About the Mansfield Gifted Program

 

General Information

Contacting Ms. Baker

To contact me, email me at bakerk@mansfieldtsd.org or call (908) 689-3212 ext. 2161 for my voicemail. I check email daily and will respond promptly.

Program Format

The MTES Gifted and Talented Program consists of a variety of formats and components to meet student needs. Program design will vary to meet the emerging needs of students and is subject to ongoing revision to optimize effectiveness.

  • Differentiation in the regular classroom, managed by the classroom teacher and supported by the G&T teacher. This can function in a variety of ways, such as:

    • The teacher may pretest and then substitute more challenging materials.

    • There may be alternate practice activities or homework assignments.

    • The teacher may differentiate for her entire class, providing challenges beyond what is required at that grade level.

    • Examples of in-class differentiation:

      • Differentiated spelling lists or additional challenge words.

      • Access to a "Challenge Box"

      • Technology enrichment such as using Podcasts or Moviemaker to address grade level content

      • Wordmasters in grades 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6; format varies to meet the needs of the class.

    • In-class differentiation is used most in lower grades, to avoid any “gaps” in basic skills while providing appropriate challenges within a consistent environment.

  • Team teaching in the regular classroom, which may include varied levels of challenge based on student readiness. For example:

    • WordMasters Challenge: a national competition for students in grades 3-8 which encourages growth in vocabulary and verbal reasoning, used in grades 2-6.

    • Novel-based language arts units:

      • The Year of the Panda; Frindle in grade 3

      • The Big Wave in grade 4, interdisciplinary integration with science and poetry

      • Island of the Blue Dolphin in grade 5, conceptual extension based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs

    • Team-teaching often includes other children from the cluster classroom. Depending on the content being addressed, the teachers may work together with the entire class, or may break into smaller groups to target instruction to student needs. Team-teaching allows us to offer additional challenges for those students who may not yet qualify for G&T eligibility.

  • Pull–out or push-in units to extend grade-level curriculum content, such as:

    • Continental Mathematics League: a national competition for students in grades 2-9+ which focuses on problem-solving and analytical reasoning; practice materials help develop communication of mathematical thinking, used in grades 2-6.

    • Supermath/CML in grades 3, 4, 5 & 6 includes children who have been recommended by administration or classroom teachers, although they may not participate in other aspects of the G&T program. Parents may request that their children be considered for recommendation. In upper grades children volunteer.

    • Thematic units are typically offered to all academic G&T students at a particular grade level.

      • Phabulous Physics develops concepts sequentially in units that may include the following topics:

        • Forces acting on stationery objects: Dead load vs. live load; distribution of weight in Bridges, grade 2

        • Forces acting on objects under stress: Pringle Project, also CRASH, grade 3

        • Newton's Laws of Motion: Rollercoaster Derby, grade 4

        • Infrastructure: Principles of Livable Communities

        • Four Forces of Aerodynamics: Magic of Flight, grade 5

        • Forces acting on stationery objects: Tension and Compression in Architecture, grade 6

      • Fibonacci, Phi, and Me: Ratio and proportion as found in the natural and constructed world, in grade 6

    • Pull-out units in upper grades, particularly grades 5 & 6, may be considered semi-replacement; please see Making Up the Work and Grades for details.

  • Accelerated replacement or semi-replacement classes, i.e. “Math Boot Camp” and “Math Marines” in grades 4 - 6, may be formed to meet the needs of clusters of students who demonstrate mastery of curriculum standards well beyond grade level, for whom regular classroom instruction would be inappropriate.

    • Math Boot Camp and Math Marines classes follow and extend the state-required grade level mathematics curriculum.

    • Increased emphasis is placed on critical thinking, problem solving, and communication of mathematical thinking.

    • Students are expected to be responsible and productive within an environment of greater autonomy.

    • Such placement decisions are made collaboratively with administration and grade level teachers.

Participation

Program participation is often customized for individual students. This means that:

  • Students may elect to decline participation in a particular unit if it is not of personal interest.

  • Teachers or parents may determine that it is not appropriate for a child to participate for a particular unit or period of time, due to academic pressures or other factors. Such decisions are typically temporary, with a specified time frame for review.

  • All G&T 6th graders plan their unit selections at the beginning of the year, with input from teachers and parents; these plans can be revised if appropriate.


Events Beyond MTES

The Mansfield Gifted Program encourages participation in many events and activities beyond our school.

 

WordMasters Challenge

WordMasters is a national vocabulary competition including over three thousand teams, drawing from all fifty states.

