High Ability Happenings...

South Bend Community School Corporation - Spring 2016

Student Spotlight

This year, our high ability teachers have planned a variety of research engagements that have asked students to observe and think about the world around them, to formulate personal questions, and to research to find answers. Some of the research practices we have taken on include:
  • GENIUS HOUR Research - Alongside the regular curriculum, some high ability teachers have offered students an opportunity to engage in brief, hour-long intense bursts of personal questioning and investigation. This investigation allowed for deep learning in a self-chosen area of student passion. After-research presentations have allowed students to share their passions and their learning about a number of topics including: virtual reality, the Titanic, the Eiffel Tower, paper airplanes, and the Vikings. What GENIUSES we have in South Bend Schools!
  • ACADEMIC BRACKETS - Academic bracket research involved students in researching and in taking & defending a stance on questions such as: Which is the most deadly type of natural disaster/weather? Or, who was the best president? Teachers set up an initial broad list of 8 potential candidates (hail, thunder storms, tsunamis, hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, sand storms, and earthquakes, for example). They created brackets. Following brief research and voting, the research field was narrowed and more in-depth research began. Eventually academic bracket research pitted two candidates in head-to-head competition. This type of research yielded much broader learning than typically found when students research only one topic. Muessel students voted on TORNADOES as the "Wildest Weather!"
  • GOOGLE DRIVE CHALLENGES - High ability classrooms were invited to participate in a number of collaborative, cross-district challenges presented on Google Drive. The first was a standard research challenge: The Bald Eagle Challenge. Students were taken to the St. Pat's Park live eagle cam. They generated Fascinating Questions & Interesting Eagle Facts. They responded to one another's questions in a lively cross-grade-level and cross-district exchange! The Riddle Challenge posed grade-level specific riddles and asked students to reason toward deeper meanings & alternate possibilities. The Creativity Challenge required classes to brainstorm alternate uses, zany combinations, and What If scenarios.

Teacher Spotlight

Professional Learning...

This year, we had High Ability students identified at grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9. Their teachers at all levels were offered professional development opportunities aimed at supporting the growth of their instructional practice.
  • Summer Professional Learning - Dr. Rebecca Mann, PhD Hope College presented on the characteristics of high ability students along with strategies for differentiating instruction to meet their needs.
  • After-school Professional Learning - High ability teachers met monthly in one of two cohort groups to discuss professional readings (The Differentiated Classroom by Tomlinson, Some of my Best Friends are Books by Halsted, Helping Gifted Students Soar by Whitney & Hirsch, and Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students by Fonseca) and share the results of their efforts to differentiate and add challenge.
  • Indiana Association for the Gifted Conference - Ten high ability teachers and administrators attended Indiana's 2-day conference on gifted education.
  • Counselor Professional Learning - This year, the High Ability program interfaced for the first time with our intermediate & high school counselors. We began a dialogue that will develop over the coming year to include regular communication and professional learning about the social & emotional needs of high ability learners.
  • Advanced Placement Summer Institutes - This year the High Ability program sent 2 high school teachers to summer institutes. (Many others attended such training through other grant opportunities.) Next year, the HA program will send 8 teachers to AP Institutes and will partner with Notre Dame's AP TipIN to plan for exciting professional learning & student enrichment throughout the year!!! (More to come on this incredible opportunity for both teachers & students next year!!!)

Busy SBCSC high ability educators report wanting even more opportunities for professional learning next year, along with more options for time and day. This is currently in the works, and next year promises to offer even more professional growth!

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Links to Professional Development Videos ...

What happens when Classrooms meet Higher Order Thinking | Dylan Hyman | TEDxAmsterdamED
Gifted, creative and highly sensitive children | Heidi Hass Gable | TEDxLangleyED
Ken Robinson: How to escape education's death valley

Leadership & Initiative...

In 2016-17, SBCSC High Ability teachers spearheaded a number of innovative initiatives in their buildings, including:
  • After-school enrichment groups studying technology
  • On-going student blogging & collaboration
  • Pairing of students with upper grade students to write the school newspaper
  • After-school STEAM Club with engineering focus
  • Genius Hour
  • After-school Destination Imagination Club
  • NASA Greenhouse Project
  • Project-based learning

Summer Enrichment Opportunities...

There is so much to do to keep your students learning & growing this summer! Check out these fun opportunities!
  • Riverbend Community Math Center - Math Circle Institute - Students explore mathematical ideas through engaging, hands-on involvements (see website & link for dates & times)
  • Summer Reading Challenge, St. Joseph County Public Library
  • Wild Wednesdays at the Playground, St. Patrick's County Park - Free hands-on programs investigating some amazing creatures (11 am, June 22 - bats; 11 am, July 20 - spiders; 11 am, August 10 - owls)
  • Outdoor Adventures, St. Joseph County Parks, 2016 Summer Day Camps - Students hike, participate in archery, catch tadpoles (for a range of fees from $30-$90)
  • IUSB STEPs - Summer Teen Enrichment Programs - For entering 9th - 12th graders and some entering 8th, two 5-day experiences (July 11-15 and July 18-22) studying the science of crime solving, self-expression, film making, and sustainability [CSI South Bend, Selfies Forever, Make a Scene!, Seeing Green], $125 registration fee with financial support

Looking Ahead - High Ability in 2016-17...

Plans are underway for another exciting year in the SBCSC HIGH ABILITY Program!

2016 High Ability Competitive Grant - SBCSC was awarded an additional HA grant which will help to defray the cost of CogAT testing for 2016-17. This savings will allow us to support the development of our AP program (across all high schools) and to support HA licensing for our program director. Finally, it will free up funds for the development of enrichment materials and programs for use in all of our schools. We are excited about this opportunity!

Professional Learning - Professional development will continue, involving monthly sessions & book studies, outreach to counselors, attendance at both the Indiana Association for the Gifted Conference & at the National Association for Gifted Children's Annual Convention, and partnering with Notre Dame's AP TipIN to develop our high school AP offerings (with program components for both teachers & students).

Enrichment - High Ability Challenges will continue to involve our K-7 classrooms in collaboration and cross-district problem solving. Research is underway on enrichment materials & programs to be shared across the district in after-school or weekend formats.

High Ability Curriculum - On-going planning sessions will be offered to allow teachers to collaboratively investigate the Indiana Department of Education HA Mini-Units & materials.
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In the Words of our HA Teachers...

  • I know that there is much more to learn about HA students and differentiated instruction, but I feel that I have made a few really important changes and have begun to address true differentiation. The PD has been valuable and supportive. Sometimes I found out that I was differentiating instruction, but just needed clarity to realize it.
  • The STEM & PLTW along with the Foss instruction inherently offers opportunities for students with High Ability to be stimulated. Reading Wonders also offers extensions for students to grow. It appears their High Ability shines through when they are able to design and create themselves. I have selected the Somewhat true of me category as I acknowledge I continue to grow in the area of knowledge and lessons for the High Ability Student. I would add a category that reads "Mostly true of me". Thanks!
  • Thank you for a lot of great ideas!
  • I learned a ton and have really been trying to stretch myself and the kids.
  • I am already thinking ahead to next year!!!
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