Alpine Gifted and Talented Programming

Alpine Elementary has one part time gifted and talented teacher that helps meet the needs of students who have been identified as exceptional according to District qualifications.  This teacher also provides services to students who are highly advanced in subject areas that are not identified formally. She provides testing and identification services for students in conjunction with District qualifications. In addition, the gifted and talented teacher supports teachers and staff with strategies and ideas to use with students who are advanced in the regular classroom setting. 

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St. Vrain Vally School District
Gifted and Talented Education Services

Structure/Differentiated Instruction/Affective Guidance/Content Options
Programming: What our schools do to challenge high ability students to achieve their full potential

The St. Vrain Valley School District believes that every student should by challenged academically. We identify the top 3-5% of our students to help the teachers, administration and counseling staff recognize and nuture outstanding potential so gifted students may become all that they can be. We offer a variety of opportunities for all students of high ability (not just those students identified as Gifted/Talented). The specifics vary by school to best serve the local school community.

Indentification Process: How do we determine if the student is Gfted/Talented? Parent or Teacher nominates the student by referring to: Demonstrated performanceand or portfolio, results from tests for intellectual ability and achievement. (CSP, CogAt, etc.) and behaviors as evidenced by family and teachers.

Differenticated Instruction: (In the classroom)
•Questioning for higher order thinking skills
•Content Extentions
•Pre-assessment
•Acceleration


Affective Guidance: (Counseling)
•Improve relationships
•Career guidande
•Address social, behavioral and emotional needs


Structure: (Placement options)
•Cluster grouping
•Pullout enrichment
•Mixed grade classroom
•Special interest classes
•Advanced and honors classes
•AP (Advanced Placement)
•IB (International Baccalaureate)


Content Options: (Curricular extensions and Extracurricular activities)
•MESA
•Math Counts
•Science Fairs
•Geography Bee
•Junior Great Books
•Odessey of the Mind
•Contests / Competitions
•Rocky Mountain Talent Search
•Summer Enrichment Program (SEP)


Parent Involvement
•Nomination process
•School Improvement Team
•District Gifted/Talented Advisory Committee


Building Contacts:
•Principal
•Gifted / Talented teacher or liason



Fifty Activities for Gifted Students
1. Write a moments-in-history script.
2. Mock trial: put a fictional character on trial.
3. Design an original game; market it.
4. Make a claymation film.
5. Write a bio-poem.
6. Create a bulletin board.
7. Design, sew, and model original clothing.
8. Write and produce a radio play.
9. Create a "Kid's View" column for your town newspaper, or for your local gifted and talented group's newsletter.
10. Create news broadcast, which airs what kids want to know.
11. Conduct interviews on an important topic.
12. Select a poem and expand it into a short story.
13. Make a photo essay.
14. Write/draw a "Classic Comic' version of a novel.
15. Build a diorama.
16. Choreograph a pantomime.
17. Make a slide show presentation of a community resource.
18. Design a mobile of environmental awareness.
19. Write/illustrate a children's book.
20. Make a scrapbook for a mythical, literary, or historical figure.
21. Create a satirical comic strip.
22. Write a protest song.
23. Prepare a reader's theatre presentation.
24. Draw a flip book (animation without film).
25. Conduct a historical scavenger hunt.
26. Perform oral interpretation of some favorite literature.
27. Prepare, serve foods from a different period/culture.
28. Create a dance based on a poem.
29. Conduct a symposium on a censorship issue.
30. Write a "choose-your-own-adventure" book.
31. Script a poem.
32. Create a sculpture of a well-known person.
33. Reconstruct a historical event using famous paintings.
34. Draw/paint a wall-size mural to recreate a historical event.
35. Write/produce a puppet play.
36. Produce a shadowgraph play.
37 Update a fairy tale.
38. Design a community service project.
39. Create a wall-size timeline.
40. Produce an original magazine/newsletter.
41. Write a diary for a fictional or historical character.
42. Produce a documentary.
43. Create a new sport with roles and all.
44. Experiment with time travel (in writing, acting, art).
45. Create a glossary for some area of expertise.
46. Build/play an original musical instrument.
47. Make models for a different, unique type of architecture.
48. Design the house of the future.
49. Create and/or market a new kind of candy bar.
50. Create your own movie rating system and explain your criteria. Try your system out on the movies and TV programs you watch.