Occurring three times each year, the official Challenge tests are 20 questions in analogy format; our top students typically score 17 or better. MTES students have won numerous honors in the Wordmasters Challenge: every year, several MTES students are recognized with National Honorable Mention (top 10% nationally), and National High Honors (top 2% nationally). Two MTES students have been awarded National Highest Honors, one in 2003 and one in 2011 and 2012 consecutively.

Continental Mathematics League

Continental Mathematics League is a national challenge; our focus at MTES is on local competition.

CML Meets are sets of 6 questions, combining grade-level math content with advanced reasoning skills. Our top students usually score 4 or better.
CML Meets occur monthly November - March for grades 4-6, and January - March for grades 2 - 3. Students at all grades compete against one another, each using grade-appropriate materials.

As many students prefer to work with partners, we offer a Solo Division and a Partners Division, though only the Solo division is eligible for national recognition. One of our Solo mathletes won Highest National Honors, twice, in 2010 and again in 2013, with consistently perfect scores all year.

BASF Science Education Grant

In 2015, our sixth graders contributed to our proposal Solar Energy: The Bright Choice, winning a $5000 grant for the study of alternative energy sources.

They investigated how solar energy functions at both the molecular and practical levels and developed lesson materials which they presented to fourth and fifth graders, recording this instruction on video for use by future classes.

The Year Game - Drexel University/National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

The Year Game is an annual activity where students try to write expressions for all integers 1 to 100 using only the digits of the new year (for example, 2, 0, 1, and 8 were used in 2018) with standard mathematical operators.

We have been participating annually since 2009; several MTES students have had solutions selected by Drexel for online publication. Since 2009, several other Warren County schools have joined us in this quest to combine calculation and creativity via our online wiki. One of our MTES students solved every single value for the 2012 Year Game - an incredible accomplishment!

In 2015, two MTES students worked with Drexel University to open our wiki to the broader Year Game community, and teams competed from Canada, UK, Germany, and Switzerland!

In January 2017, our YearGame wiki was featured on the NCTM webpage as a headline!

Warren County Consortium for Student Enrichment

Mansfield Twp. Elementary is a long-time member of the WCCSE. Ms. Baker is currently the Chair of the organization and coordinates several events (see below). Scheduled events vary from year to year; many of these events allow only a limited number of participants from each school. Transportation for events is typically provided by parents; event registration fees are covered by MTES.

Here are some of the events in which we participated over the past few years:

  • WCCSE Annual Debate Tournament: Grade 6

    • 2007-08: Resolved: The government should restrict food that students may eat during school. Champions & 1st place.

    • 2008-09: Resolved: Students spend too much time on computers. Champions & 1st place.

    • 2009-10: Resolved: The school year in New Jersey should be lengthened. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

    • 2010-11: Resolved: English should be the official language of the United States. 2nd and 3rd place.

    • 2011-12: Resolved: September 11th should be a national holiday. 1st place.

    • 2012-13: The US Space Program should be turned over to private industry. 2nd and 3rd place.

    • 2013-14: Resolved: Children should be taught to write in cursive handwriting. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

    • 2014-15: Resolved: Students in the US are assigned too much homework. 1st and 2nd place.

    • 2015-16: Resolved: Students in NJ are tested too much. Champions & 1st and 3rd place.

    • 2016-17: Resolved: Modern technology has improved verbal communication. 2nd and 3rd place.

    • 2017 -17: Resolved: The US should travel and explore outer space. 2nd place.

    • 2018-19: Resolved: The government should have access to the DNA profiles of all people in the United States. Champions & 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

  • WCCSE Convocation for grades 6 & 7, Convocation held annually as a capstone experience, emphasizing creativity, critical thinking, and advanced levels of challenge.

    • 2010 - Architecture: Ten Principles of Livable Communities, with Stacey Kliesch, former president of NJ/AIA

    • 2011 - Expressive Arts with the Pushcart Players: Improvisation, Stage Combat, and Interpretation of Song and Scene

    • 2012 - Infrastructure: Community analysis, sustainable planning, and physics and construction of suspension bridges

    • 2013 - Expressive Arts with Shakespeare NJ, with ShakespeareNJ from Drew University

    • 2014 - Making Metaphors: Poetry meets Engineering, with professors from Norwich College and Drew University

    • 2015 - Day of the Arts: Drama, Creative Writing, Music, with Maggie Devine of the National Writing Project

    • 2016 - Day of STEM: MakerSpace, MiniBots, and 3-D Printing, with the Liberty Science Center, da Vinci Center, and Enrich Science

    • 2017 - Power of Word and Deed: Writing, Speaking, and Improvisational Comedy, with Eight is Enough Improv, ReadyAimWrite, and NJAMLE Teacher of the Year Joe Pizzo

    • 2018 - Convo to the STARS/Mars: collaborative planning for an interplanetary colonization.

