raising his hand.
Maureen Neihart, Psy D
I used to think of giftedness as intelligence. Now I know that giftedness is more than intelligence. It’s a way of being in the world. You can be smart and not be gifted. I think it’s possible to have an IQ of 130 and not be gifted. I’m less sure about 145. Giftedness is a way of responding to what goes on around you and within you. There are affective as well as cognitive components. I’m not sure you can separate the two. There seem to be common personality characteristics among people who achieve at very high levels, but you can have those personality characteristics and NOT achieve at very high levels, too. I’m saying that giftedness seems to require both - who you are and what you do. We do a lousy job in general education of paying attention to these psychosocial factors. There’s too much emphasis on achievement without providing the psychological supports needed to get there. We tend to demand and abandon.
Francoys Gagné, Distinguished Scholar
There is a clear distinction between giftedness and talent. The term giftedness designates the possession and use of untrained and spontaneously expressed natural abilities (called aptitudes or gifts) in at least one ability domain to a degree that places a child among the top 10% of his or her age peers. By contrast, the term talent designates the superior mastery of systematically developed abilities (or skills) and knowledge in at least one field of human activity to a degree that places a child's achievement within the upper 10% of age-peers who are active in that field or fields. His model presents five aptitude domains: intellectual, creative, socio-affective, sensorimotor and "others" (e.g. extrasensory perception). These natural abilities, which have a clear genetic substratum, can be observed in every task children are confronted with in the course of their schooling. (Gagné, F., 1985)
The U.S. Department of Education, Marland Report (1972):
Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities. Children capable of high performance include those with demonstrated achievement and/or potential ability in any of the areas, singly or in combination.
(Criticized as being limiting and of promoting elitism: 80% of experts agree to include: general intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creative or productive thinking, visual and performing arts; 50% of experts agree to include: leadership ability/social adeptness, psychomotor ability)
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981:
Funds may be used for special programs to identify, encourage, and meet the special educational needs of children who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership capacity, or specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities.
Regulations for the Educational Security Act of 1984:
A student, identified by various measures, who demonstrates actual or potential high performance capability in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign languages, or computer learning. (Note: Schools will operationally define giftedness based on the needs of society - different value systems will lead to different definitions.)
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001:
The term “gifted and talented” when used with respect to students, children, or youth, means those who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.
Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Educational Act (funded 1988-2011):
"The term gifted and talented student means children and youths who give evidence of higher performance capability in such areas as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the schools in order to develop such capabilities fully."
Classroom Measures - potential to perform, referral for cluster grouping
- Kingore Observation Inventory (KOI): six-week observation protocol with holistic rubric
- Kingore Planned Experiences (KPE): 3-4 critical thinking classroom activities
- Classroom Teacher Screening Form
- Grade 3-8: SRBCSS Screener: Learning, Creativity, & Motivation Scales Scales for Rating the the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students, Renzulli, Smith, White, Callahan, Hartman, & Westberg
- Peer Evaluation Form: MUFFS Instrument, Delisle, Gubbins, Ciabotti, Salvatore & Brucker
Parent Survey - school and home connection
- “Things My Child Likes to Do,” James Delisle, Revolving Door Identification Model, Renzulli, Reis & Smith
Ability Testing - measure of abstract, critical and logical reasoning - test thinking and reasoning power
- Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT-7), Verbal & Quantitative/Nonverbal Domains
- Screener Form-7, local norms
- Full Battery Form-7, national norms
Achievement Testing - measure of academic learning related to a specific school subject area
- NWEA - Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) scores, national norms
- Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) scores, state norms
- Student Interest Survey, Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom, Susan Winebrenner
- Student Perspective Survey, locally-created
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about the
EXCEL Gifted and Talented Program Identification Process
Why do we need a multi-grade level plan?
The practice of administering only one broad cognitive screen at 3rd grade is too late for some students and too early for others.
EARLIER NEED: It’s important to recognize giftedness in precocious young children to nurture their abilities and avoid frustration. Dr. Frances Karnes recognized that, “Early identification and appropriate programming can foster habits and attitudes towards learning and toward the self that may prevent the gifted child from becoming an underachiever,” (Karnes, 1983).
LATER NEED: Gifted potential does not follow the typical stages of human development. Life conditions can either assist or block personal growth. If potential is blocked early on, and school opportunities fill in the gap, later screening could reveal more gifted potential missed by early testing (Daniels & Piechowski, 2009).
Why are there so many different elements of the identification plan?
Giftedness is a developmental construct that appears in many different ways and dimensions. There is no one standard other than the fact that the gifted student dramatically differs from his or her age-peers in one or more domains. To identify this difference and serve the need that occurs because of it, we must have a flexible approach to both the identification process and the programming model. We hope that by including multiple sources of data, both objective and subjective, we will be able to recognize more potential in more students.
