Gifted Services

For students who show outstanding intellectual ability which requires more enrichment activities and opportunities in and out of the classroom. Students who meet the necessary eligibility requirements may be admitted to Norwin's gifted program at the elementary level, SEAL (Seminar for Elementary Advanced Learners) or at the secondary level, SOAR (Secondary Options Are Realized). Our (2) gifted case managers enrich opportunities for elementary students. Gifted case managers (2) at both the middle school and high school, work with the instructional activities to challenge our gifted students to reach their full potential.

Gifted Support Secretary:
Tammie Lasswell
724-861-3000 x1129
[email protected]

Grades K-4 Gifted Program:

In the K-4 elementary schools SEAL (Seminar of Elementary Advanced Learners) students are pulled out of the regular education program for 90 minutes per week to attend enrichment experiences with the SEAL teacher. The SEAL students participate in hands-on extension activities which enrich the academic content provided at Norwin. This approach provides the children with opportunities to connect what they are learning in the two learning environments to make deeper connections. In addition, students typically focus on two annual goals each year. The eight areas of focus include: reading, comprehension, presenting, writing, mathematics, social studies, science, and technology. The goals are worked upon in the regular and SEAL classroom settings.

Elementary Gifted Coordinator-Case Manager of Grades K-4
Dr. Rachel Kalberer
724-861-3000, x6338
[email protected]

Grades 5-6 Hillcrest Gifted Program:

Students attend SEAL during ER time, which is 4 days out of the 6 day cycle. The students are there by team working with kids from their grade level. During this time, students are taught a STEM curriculum which focuses on the Engineering Design Process and careers. Topics include forensics, biomedical engineering, and geotechnical engineering. Students also organize a STEM career fair for the school. The SEAL units take what is taught in the regular classes and show the students how those skills are applied in real life. One day out of each cycle is designated as “goal day.” This time is set aside for students to work on their individualized GIEP goals. Students can write, research, program, complete any other task that is part of their goal, which is based on students’ strengths and tied to the state standards.

Students also work in “interest” groups. These groups are multiage including both 5th and 6th grade students. Students are surveyed and organized according to their interests multiple times throughout the year, meeting with a group for six to nine weeks before moving to another interest group.

Coordinator of Intermediate Level Gifted Education-Case Manager of Grades 5-6:
Mrs. Trisha R. Brunazzi
724-861-3015, x1504
[email protected]
Grades 7-8 Middle School Gifted Program:

Middle school students identified as “gifted” are invited to participate in the SOAR (Secondary Options are Realized) Program. SOAR students are encouraged to enroll in the gifted cohort classes: Ancient Studies and Science Exploration in seventh grade; and American Studies and English Studies in eighth grade. In these classes, teachers provide enrichment to students who engage at a deep level alongside their gifted peers. When appropriate as per students’ specific learning needs, gifted students are provided with acceleration in math so that students who require advanced instruction may enroll in the next grade level’s math course. Additionally, via individualized instruction during Activity Period and their study hall periods, all gifted students are mentored to accomplish their respective goals outlined in their GIEPs. Gifted students are supported by the Coordinator of Secondary Gifted Education, whose office is located at the Middle School. Finally, students are provided with information regarding contests and learning opportunities outside of school, and strongly encouraged to participate in various school-related activities and competitions.

Coordinator of Secondary Gifted Education and Case Manager grades 7 and 8:
Mrs. Kelly Sevin
724-861-3000, x4122
[email protected]
Grades 9-12 High School Gifted Program:

High school students identified as gifted are provided with the opportunity to explore subjects of interest and challenge themselves intellectually by enrolling in enriched and/or accelerated classes (SOAR classes, honors classes, and advanced placement classes). A specific “SOAR Projects” class is available to seniors who want to engage in an independent study facilitated by their SOAR advisor. In all advanced classes, gifted high schoolers are expected to work toward personal goals they set as described within their individual GIEPs. Gifted students are also encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities (competitions, clubs, and organizations) according to their individual strengths and learning needs.
Coordinator of Secondary Gifted Education and Case Manager grades 9-12: 
Dr. Ciminy St. Clair 
724-861-3000, x3811
[email protected]
Gifted Case Managers:
Mrs. Larissa Sturm - Grade 12
724-861-3000, x3227
[email protected]
Mrs. Katie Kauffman
724-861-3000, x 3123
Saint Vincent Literacy Competitions
Marble Race
Quiz Bowl

Hillcrest Intermediate
24 Competition
Quiz Bowl
Saint Vincent Literacy Competitions

Norwin Middle School
Science Olympiad
Science Challenge Squad
Robotics Club/Competitions
Reading Competition
Spelling Bee
National Geography Bee

Norwin High School
Quiz Team/Quiz Bowl
Science Bowl
Pennsylvania Association of Gifted Education

