Gifted and Talented Newsletter

Norwalk Public Schools

Welcome back!

It's been a very productive summer in the GT department here in the Norwalk Public Schools! I would like to introduce you to our new Gifted and Talented teachers.
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Meghan Santagata- Gifted and Talented Teacher at Brookside and Columbus

Ms. Santagata joins our GT team from the sunny state of Florida. She holds a gifted endorsement from Florida and is excited to be back in her home state of Connecticut. Ms. Santagata is an experienced teacher and literacy coach. We are excited she has joined us in our GT journey. Welcome, Meghan!
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Gifted and Talented Identity

Marvin fifth grade GT students filling in their bubble letter names with their gifts and talents for their Wall of Gifts and Talents, which stays up all year. This activity coincides with the interest-a-lyzers, allowing students to take ownership of and reflect on their passions, interests, gifts, & talents, and drive their learning throughout the year.
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One Word

Middle school GT students were asked, "If you no longer had your name what one word would represent your identity?"

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Interest Development Centers

Students have loved the Interest Development Center (IDC) at West Rocks Middle School. It's a great way to expose students to new topics and ideas. September's topic was sailing and students learned to tie knots and read nautical maps. October's topic is gender equality. If anyone is interested in building an IDC at West Rocks, please contact Ms. Stargardter.
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Rowayton Elementary School’s GT Ms. Mendez welcomes the Norwalk Public Schools Gifted and Talented Department

By Dr. Yvonne De St. Croix

The Norwalk Public Schools Elementary Gifted and Talented department was invited in September to Rowayton Elementary School to observe Ms. Jennifer Mendez’s first fifth grade gifted and talented session. During that session, elementary gifted and talented teachers districtwide were able to not only participate in differentiated instruction observation of Ms. Mendez’s learning environment but to also enjoy the purposeful execution of her Escape Room Game lesson focusing on contextualizing class rules, norms, and procedures.

At the onset of this school year, Ms. Mendez decided to build a community of fifth grade gifted and talented learners by setting the expectations of students coming to class prepared, following agreed upon class norms, and then discussing and elaborating upon information gained from discussions. In an effort to unite gifted and talented identified fifth grade students, Ms. Mendez initiated the first lesson of her school year by engaging students effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partner groups. The essential question Ms. Mendez used to frame her instruction was, “How do I know that I am making a good decision?” The flexible engagement styles she used included teacher-led discourse, peer conversations, small group conversations, and whole group feedback.

Students considered questions like, “What does it mean to be GT?” Next, they drafted a list of agreements to follow when together. Students also had the opportunity to express their hopes for fifth grade. Through these mixed communication styles, as well as in the opportunity for active engagement that followed, Ms. Mendez modeled ways in which student could build upon others ideas and how to express oneself clearly regarding the diverse topics and texts to be covered in grade five gifted and talented.

Ms. Mendez decided to facilitate authentic engagement practices through supporting student involvement in small groups through an escape room game activity. The focus of the activity was to engage students in discussion and the applied practice of the class set norms and expectations.

Students were able to reflect on the escape room procedures they developed and consider what went well in their group group and what challenges arose beyond the rigor of the academic lesson itself. Students utilized writing instruments and teacher-generated materials in addition to technology resources.Emerging from that reflection was a consideration by students of how group members could ensure all students are heard and included as active participants.

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An initiative of SEM or the Schoolwide Enrichment Model is an element of co-teaching. Our GT teachers push-into the general education classes to offer differentiation. curriculum compacting and a raised level of rigor. Here is an example of how our GT teacher at West Rocks was able to co-teach in Language Arts and work with multiple teachers to introduce figurative language using 1960's content and analysis.
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History Day

Our middle schools are being visited by Tony Andrade, a coordinator for Fairfield County, CT History Day. Tony is working with students to introduce this year's theme, "Breaking Barriers" and getting our students excited for the work to come. Thank you Tony!

Gifted and Talented Scope and Sequence

This summer our GT team worked in collaboration with classroom teachers to design our new scope and sequence. The maps are available on the NPS website under the curriculum tab. All maps are complete with essential questions as well as priority standards, skills, and concepts.

Please visit the site today for more information!