Gifted and Talented
Gifted and Talented Students
We recognize that we have many highly capable students in Millburn whose needs are met by teachers who differentiate the curriculum and use a variety of instructional strategies. Among these highly capable students may be 1% to 3% who demonstrate truly superior ability when compared to their chronological peers. Our challenge is for each school to identify these truly exceptional students, adapt and modify curriculum and instruction to meet their needs, and to encourage participation in additional enrichment opportunities offered through curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities.
The most effective strategy to meet the needs of all students and address the specific needs and talents of exceptionally able students is to differentiate instruction. Teachers in all grades, from Kindergarten through grade 12, and in all subject areas possess the skills and resources to differentiate instruction for students. At the elementary and secondary levels Instructional Supervisors and Content Area Supervisors provide guidance, support and expertise to help classroom teachers design instruction and modify curriculum to provide a challenging learning environment for all of their students.
At the elementary level the Language Arts curriculum and mathematics curriculum are designed to meet the needs of all students and in particular to address the needs of the exceptionally able students. Reading and writing instruction is based on ongoing assessment that permits the students to progress at his or her own rate of learning. Readers and Writers Workshops are individualized for each student and expose the student to a wide range of genre studies in both reading and writing. Reading assessments and writing rubrics enable the teacher to specify learning objectives based on students’ needs and progress.
Math in Focus offers students a differentiated component to meet the needs of the most talented students. Open-ended questions, more challenging assessments and enrichment activities are included in the new version of the math curriculum and are designed to extend mathematical reasoning and problem solving skills.
In grades 3, 4 and 5 classroom teachers, library/media specialists, and technology teachers combine resources to introduce students to research protocols. Students use research skills to explore topics of interest in science, Social Studies, technology and determine how they wish to present their research. Exceptionally able students can pursue their topics in greater detail and complexity as their interests and skills permit.
The Visual and Performing Arts curriculum provides elementary students with numerous opportunities to engage in art projects, play in the band or orchestra, sing in the chorus, and perform in concerts and assemblies at the building and district level. Building and district field days offer students an opportunity to engage in athletic competition.
The secondary curriculum is varied and challenging, designed to meet the needs of the most able students in Millburn. Accelerated classes, Honors classes and Advanced Placement classes ensure that if the student is qualified, he or she will be able to take the most challenging courses available. Students have opportunities to pursue areas of interest in every content area. Teachers differentiate the math curriculum, for example, by supplementing the curriculum with more challenging materials, providing “Problems of the Week”, and for the truly exceptional students, Calculus BC in grade 11 and Multi-Variable Calculus from the Stanford Gifted Youth Program.
Such opportunities are available in each subject area at the secondary level. Accelerated, Honors and Advanced Placement classes are available in World Languages, Science, Social Studies, and English from grades 6-12. The Visual and Performing Arts and Physical Education programs also provide comparable advanced classes and opportunities for students who have particular talent, interest, or skill in art, music or athletics.
Millburn High School students also have the opportunity to pursue Independent Studies and Science Research in an area of interest that they wish to research. Under the direction of a teacher mentor select students develop an area of interest, conduct research, and present their findings.
This is just a small sampling of the variety and range of enrichment opportunities that are provided to students within the curriculum at the secondary level. If a student exceeds modifications though differentiation or advanced courses, then the building principal and subject supervisor may suggest alternative opportunities to address the student’s needs.
Co and Extra Curricular Enrichment Opportunities
In addition to those enrichment opportunities within the curriculum provided to students at the elementary and secondary levels, there are also extensive co-curricular and extra- curricular activities offered to students at every grade level. Additionally, outside organizations such as the PTO or parent groups also provide many enrichment activities for students.
In the elementary schools students can participate in school sponsored activities such as the district-wide music program, Student Council, Safety Patrol, Broadcasting Club, Art Club, Science Fairs, Art Shows, School Newspapers, or Literacy Magazines. An advisory stipend is available in each school for teachers to develop additional enrichment activities for students. Each school’s PTO offers a rich assortment of After School Enrichment activities that ranges from chess, to theater to skate boarding. Based on interest and support from parents individual schools also may offer enrichment opportunities such as Destination Imagination or Odyssey of the Mind. Students have opportunities to participate in competitions such as Battle of the Books, Presidential Fitness Competition, Art Contests, Mathematical Olympiads, and poetry competitions. Regardless of a student’s interest or ability there are numerous school sponsored and outside sponsored activities that are challenging and exciting.
School sponsored co-curricular enrichment activities at the secondary level are extensive. Musically inclined students can audition for the New Jersey Regional Band, Orchestra, Chorus and Jazz Band in the Middle School. At the high school students can pursue their musical interests by auditioning for All-State and All Eastern Band, Orchestra, Chorus and Jazz. At the middle school and high school students can be involved in many aspects of musical theater and plays. The Miller, Literacy magazines in English, Spanish and French, and Poetry Clubs provide extra-curricular enrichment opportunities for students. Students participate in the National World Language Exams, Quiz Bowl, Debate Team, Math and Science Competitions, Art Shows and All-Star athletic events from grades 6-12. Students have opportunities to become peer leaders and mentors, participate in student government, and become involved in community activism for environmental issues. If a student has a particular talent or interest, he or she will find numerous opportunities to fulfill this desire.
Identification of Exceptional Students
The process to identify exceptionally able students uses multiple measures and criteria. For many students classroom performance is a first measure of exceptional ability. These students are often identified at an early age in elementary school as having a specific ability that exceeds chronological peers. As students progress through elementary and secondary levels the processes become more formalized as data, assessments, and other forms of information are used to identify exceptionally able students. The purpose of identifying these students is to be able to differentiate instruction effectively, modify curriculum to meet their needs, and to propose a range of opportunities that may be challenging, intellectually stimulating, and satisfying.
At the elementary level the provisions for identifying gifted and talented students may include some or all of the following:
Teacher identification through classroom performance
Parent input about specific interests or abilities of their child
Classroom assessments in reading, writing and mathematics
High interest or ability levels in visual or performing arts or athletics
Exceptional level of achievement in standardized testing (i.e. top 1–3%) on NJSLA in
grades 3, 4, 5, Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) in Grades K-5
Student profiles and interest surveys
At the secondary level the provisions for identifying gifted and talented students may include some or all of the following:
Teacher identification or recommendation through classroom performance
Parent input about specific interests or abilities of their child
Final exams, report card grades
High interest or ability levels in academics, athletics, visual or performing arts
Exceptional level of achievement in standardized testing (i.e. top 1–3%) NJSLA 6 - 11, PSAT, and SAT
Links that may provide additional resources:
The New Jersey Consortium for Gifted and Talented Programs
The New Jersey Association for Gifted Children
The National Association for Gifted Children
The Gifted Child Society
The Counsel for Exceptional Children
The New Jersey Department of Education
The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth
Montclair State University Gifted & Talented Program
University of Connecticut
Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment Model
The Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) at Stanford University