Content, Process, Product & Learning Environment are modified to best meet the needs of these learners. Content may be 1 - 3 years above grade level.
Challenge…Advanced Programs at HSD are designed to provide a challenge.
Challenge in terms of the instructional level of academic content. The NAGC Goal is for learners to gain 1.5 years for every year in an advanced program. Standards taught are 1-3 years above grade level in all academic areas. We have 5th grades in Pre-Algebra, 6th graders taking Advanced Algebra for high school credit and we have 3rd graders with Lexile levels over 1100. Our evidence-based practice of placing advanced learners together with appropriately challenging content and pacing will enable them to reach their potential.
Challenge is also evident in the topics, issues, and essential understandings that frame our units of study. These units are complex, relevant, and ambiguous and ask students to grapple with information. In a 6th-grade science class students not only extract DNA from strawberries and build visual models of DNA but they also wrestle with a scientific article describing the possibilities of genetic manipulation in humans and then formulate a position statement. During Socratic Discussions on The One and Only Ivan 2/3’s learners analyze the human frailties noted in the text and how they play out in their day-to-day lives.
Instructional strategies and curricular resources provide learners with the challenge of thinking like a scholar in the disciplines. Learning about the systems of the human body is framed by a simulation of attending medical school, earning your white coat, becoming a Board Certified specialist by learning even more, and then working as a doctor in a medical clinic to determine a patient’s illness or condition and develop a treatment plan. This “Grand Rounds” presentation is then critiqued by visiting medical professionals.
Advanced Programming is also about challenging learners to develop and refine their ethical, critical, and creative thinking skills. Studying the Holocaust, discrimination, environmental change, or the power of athletics in American society is followed by powerful discourse/debate with others about these topics stretches their perspective and deepens their knowledge.
Challenging, sophisticated, and complex projects/tasks that demonstrate multiple skills and standards and require sustained student effort over time are the norms. The curriculum for advanced learners should be far more than finishing the regular curriculum at a faster pace.
Learners with advanced academic skills are often challenged by emotional intensity, dual exceptionalities, or perfectionism. These traits complicate the learning process and at times lead to underachievement. More than 5% of our identified students are receiving additional services.
Staff teaching learners in advanced courses are challenged by the misconceptions about schooling for high-ability learners. We identify students in order to provide them with learning experiences that fully develop their potential. Implementing evidence-based practices to meeting the needs of advanced learners will result in learning experiences that look different in terms of content, process, products, and environment, and having the support of all stakeholders is critical to developing and maintaining strong programs that meet the needs of advanced students.