National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Program Standards, 2010, require a multiple-measures approach to identification which allows students to demonstrate diverse characteristics and behaviors associated with giftedness. (Identification Standards 2.1, 2.2, 2.3)
Why do you use the CogAT-7 test?
The general reasoning abilities measured by the CogAT show the cognitive process and strategies that help a student learn new tasks or solve problems. The high ceiling on CogAT, its ability to make reliable discriminations among the top ten percent of scores in all age groups, and its broad sampling of cognitive skills make this a great assessment to use for our gifted programs. Reasoning skills develop gradually throughout a person’s lifetime and at different rates for different individuals. Using the CogAT allows to us to find the students who have developed these skills at a faster rate than peers.
Why do you use the Kingore Observation Inventory / Kingore Planned Experiences
We need a way to identify which of our youngest students have academic needs that the core curriculum does not meet. The Kingore Observation Inventory is a way to measure gifted characteristics without relying solely on standardized assessments. The Kingore Assessment System:
- Encourages teachers to be ‘kid watchers’ who respond to and extend what students try to do
- Increases teachers’ insights about gifted potentials
- Allows teachers to assess the process involved in students’ learning
- Provides opportunities for minority, economically disadvantaged, bilingual, learning-disabled, and other special population students to exhibit advanced potentials
- Increases the possibility that the identification process is useful for the entire class
- Assesses students’ potentials over an extended period of time
- Decreases the likelihood that assessment is overly influenced by test-taught behaviors or splinter skills
- Integrates well with other alternative assessment processes
Can I see copies of the teacher/parent/student forms you use?
All forms used at various points of the identification process are available on the EXCEL program website.
Visual Representation of Formal Gifted Identification Process
Beginning in 3rd grade, the formal identification process uses a student profile approach. Profiles are created with all data and need for program services are determined by a committee. Decisions are made in alignment with district definitions and services offerings as well as the “Core Attributes of Giftedness” as identified by Sally Krisel in Identification: Theory and Practice (Hunsaker, 2012).
William and Mary Language Arts Curriculum for High Ability Learners
The goals of the William and Mary Language Arts units are to develop students' skills in literary analysis and interpretation, persuasive writing, linguistic competency, and oral communication, as well as to strengthen students' reasoning skills and understanding of the concept of change. The units engage students in exploring carefully selected, challenging works of literature from various times, cultures, and genres, and they encourage students to reflect on their readings through writing and discussion. The units also provide numerous opportunities for students to explore interdisciplinary connections to the language arts and to conduct research around issues relevant to their own lives. A guide to using the curriculum is also available.
Descriptions for the units we use (Literary Reflections, Patterns of Change, Autobiographies and Memoirs, and Persusion) can be found at thislink.
Sometimes used as a supplement to the William & Mary language arts units for young students, and sometimes used stand-alone, Jacob's Ladder targets reading comprehension skills in high ability learners. In the form of three skill ladders connected to individual readings in poetry, myths/fables, and nonfiction, students move from lower order, concrete thinking skills to higher order, critical thinking skills. For example, Ladder A moves students from Sequencing to Cause and Effect to Consequences and Implications.
Find more information here.
Word Masters Challenge
3rd - 6th Grade
Unlike other language arts competitions for this age group – which focus on grammar, punctuation, spelling and other language mechanics – the WordMasters Challenge helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically. The contest addresses higher-level word comprehension and verbal reasoning by challenging students to complete analogies based on relationships among words they have learned. Excellence in the competition will require both a mastery of the meanings of the vocabulary words and thoughtful reasoning about the relationships between these words and more familiar language used in the competition’s analogies.
Visit the website for more information: www.wordmasterschallenge.org
Project M2 and M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds
In 1980, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) made a bold statement, "The student most neglected in terms of realizing full potential, is the gifted student of mathematics."Project M3, Mentoring Mathematical Minds, was a 5-year collaborative research effort. A team of national experts in the fields of mathematics, mathematics education, and gifted education created a total of 12 curriculum units of advanced mathematics. We currently use 10 of them across several grade levels.
Perennial Math Competition
Math is COOL and our goal is to stimulate enthusiasm for problem solving. As students meet the challenges in our competitions, creativity and strategies for problem solving will surely grow. Students around the world face off in this online competition offered to each of our accelerated math classrooms.
