Sunday, April 24, 2016

UPDATE: Self-Contained Gifted Programs in GPS - Enrollment and Deadlines

The district website with information on the 7th grade program includes a video and slide show of student work and projects.  Highland Jr is the only junior high in the district with a comprehensive gifted program, in that their teachers have received extensive training to work with gifted students and therefore teachers and students collaborate in depth across subjects. 

This has been our experience in the 7th grade gifted program in 2016-17 ...

This current year the gifted 7th graders are grouped together in their core classes of English, Social Studies and Science.  For math they are grouped according to their ability and so many of them are together for math as well.  The teachers for 7th grade gifted honors science and 7th grade gifted honors math involve their students in projects that cross both subjects, providing an opportunity for depth not usually seen in the typical honors classes (student video is on the district website).  The 7th grade gifted English and gifted Social Studies teachers also work together to integrate learning across their two subjects, providing their students with a similar opportunity for depth.  (After their study and role play of Hamlet, SCG students are currently building a scale model of the Globe Theatre - this integrates multiple subjects.  You can see a slide show of their work on Hamlet and the Globe Theatre on the district website.)

The English teacher has a weekly class discussion on social/emotional skills.  I requested to observe class on this particular day during first semester and enjoyed listening to a productive discussion on effort and growth vs. grades along with a teacher led story on growth and advocating for yourself.  The students shared their own insights about the value of learning from mistakes and experiencing growth.  (This supports the GPS Gifted Vision Statement of supporting the needs of the whole child.)

The core teachers of the gifted students have received extensive training in giftedness and gifted education strategies, some having their Gifted Endorsement or Masters in Gifted Education.

We have found that the daily homework load is comparable to what we had in 6th grade, in that because subjects are integrated, students aren't given a mountain of English homework, a mountain of Social Studies homework, etc. each night.  This provides an opportunity to be involved in extra-curricular activities.

The district policy for comprehensive junior high schools for students who are unprepared for class is after school detention, which is called 9th hour.  However, for those gifted students who live outside of the school boundaries, there is no 9th hour bus to bring them home, so their "9th hour" is detention during lunch.  This allows them to take their regular bus home.  (GCA does it differently.  A few years ago when another son attended GCA their 9th hour adaptation was Saturday School.  If still in practice at GCA, then families provide their own transportation to and from Saturday school.)

Class size for the core classes is about 28.

Gifted students take electives with other Highland Jr students - PE, Band, Orchestra, etc. - and my son has enjoyed these classes and making new friends.  The music program at Highland Jr. is top notch.

I hope this information in helpful.

Stephanie Newitt
President, Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted

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