Marshall Gifted Academy Program – Grades 5-8
Curriculum Update: Enhancing Instruction for our Gifted Learners
We have been implementing several exciting new initiatives in the past few semesters. Teachers have been encouraged to think outside the box and try out new ideas in their classrooms. The results have been really exciting. Below is an overview of a few of the ways the Renaissance Gifted Middle School has been challenging the curiosity of our students and inspiring them to love learning.
Mustang Time: Every Wednesday we shorten each period by 5 minutes so that we can have Mustang Time for 50 minutes at the beginning of the day. This is a flexible-use period during which we provide different options for enrichment or extra support. Sometimes we have an all-school speaker, and sometimes we break into grade-level teams. Students with no D's or F's can choose from a rotating array of enrichment activities that could include Skyping with an author or a math genius, a Spanish cooking class, a video on nuclear energy, or playing around with robots and coding in the computer lab. Students who are struggling with a specific skill can be given extra attention during this time in small group instruction. Students will also rotate to social/emotional lessons taught by the counselors and special education teacher.
Genius Hour: Several teachers are piloting an idea called Genius Hour that started in the Google Corporation. Genius Hour gives students time to explore a topic that they are passionate about with support from a teacher. Students develop a research question, spend time investigating, and create a product to share what they learned. Stay tuned for more information about this endeavor as we learn what works best for our students.
Inter-Disciplinary Teaming: All of our grade teams work together to make topics more meaningful to students by planning inter-disciplinary learning opportunities. For example, the 7th grade Reading and Writing teachers worked closely with the Social Studies teacher to plan a multi-faceted exploration of Civil War topics that involved reading both fiction and nonfiction, doing research using primary and secondary sources, and writing biographies of Civil War figures. Teachers in all grades are excited to expand these types of collaboration within our program this year. Our grade team teachers have a common planning period and meet regularly to facilitate improved learning for students.
Social-Emotional Lessons: The Marshall counseling team has created a 3-year sequence of social-emotional lessons for Gifted learners. They will be working closely with teachers to deliver workshops on topics like managing stress, controlling perfectionism, learning not to fear failure, and developing tenacity. Our staff works continually on character building and real-world social skills that will benefit students for their whole lives. Another example of this is the 6th grade team-building trip to Camp Winnebago each year. Students bond together in small groups with their teachers as they practice group problem-solving skills and form relationships that they depend on throughout middle school.
After School Mini-Clubs: We are really excited to continue our after-school mini-club initiative. Sponsored by teachers, parents, and community volunteers, Mini-clubs will meet for 2-8 weeks and give kids opportunities to explore a topic that they might want to develop greater interest in. So far, suggested topics include philosophy, photography, knitting, book discussions, computer coding, strategy games, and many more! Please contact an administrator if you have an idea for a mini-club.
Homework Club: Sometimes our over-achieving Gifted learners try to take on too much. Teaching them to manage their time was the motivation for the formation of our Homework Club this year. Starting in September, the library will be open Monday-Thursday after school as a quiet, structured environment for students to do their homework. Students will be able to work alone or in small, quiet groups until 5pm. Activity buses will be available to take students home if needed.
Ongoing Extra-Curricular Opportunities: On top of all our exciting new projects, we continue to offer Robotics Team, Chess Club, Student Council, and Scholastic Bowl.
Athletics: Marshall School offers all the district-supported sports along with Ultimate Frisbee. If you have would like to volunteer to organize another sporting opportunity or athletic club, please contact an administrator.
Volunteer Opportunities: We partner strongly with PGE (Parents for Gifted Education) and PTO (Parent Teacher Organization). Together we strive for a healthy home-school partnership which supports our teachers and students. We would love to have you in our building!
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. – William Butler Yeats