    • 2019 - The STEAM Challenge: Design and “object for sitting; “sell it” to your audience.

  • Phabulous Physics Tourney, held every year since 2008 here at MTES

    • 2008 - 2015

      • Magic of Flight, grades 5&6

      • Rollercoaster Derby, grades 3&4

    • 2015 - present (program revised due to consistently high enrollment)

      • CRASH! Consumer Safety Tests, grade 3

      • Rollercoaster Derby, grade 4

  • Battle of the Books

    • Our teams have collectively read hundreds of titles and had numerous wins in the WCCSE competitions!

    • Grades 3&4 coordinated by Ms. Kline and Mrs. Donaldson. Grades 5&6 coordinated by Mrs. Baggerly.

  • Marvelous Math Day

    • Grade 2 every year

  • Math-a-Magicians Day

    • Grade 3 every year

  • Warren County Chess Tournament, Grades 2-6, every year

    • 2009, 3rd place

    • 2010, 2nd place

    • 2011, 1st place

    • 2012, 3rd place

    • 2013, 1st place

    • 2015, 3rd place

    • 2018, 3rd place

    • 2019, 3rd place

  • Warren County Spelling Bee, grades 5&6, every year

    • 2009, 3rd place

    • 2012, 1st place

    • 2013, 1st place

    • 2015, 1st place

    • 2016, 1st place

    • 2019, 1st place

  • Strategic Thinking Day, grade 5

    • Workshops on Game Design, various no-cost strategy games, and a Rubik's Cube Tournament

    • 2012 - 2017 MTES 6th graders coordinated the Rubik's Cube Tourney

  • Pringle Project, grade 3 (2011 - 2014)

    • Engineering Challenge: design and construction of a container to safely ship a single Pringle chip by US mail

 

Grades: Does G&T count?

Grading policies vary by grade level, as there are various factors to consider.

Arguments for ungraded G&T work:

  • Students eligible for academic G&T have typically already achieved grade level proficiency, particularly in their area of strength. If they are to be assessed according to grade level standards, the grades would be automatic A's.

  • If students perceive that their additional assignments for G&T classes have negative impact on their grades, this contributes to a devaluing of G&T work. In such cases, students may become risk-averse and prefer to simply refuse G&T opportunities rather than risk "ruining" their high average.

  • Students being instructed at their level of readiness will not be typically receiving all A's, unless they are expending significant effort. Should they be penalized for being advanced? Why should they be working harder than their peers if they are not guaranteed higher grades?

Arguments for graded G&T work:

  • Students who find that their G&T work is not graded may realize that there is no clear accountability for how they spend this time or what effort they invest. Some students may use this as a rationale to work to a level that is mediocre - or worse.

  • If they have already received A's for their regular classwork to encourage them to take on additional challenges of G&T, this might be seen as a "free pass" to avoid regular class-time and yet not work to ability in G&T. After all, why work if it doesn't count?

We expect G&T students to strive for continual academic growth.

At MTES, particularly in the lower grades the G&T work does not impact classroom grades. Through team-teaching and coordination of differentiation, students will be encouraged and acclimated to continually progress.

As G&T students reach 4th and 5th grade, however, there are increasingly frequent opportunities for G&T work that build on regular classroom instruction. As students take on challenges that extend grade level assignments, the completion and quality of those completed assignments will be considered as a contributing factor in grade calculation.

  • Often the G&T teacher will confer with the grade level teacher in grading specific assignments. This maintains a perspective weighing both the higher expectations of G&T and the comparison to regular grade level performance.

  • Sometimes, particularly during team-teaching, the classroom assignments will be tiered to various levels of challenge, to meet the needs of the students in the class.When G&T work is in lieu of in-class work, such as with pull-out novel units, the related assignments will be assessed and weighed as part of the students' grades.

    • Often in such situations, the administration includes students who are not GT-identified, yet ready for these more challenging options.

    • In cooperative assignments, collaboration is often based on interest or aptitude, rather than GT-eligibility.

The accelerated replacement mathematics classes which meet every day are graded according to the high expectations and instructional readiness of that group. (Note: These accelerated courses are not currently scheduled. Such options may be considered if the need arises.)


