Kindergarten - 5th grade has self-contained GT classrooms
Opened: Fall 2016
Location: Pennock Elementary, 3707 Estrella St., Brighton
Gifted students learn differently. They learn at a rapid pace, delve deeply, and make countless connections among and between subjects and topics. They need an environment that offers curricula that matches their unique learning styles. Their curiosity, creativity, intensities, sensitivities, and advanced learning styles should be embraced and appreciated by their teachers and classmates. A classroom of cognitive peers, with teachers who understand and appreciate the needs of gifted learners, will allow these students to flourish intellectually, socially, and emotionally in a rigorous and engaging atmosphere.
Gifted learners have a passion to learn but many times it is about topics that are not being covered in class. At Achieve Institute time will be set aside to allow students to explore their own passion. The students will create their own inquiry based questions and explore the learning to find the answer.
SOCIAL – EMOTIONAL development:
The social emotional needs of the gifted learners are a critical part of their development. Topics will be addressed through literacy, discussions, and learning opportunities.
Addressing the emotional components is key to helping our gifted learners truly understand themselves.
More information will be sent to families upon receipt of the application.
Achieve Institute Parent Meetings – Unanswered Questions from parent nights in January 2016:
Will students in Achieve Institute receive IEPs or 504s?
Students that currently have 504s and IEPs will continue to get the services decided by the team. Students will not automatically qualify for a 504 or IEP as part of Achieve Institute. All students will have an Advanced Learning Plan that will focus on their passion projects.
Is there any other option for GT collaboration aside from my child switching schools?
All services will remain the same in other schools. Each school has the autonomy to provide GT services as needed in the building.
Will there be training for the middle school teachers starting next year or will that not start until the following year?
Vikan Middle School started the training this year. The school is currently working in a clustered model so the gifted students are grouped together. This provides targeted coaching for each teacher. The Social Studies teachers took part in 3 full day trainings this year to learn about utilizing primary source documents and higher order questioning. The teachers have been trained on Document Based Questioning (DBQ). The GT budget provided trainers through the program for all 3 days.
We will continue the trainings next year with the Vikan staff.
Are there plans to carry something like this through high school?
Currently we are planned through 8th grade. As the program grows we will continue to expand our programming.
How do you measure your success?
Success will be measured through our students. It is important to know that we will be working on more than academics, therefore we can not only utilize test scores to see our progress.
The quality of work produced through their passion projects will be one indicator. The other indicator we will work on is the students ability to collaborate and understand their own needs and passions.
Grade level advancement?
The grade level advancement will continue to follow the district and state policy, as influenced by the Iowa Acceleration Scales.
What age do they start passion projects?
All students that are part of Achieve Institute will take part in passion projects.
How is a supportive environment created for students?
A supportive environment is created by communication and team work. We will start the school year with creating a classroom culture that focuses on understanding expectations, learning to work together and to support each other.
The most imperative component will be the triangle of communication – Student – Parent – Teacher. If these three have open communication and the same focus then we will create a supportive environment for our students.
How do you keep early finishers engaged?
The first way is by pre-assessing and understanding the current levels for each student.
The next is by providing choices for students in different ways they can work to meet the standard being addressed.
Finally, the opportunity for all students to have their own passion projects to work on as well. This project will provide the students with the desire to learn.
Transportation will be provided to any family that lives in the boundary of Pennock.
We will work with transportation when our final classes are created to see if offering transportation is a viable option for other areas.
If a student doesn’t qualify now, will they ever qualify?
Every student performs at different levels based on their experiences and exposures. Students have the ability to reapply if further data has been collected to support the body of evidence. For example, all students are assessed in 2nd grade on the CogAT. If a student performs on that assessment within the state guidelines they can reapply with that new data piece. Another example would be if a family had an IQ test done with an outside tester, then the family could provide that piece of data as well.
It is important to note that standardized assessments must have a minimum of 12 months in between reassessment. Therefore, if the student took the TEMA then they can not take that test again for 12 months.