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Together we can make a difference!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Meade

We are looking for parents, teachers, and students who support advanced and gifted education for Rochester Community Schools in Michigan. Please subscribe to Rochester SAGE to receive updates.

Also, please visit the "How to Help" link in the upper right.

What Parents Need to Know about Early Entrance to Rochester Community Schools

March 27, 2014

ChalkboardEarlyEntrance

Is your child ready for school but too young?  You need to know what Rochester Community Schools policy is on early admission to kindergarten and first grade.

Policy 5112 – Entrance Age is a gifted-friendly policy in Rochester Community Schools for both kindergarten and first grade and provides a structure regarding early entrance to these grades.

Policy regarding kindergarten admission allows for children who turn five on or before December 1 of the year they are beginning kindergarten to enroll at the discretion of the parent.  Recent changes to state law are pushing the birthday cut off date to September 1, so this allows an extra three months.  While even earlier admission for four-year-olds who are ready would be ideal, my understanding is that the state would not provide funding for these students.

Read more…

Opportunity: Online Classes for Gifted Students?

January 4, 2014

Online LearningMichigan has a new opportunity for gifted learners!  Students 5th grade and up can take up to two online classes in place of their standard classes.  While available to all students 5th grade and up, this opens the door for gifted students to take advanced classes through other districts or Michigan Virtual University that their district does not offer.  This new opportunity has been created through Section 21f of the Michigan State School Aid Act.

Students can find classes to enroll in via Michigan’s Online Course Catalog at https://micourses.org/, but need to enroll through their home district.  A very helpful F.A.Q. is available at http://media.mivu.org/institute/pdf/21F_FAQS.PDF.

A student taking an online class may make some parents nervous.  However, all classes will be taught by certified teachers and the student’s home district is required to supply a teacher as a mentor for the class.

Gifted students in Michigan need your help!  As this opportunity is new, the courses listed thus far are limited.  It is expected that many districts will be adding courses in the next few months.  Please contact your district and districts near you to ask if they will be offering online classes for gifted learners under Section 21f and which courses they plan to offer.  By being out front in this, we have a chance to increase options for gifted learners.

When you hear back from other districts about their course offerings, please post a comment with their response.  Do not worry about overlapping.  The more parents that contact a district, the more likely they will be to offer these classes.

Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE.  Together we can make a difference for gifted children!

Music, Lessons in Life and Gifted Education

December 2, 2013

When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.

Genuinely excellent education is not restricted to bringing individuals up to a preconceived standard of performance, to “norms”; rather it seeks to encourage each individual to develop standards for himself, to give him a clear perception of all that he might become as well as the opportunity to realize his personal vision. – Talent Development: An Investment in the Nation’s Future

The habits we form from childhood make no small difference, but rather they make all the difference. – Aristotle

One of the most valuable things my daughters do is take piano lessons.  Oh, I don’t really care if they can play an instrument, although I do think that it would be cool if they could also learn drums and upright bass and form a jazz trio.  Nope, it is the non-musical lessons that they are learning that are the real value.

1) They learn to work at their own pace.  In music lessons, students move on when they have mastered the previous lesson.  The students don’t move up based on age or grade level.  They can move fast or slow.  It all depends on each student’s ability and dedication.  This is an important lesson in self determination and self-directed learning. Read more…

Important! Parent Voices and Feedback Needed for District Strategic Plan

November 21, 2013

Dear valued parent,

Rochester Community Schools is sending out its Strategic Planning goals for public review.  This is YOUR chance for give YOUR input into the goals that will drive this district for the next five years.  We hope that you will take the time to fill out this survey.

As you are responding to the survey, one of the very important goals is on Instruction and Curriculum.  Please pay close attention to this goal.

If you feel it is important that Rochester Community Schools must meet the needs of every learner from special needs to high ability, it is vital that this statement be included in this goal.  Only the actual goal – and not the supporting statements below it – are binding on this district and require administration to implement it.

If you have struggled to have the needs of your child met or believe that Rochester Community Schools should ensure that every child grows academically regardless of their level, we need your voice!  Please fill out the survey requesting that the Curriculum and Instruction goal contain this language.

You can describe this in any way you deem appropriate.  If you are looking for some words, this could be termed as ‘instruction adapted to the level and pace of each student’, ‘individualized instruction’, ‘differentiated curriculum’ or another phrase that communicates that RCS will respect and accommodate the learning needs of each student to increase individual growth and allow them to progress according to their individual pace and level.

If you have struggled in our district with having your child’s needs met, please include your story to demonstrate why this language is vital and must be included in that goal.

Together we can make a difference for each and every student!

Adventures in Math Acceleration

November 14, 2013

No other arrangement for gifted children works as well as acceleration.

