Gifted Education

Elementary School Gifted Programs

  • Identification 
    The Elementary School TAG Program serves students who have been identified as gifted in math, language arts or both areas by a committee of teachers and administrators. The committee's decisions are based on a variety of assessment tools which include: standardized testing, a teacher rating scale, a parent checklist, a structured interview, observations and a portfolio of activities completed by the student.
  • Referral Process
    Students can be referred for the program by their teachers or their parents.  If a parent wishes to have their child tested, they need to send a written request to the gifted resource teacher.  Referrals are accepted in the fall from October 15 to November 1 and in the spring from February 1 to February 15.
  • Services
    The elementary students who have been identified are "cluster" grouped with other gifted students and receive differentiated instruction in their classrooms and enrichment through a pull-out program in their identified subject area(s)
  • Curriculum
    Students who participate in the gifted pull-out program are offered a variety of opportunities to develop their creative problem-solving abilities and thinking skills in language arts and math, as well as a greater awareness of global issues. Students are exposed to activities in convergent, divergent, evaluative, and visual thinking throughout their TAG experience. Vocabulary and writing development are areas of focus for language arts. Future Problem Solving culminates in the participation in the FPS competition as fourth & fifth-grade students. Additional real-life applications of knowledge are provided through The Stock Market Game and special projects.
  • Future Problem Solving
    Created by the late Paul Torrence in 1974, Future Problem Solving is a yearlong educational program as well as an international competition that enhances creative problem solving and futuristic thinking while focusing on current global issues. During fourth and fifth grade, students are introduced to the six steps required for the completion of a team booklet. Students analyze futuristic scenarios to determine challenges, identify an underlying problem and create solutions. They then utilize evaluative thinking skills to determine the best solution and create a detailed action plan. Throughout the process, students focus on fluency (the number of ideas), flexibility (variation of ideas), and originality, concepts that comprise the foundation of creative thinking. In grades K-3, the same steps are used in various ways.
  • Current Events
    Students read and discuss Time for Kids, a weekly magazine that introduces students to current global issues, as well as science and geography topics. Students use critical thinking and reading skills to analyze situations detailed in the magazine.
  • Vocabulary Enhancement
    Many students in the elementary gifted program have an opportunity to expand their vocabularies through an in-house vocabulary competition that focuses on word definitions, usage, and analogies. Additional vocabulary study may be provided through the study of Latin and Greek roots, PowerPoint presentations, and novel study.
  • Math
    Problem-solving is the focus at the elementary level. Students have the opportunity to work on problem-solving through math contests, Math Rules!, Challenge Math and Strategy Lab. Real life application is offered in the form of special hands-on projects. The Stock Market Game, a simulation game in which students are “given” $100,000 to invest in the stock market, offers opportunities for fourth and fifth-grade students to expand their knowledge of economics.
  • Writing
    In language arts, writing is a focus through the Studentreasure program. Students in some grade levels have the opportunity to practice and improve their writing skills in a unit that culminates in the “publication” of their book.
  • Thinking Skills
    Primary Education Thinking Skills (PETS), published by Pieces of Learning, serves as the foundation for the development of thinking skills in grades K-3. Students learn and practice convergent, divergent, evaluative, and visual thinking skills. Opportunities to develop thinking skills are provided through an assortment of activities and educational games.  These skills are applied in the Future Problem Solving competition in fourth and fifth grade.  
  • Literature Study
    Students may have the opportunity to participate in novel studies using a variety of materials, including those available through William and Mary Gifted Education. Book study groups, including face- to- face and blogging groups, are offered at various times throughout the year.
  • Character Development
    The elementary gifted program seeks to meet the goals of fostering responsibility to self, others, school, and community by providing opportunities for positive character development through teamwork, discussion, the setting of personal goals, and exposure to global concerns.

Middle School Gifted Programs

Identified gifted students are clustered in Honors and Advanced level classes based on their area(s) of identification with teachers who have been trained to work with gifted students.  The advanced content and pacing of these clustered classes are commensurate with the ability of the identified students, and the teachers differentiate their instruction to further meet the needs of students identified in their content area.  The English and math teachers work with the Gifted Resource teacher using a collaborative model of instructional planning to select activities and resources to add depth and breadth to the curriculum content.

In-class activities include:

  • Future Problem Solving – This intensive international problem-solving program is provided to students through their English class on a weekly basis.  Students work collaboratively to research selected global issues and then apply their knowledge and understanding to analyze and solve concerns presented in a futuristic scenario.
  • The College of William and Mary curriculum units – These units, developed in the Center for Gifted at the College of William and Mary focus on developing reasoning, critical thinking, high level written and oral communication skills. 
  • Literature Circles – Novels, selected to accompany the William and Mary units or specific cross-curricular content, are selected at levels commiserate with the reading and comprehension levels of these advanced learners.
  • Stock Market Game – Students participate in a simulated experience of investing in the stock market.  This team activity allows students to buy and sell stocks in real-time through this internet game.  Activities and lessons accompanying the game provide an in-depth understanding of trading and the economy.
  • Mathematical Investigations – Logic and reasoning activities provide an opportunity to interact with real-world problem situations through the use of their math skills.  Opportunities to connect with STEM activities are provided.
  • Math Problem Solving – Filling the students’ toolbox with effective problem-solving strategies in preparation for the high-stakes tests they will encounter as they enter high school is just one goal of these activities.  These math activities provide students with the real-world application of skills being taught through their advanced curriculum.

High School Gifted Programs

  • Talented Art Program
    • Students interested in art have an annual opportunity to apply to the TAP Program.  Applications include but are not limited to a portfolio of work as well as an on-site drawing.  Selected students have the opportunity to participate in after-school enrichment programs and field trips.
  • Future Problem Solvers
    • Future Problem Solving is a program which teaches critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and decision making while promoting workplace skills such as team building, coming to a consensus, and those of leadership. FPS meets standards for curriculum and instruction across disciplines. More information can be found at Future Problem Solving of Virginia site which is linked here.

      Three of the Future Problem Solving Program opportunities exist at the high school:

      FPS Team Competition: 
      Teams consisting of four students begin by researching the topic and analyzing the future scene. Next, they employ the six-step FPS model where they demonstrate critical, creative, and futuristic thinking. In the fall, students work through two practice problems and receive feedback from trained evaluators. During the winter, students research and prepare for the qualifying problem. Qualifying teams earn invitations to the State Bowl held in the spring. First place state winners earn the right to compete at the International Competition held in June. This year students in grades 9, 10, and 11 Honors English formed teams.

      FPS Individual Competition: 
      Individuals compete against other individuals using the same 6 Step Process as teams. Individuals are given the same amount of time, but the expected number of responses is less. This year we have individuals competing in grades 10 and 11.

      FPS Scenario Writing: 
      Students with an interest in writing are involved in this aspect of FPS. A scenario is a short story in which one possible outcome of the future is developed through character(s) and plot. It is a prediction of the future and is written as though the future were the present. Students across all four grade levels are involved in scenario writing.

      FPS Community Problem Solving:
      Students have the opportunity to participate in Community Problem Solving which is available through the Emerging Leaders elective course.  Students in this class identify an area of need in their community and use the six-step problem-solving process to solve it.  Information, ideas, and results are presented in a project for consideration for state and international competition.

  • Math Competitions
    • Students with a strong math interest have the opportunity to participate in the Math Club. Two competitions are available to these students. The Virginia Math League has competitions throughout the year.  The HiMCM: High School Mathematics Contest in Modeling is a 36-hour competition held in November.