what happens in gifted classrooms??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 06-17-2010, 04:23 AM - Thread Starter
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My daughter is being evaluated by the Bellevue school district outside of Seattle WA and we were wondering if anyone can share their experiences with the programs that are offered to gifted kids. We know that there is a part-time program and a full time program which are available to you based on your scores. We are most interested in what they do in these programs. Is it primarily academic? Is the workload heavy? Is there a lot of pressure and competition? What about homework? Is there a social component? An art component?

Our DD is a happy, creative and curious kid. We are not interested in putting her into a pressure filled situation which feels like a punishment for being bright.
Would love to know what actually happens in these classrooms.

Thanks so much,
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#2 of 7 Old 06-17-2010, 10:32 AM
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You will get much more useful information if you can talk to parents of kids who are in yoru local program as programs differ widely.

In my gifted program in school, only the academic classes were part of the gifted program, every thing else was unified across the school. The classes moved faster and looked at material more deeply. The amount of time I spent doing my homework was about the same as my friends who weren't in the gifted program, but the expectations of what we would accomplish in that time were higher.

In the school district that my kids are in, the part-time program doesn't seem to do much for the kids, but the full-time program seems similar to what I did as a kid.

mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)
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#3 of 7 Old 06-17-2010, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by hergrace View Post
You will get much more useful information if you can talk to parents of kids who are in yoru local program as programs differ widely.
Agree. I've heard that there are programs that encourage a lot of competition. I haven't actually witnessed any myself. The only way to learn about the flavour of your local program is to talk to those parents and students.

Our experience has been positive. In primary school, my dc's program had separate classes for gifted students, housed in a regular mainstream public school. In middle school, the gifted students take core academic subjects together, but mix with the regular students for gym, arts and music, and technical subjects.

Generally, the gifted students follow the grade curriculum, although they expand on topics quite a bit. If they cover an area quickly, they may move on to a related area. There's quite a bit of project-based learning. Some parents have a real problem with this aspect, but I think it allows for greater flexibility for individual learning and learning with and from peers.

When you are visiting the program, ask the teachers how they differentiate from a regular program and what accommodations and extra resources are available. They should be prepared to explain what exactly they are providing that's different from the regular school.
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#4 of 7 Old 06-21-2010, 12:56 AM
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I also think it is best to talk to other parents or the gifted teachers.

Our is a one-day-weekly program plus periodic field trips and quarterly presentations (where they present projects to their whole grade).

I have not had great experiences in the DISTRICT; it's very much a status symbol and parents lobby hard to have their children admitted into the program. At our school, though, the experience has been positive. The kids focus on a theme for the year, different theme for each grade level. Last year was Mysteries (they learned forensic science and crime scene investigation, they learned about great mysterious of the world (stonehenge, the Mayan calendar), modern mysteries (area 51, Loch Ness monster, the Red Sea Scrolls); they learned about codebreakers and how to formulate codes, how to research primary and secondary sources, how to parse news reports and test their accuracy and validity; lots of science and math in learning to calculate angles, speed, etc in forensic). The teacher, working with the framework of the theme, does writing and math exercises -- the children are expected to do math that is three-four grade levels above their grade, and to read texts written for early high school (this was for fourth grade). They also spend a lot of time thinking outside the box, they are taught primarily using the Socratic method, and are encouraged to do a lot of expressive creating. What my son loves about GT is that much of what he does isn't right or wrong -- but rather, they are exercises in critical thinking skills, in using information, etc.

Every program is different, but that's how the cycles are for us -- the year previous they studied mythology, and next year the theme will probably be the Renaissance.

I know in Middle School the kids can be separated into math/English GT classes rather than a more global approach.

Joy, mama to Aquaboy (10), Goldilocks (8), Squidge (4)
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#5 of 7 Old 06-21-2010, 09:43 AM
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I will repeat what everyone has said. You are not going to have any clue about your own district by talking with people on this board. Programs are different across states, cities, districts.

I would state the one similarity about self-contained, though, is that gifted kids get to be with other gifted kids. This often can be positive, since they will be with other kids like them.

In general, our program has been positive, but it is dependent upon teacher.
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#6 of 7 Old 06-21-2010, 12:39 PM
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I used to live in Seattle and I have heard nothing but positive things about the gifted program in Bellevue. As a wealthy area, it is well-funded, as are most of the special education programs in Bellevue. I hope it works out well for you!

- Sky.
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#7 of 7 Old 06-21-2010, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone,
I appreciate the feedback and hearing about your experiences. While I know it is much more valuable to speak to people in district, we are new to the area, and therefore have limited contacts in the area.

Sky, if you know of anyone with children in the BSD that I could connect with, that would be great.

Thanks all.
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