Children who are considered Gifted and Talented have been called smart throughout their lives, but the truth is that being smart is not the defining factor for a child identified as GT. These children develop asynchronistically which means that their advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This makes them sometimes act and feel very different from other people. This is why helping them become more aware of themselves and their metacognition is the key to helping them become more self confident. The Explorer program strives to help GT identified children develop a toolbox of ways to look at knowledge and assignments in their everyday lives with depth and complexity. This toolbox will keep their minds active and reduce stress. Want to find out more about defining giftedness? Click here to link to the National Society for the Gifted and Talented.
Weatherbee Elementary School, Hampden Maine
Most students will spend one hour outside of their classroom per week for Explorer reading. The reading program will include lessons in looking at literature through Dr. Sandra Kaplan’s prompts of depth and complexity. Students will bring the books they choose to read independently from their reading classrooms into the Explorer cottage. Each class will begin with a mini-lesson defining a new prompt or a new way of looking at a prompt. They will then use a character or setting or plot from their books to write about it through the frame of the prompt they have just learned. Once a month students will engage in book talks designed to encourage them to stretch their minds with different books and ways of thinking. There will not be different homework for reading outside of their classroom homework. Students will be encouraged to read large quantities and varied texts throughout the year. Students will also be using the Wordly Wise vocabulary program to increase their use of the language and their understanding of what they read and how they write. Third graders will be using the regular vocabulary program and fourth and fifth graders will using the classical roots one.
Students will spend a half hour per week outside of their classrooms working on how to become better writers through writing notebooks. They will be expected to write every day in their notebooks. Some days this will mean one sentence or a drawing and some labelling. Other days this will be bulleted lists or full paragraphs of ideas for writing. We will work on ideas for notebooks throughout the year. The concept is about using your writing notebook daily as a way to store ideas, release your feelings, and have a writing tool that all writers use. For great ideas about notebooking, click here on Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Website.
Students will spend a half hour outside of their classrooms working on project based learning and problem solving strategies which can be applied to any math lesson they encounter. Students will be learning that there are five basic solving strategies that will give them the ability to solve extremely difficult problems.
- Charts and Diagrams
- Think 1
- Venn Diagrams
- Function Machines
After learning the five basic solving strategies, students will be working their way through the units designed by Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds. This is a nationally researched program designed to nurture math talent in elementary students. Students will still be responsible for their grade level math program within the classroom, but they will pre-test each unit and be given a choice board for independent work within the classroom if they show pre-test evidence that they have already learned each standard. There will not be additional math homework, but there may be substituted homework given individually which will be in student’s blue folder and written in their planner making it very clear what they are expected to accomplish.
Reeds Brook Middle School, Hampden Maine
Wagner Middle School, Winterport Maine
Raising student awareness of global issues is increasingly important as the countries of the world become more interdependent. At the same time, consuming domestic news with a critical eye is vital to enhancing democracy and defeating narrow-mindedness. Students also need an understanding of the world’s economy, politics, social structures and environment in order to make the best decisions about how to live their own lives. More than ever, an appreciation for news and our civic institutions is a key step toward self-empowerment and advancement. Students will recap the week’s current events through the use of Flocabulary. After viewing and discussing the week’s headlines, students will have the opportunity to research one of the headlines discussed and then share out. This will allow students to better understand the world around them and the important role they have within it.
Poem A Week
Recently Juan Felipe Herrera was named the Poet Laureate. As a class we viewed his powerful message of looking at poetry as a call to action. We will continue to collaborate this idea and use of poetry in with the Current Events that are recapped each week. Throughout the fall, we will also be reading a poem a week through Poets.org
All students learn more when they are actively engaged and enthusiastic about what is being taught…why not tap into that and make learning real? In our first unit this year, students will have the opportunity to do just that. Students will be given the opportunity to dig deeper into a passion area they hold through a guided independent study. Will they be the next Jack Andraka or Olivia Hallisey? Students will complete a proposal and create a product that encompasses their learning for an authentic audience.
Schedule at Reeds Brook
Students who participate in the Explorer Program will meet twice a week for 50 minutes each. Students in grades 6 and 7 will be missing two days of either guidance or computer technology. Students in grade 8 will replace Library Research with Explorers.
Schedule at Wagner
Students who participate in the Explorer Program will meet twice a week for 50 minutes each. Students are pulled from (primarily) Math Lab and ELA classes. It is the hope that work done within Explorers can enhance classwork.