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The Board of Education Advisory Councils

2005-2006 Program Information of Funded Gifted and Talented Standards-Based Curriculum Proposals
Fund Code: 580

The purpose of this grant program is to raise the achievement of gifted students in Kindergarten through grade eight by expanding educators' knowledge of research-based advanced curricula in Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Brockton Public Schools

Project Overview: The project will be focused at the Gilmore Academy, which serves grades five to seven students with high and low academic achievement from across the city. Funds will be used to pilot the International Baccalaureate Organization Middle Years Program curriculum (IBO/MYP). The program is designed to encourage international awareness in young people with an emphasis on the skills, attitudes, and knowledge needed to participate in a global society. Intercultural awareness is central to the program. The Gilmore Academy will implement the science, technology, and math curricula outlined in the curriculum guides of the IBO/MYP. In addition, students will be given the opportunity to collaborate with Bridgewater State University to demonstrate their technological expertise by explaining what they are learning in their courses with science, math and engineering professors and college students via e-mail.

Identification of Students: The district begins identifying talented and gifted program (TAG) students in third grade by administering the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test to all students. In addition, teachers identify students who perform well above grade level on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Other criteria include teacher recommendations and current report card grades. A list of prospective students is generated and these students are invited to attend a daylong visit at an off-site location. During the course of the four-hour visit the students meet in small groups with a teacher from the TAG program. Students are given a variety of tasks, each of which involves making a product. Teachers observe the students as they demonstrate their ability and creativity. Teachers also interview students informally and observe their social interactions with peers and adults.

Teacher Training: One graduate course will be provided for staff to prepare them for the depth of content that will be needed and the pedagogy for student-centered, inquiry-based, hands-on approach to learning. Several teachers will be trained by IBO to implement the Middle years program criteria.

Contact: Ms. Terry Starr-Klein; 508-580-7274; Ms. Terry Starr-Klein

Brookline Public Schools

Project Overview: The project will improve and enhance the fourth grade science program by piloting curriculum materials developed by the AIMS Education Foundation on simple machines. The new materials will be used in twelve of the twenty-four fourth grade classrooms across the district, which are comprised of students from diverse academic, cultural, economic, and linguistic backgrounds. The AIMS curriculum unit to be piloted, Brick Layers II: Creative Engineering with LEGO Constructions, provides students the opportunity to explore mechanical and structural engineering through construction of simple machines and by looking at the special properties of certain shapes that can be useful in construction. With the use of the LEGO DACTA motorized kit, children work cooperatively to build and create several models such as a drawbridge, windshield with a conveyer belt, crane, or merry-go-round. The curriculum materials, designed for grades five through nine, were selected to advance fourth graders knowledge.

Identification of Students: In each classroom between 10% and 20% of students are informally identified through student work, classroom teachers' and gifted and talented resource teachers' observations/checklists, parent information, and assessments as having high academic and/or creative potential, and being in need of curriculum differentiation. Revisions to current informal identification guidelines are underway to improve the district's ability to identify high academic potential of minorities, students with disabilities, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged student populations.

Teacher Training: Piloting teachers will take part in a workshop on the Brick Layers II curriculum unit. It will address the content, skills, knowledge, processes, and materials in which teachers need to be proficient to successfully implement the AIMS curriculum.

Contacts: Dr. Diana Beck; 617-264-6407; Dr. Diana Beck and
Ms. Amy Martin; 617-730-2427; Ms. Amy Martin

Cambridge Public Schools

Project Overview: In their science classes, seventh graders in six of the district's twelve elementary schools (K-8) will pilot the Diversity of Life curriculum published by Full Option Science System (FOSS), and developed at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley. The FOSS curriculum will enable students to design their own investigations and will include extension activities for working with organisms from all five kingdoms. Students will create miniature ponds in their science classrooms and study the microorganisms within them. Students will take field trips to look for microorganisms in the Maynard Ecology Center pond, and will study biological diversity with the guidance of the staff at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Identification of Students: The science classes are grouped heterogeneously, and all students will be exposed to the curriculum, with instruction differentiated according to student interest and ability. As part of their professional development, teachers will receive training in recognizing the characteristics of highly motivated students and ways to effectively differentiate instruction to meet their needs. With a deeper understanding of these characteristics, teachers will consider the full range of student attributes in selecting a group of about fifty students whose interaction with the curriculum will be observed. Criteria will include their performance on MCAS and district periodic assessments as well as several behavioral attributes, including the ability to sustain concentration, far-ranging curiosity about science, good observation and problem solving skills, and the ability to work independently on complex tasks.

Teacher Training: Teachers will attend workshops conducted by the Harvard Museum of Natural History on diversity and microorganisms as well as workshops conducted by Harvard's Graduate School of Education on differentiating instruction for high ability learners. Teachers will also participate in a study group for piloting the Diversity of Life curriculum.

