The SOAR program
The SOAR program at Toledo Blade Elementary is intended to benefit students whose capacity for intellectual achievement and need for academic enrichment go beyond what may be provided in traditional classrooms.
Qualified students in grades K-5 can be enrolled in the SOAR program. The program provides a uniquely differentiated curriculum and allows students the opportunity to interact with intellectually similar peers throughout the day.
We believe that all students need a stimulating educational environment, one in which they will be motivated and challenged to not only reach their fullest potential but also become lifelong learners. Our hope is that this will be achieved as a result of our new and innovative approach to the curriculum. This approach will allow students to collaborate with other like-minded students, engage in more challenging assignments and gain the confidence to express ideas in alternative ways. Students will gain opportunities to study content with greater depth and complexity. The SOAR program also allows students to exercise their creativity and curiosity through exploratory learning and enrichment of the curriculum.
The ultimate goal is to assist students to achieve personal fulfillment and a positive self-image by stimulating a sense of responsibility to oneself, to the school, to the community, and to a changing society
Students may qualify for enrollment into the SOAR program in a variety of ways:
If students are identified gifted as determined by Sarasota County guidelines, this identification secures the student placement within the program.
Students may also qualify for eligibility based on their previous year’s performance. Each academic year, students who are not identified as gifted contend for coveted vacancies at their respective grade level. Teachers use a matrix of criteria to determine eligibility. Entry into the program is based upon the scoring matrix
results, which gives priority placement to those with the highest score range.
“Why enroll in the SOAR program?"
According to the latest research done by The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) University of Connecticut Joe Renzulli, Del Siegle, Jean Gubbins, Catherine Little, Kathy Gavin
The needs of gifted students are not being met in most regular classrooms
The needs of gifted students are generally not met in American classrooms where the focus is most often on struggling learners and where most classroom teachers have not had the training necessary to meet the needs of gifted and students.
NRC/GT’s answer to this problem is to: Place cluster groups of gifted and high achieving students ONLY IN CLASSROOMS OF TEACHERS WHO HAVE HAD PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN GIFTED EDUCATION AND DIFFERENTIATION!
Instructional Grouping works and results in higher achievement scores!
Grouping gifted students together for instruction increases achievement for gifted students, and in some cases, also for students who are achieving at average and below-average levels.
The use of enrichment and curricular enhancement results in higher Achievement for gifted and talented students.
When teachers use enrichment-based approaches to learning and extend the pedagogy of gifted education to more children, learning is more engaging and enjoyable and all students make continuous progress. The use of creative learning opportunities does not result in lower test scores! Rather, achievement can be increased when we use creative teaching methods, differentiated instruction and enrichment pedagogy.
Teacher training makes a difference.
Teachers can learn how to differentiate and compact curriculum to provide more challenge to all students when they have professional development, time, and support to learn how to effectively implement these skills and strategies.
Gifted education programs and strategies benefit gifted and talented students longitudinally.
Longitudinal research demonstrates the effectiveness of gifted education programs and curriculum in raising student achievement, as well as helping students to develop interests, creativity, and productivity, and career goals.