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Course Syllabus

 
COURSE TITLE: Gifted Education (FUTURA) Grades 4-5
PREREQUISITE: N/A
DESCRIPTION: The Loudoun County FUTURA program seeks to enhance and to develop the
intellect of fourth and fifth grade students who have been formally identified as
generally intellectually gifted. Students attend the FUTURA center for one day
each week and are immersed in lessons that correlate the themes Structures and
Systems to the Virginia Standards of Learning Objectives for the core content
areas. FUTURA teachers stress higher level thinking skills that include analysis,
synthesis, and evaluation. Differentiation of instruction is key in planning the
learning activities to meet the individual needs of the exceptional students. The
FUTURA teachers provide opportunities for the students to stimulate curiosity,
engage actively in problem solving, discuss current trends and issues in society,
work cooperatively, create, debate, and to promote special interests.
MAIN TOPICS: Structures
Systems
Essential Understandings
 
 

FUTURA Curriculum Guide

A. Structures

The FUTURA curriculum guide for Structures has been adapted from the Curriculum Development Model of James Curry and John Samara. In reviewing the model, the FUTURA staff modified the content of the Structures concept through the lens of raising the knowledge base, thinking skills, and complexity of content abstractness for identified students in the FUTURA program.

Professional Philosophy

The professional philosophy and the personal beliefs of each educator will influence the ways in which he or she selects, adapts, develops, implements, and assesses curricula. Each FUTURA teacher will examine his or her identified population to access the nature and needs of the students prior to planning curricula from this matrix.

Structure of the Matrices

Each matrix may be divided into four quadrants. The first quadrant focuses on instruction of simple or required content through basic thinking skills. Lesson plans and activities developed for this quadrant should provide a basic foundation of learning. This quadrant includes nine cells of the matrix: 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, and 15.

The second quadrant of the matrix focuses on instruction of simple or required content through abstract thinking skills. Lesson plans and activities developed for this quadrant should reinforce and extend the lessons presented in the first quadrant. This quadrant includes nine cells of the matrix: 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, and 18. Adaptation of this quadrant includes open-ended use of higher order thinking skills and more sophisticated product forms.

The third quadrant focuses on instruction of extended or complex content through basic thinking skills. Lesson plans and activities developed for this quadrant should use the content presented in the first quadrant. This quadrant includes nine cells in the matrix: 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32, and 33. The complex elements of content should include debatable issues, solvable problems, broad-based themes, and independent study areas.

The fourth quadrant focuses on instruction of extended or complex content through abstract thinking skills. Lesson plans and activities developed for this quadrant should utilize the abstract thinking skills of the second quadrant and the extended

or complex content of the third quadrant. This quadrant includes six cells: 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, and 30. This approach to curriculum development is evolving in terms of sophistication. Increasingly, there is an emphasis on the inclusion of 1) content that is more complex, 2) productive thinking skills that require students to manipulate and reorganize information, 3) independent study skills that increase the autonomy of students, and 4) the appreciation and development of sophisticated product forms.

The Roles of the Teacher

The current trends in education suggest that the FUTURA teacher has three roles: 1) technician, 2) artist, and 3) architect. As a technician, the teacher is expected to be effective and efficient in teaching the core curriculum. As an artist, a teacher is encouraged to bring to the classroom his/her own special interest, style, insights, and “flair”. As an architect, the teacher is called on to use the “blueprint” of curriculum to align the learning experiences with the learner’s needs. A teacher revamps, changes, extends, restructures, renovates, and creates curricula that will be effective in moving each student from “potential” to “performance”.

Curry and Samara, Writing Units That Challenge, 1990.

B. Interest Centers

The FUTURA program has expanded to include individual investigations of topics of interest to the gifted learner through Interest Centers. This foundational step towards independent research and study was adapted from The Schoolwide Enrichment Model of Joseph Renzulli and the Autonomous Learner Model of George Betts.

The goal of this new addition to the program is to provide our FUTURA students with opportunities to both satisfy and elicit their intense curiosity. By providing them the skills to find answers to questions and problems in an organized way, these centers will provide real world applications of knowledge and interactions with the thinking of professionals within the field of interest or topic. It will also provide FUTURA students with the opportunity to choose activities based on interest and learning style while working at their own individual pace.

Professional Philosophy

The professional philosophy and the beliefs of each educator will influence the ways in which he or she selects, adapts, facilitates, and assesses the work for Interest Centers. Each FUTURA teacher will examine his or her identified population to determine the interests and needs of her students prior to developing the centers for her students.

Structure of the InterestCenter

Each Interest Center is developed by the FUTURA staff. The essential elements of an Interest Center include:

  • Activities at various levels of thinking ability, usually with ascending rigor.
  • Written contracts or organizers to structure the investigative process.
  • Resource materials including books, articles, and websites.
  • Progress and reflection diaries for the student's portfolio.
  • Rubrics for students to assess their investigative techniques as well as their products generated through the investigation.

Following the ALM model, the Interest Centers are designed so that students will be involved in determining some of their own education as they begin the journey to become life long learners. This part of the FUTURA program will help to meet the varied cognitive and meta-cognitive needs of the gifted learner. The portfolio of student work will allow students and their teachers to better assess their progress on an individual scale.

The Roles of the Teacher

During this part of the FUTURA day the teachers become facilitators. They guide the student through the various tools and techniques the student will need to pursue the investigation and activities selected from the center. They will provide a pressure free environment where students can test, experiment, and innovate without having to generate final products or solutions too soon.. They will encourage independent thinking, risk-taking, and creativity.

Last Modified on August 7, 2012