From the Teacher's Side:
Hints to Parents for Successful Conferences
• Come in with specifics. In too many conferences, teachers hear only vague statements about a child's abilities or attitudes. Thus, if parents state "my child -is bored" or "he just doesn't like school," There is little that a teacher can do to change the situation the problem, as stated, is just too general. Instead, statements like "John doesn't understand why he has to do multiplication tables when he mastered them two years ago," or "Dawn especially likes science lessons that include hands-on experiments,” help the teacher to understand the specific: activities that excite your child about learning.
• Provide support through resources, information and time.  Frequently, gifted children are involved in free time activities that their teachers don't know about. Share these activities with your child's teacher, and ask if it is okay for your child to bring in some project ideas, books, or software programs that have captured his or her out-of-school interest. Then, when your child has a spare few minutes between school subjects, or completes an assignment earlier than others, there is something available to do that will make "waiting time" more enjoyable and productive. Also, keep tabs on in-school projects that can use some at-home assistance. A brief note stating, "let us know how we can help" opens the door for positive home-school communication.
• Understand the constraints of today's public schools. In the past decade, two trends have added sizeable responsibilities for the so-called "regular classroom" teacher: the mainstreaming of handicapped and learning disabled children and the back-to-basics movement. Though many educators applaud these changes, there is no doubt that today teachers are expected to juggle and adapt curriculum as never before. The common complaint, "How can I individualize for one gifted child when I have twenty-six other students, too?" is seldom as much a teacher "cop out" as it is a cry of frustration. Very few teachers will knowingly hurt a child or inhibit a student's progress on purpose. Undemanding the constraints, providing specifics, and giving support can show teachers you are an ally, not an antagonist, in fostering your child's education.

From the Parent's side:
Hints to Teachers for Successful Conferences

•Listen to me; I know my child." Parents are their child's first teachers, acting as educators long before Sesame Street and preschool come on the scene. So, it is very frustrating when professional educators address parents as if they were ignorant of their child's abilities, needs or interests. The common myth that "all parents think their kids are gifted" is exactly that - a myth. Parents are often "expert witnesses" in testifying to their youngster's strengths and weaknesses, and they can provide valuable data about their child that is unavailable through test scores, report card grades, or anecdotal notes in the cumulative file. A wise teacher knows this and seeks out information from parents that may have an impact on a child's school performance.
•Communicate early – and often. In my first year of teaching, I sent a note home with David, a fifth grade student of mine about whose behavior I bad been forewarned. The note read: "David has had a great week in school. He finished most of his seatwork; and his attitude has been very positive. You can be proud of your son's accomplishments!" David reported to me the next day that the note had been read aloud at the dinner table, and later framed and placed on the hallway wall.
At conference time, Dave's mom said, her eyes glistening, "All we ever bear about David is bad. That note meant so much." Five minutes of my time brought a year full of success to David, and a whole new perception of David to his family:  David the success, not the failure: David the behaver, not the troublemaker.
• “Please understand that my child’s not perfect.” It is an unfortunate reality that practically no college programs in teacher education require a course in "Understanding Gifted Children.'” Thus, many good classroom teachers may be unaware of both the characteristics and the needs of gifted youngsters. What sometimes happens, then, is that teachers begin to believe that gifted children are gifted in all areas.
Expectations may rise, and a grade of "B" or "C" may be seen by some educators (and parents) as failure. As one gifted youngster wrote, "If I had a dime for every time someone told me “I could do better if only I'd try,' I'd be a millionaire by high school!" Set expectations for each student realistically, and consider the fact that achievement often goes hand-in-hand with interest. If your science-oriented student is getting "only B" in language arts, that's okay. Are you-are any of us across -across the board perfect? No. Understanding this reality, and communicating to your gifted pupils (and their parents) that it is acceptable to make mistakes, paves the way for a successful school experience.

