What is GATE?
GATE stands for Gifted and Talented Education. The purpose of GATE is to provide qualitatively differentiated learning experiences for students with unique abilities and talents in all academic areas and/or visual and performing arts with the expectation that students will be successful learners capable of performing at high levels of ability. Research has shown that specialized instructional strategies, along with opportunities for gifted students to interact with each other on a daily basis, yield higher academic performance, as well as improved social and emotional well being.
GATE at Sycamore Canyon
Strategies for teaching Gifted and Talented students are integrated into the curriculum through differentiated instruction. Identified students are clustered in classes where supplementation through differentiation can be more effectively delivered. GATE students are challenged and encouraged through the expansion of the curriculum. The goals of the program are to provide advanced and more complex differentiated experiences to students; Accelerated learning option, as appropriate, for the learner; The development of critical thinking, research and creative problem solving skills; and alternative interventions for students who are underachieving. Faculty GATE facilitators coordinate staff development, implement programs and curriculum, and mentor other teachers in the implementation of the GATE plan.
Students that are identified in gifted and talented education should have their needs met all day long. Conejo Valley Unified school district has done away with the one day a week pull-out programs and has designed a program that ensures these services. One way teachers ensure that gifted students receive the services they need is through curriculum differentiation. It is essential for gifted students to continue to be taught the core curriculum required for that grade level. However, the method of how the curriculum is presented to the gifted students should be differentiated and the way this is done at SCS is through the use of depth and complexity.
What is Depth and Complexity within the Curriculum?
What is Depth and Complexity within the curriculum? When studying a specific content area, the curriculum has many layers, focusing on the different layers is when a teacher adds depth into their instruction. Depth is exploring beyond the basic facts and concepts and moving the curriculum into generalizations, theories and laws.
Complexity is identifying relationships between ideas, topics and disciplines. Sandra Kaplan, a professor from USC, created icons in order to help facilitate a deeper understanding of differentiation within the curriculum. The teachers at Sycamore Canyon use Kaplan’s icons within their instruction in order differentiate their core curriculum. Each icon represents a different layer or depth of the curriculum, as well as complexity or connections between different areas of study.
The icons include: (Depth) Language of the Discipline, Details, Rules, Patterns, Trends, Ethics, Unanswered Questions, Big Idea, (and Complexity) Relationships over Time, Multiple Perspectives, and Interdisciplinary Connections.
When a teacher uses Language of the Discipline within the curriculum they are asking students to use specific language or vocabulary related to that area. While this can be used in all subjects, math is a good example of where Language of the Discipline is essential for understanding (denominator, quotient) and adding depth.
Details are incorporated into the curriculum when students are asked to describe something in great depth, take something a part and analyze the attributes. An example of utilizing details within the classroom would be when a teacher asks students to describe a character from a story they are reading. Some students look at the surface level of that character and other students really look deeper into the attributes of the character.
Finally, the last icon is the Patterns. Students learn to look for patterns early in their childhood. Utilizing patterns in the curriculum is simply looking for reoccurring events. There is a predictable order where students can guess what will come next. Students become more analytical when they are looking for patterns within the content.