Gifted Education in the Bensalem Township School District
The Bensalem Township School District offers both horizontal enrichment and vertical acceleration programs to students in need of gifted support services. Programs include the elementary Special Interest Program (SIP), middle school Gifted Education Program, and the high school Humanities Program.
At the elementary level in kindergarten and first grade, the gifted support teachers are available for consultation with the general education teachers. They help identify candidates for screening and identification. In grades 2 through 5, the Gifted Support teacher meets with small groups of students in order to facilitate extension for the regular education curriculum. They also offer consultative services to general education teachers to support differentiated instructional strategies. A unique program is available for students in need of gifted education services in 6th grade. The program is a self-contained academic program located at Belmont Hills Elementary School where Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies are taught by a Teacher of the Gifted. Students attend all “specials” classes and lunch with their general education peers.
The GT Middle School experience is a transitional period for gifted and talented students. During their day, students are immersed in accelerated and advanced math (Algebra 7th and Geometry 8th) and science (biochemistry, genetics, cellular activities, biotechnology, ecology, and evolution). They experience a consecutive double class period for Humanities where they are immersed into World History (7th) and American History (8th), literature, fine arts, and English language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). The teaching strategies and modes of assessment are diverse so that students will be exposed to a variety of approaches and learning styles practiced to meet PA Common Core Standards and the Common Core Standards. Although, curriculum is followed, extensions are provided to nurture their vertical learning. This rigorous and essential curriculum is designed to produce students who are well prepared with an advanced depth of knowledge and also life-long learners. The daily schedule allows students to travel together to their core classes where they are able to share ideas and be challenged not only individually, but as a group.
Throughout all classes an emphasis is placed upon the 21st century essential skills of effective communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creation of products. Activities such as Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, MathCounts, Continental Mathematics, Pennsylvania Mathematics League Contest, Essay Contests, and BCIU Computer competition are typical each year. Technology is consistently at their disposal and integrated into the curriculum for students to embellish a need to satisfy the curiosity of the gifted learner. There is flexibility with scheduling activities and learning opportunities across grade levels within the team. Unique content-based field experiences add meaningful relevancy to the curriculum.
Providing A First Class Education For The Whole Child
7th grade student, Ali Ahmad, says “The gifted program has truly enhanced my ability to learn and has accelerated my mind. In the gifted program, I have been able to challenge my mind while back when I was in standard education, I was usually bored and my mind was lazing around, only to be used every once and awhile. In GT, I have finally been able to activate my mind and reach my full potential. I am finally able to work hard and feel as though my grades are something to be proud of. In regular educational classes, getting an A was not very hard to achieve, but in the gifted program, getting an A is a challenge and requires a lot more effort. Overall, the gifted program has enhanced my learning because it has allowed me to get the learning experience I wanted in school as well as feel proud of my success throughout the progression of my school life. That is what I have wanted in school and I have received it through the outstanding GT program.”
As students advance to Bensalem High School, they can study in any number of Career Pathways, 22 Advanced Placement Courses, and dual enrollment opportunities with Holy Family University, as well as a comprehensive menu of elective courses. Additionally, students can select gifted courses in the area of Humanities.
The Gifted Program in the Bensalem Township School District has and continues to provide opportunities and options the community and families are proud of.
Samuel Lee, Ed.D.
District Superintendent April 5, 2017