The O.M.E.G.A. Program
Opportunities for Motivational Enrichment Goal-Oriented Activities
It is the philosophy of the Charlotte County Public Schools that identified gifted students should be provided a differentiated curriculum that gives these students the opportunity to progress to their greatest potential.
The overall goal of the gifted program is to encourage and facilitate higher levels of critical and creative thinking, communication, independent study skills, leadership abilities, productivity, creativity and self-awareness.
The gifted program encourages students to maximize intellectual growth and to become aware of personal and community responsibilities. Students are also encouraged to realize the impact of their academic, social, emotional, creative and leadership capabilities on both the present and future through enrichment, awareness activities and accelerated academics.
Gifted children vary in their interests, abilities, values, and background experiences, as do all children. There are traits, however, which can be linked to the majority of gifted children. The gifted student will display more of the following characteristics when compared with other pupils:
- seek complexity and thrive on inductive learning and problem solving.
- take risks, are willing to guess about the unknown, and show a sense of wonder in learning.
- display superior judgment and use reason and logic to make decisions easily.
- see relationships based on little data and easily comprehend complex situations.
- have superior vocabulary and are advanced in reading. They have the ability to read earlier, with greater comprehension of nuances in the language.
- possess superior communication skills and creative use of language.
- are leaders.
- display creativeness and inventiveness, and like new ways of doing things.
- perform academically above grade level in one or more areas of knowledge.
- display inquisitive behavior and ask “why” rather than “what” or “how.” They show great curiosity and are interested in a wide range of subjects.
- think globally
- have a strong sense of humor.
- are very sensitive.
Gifted students are not:
- perfect, although they may believe they should be.
- more mature than their peers.
- able to learn and grow intellectually without support.
- gifted and talented in all areas.
The Florida Department of Education defines giftedness as “superior intellectual development and the capability of high performance, including demonstrated achievement and/or potential.”
A student is most often referred for gifted program services by the classroom teacher or parent(s), once screening criteria are met. A student will be eligible for gifted program services when the student demonstrates the following:
- need for a special program
- a majority of characteristics of gifted students according to a standard scale or checklist and,
- superior intellectual development as measured by an intelligence quotient of two (2) standard deviations or more above the mean on an individually administered standardized test of intelligence or,
- the student is a member of an underrepresented group and meets the criteria specified in an approved school district plan for increasing the participation of underrepresented groups in programs for gifted students.
The educational plan is developed when a child initially enters the gifted program, and it is updated every three years — or more frequently, if necessary. O.M.E.G.A. teachers meet with parents of gifted students to develop student outcomes (goals and objectives). Unique needs and/or special areas of concern are also addressed on the educational plan. O.M.E.G.A. teachers work with parents and general education teachers to establish appropriate goals.
The O.M.E.G.A. Resource program is offered at three elementary school sites within Charlotte County: Kingsway Elementary School in Port Charlotte and Vineland Elementary School in Englewood for students in kindergarten through third grade, and Sallie Jones Elementary School in Punta Gorda for kindergarten through fifth grade students. Gifted students whose geographic school is not an O.M.E.G.A. program site receive bus transportation to and from the program.
The O.M.E.G.A. resource program offers gifted students an opportunity for a full day of enrichment to enhance their school experience and general curriculum. The resource program offers a variety of methods from individual activities to large-group projects, all of which enable students to develop their interests and talents to the greatest extent. The program encourages independent efforts, group dynamics, creative exploration, critical thinking, and effective problem solving. While these students are not required to make up class work presented in their regular classrooms when they are attending O.M.E.G.A. classes, they are responsible for homework assignments and long term projects as determined by their regular education teacher.
The O.M.E.G.A. resource program is an enrichment program at the elementary level that accommodates young, growing children who have unique learning abilities. An integrated, interdisciplinary approach to the sciences, fine arts, and current events is utilized to encourage the success of all students. The O.M.E.G.A. resource teacher works closely with the student’s regular education classroom teacher to ensure this success for every school day.