THE EXTENSION DIMENSION
by Ellen Javernick

Are your kids' brains stagnating from too much TV and too many video games? Here are some hot tips for ways to stimulate your kids' brain power, creativity, and imagination.

         "It's about parent conferences," said one of my students. I looked at the note he handed me. His mother had written, "We don't want to hear about how well Jeff's doing. We already know that he's working well above grade level. All his teachers have told us to extend his learning, but none of them have told us how to do it."
         I realized that I'd often given the same advice but had failed to suggest ways for parents to expand upon what was being taught in school. Jeff's success in school suggested that his parents were already doing many of the right things. Now they were looking for additional ways to help their son.
         I thought about what my husband and I had done to encourage our children to broaden their interests and develop their talents. I also recalled the ways that other parents had provided special opportunities for their children. I then asked other teachers for their input. Soon I had come up with a list of suggestions.
• Join an adult interest group with your child. If your child likes birds, join a bird watching group. Go to programs put on by the photographers club.
• Encourage your children to enter contests. Consider preparing for the state spelling bee, joining an Odyssey of the Mind team, trying out for Stars of Tomorrow, or making a fire safety poster.
• Help your child to develop presentation skills. Sign up for a storytelling class, or encourage him or her to become a magician, a clown, or a juggler. Then let your child perform for younger siblings' birthday parties.
• Take advantage of the free offerings of nearby colleges. Check out the wind tunnel, visit the veterinary hospital, or attend a program at the observatory.
• Select challenging games, and play them with your children. Start your children on crossword puzzles. Ask grandparents to save the word searches from Modern Maturity magazine.
• Encourage your child to start a collection. Go beyond just gathering objects. If your child's hobby is collecting trains, arrange to ride on a real train or visit a train museum. If your child collects post cards, visit antique shops to add to your child's collection.
• Foster an appreciation for the arts. Visit art museum openings, and attend rehearsals of concerts.
• Discover the nonfiction section of your library. Select how-to-books, joke books, biographies, believe-it-or-nots, mini-mysteries, and drawing books. Take advantage of free library programs that range from weekly story times to travel programs.
• Become involved in a social cause as a family. Work at a soup kitchen, raise a puppy for Hearing Dogs, help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, or make weekly visits to the residents at a nursing home.
• Encourage your child to be an entrepreneur. Support a dog-walking service, help place an ad for a birdhouse business, provide supplies for a lemonade stand, or help deliver the newspapers. If there is a Junior Achievement organization in your community, find out what it can offer.
• Support your child's interest in construction. Buy toys that encourage building. Provide tools and supplies so that your child can build a skateboard ramp, a dollhouse, or a pen for the dog.
• Study the stock market. Let your child use birthday money to purchase shares of stock or a mutual fund, and then track the investment every day.
• Promote environmental awareness. Adopt an endangered animal. Help plant trees on Arbor Day. Recycle. Walk more, and drive your car less.
• Instead of going out for pizza, let your child plan his or her birthday party around a theme. Provide boxes from which your child can create the starship Enterprise, the ambulance for a 911 party, or a haunted house.
• Grow a garden. Let your child do the planning. Try unusual plants like spaghetti squash and icicle radishes, or plant things in new ways. Potatoes planted in stacked-up tires are fun to watch grow. Start a pussy willow or a money plant.
• Borrow recipe books from the library. Help your child plan and prepare a weekly dinner, or make foods from various cultures.
         Obviously, you can' t use all of these suggestions and you shouldn't. Children need thinking time, creative people need time to plan, and organized people need time to sort information. Try the ideas that will enable your child to dream and to imagine.
*Ellen Javernick currently teaches second grade at Namaqua Elementary, is a freelance writer, and was honored in the March 1995 issue of LIGHTS as an outstanding Teacher.

Additional Resources
Colorado Department of Education and Other GT Programs
How Parents Can Support Gifted Students
Gifted Education Internet Resources
Positive Advocacy
Declaration of Educational Rights of Gifted Child

 

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