Desert Springs is proud to offer school programs for academically talented for students in grades K-6. Some grade specific options for these programs are as follows:
- For students in grades K-5, Desert Springs combines gifted students in clusters in their regular classrooms.
- Students in grades 4-6 attend pullout classes for reading and math.
- In addition, Desert Springs offers self-contained gifted classes for the students who are exceptional academically.
Schoolwide Cluster Grouping for Gifted Students in Grades K-6
Gifted identified students are clustered into Gifted Cluster classrooms with teachers who have been designated as such by their school principals. Gifted Cluster teachers hold a gifted endorsement issued by the state of Arizona, or are working toward acquiring one.
Gifted Specialists assist Gifted Cluster teachers with scheduling, provide professional development in gifted education, and facilitate with the planning and implementation of differentiated curriculum and instruction through regularly scheduled monthly Gifted Cluster teacher meetings and during other staff development times. In this model, gifted students receive differentiated curriculum and instruction in all content areas on a daily basis.
In the Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model, gifted students are clustered into a mixed-ability classrooms at each grade level. The teacher has had training in understanding, planning for, and instructing gifted students. If there are more than eight gifted students in the grade level, two or more clusters may be formed.
High-average students are placed into classrooms without the Gifted Clusters to create a balance of ability/achievement levels in classes across the grade level. Because all classes maintain a slightly narrowed range of performance and abilities, this method of grouping students does not represent a tracking system.
Classroom compositions are carefully structured with two main goals: to ensure that there is a balance throughout the grade level, and to reduce the learning range found in any given classroom. This system provides opportunities for teachers to more readily respond to the needs of all their students.
Gifted Cluster teachers plan appropriately challenging instruction for their gifted students. Cluster Teacher Coach, Emily Skelton, is employed to mentor and support PV's Gifted Cluster teachers. This may involve acceleration, enrichment, and various extended learning opportunities targeted to develop the following skills through learning in the content areas:
- Logical thinking
- Reasoning skills
- Critical and creative thinking
Gifted students receive instruction that is differentiated in content, process, product, learning environment, and assessment:
- Content – Complex, abstract ideas presented in a variety of disciplines, including interdisciplinary curriculum
- Process – Higher-level thinking through Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Multiple Intelligences
- Products – Alternative methods of demonstrating mastery with a range of complexity
- Learning environment – Student-centered, flexible grouping based on readiness, interests, and abilities
- Assessments – Pre-assessment and testing out-of-grade level curriculum.
Content Replacement/Enrichment with Gifted Specialists |
Students receive a content replacement in lieu of the regular grade-level curriculum provided in their homeroom classes, and content enrichment in addition to instruction provided in the homeroom or gifted cluster class. The curriculum in these content areas is accelerated to an appropriately challenging level.
Professional learning at my site, in a perfect world, would look like the model that is used in (our) gifted meetings. Each session, there are typically about five of us that do table talks to teach and inform our colleagues on what we are doing in the classroom. We provide handouts and resources so the ideas can be taken right into the classroom."
– PVSchools Gifted Specialist Nancy Stanton
The Content Replacement Program
Gifted Education Specialists provide content replacement and content enrichment to gifted students in each elementary school for grades 4-6. Students receive accelerated and enriched instruction in mathematics and/or language arts, depending upon their area(s) of identification and needs. Students receive content replacement in lieu of the regular grade-level curriculum provided in their homeroom classes, and content enrichment in addition to instruction provided in the homeroom or gifted cluster class.
Curriculum in these content areas is accelerated to an appropriately challenging level. In language arts, students receive instruction through grammar and literature. Students move beyond the regular language arts curriculum using advanced levels of analysis and critical thinking. In math, students pursue topics such as probability, logic, statistics, algebra, and geometry at advanced levels.
PVSchools gifted specialists all are state-certified, highly qualified, and have specific certification and training to work with gifted students. Gifted Program Mentor ElizaBeth Warner provides support and training for the elementary schools' Gifted Specialists.
Enrichment during Honors classes may include:
- Accelerated Mathematics
- Latin stems studies as a foundation for interpreting the living languages
- Socratic Seminars
- Junior Great Books
- Classic and Contemporary literature
- Project-Based Learning
- Core Knowledge integrated curriculum
- Advanced problem-solving instruction
- Classic literature
- 4 level grammar
- Math Olympiad & Continental Math competitions
- Grammar and vocabulary instruction using the work of Michael Clay Thompson