Fourth and fifth grade full-time, self-contained classes for gifted students are housed at Kingsway Elementary School and Vineland Elementary School . These classes provide appropriate, quality educational experiences for all eligible students across the spectrum of ability, background, and achievement. The learning needs of gifted students often differ and are addressed through differentiation, modification of curriculum and instruction based on the assessed achievement, student educational plans, and interests of individual students. Differentiation and modification may include accelerated instruction, compacted curriculum, tiered assignments, in-depth study, advanced content, cooperative learning activities, and independent projects.
The program also addresses the affective needs of gifted children by providing opportunities to develop an understanding of themselves and their role in society. Because, by definition, gifted children differ significantly from others, the program responds to the social-emotional affective characteristics that distinguish gifted students from others. These characteristics include emotional and moral intensity, sensitivity to expectations and feeling, perfectionism, lofty goals and standards for themselves and others, and deep concerns about societal problems.
The middle school O.M.E.G.A. program encompasses grades six through eight in a magnet school approach at Port Charlotte Middle School and L.A. Ainger Middle School . Middle school students may receive gifted program services in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, or any combination based upon individual needs. O.M.E.G.A. students meet with general education students in team, exploratory, and extracurricular activities.
Seeking to provide an excellent educational experience for gifted students needing additional academic challenge, the middle school O.M.E.G.A. program features an environment that encourages divergent thinking and self-expression, numerous field experiences, and ready access to media resources and classroom equipment and technology. Subject area curriculum emphasizes experimentation, future projections, geography and culture studies, and creative and professional communication.
The middle school O.M.E.G.A. program follows several general goals that include both cognitive and affective aspects of education. Middle school O.M.E.G.A. provides for the mastery of basic grade-level skills at the pace and depth appropriate to able learners. The program promotes critical thinking and reasoning abilities, and encourages the development of self-understanding through goal-setting and evaluation.
The OMEGA program strives to equip its classrooms with the latest educational and technological resources to assist gifted students in their learning. O.M.E.G.A. teachers work cooperatively with Charlotte County Public Schools’ Exceptional Student Learning Department, Charlotte County Special Projects Media Center, Learning Through Technology Department as well as state organizations, such as the Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS), to acquire hardware, software, textbooks, and materials to enhance curriculum studies.
Charlotte County Public Schools’ Exceptional Student Learning Department works with O.M.E.G.A. teachers to select materials for use in the gifted program. Ranging from science laboratory equipment to classroom novel sets, as well as gifted resource books for students and parents alike, O.M.E.G.A. classrooms are furnished to meet the special academic wants and needs of gifted students.
Parents are the most important people in the lives of a gifted student. O.M.E.G.A. teachers foster open communication between parents and school personnel to ensure overall success of O.M.E.G.A. students. In addition to serving on the gifted child’s Educational Plan committee, parents receive opportunities during the school year to increase their awareness and involvement in their child’s experience in O.M.E.G.A.
Resource O.M.E.G.A. students receive progress reports designed specifically for Charlotte County’s gifted program. Elementary full time and middle school O.M.E.G.A. students receive county report cards four times per year along with progress reports at midterms. Parents are encouraged to review the results and provide feedback to O.M.E.G.A. teachers. At times, teacher-parent or teacher-parent-student conferences may be arranged.
Open houses are often held for O.M.E.G.A. classrooms and orientation meetings provide excellent opportunities for parents to learn more about the programs. Parents may wish to contact their child’s O.M.E.G.A. teacher(s) to inquire about observing, volunteering, and chaperoning opportunities.
The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) The University of Connecticut, City University of New York/City College, Stanford University, University of Virginia, Yale University, and others have collaborated to create this center. http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/nrcgt.html
National Association for Gifted Children This organization is concerned with the problems, progress and development of education for the gifted on a nationwide scale. Their site has many areas of interest, including a section for parents. It has an extensive list of original publications for sale for parents and teachers. http://www.nagc.org
Kid Source Online: Education: Gifted and Talented Students This site offers a wealth of information, ideas, activities and resources for parents and teachers. http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/pages/ed.gifted.html
The Rhode Island State Advisory Committee on Gifted and Talented Education This site offers extensive information for teachers and parents as well as a well-edited list of sources and links. http://www.ri.net/gifted_talented/rhode.html