Online Learning Can Work for Gifted Students
Open Window School is excited to announce a new program
Online Learning Can Work for Gifted Students
We all want our children to be successful in school. However, sometimes they are highly successful, but are not challenged. They might say school is boring or not interesting, but the report card comes home glowing. For parents, finding a school that meets their needs can be tough. Public and private programs for academically talented students are all over the map so finding a good fit can be a challenge, too.
Online learning: Preparing for the future
As one of Washington’s premier schools dedicated to understanding and teaching gifted students, Open Window School is excited to announce a new program open to gifted 4th- and 5th-graders – Open Window Online.
The pandemic gave almost every parent and child experience with online school at some point, with varying degrees of satisfaction and success. It is important to recognize, however, that the distance learning experienced by most families during the pandemic was nothing like programs intentionally designed to be taught online. Far from being a fad, effective remote learning has been happening in K-12 education for decades and when designed well, has proven to be highly effective. Also, experts suggest that anywhere from 35-65% of adults will work remotely for at least part of their workweek as we move forward. This suggests that it is practical to help students learn how to work, communicate and collaborate in online spaces and Open Window Online has been developed to do just that.
Collaborative learning through Open Window Online
Open Window School has decades of experience working with gifted families and we know that gifted students make connections among a wide array of ideas and content. To meet that need, our teachers designed Open Window Online focused on integrated, cross-discipline projects that inspire students with real-life, engaging and complex questions, problems and challenges. These projects require students to learn content across several disciplines (math, science, social studies, writing, etc.), actively practice collaboration, and develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills to successfully demonstrate their learning to an authentic audience of teachers, business leaders, scientists and others.
Exploring extracurricular activities and passions
Along with solving real-life challenges, we know that gifted students benefit from spending lots of time and energy exploring their passions and interests. Open Window Online students will have opportunities to dive deeply into ideas and topics that matter to them. Whether it is sharks or space, ballet or computer programming, students do not have to wait for school to be over before they can explore their personal passions.
As they explore and develop their passions, Open Window Online students do real work that matters. The program is structured around student collaboration because how students learn is just as important as what they learn. Our program teaches students how to collaborate in diverse situations, from a class meeting of 12 to small groups to partnerships. Students are not expected to innately know how to work together – we spend time teaching them those tools along with the content.
Online learning individualizes coursework
Another benefit of Open Window Online is that our teachers can differentiate to a greater extent than is possible in a normal classroom. This does not mean just giving students more challenging work; when students are working on individual understanding of certain topics and concepts, they will have multiple opportunities to meet one-on-one and in small groups with teachers as they receive instruction and content to fit their current level.
Excursions and in-class time
A unique aspect of Open Window Online is our frequent field trips. As we build a community of learners across Western and Southwestern Washington, we will meet in-person every 5-6 weeks during the school year. Each excursion will have a dual focus on building a strong learning community and deepening the learning of whatever current project students are working on at the time. By spending time together, students build community and become friends.
About the author
Dr. Cary Kirby is the Director of Open Window Online. Dr. Kirby has years of experience as an elementary school teacher and administrator. He has done extensive research in online instruction for elementary students.