A continuum of services supported by research and best practices will be provided to identified gifted K-5 students. The curriculum includes a school-wide enrichment model for K-3, with an emphasis on promoting creative and divergent thinking in all students. Testing to identify gifted students in the area of superior cognitive ability will take place in the spring for students in grades 3 and 4. Services for cognitively gifted identified 4th and 5th grade students will include a pull out service which allows students to work with a Gifted Intervention Specialist. Additionally, these students will be grouped together in cluster groups in their regular classrooms in order to provide a peer group for these unique students.
“The keys to this model are differentiated instruction and the school-wide enrichment teams,” said Chief Academic Officer Kimberly Pietsch Miller. “We have incredibly skilled teachers who are capable of delivering instruction to a classroom full of students with different abilities and learning styles because the approach to lesson design is collaborative.”
In order to develop a culture of enrichment, differentiation must take place every day, all day. School enrichment team members participated in professional development during the summer focused on the District’s vision for gifted students, and best practices around differentiation. During these planning sessions, teachers discussed a series of concepts they will be committed to each day.
These include a commitment to differentiation, to learning about the gifted child, to using a common language when discussing gifted services with parents, to nurturing creativity, and to keep our focus on student interests.
K-3 School-wide Enrichment
“The essence of the K-3 grade-wide enrichment service is to grow thinkers,” Pietsch Miller said. “You grow thinkers through developmentally appropriate challenges.”
Students will learn the six habits of thinkers, and be presented projects designed to connect to their interests and readiness levels. There will be opportunities to work on long-term projects designed to develop project management skills, tenacity, and perseverance.
Grades 4-5 Superior Cognitive Service
The 4-5 superior cognitive service will also focus on thinking skills. Students will learn about the “Habits of the Mind” and develop their understanding about themselves as learners. Students will have the opportunity to develop long-term projects that connect to their unique skills, talents, and interests. Staff will also nurture the social and emotional growth of these students during this critical developmental time in their lives.
“The new K-5 services are truly a result of collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to developing our students to be the very best thinkers, learners, and citizens,” Pietsch Miller said.
The 2014-15 K-5 Gifted Task Force
The task force was convened to answer this question; what should well-rounded gifted education look like in Dublin City Schools? Made up of 26 Dublin City Schools educators, the task force studied the effectiveness of the previous service model and recommended K-5 changes in response to changing standards, community input, state report card requirements, and the need to maximize student learning.
“Our task force conducted a transparent, thorough process,” Pietsch Miller said. “We conducted six community meetings, spent countless hours studying best practices and research, and we have collaborated with each other and the community. We are excited our students will now benefit from this improved service delivery model.”
One of the key components of the task force work was to make sure a new gifted model took into consideration the differences between superior cognitive students and high achieving students. Less than 15% of our student population is identified with a superior cognitive ability, while a much higher percentage falls into the category of high achiever in a specific academic content area.
“These high achieving students are typical for an excellent District with strong parental support like ours,” Pietsch Miller said. “It is our job as educators to work with parents to help get students the instruction and services they need.”