Isabella Bird Community School

Gifted & Talented

IBCS offers robust programming options for our gifted and highly gifted learners. We utilize a cluster grouping model to support the needs of our GT and HGT students. School-wide cluster grouping is a model developed as an equitable and inclusive way to meet the needs of all of our learners. It’s defined as the intentional placement of a group of gifted students in an otherwise heterogeneous classroom with a teacher who has both the background and willingness to provide appropriate challenges for these students. The cluster model allows for strategic grouping and supports while keeping all of our classes mixed-ability. One common misperception is that cluster grouping is tracking; we want to be very clear that it is not; multiple types/levels of learners are in every classroom to allow for the growth of each and every student. Additionally, there is movement from year to year in these classrooms. Initially developed as a solution for gifted learners, both educational research and anecdotal evidence suggest that the cluster model produces positive educational and social-emotional outcomes for ALL learners.

IBCS believes in meeting both the academic and affective needs of our gifted learners. Giftedness has an emotional as well as intellectual component. Intellectual complexity goes hand in hand with emotional depth. Just as gifted children’s thinking is more complex and has more depth than other children’s, so too are their emotions more complex and more intense (Sword, 2011). Teachers weave social/emotional support into daily lessons and we also offer targeted pull out groups to explore issues common to the gifted experience. This includes perfectionism, emotional intensity, self- advocacy, learning style, risk taking, stress relief and others.

We employ a full-time FTE (1.0) Gifted and Talented Teacher to support our cluster model and provide a myriad of options to meet the targeted needs of our students. These include push-in, pull-out, modeling, extensions, specialized curriculum, depth and complexity, enrichment, math competitions, DPS Semantics, mentoring, acceleration and grouping.

All of our cluster teachers are participating in yearlong professional development and many are endorsed or certified in gifted education. Our cluster team is currently committed to professional development resulting in DPS certification to teach gifted and talented learners. We meet regularly to discuss research- based strategies to best support our GT and HGT learners. This year, our GT teacher is leading professional development on writing individualized advanced learning plans for all identified GT and HGT students.

Identification pathways follow regulations as outlined by the CDE.

For questions about identification pathways, please reach out to Rebecca Mercer, GT Teacher/STL or Alison Kapsalis, GT Teacher.

Is my child bright or gifted? I often am asked by parents how to tell the difference between bright and gifted learners. Please click on the hyperlink to find a chart outlining some of the differences between a bright and gifted learner. In my experience, the difference lies in a child’s intensity, sensitivity and perfectionistic tendencies.

Bright or Gifted

What are the characteristics of a gifted learner?

Because gifted children are so diverse, not all exhibit all characteristics all of the time. However, there are common characteristics that many gifted individuals share:

  • Unusual alertness, even in infancy
  • Rapid learner; puts thoughts together quickly
  • Excellent memory
  • Unusually large vocabulary and complex sentence structure for age
  • Advanced comprehension of word nuances, metaphors and abstract ideas
  • Enjoys solving problems, especially with numbers and puzzles
  • Often self-taught reading and writing skills as preschooler
  • Deep, intense feelings and reactions
  • Highly sensitive
  • Thinking is abstract, complex, logical, and insightful
  • Idealism and sense of justice at early age
  • Concern with social and political issues and injustices
  • Longer attention span and intense concentration
  • Preoccupied with own thoughts—daydreamer
  • Learn basic skills quickly and with little practice
  • Asks probing questions
  • Wide range of interests (or extreme focus in one area)
  • Highly developed curiosity
  • Interest in experimenting and doing things differently
  • Puts idea or things together that are not typical
  • Keen and/or unusual sense of humor
  • Desire to organize people/things through games or complex schemas
  • Vivid imaginations (and imaginary playmates when in preschool)

Reproduced by permission from: Webb, J., Gore, J., Amend, E., DeVries, A. (2007). A parent’s guide to gifted children.   

Characteristics of linguistically and culturally diverse gifted learners

DPS Gifted Department

Schoolwide Cluster Grouping