Contacts: Ms. Candyce Dostert; 617-349-6455; Ms. Candyce Dostert and Christie Chiappetta; 617-349-6792; Christie Chiappetta

Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District

Project Overview: Project Robo will focus on engineering. Seventh and eighth grade students will identify and utilize the five elements of a technology system (goal, inputs, processes, outputs, and feedback), and explore engineering design, materials, tools, and machines. The design process will emphasize the following components: identifying the need or problem; researching the need or problem; developing possible solutions; selecting the best possible solution; constructing a prototype; testing and evaluating the solution; and communicating the solution and redesign. In each class, two-student teams will design, and display the robotic objects they create. The Robotics program, LEGOS Robolabs 2.5.4., will be implemented with twenty to thirty students.

Identification of Students: The district has an established gifted and talented program for grades two through five. This project will expand it to middle school. A student will be recommended for this project if he or she is a strong kinesthetic learner, a problem solver in a mechanical/technological environment, has persistence in problem solving situations, is computer literate, is highly motivated by the freedom to design and create, loves to "fix" things, is curious about how things work, favors science or math, and is willing to commit to a long-term project with robotics.

Teacher Training: In collaboration with Tufts College Engineering Education Outreach (CEEO), teachers will develop knowledge and expertise in the field of robotics.

Contact: Ms. Gloria Lemerise; 508-398-7620; Gloria Lemerise

Easthampton Public Schools

Project Overview: This project will be implemented in the second grade classrooms at the district's three elementary schools. There will be 116 students with eighteen to thirty advanced students pulled out for extra instruction in inquiry skills. There will be two sources of instructional materials. One is Wisconsin Fast Plants developed by the University of Wisconsin. Two projects, Getting a Handle on Variation and Farming Fast Plants will be used for whole class enrichment. The Seed Challenge will be the foundation for student-designed projects for advanced students. The other curriculum unit, Moving Liquids, along with lessons on teaching inquiry skills is from the book Introducing Students to Scientific Inquiry and is based on research by Susan Etheredge and Al Rudnitsky of Smith College. Sample inquiry skills to be addressed include record keeping, representing data, and experimental design.

Identification of Students: Students will be identified based on academic performance on the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) and by teacher evaluation using a checklist of student performance characteristics. Peer identification and a creativity checklist measuring fluency with language, flexibility, originality, and elaboration will be used. In addition, the Interest-A-Lyzer (Renzulli Learning) will be administered to each second grade student to identify particular interests in various academic subjects.

Teacher Training: A part-time gifted and talented teacher will plan and teach whole class lessons as well as the lessons for the advanced students. The teacher will meet with the classroom teachers, the principals, and the Smith College professors who developed the Moving Liquids curriculum.

Contact: Christa McCauley; 413-529-1500 X141; Christa McCauley

Fitchburg Public Schools

Project Overview: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed the program, A World in Motion (AWIM), which will be implemented with a group of fifth graders from across the district. AWIM provides a problem-solving context, having students design a product or devise a solution to a problem. Teams of three students examine what must be accomplished and whom the product is for; gather and synthesize information; design, develop, and test a prototype design; and prepare a presentation of their design ideas. The five phases of the program are goal setting, knowledge building, designing, building and testing, and presenting. Two consultants will be in residency to implement the program for all three middle schools in the district.

Identification of Students: Students will be selected using a variety of methods including standardized test scores; students who demonstrate a strong aptitude and interest for hands-on learning in science and math; student portfolios; student interviews; teacher and staff recommendations.

Teacher Training: A minimum of two teachers from each middle school will work side-by-side with the consultant in the classroom during implementation of the program. In addition, a series of professional development workshops will be offered to all fourth and fifth grade teachers. Teachers participating in these training will gain in-depth knowledge and strategies to sustain the program beyond the residency.

Contact: Ms. Jennifer Jones: 978-343-6714; Ms. Jennifer Jones

Framingham Public Schools

Project Overview: Teachers in grades three through five will review and pilot existing materials, programs, and components of research-based materials to determine which ones will facilitate differentiating the math curriculum. They will re-examine the programs currently used in the district (Investigations and Everyday Math) as well as Trailblazers, Renzulli Learning, Successmaker, and the Illuminations & Math Forum websites. The goal is to evaluate the programs with mixed ability classrooms in mind, to determine how differentiated instruction may be implemented. Curricula will be piloted with heterogeneous groups that include advanced students. Approximately 240 students will be involved in the pilot program at each grade level. Assessments, including multiple intelligence surveys and pre-assessments using a variety of strategies, will help staff determine which materials students will access.