“Adult surveys of gifted individuals reveal that they do not regret their acceleration. Rather, they regret not having accelerated more.” – The Journal of Applied Psychology, Lubinski, Webb, et al. (2001)

“Meta-analytic reviews have consistently concluded that education acceleration helps students academically without shortchanging them socially and emotionally”. – James A. Kulik, The University of Michigan

This past summer we embarked on a journey, a journey of acceleration in math.

It was time.  It was past time.  Our daughters had been complaining since entering school that they weren’t learning anything in math and the tests showed that was true.  Our eldest daughter, entering fourth grade, and our middle daughter, entering second grade, had both been tested for acceleration in math in the past.  Each time they were given the end of the year test and each time scored in the mid to upper 70 percents.  While this may not sound high, it meant that only 20-25% of the material in math that year would be new and the bulk would be review of concepts they already knew.  However, Rochester Community Schools requires 90% to accelerate in math and they had not met that standard.

It is tough to accelerate in math in Rochester Community Schools.  While many districts recommend 80% on the end of the year test for acceleration, RCS’s standard is higher and more difficult to obtain.  In addition, Everyday Math, also known as Chicago Math, covers a vast number of topics superficially each year instead of the in-depth study of a few areas most students in the 1980s did.  (Common Core is expected to change to in-depth study, but the results remain to be seen.)  Our daughters were answering correctly on the areas they had been exposed to, but there were concepts they hadn’t been introduced to that they could not correctly answer.  Not having been exposed to a few of the 20 or so topics each year means the student does not pass.

In addition, instruction in the district is not set up to accelerate a student to the next year’s material.  Differentiation in the Math Workshop model and using Everyday Math’s extension worksheets does not move the student to the next concept but digs deeper into the current topic, resulting in the problem stated previously.  Teachers also have limited time to differentiate instruction, have many levels to differentiate for, and are under considerable pressure by “No Child Left Behind” and the state to use that time on the struggling student.  We have had teachers who have told us they don’t have time to differentiate, provided differentiated worksheets without differentiated instruction, or stated that they should not be expected to know the next year’s curriculum.  We do not blame the teachers.  It is the system that is broken.

Read more…

Three Important Events for the Gifted Community

October 8, 2013

Voices for Gifted Children Needed!

Three great chances to make a difference for gifted children are happening this week!  These are excellent opportunities to become more involved in advocacy for gifted learners and to find out more about what gifted students need to succeed.

Superintendent Community Coffee
Wednesday, October 9, 2013 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Parker Room at the Administration Center

RCS Superintendent Bob Shaner will give a presentation on a particular topic, followed by informal dialogue.

Often sparsely attended, these meetings provide an excellent opportunity to share your experiences and advocate for increased gifted services district-wide.

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Rochester Community Schools Strategic Planning Community Event
Saturday, October 12, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM at Stoney Creek High School Auditorium

Rochester Community Schools is embarking on the development of a dynamic strategic plan and is encouraging all community stakeholders to attend this important Community Planning Event!

Keynote speaker Will Richardson, parent, blogger and author of Why School, will start the morning with a thought provoking message about what schools look like in a 2.0 world. Following his presentation, participants will have the opportunity to brain storm big ideas and goal areas that will help establish a foundation for building the kind of globally competitive education our students need and deserve.

RCS’s strategic plan will be created from input here and the followup meetings will influence our district for the next decade.  If you want increased options for your gifted children, this is an important event to attend!  Register at http://rcsstrategicplan.eventbrite.com/

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Michigan Association for Gifted Children Fall Conference – Kick It Up a Notch
Saturday, October 12, 2013, from 8:30 AM to 4 PM at Baker College in Auburn Hills

Top experts in the field of gifted education will host sessions aimed at parents and teachers of gifted learners.  Gifted children will have an activity room with art workshops, robotics, and more.

The MAGC Conference is an excellent opportunity to understand your gifted learners better.  It is close to Rochester and very reasonably priced.  More information and registration link is at http://m90212.wix.com/magc

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I hope to see you at one or more of these events!  Please post in the comments if you are coming so that we can meet.

Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE.  Together we can make a difference for gifted children!

Action Alert: Rochester Community Schools Strategic Planning Community Event

October 3, 2013

Voices for Gifted Children Needed!

Come represent gifted students at the RCS Strategic Planning Community Event!   Register now at rcsstrategicplan.eventbrite.com

It is time that RCS be as excellent for gifted students as it is for average and struggling students!

It is time that RCS invest in the academically gifted to the same extent that they invest in the athletically gifted!

It is time that RCS commits to students moving at the academic pace they are capable of and not holding back their progress!

Your voice is needed! Where will this district go in the next decade? Will parents of gifted students take a vocal stand or meekly be satisfied with the leftovers? TOGETHER we can make a difference for gifted children! TOGETHER we can make a difference for YOUR child!

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