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The JAWS Curriculum (Joining Ability with Subjects)

The JAWS classroom is designed to meet the needs of students who have exceptional ability by offering challenging and enriching learning experiences through differentiated instruction. Challenge comes from an advanced content, interaction with intellectual peers, and projects and activities that create a need for organization, and study skills. Teaching strategies include an emphasis on problem-solving, critical thinking skills, creativity skills and the development of research skills.


Students attend their home school four days a week and their JAWS learning enrichment classroom one day a week. The JAWS enrichment classrooms are located in several elementary schools throughout the district. Bus transportation is provided from the student’s home school to their JAWS site. Students are bussed back to their home school before the end of the school day.
JAWS enrichment pull-out classes are currently located at the following schools:
  • Browns Point
  • Fawcett
  • Lowell
  • Skyline

The JAWS program serves students one day per week, in a pull-out model.  The JAWS curriculum is a challenging three year course of study that develops skills, attitudes and self- understanding.  Participation in JAWS offers students an opportunity to explore aspects of giftedness through the cognitive and affective domains.  Academically it is differentiated for highly capable students, with work of greater depth and complexity in high interest areas outside the regular core curriculum.  The JAWS program enriches and supplements the regular core curriculum; it does not supplant it. 

A student successfully completing the JAWS curriculum is on the way to becoming a competent, self-motivated, lifelong learner who can do research and gather information, think critically and creatively, communicate with others and problem solve.  The JAWS program has five areas of focus which are taught through various content/lessons at each grade level.  The list below offers examples of what students may experience while in the JAWS program.


 Attitude and Self-Awareness Skills


Gifted students experience asynchronous development, (that is, uneven development in their intellectual, physical, social and emotional growth).  They also have an unusual perspective on the world around them.  The gifted must learn how to best use their cognitive powers to make sense of their emotional and social needs.  All too often, the pressure to achieve has negative effects on the emotional development of the gifted that have not been given the opportunity to know themselves as people and learners.  This kind of learning is needed throughout the academic career.  Students should know and understand techniques and principles of social cooperation.  In JAWS, students will develop/strengthen their self-awareness and social skills through experiences relating to:


  • An understanding of “giftedness”
  • Learning terms, definitions, behaviors and characteristics
  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • Self –management
  • Using appropriate behavior
  • Setting high standards for work
  • Persevering (being persistent)
  • Time-management
  • Determining goals
  • Setting and reaching deadlines
  • Risk Taking
  • Trying difficult, new things (without guaranteed success)
  • Student Interests
  • Exploring high interest areas and developing new interests
  • Empathy toward others
  • Understanding and respecting people’s feelings

 Research Skills


Research is the art of investigation.  Teaching research is a developmental process.  Many gifted learners work independently in their areas of high interest or unusual ability.  Therefore, methods of research, research concepts, and research location skills are needed if gifted learners are to move efficiently along the continuum toward more autonomous learning.  In JAWS, students will develop/strengthen their research skills by:


  • Using Information
  • Making use of multiple sources (primary and secondary)
  • Drawing from various forms (oral, written, numerical and picture information)
  • Collecting Information
  • Applying various methods to gather, analyze and interpret data
  • Using library/technological tools with increased independence     
  • Interviewing
  • Learning how to obtain, conduct and process an interview
  • Developing a Product
  • Producing appropriate, creative works (a task/goal is met in a novel/creative way)
  • Presenting findings in a variety of ways (oral, written, technological or 3-D forms)

 Critical Thinking Skills


Critical thinking is a composite of attitudes, knowledge, and skills that facilitate in-depth, reflective research for valid conclusions which solve problems, resolve doubts, and enable choices.  “Learning is learning to think” (John Dewey).  Students should know and understand the components of various systems of thinking.  Societies need thinkers and problem solvers.  In JAWS, students will develop/strengthen critical thinking skills through:


  • Inquiry Development
  • Solving problems using questioning strategies
  • Problem Solving
  • Identifying the real problem
  • Forming a hypothesis
  • Providing and verifying solutions
  • Logic
  • Utilizing inductive and deductive reasoning
  • Making inferences
  • Metacognition
  • Explaining thought processes and how solutions are reached
  • Understanding levels of thinking (simple to complex)
  • Comprehending how one learns (brain research, learning styles, multiple intelligences)
  • Evaluation
  • Critiquing based on student/teacher developed criteria
  • Assessing processes/products

 Creative Thinking Skills


“Without knowledge, imagination cannot be productive.  Without imagination, abundant knowledge cannot help us to live in a world of change.  Without the ability to synthesize, evaluate, and develop our ideas, we achieve no creativity.” (Parnes)  Creative thinking can be taught and enhanced in environments that allow for ambiguity, openness, questioning, production, independence, exploration, inferring, testing hypotheses, and creative expression.  Societies need creative thinkers and problem solvers who invent/find alternate solutions.  In JAWS, students will develop/strengthen creative thinking skills through various methods including some of the following creative thinking techniques:


  • Brainstorming
  • Generating many ideas about a topic
  • Webbing/Charting
  • Using “webs” and other graphic charts to organize, illustrate and promote ideas
  • Applying “CPS”
  • Using the Creative Problem Solving Model’s step-by-step format to find a solution
  • Practicing “FFOE”
  • Participating in activities designed to foster “Fluency, Flexibility, Originality and Elaboration”

 Communication Skills


Gifted students need to develop self-awareness, learn to work with others, and contribute to their community.  They need to learn how to function in a group, as well as independently.  Communication is a key to dealing with others.  In JAWS, students will develop/strengthen communication skills in the following areas:


  • Individual
  • Listening to and valuing other’s ideas
  • Establishing and defending own point of view (debates or position papers)
  • Small Group
  • Understanding group roles
  • Negotiating
  • Dealing with conflicts
  • Learning to compromise and reach a consensus
  • Participating in cooperative decision making
  • Making choices from alternatives
  • Community
  • Conducting interviews/surveys (Viewing the community as a source of information)
  • Presenting/ Exhibiting/Performing oral, written or dramatic works
  • Using guest speakers or mentors
  • Getting involved with community issues/events/services

 Challenge Program Links