Mrs. Rachel Howe
Gifted Facilitator


GT LInks


Dear Students and Parents,

Welcome to Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School – home of the Buffett Bobcats. My name is Rachel Howe and I am the Gifted Facilitator at Buffett. I look forward to working with you during the school year.

Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School has maintained an outstanding record of academic excellence. Students who attend Buffett are well prepared to meet the academic rigors of high school. Our mission is to provide a rigorous academic experience that is based on research and best practices and enables all students to achieve their highest potential.

The goal of the Gifted and Talented program is to offer a differentiated rigorous curriculum by providing curricular and instructional adaptations that address the unique needs of high ability learners. At Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School, the program is organized to address these needs through a combination of the following methods:

o   Differentiation

o   Advanced Classes

o   Contest/Competitions

o   Enrichment Activities and Clubs

Our Gifted and Talented Program at Buffett is based on best practices. We want to support your high ability learner. We will be making sure our courses are differentiated. We will support staff through collaboration and professional development and by planning and providing opportunities for your child. In this packet you will find detailed information about our Gifted and Talented Program. Please read through the information provided. I have also included a Student Planning Sheet for students to use as guide to plan activities they would like to participate in this year.

Should you have any questions throughout the year, please contact Mrs. Howe at (531-299-2320) or A strong partnership between school and home is vital to the success of our children. Thank you for supporting your child academically, which has resulted in their sterling success.


Rachel Howe
Gifted Facilitator
Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School

Goal of the Gifted & Talented Program

Buffett offers many academic courses and activities to enrich the curriculum established by the Omaha Public Schools.  Our Gifted & Talented (GATE) program is designed for students who wish to be challenged through academic competition, honors courses, special activities, and programs.  We believe that all students need high expectations and challenges based on individual needs.  Our classroom teachers use differentiated instruction in their lessons to meet the needs and interest of all levels of learners.  Students are expected to develop self-discipline by meeting deadlines, asking questions, and acquiring organizational and study skills as they strive to become both independent and successful at the middle level and beyond.


The Nebraska Department of Education Rule 3 requires schools to develop a system to identify leaners with high ability. High ability learners are identified for GATE services by meeting indicators for at least 3 of four criteria: 

COGNITIVE – Top 5% at the school or national level on an intelligence/cognitive test

ACHIEVEMENT – Top 5% at the school or national level on a standardized grade-level achievement test

MOTIVATION/PERFORMANCE – “A” or Advanced (ADV) in 60% or more courses on the most recent semester grade report (equivalent to a 3.5 un-weighted GPA) OR qualifying staff referral/recommendation and/or participation.

CREATIVITY/LEADERSHIP – Qualifying staff referral/recommendation and/ or participation.

Buffett Magnet Middle School offers many academic courses and activities to enrich the regular curriculum.  Our Gifted and Talented Program is designed for students who wish to be challenged through academic competition, honors courses, and special activities.


Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School

Gifted and Talented Enrichment Activities and Competitions 

Book Blasters (6th-8th): Book Blasters is a district-wide competition that involves a team of students who are responsible for reading approximately eighteen to twenty selected novels.  Teams then compete to see who reigns supreme in knowledge of the novels’ content.

Destination Imagination (6th): Destination Imagination Challenge Program is a fun, hands-on system of learning that fosters students' creativity, curiosity and courage through academic team driven Challenges. D.I. Challenges blend STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education with the arts and social entrepreneurship. Students who participate learn invaluable 21st century skills as well as patience, flexibility, persistence, ethics, respect for others and their ideas, and the collaborative problem-solving process. * We are just beginning the D.I. program at Buffett and it is only offered to G.A.T.E. identified 6th graders at this time!

Geography Bee (5th-8th): All Buffett students participate in a written geography test.  Participants with the highest scores move on to Buffett’s oral Geography Bee.  The winner of Buffett’s Geography Bee takes a written Qualifying Test for the state Geography Bee.

National Junior Honor Society (7th-8th): National Junior Honor Society is open to 7th and 8th grade students with a 3.75 cumulative grade point average or higher.  Acceptance is based on scholarship, leadership, service and character.  Induction of new members takes place in the spring.

Spelling Bee (5th-8th):  The Spelling Bee is sponsored by the Omaha World-Herald.  All Buffett students take a written spelling test to determine the field of eligible candidates.

Talent Identification Program (7th):  The 7th Grade Talent Search through Duke University provides an opportunity for highly able students to pursue an above-level testing experience.  Eligible students to take the ACT or SAT must have scored at the 95 percentile or higher on a grade level standardized achievement test which for OPS is the California Achievement Test.

Think Tank (8th):  Think Tank is a competitive problem solving event for 8th graders at UNO.  It features a game that involves creative problem solving.

Math Contests (5th-8th):  Math contests/competitions are available for all grade levels throughout the year.  Students in Grades 5 and 6 are selected to participate by classroom performance and teacher nomination.  Students in Grades 7 and 8 must be a member of MATHCOUNTS to participate in competitions.

