Ad. Learning Programs & Services

Gifted Services Update October 2020


We have enjoyed connecting with you in such intentional ways last year even during at-home learning. Advanced Learning Services is looking forward to continuing that connection and building upon it as we navigate the world of virtual and in-person learning during the 2020-2021 year. Please know that we are dedicated to meeting our students' needs and supporting them regardless of the learning model chosen by your family. Yes, #RISDWeveGotThis!

Connect With Us

We love to hear from you! Here is one way you can connect with us at any time. You can ask us a question or leave us a comment at


Do you have a child who asks lots of questions? Do you ever not know the answer? With highly-able students, that can happen all the time.

Engage your child's inner curiosity with Created in 2010 by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). Your children can find answers to more than 130,000 questions and they can even submit their own Wonders.

Although it is fun and educational to simply explore the site, here are some ideas to focus their time on the site:

  • Challenge your child to bring a Wonder of the Day to share with the family at dinner.
  • Ask them to list their top 5 "I wonder" questions and post one to the site.
  • Participate in a Tuesday or Thursday Wonders with Charlie livestream.
  • Have your child explore the Wonder of the Day and take the comprehension quiz.
  • Your child can hover over some words to get definitions. Challenge them to use at least one new word in their conversation with you and take the Wonder Word challenge.
  • After your child explores an article, see if they can "stump" you with the question.

Above all else, have fun. Learning is fun! And if you find yourself getting caught up in the Wonderopolis magic, know you are in good company!

Advanced Learning Services Advisory Board Update

The Advanced Learning Services department held its first Advisory Board meeting on October 6. The vision for the work of the board is to utilize a collaborative format to increase engagement with community, staff, and students resulting in continuous improvement for Advanced Learning Services. The group will break into subcommittees and work on the following topics this year:

AVID- Expand AVID to meet the needs of ALL students by implementing AVID at all elementary campuses.

  • Exploratory Committee to work on rebranding AVID across district to

understand AVID for all

Gifted and Talented-

  • Create a Profile of a GT Graduate-May 2021
  • Utilize the 2019 NAGC PK12 Gifted Programming Standards to determine our next goals-May 2021
  • Review and provide feedback on the Advanced Learning webpage-Upon publication
  • Recommend academic competition slate-May 2021

Advanced Learning –

  • Explore the College Board Pre-AP Programming which would begin in the fall of 2021
  • Timeline October and November with the opportunity to the provide an update to the RISD School Board this fall

There will be opportunities to engage in this work even if you are not serving on the committee. If any of these topics interest you and you would like to be considered for an action team, please email the indicated person above.


Big picture

Responsive Acceleration Pathway Update

We are excited to share that we have begun the process of identifying students in grades 3-5 who may need RAP services. In the coming months, we will notify families of these students and someone from our team will reach out to complete the student profile including student interview, teacher collaborations, parent discussion, and possible additional testing.

If your child is not identified as a potential candidate but you feel this is a service you wish to pursue, you will have an opportunity to ask for consideration in the spring.

Again, we thank you for your patience and flexibility as we work through these most unusual times.

Elementary GT Referrals and Testing Update

HERE is a link to the Referral Process SMORE. Inside it is a link to the parent information video and another SMORE with the referral links. The window to refer is 8 AM on October 1, 2020 to 3 PM on October 16, 2020.

Secondary Services Update

Secondary GT Summer Referral Window and Testing

RISD offers GT- sheltered sections of the following courses in grades 7-11:

GT PreAP/AP ELAR (English/Language Arts)

GT PreAP/AP Social Studies

GT PreAP/AP Science

Students who were scheduled to test in the spring of this year or signed up for testing during the summer referral window but were not tested in August were notified and tested. Newly-enrolled 7th-11th grade students may request testing through their school counselor who can contact our department for scheduling.

These testing results will be used to determine GT placement for Fall of 2020.

From the desk of ... Monica Simonds

Whether your child is in kindergarten or high school, this is a year full of firsts. Brene Brown, a renowned author, professor, lecturer, and podcast host, explains that life is full of first times and they can be hard. Let's see if this resonates with you or your child.

Two weeks ago, I attended a small reception at the home of one of those students who just got married. I was her teacher and now we are friends. Being with her yesterday brought back a flood of those memories full of "firsts" and here is a most memorable moment.

Although I had ten years under my belt, I was a new teacher at RHS in the winter of 2000. I had been given my schedule to take over classes for a teacher who had left after the fall semester. I'd waited ten years to get a speech/debate gig and it was finally happening. I walked into the first speech class and greeted the students. Man, they were way bigger than my little 6th and 7th graders from the fall classes I'd left to move to Dallas.

I introduced myself and then stated that in the fall they would have learned about types of speech communication including intrapersonal, interpersonal, and group so this semester we would pick up there and begin with public communication. I looked around the class expecting someone to comment or ask a question but I was met with blank looks. I thought I'd try I again stated what they would have learned in the fall and then I asked them to share something they found interesting or important from that time. One student tentatively raised her hand and said words that would stop any teacher's heart, "Um, miss, this is the first day of this ever." The administration had forgotten one little piece of pertinent information about this's one semester and not two! What did I say? "Well, then we'd better get started!" I ended up loving teaching that course for the entire time I was at RHS.

Dr. Brown gives these strategies to get through the first times:

  • Normalize it...realize we all go through first times and it's ok to ask for help
  • Put it into's ok to feel disappointed
  • Reality check's ok to not be certain how things will turn out and be cautious comparing ourselves to others

I hope you find this helpful and ...

You know, #RISDWeveGotThis

Exec. Director of Advanced Learning Services

Elizabeth Swaner, M. Ed.

Advanced Learning Specialist

Dr. Joseph Russell, Ph.D.

Advanced Learning Specialist

Jasmine Patel, M. Ed.