Gifted and Talented Programming at Carson

Gifted and Talented Programming at Carson

Cluster Grouping Model

Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model (SCGM) is an inclusion model that purposefully integrates students with exceptional learning needs into mixed ability classrooms and allows teachers to provide appropriate differentiation opportunities for anyone who needs them. Cluster grouping provides the opportunity for gifted students to interact with their intellectual and same-age peers. Through cluster grouping, the intellectual, social and emotional needs of gifted students can be addressed.

Push In Services

There is no one method for meeting the needs of our gifted population. At Carson, we utilize assessment data, our relationships with students and knowledge of best practices in gifted education to meet their individual needs through differentiated instruction, compacting curriculum and strategically grouping. Our GT teacher collaborates with classroom teachers to enrich and extend the core curriculum, co-teach, model lessons using specific gifted differentiation strategies, and provides targeted professional development to build the capacity of our staff.


Identification of gifted and talented students occurs year round. Denver Public Schools’ universal testing happens every fall in Kindergarten and second grades. Students in first, third, fourth and fifth grades need to be nominated for testing by parents / guardians. The GT teacher at Carson will administer all of the testing. If a student qualifies from these cognitive tests, more data will be collected that includes academic performance and an observation scale rating.

Advanced Learning Plan Documentation

Once a student has met all of the criteria for formal gifted and talented identification, an Advanced Learning Plan (ALP) will be created every school year. The GT teacher will send out a google form survey for families to fill out academic and affective goals. This information is shared with classroom teachers to discuss the student’s chosen goals, as well as strategies and supports on how to implement them into the classroom. Since all ALP goals are standards aligned, they are met within the classroom curriculum organically and are not separate curriculum for gifted students. 

Professional Development

At Carson, teachers receive professional development from the GT teacher on programming, writing ALPs, differentiation strategies and project based learning. Many teachers are certified through the district and haven taken three courses in gifted education that cover instructional strategies, programming and assessment, and curriculum and practicum.


Some of Carson’s highlighted differentiation strategies that can be found within classrooms are depth & complexity, questioning techniques, choice boards, Kingore activity cards, Socratic Seminars, and Philosophical Chairs. Other ways in which teachers meet the needs of their gifted learners are through compacting and accelerating curriculum, designing tiered lessons, and promoting creativity within activities so that students are able to naturally take their learning as far as it can go.

Project Based Learning

PBL is a teaching method where students gain knowledge and skills by working for a long period of time to investigate an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem or challenge. Students then demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience. This style of learning brings relevance into the classroom and encourages students to become independent workers and critical thinkers. At Carson, the GT teacher meets with classroom teachers to thoughtfully extend and enhance the current curriculum through a PBL model for all students, not just gifted and talented students. Depending on teacher interest and timing, the GT teacher may complete 6-week co-planning and co-teaching cycles at different grade levels. Examples of past PBLs include a Dream Design math project in third grade and A Call to Action literacy project in fourth grade.

Math Acceleration

All students, not just H/GT students, are eligible for math acceleration at Carson! Each year in the spring, we consider candidates using multiple data points that include iReady and teacher recommendations. iReady diagnostic scores need to be at or above the 95%ile and show significant mastery of the student’s next grade level standards. Teacher recommendations need to show mastery of current grade level standards through classwork and end of unit Bridges assessments. Once a student qualifies, they may attend math class only in the grade level above their current grade.

Affective Needs

Carson has a strong character education program as well as lessons that focus on managing social and emotional growth through a mindfulness model, Sanford Harmony curriculum, and zones of regulation strategies. Gifted and talented students receive this knowledge and education within their grade level classrooms.


DPS Gifted Website

Depth & Complexity

Project Based Learning

Cluster Model

CDE Gifted and Talented Website

2023 Back to School Night Slideshow