Announcing…The new Enrichment and Innovation Centre

We are very pleased and excited to announce the opening of the Enrichment and Innovation Centre, located at Holbrook School with the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board

What will this centre offer?

  • Ongoing programming for students who meet the HWDSB  Gifted Criteria. Students in Grade 5, 6, 7, 8 will have an opportunity to attend the program once per month. Information will be sent to schools by the end of September. Click here for INFORMATION about Gifted Programs.
  • Ongoing support for teachers and leaders to aid with individual education plans, and programming ideas and support.
  • Ongoing support for educators and leaders in the system who are interested in enhancing programming and support for ALL STUDENTS.
  • Regular workshops (after school) for parents, teachers and students that are interested in Enrichment and 21st Century Learning strategies.
  • A location to meet, work, play and share in small groups (after 2 pm), where educators, parents and students can access resources such as laptops, tablets, smartboard, books, 3D printer, Lego Robotics and more.
  • A location for parents and community members to meet and share stories, ideas and strategies about how to enhance learning opportunities for their children.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Teaching Gifted in the Regular Classroom

The Do’s and Don’ts of  Teaching Gifted students in the Regular Classroom

By: Zoe Branigan-Pipe and Beth Carey

With consultation Gifted Students (especially Erika a Grade 6 Student, HWDSB)




*Do remember that FAIR and EQUAL is not the same.


* Do continue getting extra work – (but not EQAO packages) ß Many gifted students will be prepared, without the additional prep here as the regular program would be enough.


* Do continue to encourage students to choose a more challenging, classic or award- winning book or literature.


* Do continue to be respectful and kind as this is always appreciated.


* Do allow freedom to work on own thing while class is working (but please do not interrupt and ask questions without giving warning…let the student work)


* Do ask student if they already have mastered the skill or concept. Do ask student to demonstrate the skill.


* Do ask student if he/she can enhance or change the assignment or project in order to be more challenging or interesting (do this instead of giving too many add-ons)


* Do be flexible in assessments. Allow students to “tell” you the concept or skill rather then complete the worksheet or task associated (which might frustrate them and may be unnecessary.


*Math – Do allow student to demonstrate the skill. Then student may work on Individual Contract rather then extra questions.

*Do know that one demonstration question is enough.


* Do have students show understanding of a concept in all subject. If they have mastered the skill, do allow them to work on individual contract.


* Do continue to praise and give feedback. Many Gifted students have insecurities and anxieties and do need social and emotional support.


* Do continue to support ideas of using technology, even if the technology isn’t familiar to the teacher


*Do continue to work with school supports like the Gifted Itinerant teacher – Students want to be involved in this


* Do continue to provide leadership opportunities


* Do always ask student before the task or lesson if she/he is prepared to assist and ensure student has had ample time to prepare. This will avoid that last minute, “Can you help..” situation.


* Do continue to allow student to demonstrate other ways of doing a question, for example, in Math student might have a different way of showing a skill or concept that could resonate with other students.


* Do change your practice to meet the needs of the Gifted Learner. This might include not using a PAPER AGENDA, but instead  posting a schedule on the wall.


* Do give breaks between projects. This will give them time to work on an individual interest.  Often Gifted students are introverted and need time to recalibrate on their own.

* Do allow choice of projects

 * Do provide goal setting opportunities for Gifted Students like you would do with students with other Learning Needs.


* Don’t always include student in the whole class reading activity, instead allow student to work on their individual project (learning contract). Especially when reading is a strong area and student wants to engage in other material.


* Don’t insist that Gifted students complete reading or writing diagnostic tests (DRA, OWA). Many of these students already have shown strong ability in these areas and don’t require a diagnostic.


*Don’t group student with lower reading groups, unless it is pre-arranged. Gifted students don’t always need to learn the skills associated with reading in the same way.


* Instead of several extra projects (or extensions), allow student to work on Individual Project Inquiry project that is linked to the Big Idea or concept.


* Don’t assume that the student does not know skill or concept or that he/she need time practicing. When these students get a concept, it often doesn’t require time to practise


* Don’t always require a formal test or assessment for these students. If they already know it, and you know they know it, then why spend time testing?


*Math – Don’t assume because the student is Gifted that he/she knows the skill already. But, remember he/she will pick up the skill quickly.


* In Math, don’t always insist that students must show all steps to a problem. Gifted students may not need to go through every step.


* Don’t have student sit through whole class lessons (when skill is already mastered). Allow student to work on his/her own individual endeavor contract.


* Don’t assume that student wants to work with others to teach them. This may be stressful or frustrating for them.


* Don’t have student be the “Class Teacher” unless teacher is in the room and that it is pre-arranged.


* Don’t follow a project with another project. Often social life and social skills are important to Gifted students. Allow time to recalibrate and reflect.


* Don’t always feel the need to give too many projects just to ensure the student is busy or isn’t board.


* Don’t assume because they are gifted that they are organized. They need constant help with organization and should never be reprimanded for poor organization but instead nurtured in this area.

* Do not assume because they are Gifted that they do not need a MODIFIED program. Ensure their IEP’s have goals and learning expectations, not just accommodations.



Gifted Centres



Gifted Centres are for regular class students identified as Gifted in the HWDSB. As well, these students, their parent(s) and the school will receive ongoing support throughout the school year through online resources and networks, inservicing and professional development.

