The goal of the Gifted and Talented Education program in the Los Alamitos Unified School District is to offer the gifted learner opportunities to develop skills in critical thinking and leadership; to create self-expression; and to develop basic skills and processes at a rate and extent that are characteristic of the student's individual ability.
In the Los Alamitos Unified School District, teachers, administrators and support staff recognize that gifted and talented students possess unique learning characteristics. These characteristics might include the student's need to delve deeply into a given subject, a desire to spend longer periods of time researching a topic, the ability to quickly master designated grade level content, an extremely strong sense of fairness, sensitivity and empathy, and the need to interact with mental peers on a regular basis.
Research shows that because of these characteristics, gifted students require some alteration to the regular classroom program in order to reach their full academic, social and/or physical potential. In Los Alamitos School District, gifted and talented students will experience a differentiated program in the following areas; learning environment, teaching/learning processes, student products, assessment, and curriculum content.
The program for identified GATE students includes a focus on the following elements:
- A counseling, guidance and teaching staff who acknowledge and respect each student's uniqueness.
- A flexible classroom structure which meets the needs of the gifted learner through a variety of learning situations including small group instruction, cooperative learning, and independent research.
- A school day which provides opportunities to:
(a) interact with intellectual peers,
(b) interact with other gifted students who share the same learning needs,
(c) learn and practice being a leader as well as a follower,
(d) engage in divergent thinking,
(e) develop social as well as academic skills.
- A risk free environment in which freedom of thought and divergent thinking is encouraged, expected and valued.
- Opportunities to understand, experience and appreciate intellectual and cultural diversities.
- Teachers who have the desire, skill and commitment necessary to provide for individual GATE student's intellectual, social and emotional development.
- Opportunities to interact with teachers and other adults about topics of personal interest in a one-on-one situation.
- Opportunities to operate at the higher cognitive levels for a portion of the school day.
- Opportunities to evaluate individual growth and achievement.
- Strategies to guide students toward a greater tolerance of other's skills and strengths.
- Use of higher levels of thinking skills and a variety of teaching styles to promote critical/creative thinking.
- Opportunities for students to consider their personal and academic growth.
- Use of a variety of teaching modes:
(a) cooperative learning
(c) hands-on experiences
(f) lecture format
- Opportunities to be both a leader and a follower and to participate in both homogeneous and heterogeneous ability and skills groups.
- The work of the gifted student often shows an intellectual engagement with processes and products of learning; i.e., a commitment to the knowledge and insights that education has to offer. Because of this, student products will reflect the following:
(a) an ability to grasp cognitive concepts quickly and in-depth, and to appreciate and comprehend interdisciplinary connectedness,
(b) high levels of critical thinking (evaluation and synthesis),
(c) evidence of an individual response to information and ideas (creativity),
(d) an original approach to an assignment in content and/or presentation format,
(e) an ability to address solutions to real personal, environmental or community problems.