Making Up the Work

Do G&T students have to make up the work they miss in the regular classroom? It depends.

Students are eligible for participation in the Gifted and Talented program through a combination of factors, including their demonstration of mastery of grade level work.

In most cases, children who leave the classroom to participate in G&T are responsible for the content but not necessarily the product. In simple terms, they are responsible for knowing what was covered but they may not need to "make up" every piece of written work produced during the missed lesson. For example, if the class worked on long division and the child already knows how to do this, he or she is responsible for knowing how to do long division (which in this example was already familiar) but does not have to complete all of the practice work that was done by the rest of the class.

This system acknowledges that the G&T program's classes address additional content, which may require G&T homework in addition to the homework assigned by the regular classroom teacher. In our fifth and sixth grade semi-replacement G&T Language Arts classes, the participating students have regular G&T assignments which take the place of some (not all) of their regular classwork. Their classroom teachers take this into account when planning their lessons and especially their group assignments.

Sometimes it may be unclear whether students are expected to make up a specific assignment, so when in doubt, check with the classroom teacher!


Eligibility FAQ for the MTES Gifted & Talented Program

Below are some frequently asked questions about G&T eligibility and testing. For a more complete overview of the process, please see our Eligibility Determinations Policy.

QUESTION: How are students selected for the Gifted and Talented Program?

Nominations are received from teachers and parents during the spring (April). Nominated students are invited to participate in online self-adjusting skills tests in Language Arts and Mathematics, and their teachers complete profile forms describing the students’ learning styles and classroom performance. In addition, standardized test scores for all students are reviewed on a yearly basis, usually in mid-August or early September.

Occasionally, exceptional test scores indicate additional nominations; these students take the online skills tests in September. Students who show a reasonable likelihood of G&T eligibility are identified as candidates. Parents of such candidates are asked to provide profile information and permission for their child to participate in qualifying tests, typically scheduled in mid September.

Eligibility determinations are based on the overall profile, which includes input from the teacher(s) and the parents, the standardized test records, and the qualifying test results.

Note: Our policy for use of standardized test scores has been reviewed by administration and our Gifted and Talented screening committee. PARCC scores will NOT considered as a factor in eligibility determinations at this time (fall 2016-2017). However, MAP scores, now available for all grade levels, will be considered.

QUESTION: Who actually makes the decisions about whether a child is eligible, and how much subjective choice is involved?

The G&T screening committee consists of several teachers, including Ms. Baker, and the MTES Principal, Mr. Melitsky. The eligibility profile consists of 75% objective test scores and 25% subjective information as reported by classroom teachers and parents.

Final decisions are made by administration.

QUESTION: Can I nominate my own child?

Yes. Parents may submit their child’s name for consideration, and the child’s records will be reviewed. Students who show a reasonable likelihood of eligibility will be identified as candidates, and may participate in the preliminary testing in the spring (see above).

QUESTION: If I received a letter stating that my child is not recommended to participate in September G&T eligibility testing, can I request that my child be tested anyway?

Parents may request that their child participate in testing, even after receiving a "not recommended" letter. However, if the child's scores on the September qualifying tests do not meet eligibility levels, there is a two-year waiting period before these tests can be repeated. It is due to this waiting period that we screen candidates with preliminary tests.

QUESTION: My child was previously tested and was not eligible. Can he/she be retested?

After a period of one year, the eligibility determination may be reviewed in consideration of new standardized test scores. After a period of two years, the eligibility screening tests may be repeated. Children have been found eligible for the G&T Program through both of these scenarios.

QUESTION: How are students selected for the Gifted and Talented Arts Program?

Nominations for the G&T Arts program typically come from the arts teachers. These special area teachers are already familiar with the child’s abilities and are in the unique position of being able to identify what is truly outstanding among elementary students. Contact these teachers if you would like to ask them to consider nominating your child.

QUESTION: Does my child need to retested year-to-year if they are already participating in Gifted and Talented classes?

Students who have previously been found eligible for the Gifted and Talented Program do not need to be retested to maintain eligibility. Eligibility continues based on successful participation. Participation may be customized to meet student needs.

 

Note: The MTES Eligibility Determination process was reviewed by Dr. Mary Sullivan in July of 2009 (associate of Dr. Joseph Renzulli) and again by Dr. E. Jean Gubbins (Past President of National Association for Gifted Children) in July 2014. Our system was found to be reasonable and fair according to Best Practices recommended by Confratute faculty, and numerous other schools have adapted the system for their own use.