Quiz Bowl (7th-8th):  Quiz Bowl is an academic competition for students in grades 7 and 8.  A four member team competes against the clock answering questions from various disciplines.  Skills such as team work, cooperative group discussion, problem solving and reaction time are enhanced through practices and competition. 

MATHCOUNTS (7th-8th):  MATHCOUNTS Competition is a national middle school coaching and competitive mathematics program that promotes mathematics achievement through a series of fun and engaging “bee” style contests.  It is supported by the National Society of Professional Engineers at the state and local levels.

African American History Challenge (6th-8th):  The AAHC is a national educational program designed by the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. to enhance the study of African-American history.  The goal of the local competition is to encourage pride, self-worth, and an appreciation of the African-American legacy and culture in Omaha youth.

Science Bowl (7th-8th):  Science Bowl is a fun, fast-paced, tournament-style academic competition that challenges and recognizes middle school students’ knowledge of science and mathematics.

Poetry Slam (6th-8th): A poetry slam is a competition at which poets read or recite original work. It puts equal emphasis on writing and performance and encourages poets to focus on what they say and how they say it. The Office of Gifted & Talented sponsors a fall and spring slam.


More About Differentiation

“Differentiation can be defined as a way of teaching in which teachers proactively modify curriculum, teaching methods, resources, learning activities, and student products to address the needs of individual students and/or small groups of students to maximize the learning opportunity for each student in the classroom.” - Carol Tomlinson

Differentiation . . .

- is a way of thinking about teaching and learning.

- is a teacher’s reacting responsively to each learner’s needs.

- can help address the needs of academically diverse learners in increasingly diverse classrooms.

Good Differentiated instruction IS NOT . . .

  • The same thing as individualization
  • Just another way to provide homogeneous grouping
  • Expecting less of struggling learners than of typical learners
  • A substitute for specialized services
  • Chaotic
  • New

Good Differentiated Instruction IS . . .

  • Varied avenues to content, process, and product
  • Respectful of all learners
  • Proactive
  • Studentcentered
  • A blend of whole class, small group and individual instruction
  • Based on students readiness, interests and/or learning profile

What Can Teachers Differentiate?

  • There are 3 curricular elements which teachers may adapt or differentiate at any point in a lesson or unit: contentprocess, and product.
  • Content: what the teacher wants the student to learn and the materials or resources through which that is accomplished (what is taught)
  • Process: activities designed to ensure that students use key skills to make sense out of essential ideas and information (how it is taught)
  • Products: vehicles through which students demonstrate and extend what they have learned (what is created)

Readiness - a student’s entry point relative to a particular understanding or skill.

A student may need –

  • to skip practice with previously mastered skills and understanding.
  • Activities and products that are complex, openended, abstract, multi-faceted, drawing on advanced reading materials.
  • A more deliberate, brisk pace of learning.

Interest – refers to a child’s affinity, curiosity, or passion for a particular topic or skill.

A student may need –

  • an interest inventory provided early in the school year in order to tap into the student’s interests.
  • To have accommodations to extend and refine unknown interests.

Learning Profile – has to do with how we learn. It may be shaped by intelligence preferences, gender, culture, or learning style.

A student may need  -

  • to talk ideas over with peers: work alone
  • to learn part to whole: whole to part
  • analytical, logical approaches; creative, abstract, globaloriented lessons.

Differentiation Strategies

Teachers use a variety of strategies to create an instructionally responsive classroom. These strategies involve modifying the content of what is being taught, the process used for learning and the products students are expected to create. The strategies, also, involve adaptations for individual student readiness, student interest, and student learning profile. They are meant to work with, not ins isolation from, core curriculum.

Differentiated Strategies We Use

  • High Level Questions
  • Contracts
  • Tiered Instruction
  • Curriculum Compacting
  • Independent/Small Group Projects
  • Learning Centers/Stations
  • Interest Centers
  • Socratic Seminars


Roles and Responsibilities



  • Assessment of student needs
  • Student grouping
  • Providing materials
  • Appropriate use of technology
  • Effective instructional strategies
  • Effective questioning techniques
  • Assessment of student understanding throughout the lesson


  • Developing awareness of their strengths, interests, and learning styles
  • Assuming ownership in the learning process
  • Setting high standards for themselves and others
  • Making choices that enhance their learning and promote growth


  • Communicating information to school on a student’s area of strengths, talents and interests
  • Developing an understanding of the nature of differentiation
  • Understanding that teachers cannot and should not differentiate all assignments and materials every day.
  • Encouraging students to compete against themselves rather than comparing themselves to peers.
  • Encouraging students to let teachers know when assignments are a good fit and when they are not.
  • Helping to secure a range of enrichment materials.
  • Providing meaningful advanced learning experiences outside the classroom.

Recommendation Forms: Parents or teachers can complete one of these forms to nominate a student for the Gifted and Talented Program!