Gifted & Talented Education


At Vista Verde School we recognize that "giftedness" doesn't begin on the first day of fourth grade. Children who are passionate about learning and have special gifts and talents don't magically become smarter between Third and Fourth grade - they come to us that way, starting in Kindergarten. The goal of the instructional program at Vista Verde is to meet each child where they are and move them forward to the next level, while at the same time insuring that they have the foundational knowledge specified within the state content standards.

To meet the needs of our gifted students, Vista Verde utilizes a GATE Cluster Model. Students who have been formally GATE identified are placed in a GATE cluster within a regular classroom. The GATE cluster model allows teachers to provide differentiated instruction throughout the day and across all subject areas. As part of this process, teachers assess each student's current knowledge and/or skill level then makes adjustments to instruction and curriculum to meet individual educational needs. Teachers differentiate the curriculum for our advanced students through a variety of methods - they may change the instructional strategies, alter the format of an assignment, increase the difficulty of an assignment, or provide additional complexity through the use of open ended assignments or projects.

The advantage of the GATE cluster model over pull out programs or self-contained models is that the GATE cluster program obligates the teacher to differentiate instruction for ALL students, regardless of identification. Students can be gifted in the area of math but perhaps still need additional support in the area of language arts. Students who need greater challenge in one curricular area may need additional support in another can be served within a GATE cluster classroom. Vista Verde, we are fortunate in that the high number of gifted students allows us to have multiple clusters at each grade level.

Regardless of GATE identification, Vista Verde teachers provide differentiation for ALL students in need of additional challenge through the use of pretesting and ongoing progress monitoring. Each small group receives differentiated instruction and materials targeted to their reading and/or writing level to build basic fluency and extend learning beyond the grade level. In the area of math, teachers usually pretest each unit of instruction and then provide additional learning challenge opportunities for students who have mastered the basic content of unit often with the assistance of parent volunteers.

In middle school, GATE students are also cluster grouped within the regular classroom. Throughout the middle school curriculum, our teachers seek to provide opportunities to extend and enrich learning through instructional strategies such as open ended assignments and increasing the depth or complexity of an assignment.

We have a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to share best practices and to provide a focus for professional development that centers on meeting the needs of our brightest students. Our advisory committee is responsible for developing additional opportunities for enrichment and extension beyond the school day. Please visit our extra-curricular page to review some of the activities that are available to provide additional avenues for gifted students to pursue their passions and participate in extracurricular activities with like-minded peers. If you are interested in joining our parent advisory committee or have suggestions for our GATE and Challenge program, please contact Katherine Jacobs at .

We encourage parents to communicate their concerns or questions regarding GATE or Challenge instruction directly with teachers. Working together in partnership is the best way to identify the learning needs of your child and to help develop a personal plan that will meet his/her unique needs. You and your child form the heart of our educational team and we need your support and input to make our instructional program the very best that it can be.


Jerry Vlasic
Mackenzie Boyle



How do Students qualify for GATE in IUSD?

Frequently Asked Questions about the IUSD GATE Program

Frequently Asked Questions about the IUSD APAAS Program





Current and Previous Enrichment Options for ALL Vista Verde Students

Spelling Bee

Math Club

Middle School Jeopardy

Afternoon of Origami

Earth Day

Egg Drop


Chess competitions

Viking Voices

National History Day


UCI Math Circle for
Middle School Students

The UCI Math Circle is a tuition-free annual enrichment program open to every high school or middle school student who is mathematically curious and wants to discover the power of mathematical thinking. The main goal of the circle is to enhance appreciation of mathematics, and teach interesting mathematics not covered in a typical school curriculum. Participants are actively engaged in sessions of problem solving, specifically designed to empower their mathematical thinking skills. For middle school students the prerequisites are an interest in math and being able to do basic algebraic manipulations, at about the level of Algebra 1.

Meetings are organized by a group of talented and enthusiastic graduate students from UCI, who are eager to share their passion for mathematics.

GATE Advisory Committee Meeting AKA (GATE AEFA-GATE Academic Enrichment For all)

Vista Verde's GATE Advising Committee

Tiya Corrigan chair

Advisory Committee Planning Meetings:
Dates announced in weekly PTA e-news

GATE Parent and Information Nights:


Parents Resources for GATE

Bloom’s Taxonomy in Higher Level Learning
A great deal has been written about Bloom's Taxonomy. There are many educators and schools that find it helpful. In the 1950’s, Bloom, along with other educators, felt there was a need to categorize educational objectives.
They basically wanted to understand different levels of thinking and how these levels, and progressing through them, helped with learning.
Some refer to these levels as a “stairway” and students are often encouraged to climb as high as they can.
There are six levels in Bloom’s Taxonomy. The first three are considered lower levels.
It begins with Knowledge which refers to memorizing information.
The second is Comprehension. Here a student should be able to explain and interpret different concepts.
The third is Application. This is defined as the ability to solve problems and comprehend new circumstances.
The next three: Analysis is the process of breaking down diverse facts and ideas and appreciating how they relate to one another.
Synthesis involves developing new and diverse approaches to a problem and creating something new.
Finally, Evaluation requires making judgements and decisions based on existing criteria.
During the 1990’s, Lorin Anderson recognized a need to update his former teacher’s Taxonomy in an effort to make it more pertinent for 21st century students and teachers.
The new version begins with Remembering. Can a student remember the information?
Understanding involves the student explaining what he or she has learned.
Applying requires the student to use the information in a new and different way.
Analyzing: Can the student differentiate between different parts?
Evaluating involves the student justifying a stand or decision.
Finally, Creating, Is the student able to come up with a new idea or point of view?
Although some of Anderson’s ideas are similar to Bloom’s, some important changes have been made.
Bloom made use of verbs to use in questioning a student to see what he or she understands. Anderson makes use of nouns.

Why is raising a gifted child so challenging?
Gifted children often exhibit unique social and emotional needs that may include a strong sense of justice, extreme idealism, moral intensity, perfectionism, hypersensitivity, and unreasonably high expectations for themselves and others. They can be emotionally hypersensitive, such as to criticism, and/or physically hypersensitive, such as to touch and smell. Some may appear to be perpetual motion machines, or show wide swings in mood and maturity. Their vast emotional range can make them appear contradictory – aggressive and timid, mature and immature, arrogant and compassionate – depending on the situation. They may push the limits of rules at home and school, challenge their parents and teachers with constant questioning and engage in risky behavior. The discrepancies between their physical, emotional, and intellectual development make parenting and teaching gifted children especially challenging. You may benefit from joining a support group for parents of gifted children as a way to meet others who share your concerns; if there are no groups in your area, consider starting one of your own.

Questions and Answers

Identifying Your Gifted Child (Resources)

Nurturing Giftedness at Home

Social and Emotional Need (Resources)