Mrs. Rachel Howe
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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 Advanced Classes
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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.
District Middle Level GATE Brochure
Buffett Magnet GATE Brochure
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 . . .
Good Differentiated Instruction IS . . .
What Can Teachers Differentiate?
Readiness - a student’s entry point relative to a particular understanding or skill.
A student may need –
Interest – refers to a child’s affinity, curiosity, or passion for a particular topic or skill.
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 -
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
Roles and Responsibilities
Recommendation Forms: Parents or teachers can complete one of these forms to nominate a student for the Gifted and Talented Program!
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