“We believe strategies for teaching students that are gifted often benefit each student in the class.”
TMSAs curriculum is a comprehensive plan for learning that develops the whole child—intellectual, artistic, character, and health. Our teachers and staff work to develop all these aspects of our students every day. The core curriculum is informed by the Georgia Performance Standards and the Georgia Standards for Excellence in English Language Arts and Mathematics. Individual lesson plans are developed collaboratively at the grade level by our faculty. To enhance rigor, our subjects in grades 2-8 are departmentalized—individual teachers specialize in subject-matter fields (social studies, science, mathematics, English Language Arts) and students rotate among classrooms.
TMSA students will also take courses in Music, Art, Physical Education, Spanish, and Technology. These are courses integral to the education experience, and are a vital part of the school’s culture. Students’ artwork is featured for sale in our annual art show, and can be found in the school’s hallways and even on the ceiling (check out the middle schoolers’ Jackson Pollock-inspired ceiling tiles). Music students have the option after fourth grade of joining performance band and pep band. There is a robotics club for students interested in technology, and competitive sports in athletics.
Schoolwide Enrichment Model
At the core of TMSAs curriculum is the adoption of the Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM). The SEM model seeks daily enrichment in the core curriculum by bringing students into contact with experts and community leaders who explain how education connects to real life experiences. These include visits from authors, from people who work with Georgia Power and Trees Atlanta, and by sponsoring student projects that explore how academic research impacts the outside world.
Key to the SEM are student cluster experiences. Clusters are like academic electives on special topics. They are faculty driven, and change from year to year. Past cluster experiences have been on subjects like Greek Mythology, Yoga, and NewsCrew. SEMs meet once a week during the course of the year, and combine academic study with the goal of producing a product, performance, or community service by the end of the academic year. They are offered in grade bands (K-2; 3-5; 6-8) in order to give students more choice in their selection of clusters.
Students will also have the opportunity to propose their own cluster projects. Student-led clusters function the same way as normal clusters, but students take the lead in designing their subjects, laying out research plans, and producing their own end product.
Flexible Learning Groups in Mathematics Instruction
TMSAs schoolwide mathematics curriculum also integrates the innovative model of flexible grouping. Typically reserved for gifted education delivery, flexible learning groups allow teachers to group students according to their abilities in mathematics by individual units. Students are given pre-assessments and grouped according to their individual needs. These groups change with each unit of study. Flexible grouping allows TMSA to break down the sometimes-false labels that we put on students. It is perfectly normal for a student with strong math skills to be advanced in one area (say, algebra) while needing more help in another (like geometry). Flexible grouping allows TMSA teachers to individualize mathematics instruction.