The purpose of the Centres:

  • To provide opportunity for Gifted students to understand themselves as learners
  • To excite students with learning extensions that go beyond the curriculum
  • To provide opportunity for students to collaborate, network and problem solve with intellectual peers
  • To learn and practice social and self-advocacy skills
  • To provide an opportunity for leadership development
  • To learn and use current technology skills including networking, assistive technologies, media skills and understanding safe online practice

Centre Overview:

Once per month (approximately), students will attend a one day Centre at a designated location. Locations and dates will be provided to the student’s school. Also, dates for the Centres as well as any changes throughout the year, will be posted at as well as through email to the school and teacher.

Transportation to the Centres will be provided to and from the student’s home school. Students will go to their home school as normal in the morning and take their usual means of transportation from their home school in the afternoon. If parents choose to drive their child to and from the Centre, arrangements should be made in advance so that transportation (bus, taxi) can be rerouted. Parents must contact Ben at for transportation inquiries or cancellations.

Grade Five: Da Vinci Kids
Big Idea: How has the ARTS impacted the world around us? How are we Gifted through the ARTS?

Grade Six: iTell/myVOICE
Big Idea: What is the impact of Citizen Journalism on how our past, present and future stories are told? How can 21st Century tools leverage our voice, our ideas and our interests?

Grade Seven/Eight: Design Minds

Big Idea: How does design, creativity and play environments (online and offline) enhance divergent thinking skills, social skills, critical thinking and collaboration?


Assessment in Gifted

IMG_8004 2“________ has not handed in the assignment. Neither has ____________or ____________or ______________. Please have them come to my class and finish their work during lunch hour. ”

“_______  failed the test…..can you give him/her time during class for a rewrite?”


“________needs extra time in my class to do his/her work.”

These types of concerns were shared with me (their homeroom teacher), almost daily by other teachers. Let me be clear. I don’t blame those teachers.  When put into a timeframe or constraint (part of their schedule), many of  identified (exceptionality) Gifted students would shut down, move on, or just not finish. Why bother? And so, they would either be graded accordingly, or be given another chance to prove themselves, over and over. But, what I was seeing in the homeroom was often very different from what other teachers were seeing. Why? Were the students being honest in sharing what they really know? Was the assessment designed in a way that allowed them to demonstrate the higher order skills that they are truly capable of? Was the results of the assessment truly accurate of the students ability?

As a teacher in a self-contained gifted classroom, my students would spend the majority of the day in my class. I was responsible for teaching and assessing the core subjects, which included Language, Math, History and Geography.  The other subjects (Music, Drama, Art, Phys-ed/Health, Science) were taught by teachers in a rotary timetable, each for only a small section of the day or week.  There are certainly many pros and cons to this type of schedule for which I will leave for another post. I had more time (then the rotary teachers) to build relationships with my students, which afforded me the opportunity to not only know them well, but to also learn and explore creative ways to assess and evaluate them.

Providing differentiated opportunities to demonstrate their understanding, communication, thinking and application not only made my assessments more authentic, but it gave me more confidence and certainty when providing evaluation or using the assessment to steer or customize my teaching. For many of them (my Gifted students), their thoughts and ideas raced so fast that many tended struggled to translate anything into print of any kind (pencil/pen/computer). The eloquent and creative words and phrases that they wanted to share, examples they wanted to give, ideas they just discovered were there, right there….on the tip of their tongue. That’s it… literally, on the tip of their tongue.

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 9.00.44 PMLet me share a couple of strategies that I would swear by. The information that I would get was from night to day when allowing students to use AUDIO and talk it out. And it is so simple.

1)   My Number #1 assessment strategy was to allow students to share their work in audio format using the Livescribe Pen. (LivewithLivescribe gives many applications:  Students were all given a small pad of Livescribe Sticky pads and would use the pens available in the classroom to speak their answers instead of focusing on their writing. They were all allowed to provide an audio response in every test (a Universal Designed approach). Students that really needed to use this strategy were more comfortable when all students were given the chance. Funny – they seemed all want to do this, even if they all didn’t really need to.  Audio just made it more clear, more detailed, more personal.  While there are MANY other ways to use this pen to accommodate or differentiate student learning, using this tool to collect assessment data and information might be my favourite.

The beauty of this strategy, is that when used with EVERNOTE, the sticky notes, tests, or assignments were EASILY be added to their portfolio for an audio anecdotal and then shared with the student and parent. Seamless.

It would be inappropriate of me not to mention that I would also carry a sticky pad in my pocket (or on my desk) which I would use for ongoing meetings with students, in audio.  One demonstration question (like an exit card) student can explain, in audio and we both have a copy (the sticky that I give to them and the digital file that I have after plugging in the pen).

IMG_8018 2)   EDUCREATIONS  – ipad app. Hands down, this is one of the best.  demonstration apps. Students could take pictures of their work and then use the app to explain. Students would use the app similarly as the Livescribe pen. Simply add a word or number and speak their mind. Students used this tool to share their math, create presentations, and for creative designs.


I look forward to continuing my work with the Gifted Program at the HWDSB as a Gifted Itinerant Teacher. I look forward to learning from others and exploring and sharing the innovative teaching and learning strategies that are happening in so many classrooms. 

A blog – for Gifted and about Gifted to support Gifted

A new BLOG was born today!

This Blog will serve as tool to share information and resources about the Gifted Program at the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.  The content, tools and resources found here are a collaborative collection and ever changing in order to stay current and meet the needs of 21st Century Learners.

The Blog will be updated and moderated by Zoe Branigan-Pipe (Itinerate Teacher of Gifted) and Beth Carey  (Itinerate Teacher of Gifted) . Please feel