Identification of Students: The Sage Program, Framingham's services for gifted and talented students, was initiated in the 1980-1981 school year, and has been used as a model program for school districts across the country. Multiple criteria are used to identify students and include administration of the SAGES-2, TONI-3, and the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, an interview, writing samples, behavioral checklist, teacher and parent referral information, and classroom observation.

Teacher Training: Participating teachers will begin the review with two full days of professional development and the formation of study groups. Study groups will meet to discuss teaching strategies and student experiences with the different curricula. Team participants from Framingham State and Boston College will participate in the full day sessions and the final meeting in May.

Contact: Ms. Diane Modest; 508-626-9134; Ms. Diane Modest

Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District

Project Overview: Fifth and sixth grade students in two elementary schools will use the online instructional materials, HeyMath! The goal is to develop a program that is potentially replicable across the state based upon the following questions: 1. What assessment instruments and techniques promote flexible grouping within a regular classroom setting? 2. To what extent can teachers differentiate instruction within regular classroom setting by providing high-ability students with access to HeyMath! in their classrooms and homes? 3. What is the impact of differentiation of curriculum and instruction on students' achievement?

Identification of Students: To identify approximately 30 high potential students a multidimensional identification system will include MCAS, STAR Math, teacher recommendations, and HeyMath! Assessment components.

Teacher Training: Seven teachers will have one half-day session on average every three weeks for team planning, and to consult with representatives from Springfield College, the University of Connecticut National Research Center for Gifted and Talented Education, and the American International College on gifted/talented education and differentiated instruction.

Contact: Dr. Donna Scanlon; 413-596-6045; Dr. Donna Scanlon

Lowell Community Charter Public School

Project Overview: The project, to be called OAK-GATE (Outreach to Asynchronous Kids-Gifted and Talented Education), will identify and serve students in grades one through eight, categorize them according to level of giftedness, and offer appropriate curriculum. Approximately ten students per grade will pilot Singapore Math and approximately two students per grade will pilot the online Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY). All students identified will pilot the College of William and Mary enrichment units. Students' progress will be calculated statistically from pre- and post-test results on the Group Mathematics Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation (GMADE) and the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), and student and teacher pre- and post-questionnaires. A William and Mary graduate student will analyze the statistics using SPSS software.

Identification of Students: Currently students are identified in a two-part process starting with teacher nominations. Nominations are followed by testing with the TONI-3 and review of achievement test scores from the GRADE (Group Reading Assessment and Diagnostic Evaluation), the GMADE, and the 4-Sight. Identification for this project will introduce student self-identification and administration of the CoGAT and Slosson-FRIT batteries of tests. A minimum percentage of students from all ethnic and economic groups represented in the school will be identified and given the opportunity to participate in the program. Given the school's very high low income, Cambodian, and Hispanic populations, this will ensure that a number of children from traditionally underidentified populations will be served.

Teacher Training: All staff with student contact will be trained in characteristics of gifted and talented students and in teaching and recognizing higher level thinking skills. All classroom teachers will be introduced to the Singapore Math curriculum, and eight will be further trained to support the students using the program. Eight to twelve teachers will be trained in teaching the William and Mary enrichment units.

Contact: Ms. Ellen Neelands; 978-323-0800, ext. 201; Ms. Ellen Neelands

Revere Public Schools

Project Overview: Eighth graders from the Garfield Middle School will pilot the Botball Educational Robotics Program, a hands-on, standards-based, interactive technology/engineering program. Teams of students build, program, and compete with robots in competitions. The program expands upon classroom curriculum, and allows students to develop academic, leadership, teamwork, and project management skills. Teams will compete within the school and also in a regional tournament. Scores on Technology/Engineering questions of the MCAS science test, given as a pre- and post-test, will be examined as a partial measure to determine effectiveness of the program.

Identification of Students: Students in present honors classes will be recruited, based upon their interest in robotics. English language learners and special needs students will be identified for the program.

Teacher Training: KISS Institute of Practical Robotics will train the teachers to use the program. Computer and robotics professionals will be provided by UMASS Lowell. Initial training will be at UMASS Lowell on February tenth and eleventh.

Contact: Mr. David Lyons; 781-485-2741; Mr. David Lyons

Scituate Public Schools

Project Overview: The Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP), funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and run through Arizona State University will be used. The Scituate Middle School science staff has already done extensive work in implementing the MSIP, but this project will allow a minimum of ten students per grade to delve more deeply into its research and bring the quality and focus of the student work to a higher level. The school will use this project to help focus energies on ways to implement a school wide enrichment model for gifted and talented education students.

Identification of Students: Teachers will recommend students based on student interest, science grades. Strong student interest will also be a factor in identification, even if other criteria are not met.

Teacher Training: A teacher who is very familiar with this project will lead the project using the consulting staff on gifted education from Arizona State University.

