How are students identified for gifted education in Newtown?
Students may be referred for identification for the gifted program by their parents, by their teachers and can self-refer. By Connecticut state law, the identification process must review multiple criteria. In Newtown, the formal identification process begins with a universal screening in all third grade classrooms. This includes classroom lessons that solicit critical and creative thinking skills, the administration of the Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test (OLSAT) and teacher and parent input. NWEA scores are also reviewed. This information is brought to the gifted screening PPT to identify the top 3-5% of the students as intellectually gifted.
What will Project Challenge students learn about?
Identified students participate in a sequenced curriculum of creative and critical thinking including the study of notable people, philosophy, vocabulary, analogy, leadership, and logic. Students learn the Creative Problem Solving Process and develop creative projects. At all levels of the program, students are taught the skills they need to become autonomous learners including identifying a passion, developing a hypothesis, conducting research, thinking logically and producing a creative product. Leadership and communication skills are taught and practiced.
What is available to parents to help them learn more about their children's educational needs?
Parents are an integral part of gifted education. Parent input is solicited for the identification process, parent conferences are held throughout the year, and parents are encouraged to share their views. The gifted education staff offers parent informational meetings, and a six week parent education class based on the book How To Parent So Children Will Learn by Sylvia Rimm. This program is designed for parents of identified gifted children, but will also be open to parents who feel that may benefit from the content.
What type of enrichment is offered at the elementary level?
Third and fourth grade students work in small enrichment groups, focusing on curriculum aligned activities. Student groups are determined based on Stepping Stones pre-assessment scores and teacher recommendation. Groups are kept flexible based on instruction and student need. Activities include multistep problem solving, small group discussion and reasoning, creative and critical thinking skills, as well as, higher order thinking activities. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively while solving problems that extend their thinking.
What personalized learning opportunities are available to elementary students?
Personalized Learning/Genius Hour is offered to ALL students in the fourth grade. Selected students meet one time per week for six weeks to participate in an hour long personalized learning period. Students identify an area of interest, select an essential question, and participate in instruction and research. During this time, students are introduced to the use of technology in the classroom, and are guided to fine tune their research and presentation skills.