Gifted education at the Middle School level is a supportive intervention enrichment program designed to develop complex thinking practices such as creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Establishing thematic integrated units of study and providing activities, which focus on hands-on learning, is integral to our curriculum. This amalgamation is implemented yearly according to grade level. A variety of teaching strategies are employed to accommodate the diverse learning styles of the students.
Students identified as mentally gifted are offered the opportunity to participate in enrichment and challenge activities by attending Gifted Support/AT (Academically Talented) classes. The AT rooms are located within the regular school building and students are grouped with other children in their grade levels who have also been identified as gifted. Sixth and seventh grade students are enrolled in a compacted literacy class, which takes place four out of the six day cycle, and attend enrichment classes in the AT resource room the other two days of the cycle. Eighth grade students have the opportunity to attend AT classes in place of a special area class during all four marking periods. Participation depends upon students’ individual strengths and interests in accordance with the quarterly offerings.
Throughout the year, students may choose to participate in Gifted Seminars led by teachers, parents and community members who share their knowledge and expertise in areas of students’ individual strengths and interests. Sessions are in depth seminars that most times offer a hands-on style of learning. All AT students (6,7,8) have the opportunity to participate in a variety of competitions and contests.
Active class participation is encouraged through individual and partner work as well as cooperative grouping. Grouping is designed according to the activity, and students are encouraged to change groups on a regular basis. Through appropriate peer interaction, students strengthen interpersonal skills while building self-awareness and self-acceptance in a safe and comfortable environment.
Students are assessed through teacher, peer, and self -evaluation. Emphasis is placed on the self-evaluation piece, as self-reflection is a valued effective assessment and developmental tool. Students are required to draw conclusions and make judgments about their performance and development in the AT classroom. Learning logs, observations, rubrics, and spoken and written responses are some of the methods implemented for evaluation purposes. Sixth and seventh grade AT students receive a pass/fail grade on their quarterly report cards and eighth grade students receive letter/number grades on their quarterly report cards. Progress on GIEP goals is reported quarterly.