Find more information here: www.perennialmath.com
Stock Market Game
The Stock Market Game™ (SMG) gives students in grades 4-12 a virtual $100,000 to invest in the stock market and learn about our economy firsthand on a local, national and even global scale. This experiential tool increases students’ financial literacy and emphasizes the importance of investing. Participating students gain a richer understanding of the U.S. economic system, current events and teamwork – skills necessary for future success
Learn more here: www.stockmarketgame.org
The following list describes how the daily classroom experience for formally identified gifted students (in 4th-8th grade) is tailored to meet their needs. It is a district-created document intended to guide both students and their families to an understanding of the specific qualities of giftedness and how Rockford Area Schools supports and promotes those abilities.
You have a right to know about your giftedness and how it makes you different from others, whether it’s your problem solving, memory, reasoning, motivation, inquiry, insight, communication, interests, imagination, or sense of humor. You will be allowed to be passionate about your talent area without apologies. You can feel good about your accomplishments and feel accepted for who you are as a person.
QUALITIES ABOUT GIFTED KIDS TO UNDERSTAND
1: YOU ARE INTENSE.
Gifted doesn’t just have to do with being smart. You might also feel and experience the world with more intensity. You might question more extensively, have more energy, be more aware of your surroundings, see/dream things more vividly, feel emotions more deeply, be more driven, be more empathetic, or be more philosophical.
IN THE CLASSROOM: Understanding these intensities and learning ways to focus them will help you to see them as benefits, not burdens.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: As described by Dabrowski, there are 5 areas of over-excitability in which a person reacts more strongly than normal for a longer period than normal to a stimulus that may be very small. This reaction involves psychological factors and also central nervous system sensitivity. The unusual intensity in one or more areas explains why gifted people behave “oddly” when compared to norms. Over-excitability is more common in the gifted population but not exclusive to it. Dabrowski’s areas are listed, with three additional areas identified by other researchers.
Psychomotor: high energy/movement; uses gestures; exhibits restlessness, talks quickly, mind doesn’t stop moving
Sensual: highly sensitive to positive and negative sensory experiences; great aesthetic awareness - moved by beauty
Intellectual: questions extensively; analyzes everything (to a fault), theoretical; plays with ideas
Imaginational: sees things vividly; mixes reality/fantasy; reacts strongly to dreams/nightmares; enjoys exaggerating
Emotional: broad range of intense, complex, and extreme emotional responses (positive/negative), need for deep and committed connection, finds change hard
Purpose - extremely driven; Spirit - intensely empathetic/sensitive; Soul - more philosophical than concrete
2: YOU ARE COMPLEX.
Your brain is wired differently. (They call it a “brain on fire.”) Your memory and the way you process new ideas is very efficient and complex. It’s easier for you to understand and remember more information because of the elaborate connections that your brain makes to decide what is important. You can think about more than one thing at a time and make quick leaps between ideas.
IN THE CLASSROOM: Problems will be complex and involve a lot of information. The complexity might come from how the problem makes you think, feel, collaborate, or create.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: A highly structured memory and efficient processing ability allows gifted students to engage successfully in tasks that require complex thinking. Gifted students more easily take in, retain, and connect information to prior knowledge. They are hypersensitive to details and process experiences in a more vivid way with greater efficiency. They make elaborate connections in ways that others don’t and therefore can store a larger quantity of knowledge. They are comfortable with more details because their networks for organizing facts and deciding relevance are more sophisticated. This allows them to process more than one thing at a time and to make intuitive leaps. They are able to manage complex problems that have a large content base.
3: YOU ARE PERCEPTIVE.
The ability to more easily see the big picture and underlying patterns is a big part of what makes you gifted. It’s easier for you to solve complicated problems because you can focus on what’s really going underneath all of the details.
IN THE CLASSROOM: Finding the principles (or reasons) that are at work will help you achieve a deep understanding of an issue or problem. The process of finding these relationships and patterns is work that truly challenges your brain.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: The superior ability to generalize a pattern from basic facts is a significant part of what defines gifted performance. Gifted students can solve new problems more easily because they can focus on the underlying principles that direct the situation. Organizing knowledge around key principles shows a deep understanding of how things work and interact. Students should be asked to find the underlying rationale, pattern, relationship, or inter-connection to sufficiently challenge their intellect.
4: YOU ARE ASYNCHRONOUS.
Being advanced academically doesn’t necessarily mean you are equally mature in all other areas (physically, socially, emotionally etc…). In those areas, you might be just the same as other kids your age. This can make life a little confusing.
IN THE CLASSROOM: People don’t automatically succeed in life just because they are smart. We will encourage each other and help with different things as they come up.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: Gifted kids are good at everything is a myth. In reality, many times they think like adults and act like children; seem mature but lack judgment; have mental strength but a motor skills weakness. This is called asynchronous development - literally, “not in synch.” Stephanie Tolan explains, “Highly gifted children are many ages simultaneously. A 5-year old may read like a 7-year old, play chess like a 12-year old, talk like a 13-year old, and share toys like a 2-year old. The Columbus Group maintains that this asynchrony is the absolute essence of giftedness, stating that “advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm.” The more gifted a child is, the more different his/her life experiences will be from that of age peers. Understandably, this can create a vulnerability to problems like social isolation, peer rejection and loneliness. Stephen Schroeder-Davis explains that issues can be avoided by providing opportunities for children to spend time with others based not on age but on common interests and abilities.