Contact: Dr. James Kelleher; 781-545-8759 x320; Dr. James Kelleher

Taunton Public Schools

Project Overview: This project will be piloted at the Parker Middle School for up to ninety seventh and eighth grade students. The curriculum selected, the Apex Learning online computer application Math ClassTools, will help identify and nurture gifted and talented students at the school. Math ClassTools gives teachers the ability to assess student performance and individualize instruction in high-level mathematics, thus providing extended activities for advanced/gifted students.

Identification of Students: Students will be selected primarily by their Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores (upper Proficient and Advanced) and teacher recommendations. These students will be given the Math ClassTools pretest, and a gifted and talented placement test.

Teacher Training: Teachers will take a six-hour training course in the implementation of Math ClassTools. The team will also receive training on how to identify gifted and talented students, and how to best support these students with appropriate and challenging instructional programs. In addition, middle school mathematics teachers will attend a workshop detailing the prerequisites students need to be accepted in high school Advanced Placement mathematics classes.

Contacts: Dr. Ragen Tiliakos; 508-821-1100; Dr. Ragen Tiliakos and
Virginia Young; Virginia Young and
Crystal Torres; Crystal Torres

Topsfield Public Schools

Project Overview: Cambridge Physics Outlet (CPO) Science, a division of School Specialties, will be piloted with fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students. The CPO curriculum was designed to emphasize students' analytical skills and process development as well as their acquisition of science knowledge content. Existing CPO science kits will be used to differentiate existing curriculum, and will provide extensions addressing standards at least two years above a student's grade level. Additionally, teachers will be piloting the Engineering is Elementary program from the Museum of Science.

Identification of Students: Criteria for student selection will be based on the science assessments, classroom grades, teacher recommendations and student readiness.

Teacher Training: Selected classroom teachers will work with the CPO consultant and program author, professional development providers from the Boston Museum of Science, and the district's Director of Curriculum.

Contact: Ms. Debbie Hale; 978-887-1008; Ms. Debbie Hale

West Springfield Public Schools

Project Overview: In this algebra class of seventh and eighth graders, RM Math Framework Edition, Geometer's Sketchpad, and United Streaming will be implemented by seventy-two students. RM Framework Edition is a teaching, assessment, and planning program that utilizes whiteboard technology to deliver curriculum. Geometer's Sketchpad allows students to explore material by creating geometric art, perspective, kaleidoscopes, pre-algebra graphing, etc. United Streaming is a compilation of video clips addressing all subject areas. The United Streaming software takes in-class experiences and applies the concepts to the world.

Identification of Students: Seventh and eighth grade students are identified for Algebra 1 based on satisfactory conduct, math report card grades of "B" or better, teacher recommendations, scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), and the Iowa Algebra Aptitude Test.

Teacher Training: Teachers will attend a two-day onsite training program on the instructional programs.

Contacts: Ms. Camie Lamica; 413-263-3291; Ms. Camie Lamica and Mr. Angelo Rota; 413-263-3448; Mr. Angelo Rota

Weymouth Public Schools

Project Overview: This project will target between 150 and 200 third and fourth graders in all eight elementary schools across the district. Three schools will pilot Project M3: Mentoring Mathematical Minds designed for students who are mathematically talented. It explores the numeration system in depth. The Renzulli Learning System will also be piloted in all eight schools and is a student-driven system that provides learning experiences in reading, writing, science, history, math and the arts. Other programs to be piloted include George Lenchner's Creative Problem Solving in School Mathematics, Math Olympian Contest Problems for Elementary and Middle Schools; Edward Zaccaros' Challenge Math; Nancy Pfenning's Chances Are; as well as other software.

Identification of Students: Methods of identifying students include teacher, parent, and self-nominations, achievement and aptitude tests, observation of student talent, commitment and motivation, and creativity. Teachers have also read and applied literature on equity, needs, and strategies for identifying giftedness in underserved populations.

Teacher Training: Teachers will be trained in all of the programs to be piloted.

Contact: Jane E. Killinger; 781-335-1460 x306; Jane E. Killinger

Worcester Public Schools

Project Overview: Approximately 100-140 students in grades four, five, and six in five elementary schools will pilot the Renzulli Learning System. The program will provide enriched and accelerated learning experiences to high potential students in mathematics. The goal of this on-line system is to encourage the mathematician in each child to emerge and give students resources to pursue the math topics of interest to each student.

Identification of Students: Students will be identified through various methods including the district's Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores, classroom observations, and teacher input.

Teacher Training: One day of professional development, divided between an overview of gifted/talented pedagogy and identification, and an introduction the Renzulli Learning Program, will prepare teachers for implementation. A second day will address math content as it relates to the program. Teacher groups will meet monthly to provide ongoing support during the pilot.

Contact: Ms. Joan Fitton; 508-799-3110; Ms. Joan Fitton

Last Updated: March 3, 2006
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