District Revises Program for Gifted Elementary Students 

The new year has brought changes for students in Wyckoff’s gifted and talented program at the elementary schools.

The kindergarten program now consists of a visit every other week from either an art teacher or June Weissman, Wyckoff’s gifted and talented teacher for our elementary schools. First and second graders, meanwhile have a new program called Exploration. And the students in grades three to five are still in the Discovery program as it has existed in the past.

Weissman says the new Exploration program involves a weekly meeting of one hour with the first and second graders. “It is interest driven,” she says. “I’m seeing what kids are interested in and that’s what we’ll do.” Activities can run the gamut from reading a new book, to helping a character solve a problem, to creating inventions.

The Discovery program continues with its focus on five “academies” or areas of interest in which students can engage. Student partners interested in interstellar colonization, for example, can dive into some research on the topic and then create a presentation that might be a Ted Talk or maybe a script for a play on that topic.

Partners get to collaborate through Google Classroom. “It enables me to break down the walls between the classes and the schools,” says Weissman who travels among Wyckoff’s four elementary schools. “A third grader can work with a 5th grader in another school. They really have to mature and figure out how to handle this.”

Another change for the gifted and talented program, Weissman says, is a requirement that students requalify rather than automatically stay in the program each year. Students will still be selected using a number of criteria including a test of cognitive abilities in third grade. But they will have to requalify in fifth grade when the test is administered again to guarantee that the students in the program are in the District’s top 10 percent. Requiring students to show they belong in the program holds them accountable, Weissman says, and should open up opportunities for different students who maybe matured later and now deserve a spot in fifth grade.

Posted by thomas.deloughry On 18 November, 2019 at 3:50 PM  

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