• Elementary Advanced Learning Initiatives

    The District 109 Advanced Learning Model currently used in elementary schools is designed to provide unique and flexible learning experiences for all students based on their individual academic needs. Advanced Learning Specialists are assigned to each building and work specifically with classroom teachers to deepen and/or extend grade-level curriculum. 

    In K-5 English Language Arts, Units of Study in Reading and Writing (Lucy Calkins) is designed to support students engaging in literacy skills at their own level. The workshop model integrates choice and collaboration into literacy tasks; provides students with opportunities to engage with texts across a wide range of genres; and allows students to develop their literacy skills with appropriately leveled texts. Students are stretched in reading by using more complex texts and in writing though depth and volume. 

    In K-5 Math, Big Ideas (Cengage Learning) provides teachers with the learning progressions so they can easily identify prerequisite skills and/or opportunities for extension. This supports teaching outside of grade level, as needed. The mathematics instructional model starts with an investigation (dig-in) that encourages a deep conceptual understanding of the mathematics. This is followed by a common point of instruction called the mini-lesson. Students then move into practice and small group time, where they work through tasks at their independent level. Some children will be working with grade-level materials at this time, while others may be working on content extensions or progressions taught in the subsequent grade.

    Components of the District’s Advanced Learning Model: 

    Differentiated Instruction may mean teaching the same material to all students using a variety of instructional strategies, OR it may mean delivering lessons at varying levels of difficulty based on the ability of each student.

    Acceleration provides extension experiences for those students whose academic needs require beyond grade-level curriculum. Classroom teachers and Advanced Learning Specialists use formal and informal assessments, as well as classroom observations, to determine appropriate learning activities.

    Individualized Learning Plans (ILP's) are designed for students who consistently score in the 98-99th percentile on NWEA MAP assessment, are performing in the top 1-3% locally, AND classroom acceleration/enrichment is not meeting the child’s needs. If requested, a team will review the child’s classroom assessments, standardized test scores, and other supporting data to determine if the child is eligible. 

    Parents can complete this referral form to initiate the process. Once this form is received, the Advanced Learning Coordinator will contact the parents, form the team, and initiate the review. Additional assessments may be warranted.  

    Single-Subject or Whole Grade Acceleration is an option to serve students whose needs exceed differentiation, enrichment, and an Individualized Learning Plan. These students exhibit high levels of ability, creativity, and task commitment in school activities based on multiple assessment data points. If a child is being considered for single-subject or whole-grade acceleration, the Advanced Learning Coordinator will use the Iowa Acceleration Scale (IAS) to guide the team in making important decisions about whether the student is a candidate.  Advanced Learning Graphic

    K-2 Advanced Learning Services

    K-2 differentiation takes place within the classroom. Each elementary school has two instructional coaches that provide support to the classroom teachers in differentiating curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of high-potential students.

    In literacy, differentiated instruction in the primary grades may include literature circles using above-grade-level texts, writing assignments and research projects, etc. In math, flexible grouping is used to enrich materials or extend the content. In addition to learning the basic concepts, students will be given opportunities to engage in higher-level content that requires more critical thinking. 

    Instructional Coaches meet weekly with K-2 teachers. The Advanced Learning Coordinator is also available for consult. 

    3rd and 4th Grade Advanced Learning Initiatives

    Grades 3 and 4 provide the same differentiation opportunities outlined above. In addition, support is provided by the Advanced Learning Specialists and Advanced Learning Coordinator. Support services include:

    • Weekly meetings
    • Small group and/or individualized instruction
    • Data analysis
    • Planning and implementing units/standards (often above grade level)
    • Model teaching
    • Project Planning
    • Reflection on units and moving forward
    • Parent communication
    • Student feedback

    5th Grade Advanced Learning Initiatives

    A Geometry pathway math placement is available to fifth graders for the 20-21 school year. The fifth grade program is staffed with full time building-based advanced learning specialists trained in gifted education. Students attend a daily replacement math class, which provides direct instruction in above grade-level math. Students in this classroom utilize the Big Ideas Math curriculum in preparation for the middle school Geometry pathway. This course is designed to encourage higher-level thinking skills and problem-solving in addition to the accelerated pace of instruction. Students who continue in this pathway throughout middle school are working to complete Geometry by the end of 8th grade, and will enter into Algebra II as a freshman. This sequence of coursework has the potential of culminating with Multivariable Calculus as a senior.

    Middle School Advanced Learning Initiatives

    The District 109 Advanced Learning Model is currently used in sixth and seventh grade language arts, and will be phased into eighth grade by 2020. The current structure for ELA in eighth grade is a replacement class that meets for one period daily. The curriculum addresses common core standards while promoting a greater depth, breadth, and level of complexity. The content, process, and products encourage divergent thinking and nurture a passion for learning. 

    Middle school students have two advanced pathways for mathematics:

      • Algebra Pathway: Starting in seventh grade, the Algebra pathway compacts the grade 7 and 8 Common Core Math Standards into one year. In grade 8 students enroll in Algebra. This pathway prepares students for transition to a Geometry course at the high school.

      • Geometry Pathway: Students enrolled in the Geometry Pathway begin 6th grade in Intro to Algebra, continue into Algebra for 7th grade and complete Geometry in 8th grade. Students must have advanced math skills and a deep conceptual understanding of mathematics to complete all courses within this pathway.  The Advanced Pathway prepares students to enroll in Algebra 2 Advanced or Algebra 2 Honors at the high school.


Advanced Learning Staff