At Aspen Creek K-8, all students are purposefully placed in classrooms to ensure that their academic and affective needs are met. This system provides opportunities for teachers to more readily respond to the needs of all their students.
For identified talented and gifted (TAG) students, this means that they are grouped together in mixed-ability classrooms at each grade level. TAG students are with other students who learn and think like they do. Rather than being pulled out of the classroom for their instruction, students receive differentiated instruction in their regular classrooms.
So TAG is not a club or a place, but rather an identification for students who, according to the district definition and policy, those students:
“...from kindergarten through twelfth grade whose demonstrated or potential abilities are so outstanding that it becomes essential to provide them with qualitatively different educational programming. Students are identified using multiple criteria. Programming is designed to meet cognitive and affective needs through opportunities for acceleration, complexity of thinking and in‐depth learning. Individualized programming and goals are documented in an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) or Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP). TAG students include gifted students with disabilities (i.e. twice exceptional) and students with exceptional abilities or potential from all socio‐economic, ethnic and cultural populations. TAG students are capable of high performance, exceptional production, or exceptional learning behavior by virtue of any or a combination of these areas of giftedness:
General or specific intellectual ability.
Specific academic aptitude.
Creative or productive thinking.
Visual arts, performing arts, musical or psychomotor abilities.
See BVSD Policy IGBBR for additional details: http://www.bvsd.org/policies/Policies/IGBB-R.pdf
Appropriately challenging instruction can mean many different things. It may involve acceleration, enrichment, or extended learning. When we say that instruction is differentiated, we mean that teachers get to know the learner and then adjust the content, process, product, and learning environment to meet the learner’s needs. Here are some examples:
Content — Compacting, acceleration, tiered assignments, and content extensions
Process — Flexible grouping, questioning for critical thinking, learning centers, pacing, higher order thinking skills
Products — Open ended tasks, extensions, multiple forms and formats
Learning environment — safe and challenging learning community, rich resources, multiple learning environments
In order to do this work, the administrative and instructional staff at Aspen Creek studied The Cluster Grouping Handbook (Winebrenner and Brulles) as well as Dr. Richard Villa’s work on inclusion and co-teaching. Cluster grouping for talented and gifted students was piloted from 2010-2012 and now is part of the Aspen Creek instructional model.
All staff receives professional development in order to help them hone their instructional expertise. This year’s professional development will include how to differentiate content and flexible grouping practices. Support is provided through Jen Arreola, the TAG Educational Advisor, Lisa Turner, Middle Level TAG Teacher Leader, Jennifer Barr, Advanced Academic Services Coordinator, and Michelle Brenner, Assistant Director of Special Education.