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What is Gifted and Talented Learning?

Gifted and Talented Program - The Best Approach for ALL Learners

At Arches Academy, we believe that every student is equipped with innate learning strategies and talents. We recognize, train, and enhance these talents in order to empower students to achieve their highest potential in core academic subjects and beyond.

We follow gifted and talented models with every student, not just a few who “test in.” This means that all students are encouraged to follow their passions and pursue projects that excite them, even topics that go above and beyond a state curriculum. These projects are often team endeavors and are always nurtured by the coaching and guidance of a capable teacher.

Teacher Directed Activities

This gifted and talented approach enables students to participate in a wide range of enrichment activities. Many activities are teacher-selected and directed, chosen carefully to expose students to a wide variety of disciplines, topics, occupations, hobbies, persons, places, and events that would not ordinarily be included in the regular curriculum. Teachers invite guest speakers, travel on many field trips to places as varied as Zions National Park to Washington D.C. They integrate films, plays, and other special performances. These activities are designed to spark interests that lead to student-selected learning and projects.

Student Directed Activities

Students interested in delving into topics not offered as electives are encouraged to do so. These student-directed projects are primarily all their own, with only as much teacher involvement as the student prefers. These projects are individualized, in-depth studies, connected to and integrated with core subjects.

For example, one project students took on was accurately recreating the Battle of Bunker Hill in Minecraft. They had to do intensive and accurate historical research and included many quotes, dates, and other facts in the presentation. They also had to learn screenshotting and other computer techniques.

Another student wanted to teach the school about canine diseases. This meant not only doing veterinary research, but locating and interviewing veterinarians, and learning pedagogical techniques as well. Each of these projects are student chosen and directed, which means it is up to them to not only choose the subject, but also choose the method of presentation, figure out what skills they need to learn, and figure out how to learn them.

This type of learning is beneficial for all students, but is common only in gifted and talented programs.

Mini Courses

Our “Mini Courses”, or enrichment classes, are one of the typical elements in a Gifted & Talented program.

We carefully craft unique mini-courses that inspire students and nurture their intrinsic curiosity. These courses are created using the results from student interest surveys, and are taught by teachers, parent experts, or other specialists.

Courses usually run for 4-6 weeks, with several courses being offered at once. Students choose between the different courses to shape their own learning experiences. Topics are as diverse as our students, ranging from mummies, rock band performance, weaving, and cooking, to survival skills, archery, explorations in science, technology, engineering, math, skiing, architecture, and more.

Mini-courses are not just about inspiring student interests. They also become vehicles for expert teachers to integrate important and often difficult educational ideas into a student’s worldview.

For example:

  • Archery isn’t just learning a sport, it also tells a story about potential and kinetic energy, aerodynamics, and an age of chivalry and myths.

  • Spies and Codes is more than hide-and-go-seek and cipher games; it also connects to the mathematics of cryptography, the chemistry of invisible ink, and a rich history, dating before the ancient Greeks.

In an Arches mini-course, students enjoy topics of particular interest to them, while also gaining

additional knowledge in core subjects like math, science, history, and literature.

Our Gifted and Talented learning approach benefits ALL students, rather than a limited few, who get to engage the more creative, hands-on, interactive activities and lessons that are essential for solid learning to take place.

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