GOALS FOR GIFTED KIDS TO STRIVE TOWARDS
1: BE RESILIENT.
You probably have done really well with many things since you were young. This might mean you think everything should come easily. Believe it or not, you’ll be more successful later in life if you have opportunities to struggle in school now. You will become more resilient as you experience things that aren’t easy and realize that it’s okay if a smart person has to work really hard.
IN THE CLASSROOM: Activities will be tough so that you can practice making mistakes in a safe place, with others like you.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: From an early age, gifted kids perform well. This can lead to an expectation - either from others or from within - that everything should come easily. Students need to be given opportunities where learning is a struggle so that their mindset does not involve this detrimental expectation. Experience making mistakes and persisting through failure with intellectual peers fosters resilience over rigidity. A growth mindset and a gifted mind is a powerful combination, with ever higher levels of achievement. A fixed mindset on the other hand may lead to an early plateau and achieving less than full potential. The key elements of the growth mindset include: embracing challenge (vs. avoiding it), persisting in the fact of setbacks (vs. giving up easily), seeing effort as the path to mastery (vs. seeing effort as fruitless or worse), learning from criticism (vs. ignoring useful negative feedback) and finding lessons and inspiration in the success of others (vs. feeling threatened).
2: BE AMBITIOUS
It is probably the case that you find enjoyment in projects that frustrate other students. An open-ended problem requires a great deal of intellectual effort. When you can push yourself through the challenges, you will be achieving at your highest ability!
IN THE CLASSROOM: Unstructured types of problems will be the norm. You will have to form the details of the problem, the solution, and the path in between.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: It is common that gifted learners enjoy loosely structured projects that would not be appealing to other students. A vague problem statement and an open-ended way of reaching a goal requires students to continually refine their ideas. When students are given only general guidelines, they must use their knowledge base to bring structure to the problem, the solution and the path in between. This type of ill-structured problem requires a great deal of intellectual effort and provides the stimulation that talented students need to be appropriately challenged.
3: BE INTELLECTUAL.
Being intelligent is not the same as being an intellectual. Thinking intellectually involves being able to analyze, discuss, and question controversial ideas (that don’t have an easy answer). These situations cannot be settled by only the facts or personal experience.
IN THE CLASSROOM: With a variety of issues, you will be asked to evaluate the sources of your facts, focus on cause and effect or patterns, consider opposing points of view, and delay forming a conclusion until you have enough information.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: Teaching gifted students is less about the amount of work and more about making cognitive demands upon students. Students should be taught strategies that will allow them to use their intelligence efficiently and effectively. Thinking intellectually involves: evaluating sources of information, focusing on cause and effect relationships, considering opposing points of view, and delaying the formation of conclusions until a sufficient amount of information is obtained. They should be given opportunities to use facts as the building blocks for constructing and supporting a point of view, especially when discussing and drawing conclusions about controversial ideas (things that cannot be settled by either evidence or experience).
4: BE WELL-ROUNDED.
Having a high I.Q. (intelligence quotient) does not guarantee success. You must also have a good:
E.Q. (emotional quotient) - know what you feel and and how feelings affect you and others around you
S.Q. (social quotient) - know how to relate to a world full of other people with patience and respect
C.Q (creativity quotient) - think fluently and flexibly; be original; and elaborate on others' ideas
IN THE CLASSROOM: Depending on your strengths, you will help or be helped with these other areas.
RESEARCH BACKGROUND: Having a high IQ (intelligence quotient), does not guarantee a person is well-adjusted, high-achieving, admired, fulfilled, innovative, and successful. People also must have a high EQ (emotional intelligence quotient), SQ (social intelligence quotient), and CQ (creativity intelligence quotient). EQ involves self-awareness and self-management. SQ covers social awareness and relationship management. CQ is about thinking divergently and originally about an issue.
- Delisle, J., & Galbraith, J. (2002). When gifted kids don't have all the answers: How to meet their social and emotional needs. Minneapolis: Free Spirits Pub.
- Galbraith, J., & Delisle, J. (2011). The gifted teen survival guide: Smart, sharp, and ready for (almost) anything (Rev. & updated 4th ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Pub.
- Smith, K. (2010). Challenging units for gifted learners: Teaching the way gifted students think : Language arts. Waco, Tex.: Prufrock Press.