In every content area and speciality, there are opportunities for students to extend their learning. Sometimes, the work is formally referred to as “extensions”. At other times, a question may be posed, “If you are curious . . .” or “If you would like to further explore . . . “ There are students who extend their learning in conversations with others outside of class, including discussions with their parents. While it is a teacher’s job to provide instruction and facilitate learning, it is the job of students to do the learning. As students take advantage of extending their learning, learning possibilities increase. The old adage, “we don’t know what we don’t know” certainly comes into play.
Extended Learning, or XL, for short, is the name for the the district gifted program elementary pull out sessions. These formal sessions provide a structured curriculum extension to students 2nd-5th grade who are identified as gifted. Nomination for gifted testing is available starting in 2nd grade. The district criteria for gifted services is an exceptionally high cognitive ability as measured by a cognitive ability assessment, high achievement, and behaviors associated with gifted individuals in background knowledge, application of knowledge, exceptionally creative or productive thinking, and motivation to succeed. XL sessions comprise 150 minutes of meeting with a gifted education specialist in elementary grades 2-5. At Wydown Middle School, an elective class called Exploratorium is available to XL students grades 6-8. In high school, the wide variety of honors and Advanced Placement classes available to any student capable of meeting the requirements based on placement tests and their academic performance provides that learning extension.