“Success is about being your best self, not about being better than others;
failure is an opportunity, not a condemnation. Effort is the key to success.”
– Dr. Carol Dweck, Stanford University
Altair teachers are committed to knowing each child, personally and academically. We focus first on ensuring every child feels emotionally secure and socially connected at Altair. We believe a safe, caring community allows inquiry and love of learning to flourish. Our teachers continually assess each student’s knowledge, abilities and effort, encouraging each child to do his or her personal best. Our teaching approach and curriculum are carefully designed to support personalization and differentiation for gifted students.
I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.
– Albert Einstein
Inquiry-based learning is a student-centered and teacher-guided instructional approach that engages students in investigating real world questions. An inquiry-based approach teaches students to be active participants in their learning, sift through data efficiently and ask great questions.
At Altair, inquiry-based instruction complements traditional instruction as a method for extending and applying the material and helping students make connections with other concepts. Students acquire and analyze information, develop and support propositions, provide solutions, and design technology and arts products that demonstrate their thinking and make their learning visible.
- Ask well-formed, thoughtful questions…questions that are worthy of study
- Formulate a plan to answer their own questions
- Test their hypothesis and iterate as needed
- Children learn how to:
“The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill.”
In keeping with our commitment to develop a student-centered learning environment, Altair uses Problem-Based Learning (PBL). In PBL students develop domain specific knowledge as well as strategies of thinking by asking questions and solving problems in core subject areas. In addition to factual knowledge, a student acquires a skill set which allows her to move deeper into a subject at her own pace.
PBL inspires students to be self-directed and inwardly motivated to learn, emphasizing problem solving and collaboration. Students will work with their peers to identify existing knowledge and to build on this foundation by refining research skills. The role the instructor takes is more of a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage”. The instructor designs an active learning environment in which students are encouraged to ask questions. Solving the problem often requires the entire class to investigate solutions collaboratively.
Best Practices in Gifted Education
“If I ran a school, I’d give the average grade to the ones who gave me all the right answers, for being good parrots. I’d give the top grades to those who made a lot of mistakes and told me about them, and then told me what they learned from them.”
– R. Buckminster Fuller
All children benefit from an education that recognizes the child as an individual with unique abilities and talents. The need for individualization can be particularly critical for highly gifted children, whose academic, social and emotional asynchrony can result in isolation and loneliness. At Altair, our educational approach is to know each learner’s capabilities and talents, allowing the teacher to challenge the student at a “just right” level.
Altair teachers use research-based best practices in gifted education to bring out the best in each child, including:
- Conceptual Learning: By teaching concepts first, students can see the “whole picture” before diving into the details.
- Subject-level acceleration: Self-paced learning in core subjects and curriculum compacting.
- Social and Emotional Support: Awareness and coaching for sensitivities and over-excitabilities.
- Ability grouping: Flexible grouping allows students to work with others who have similar abilities and interests.