Pennsylvania Department of Education: Gifted Education

Council on Exceptional Children

National Association for Gifted Children

PEGS - Pennsylvanians for Education of Gifted Students

Norwin PAGE Norwin PAGE
Hillcrest Intermediate School

Social Studies Grade 5

Global Studies Grade 6

Norwin Middle School

Grade 7 Literacy Studies

This course is designed to provide instruction in basic reading skills according to the PA Standards for Reading and Writing and in addition to applicable IEP Goals. Topics include the following: Author’s purpose, setting, conflict, characterization, elements of plot, theme, summarizing, making inferences, finding the main idea, and poetic elements. Instruction is provided through a variety of literary genres, including historical fiction, biography, autobiography, science fiction, fantasy, realistic fiction, mythology, fables, poetry, and drama. Fostering reading as an independent activity is also a goal. Supplementary materials are also included. Among other novels available for additional reading, Animal Farm is read and discussed as a class. Practice in writing to prompts will prepare students for the genre of test- taking, including the PSSA in Reading.

Grade 7 Biological Studies

Biological Studies is an advanced version of Life Science specially designed to meet the needs of the SOAR student. These students follow the basic Life Science curriculum; however, additional topics are also included such as forensics, karyotyping, and paleogeography. A field trip, which includes many hands-on activities, also enriches the existing course of study. Class discussions are conducted on a higher level and tests include more essay type questions, which encourage students to use higher level thinking skills. During the second semester, Biology students prepare and present their SOAR teaching projects. Students are expected to select a section from the textbook, supplement it with outside research, develop a lesson plan, and then teach that lesson to the class. In this way, they help to enrich their own curriculum with their chosen topics and they become more independent in their quest for knowledge.

Grade 8 English Studies

This course consists of intense instruction in grammar, sentence and paragraph writing, and literature, focusing on the four genres: the short story, the drama, the novel, and poetry. There is a focus on informative and persuasive essay writing using the TEX3I format, including the effective use of the writing process, writing appropriate and effective introductions and conclusions, and using textual support. Vocabulary development is approached through a variety of vocabulary activities including SAT preparation and context clues. In addition, students complete an extensive independent project on a supplementary novel, which may involve research, writing, speaking, artwork, or a particular strength that students may decide to showcase. A number of enrichment activities also permit students to guide their own learning.

Grade 8 American Studies

American Studies is an advanced course of US/PA Studies. The American Studies class follows the basic curriculum of the US/PA Studies course and additionally covers topics more in depth and with an emphasis on critical thinking skills, oral and written communication, and creative thinking. The needs of the SOAR student are met by focusing on debate skills, journal writing, and literary analysis. Students read and complete an independent project on a novel. Students also participate in a field trip where they engage in hands-on activities. Independence is encouraged as students have the opportunity to design the final product in various enrichment activities.

Norwin High School

SOAR Projects

This is an elective course, which allows SOAR students to complete an independent study. Students develop project contracts, with teacher guidance, and then complete the steps in the contract throughout the course. Examples of SOAR Projects are foreign language study, computer art, college and career investigations, etc. With few exceptions, students’ interests can serve as the basis for an independent study. This course does not receive a grade or credit. It does not count toward the seven-credit requirement. It will appear on the transcript.

SOAR Freshman English

This year-long course will replace the required freshman English course with emphasis on critical thinking and essay writing.

SOAR Freshman Communications II

This is a one-semester course which will replace the required freshman writing course. It will move quickly through topics such as grammar and basic sentence structure and will allow students to spend time developing more complex writing skills. Emphasis will be placed on learning and utilizing the writing process. Public speaking will also be developed.

SOAR US and PA Studies II

This is a year-long course offered in lieu of US and PA Studies II. The course is a continuation of the 8th grade SOAR US Studies class and will provide a topical approach to social studies encompassing most of the social sciences including history, economics, and geography. In accordance with established SOAR goals, students will also be exploring leadership styles and techniques while they analyze and evaluate the successes and failures of important historical and political figures. Additionally, field trips relevant to the curriculum will be scheduled to local cultural and historical sites to enhance the students’ social and cultural capital.
Moodle Online Learning

What is Moodle?

The word Moodle is an acronym for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.

Moodle is an open source Learning Management System (LMS) used at many schools and universities worldwide. Moodle allows students to access course resources and materials from any Internet connected computer, regardless of the Operating System. Moodle will work with most Web browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and others).

Moodle Websites

K-4 Gifted Moodle requires an access key which is available from Ms. St. Clair

5-6 Gifted Moodle requires an access key which is available from Ms. St. Clair

7-8 Gifted Moodle

9-12 Gifted Moodle
Norwin School District utilizes a two level screening process to determine whether a formal gifted evaluation is recommended. However, a parent may request a gifted evaluation at any time (limited to one request every 365 days).

All first and fifth grade students will be administered the Cognitive Abilities Test. The Cognitive Abilities Test measures student’s learned reasoning abilities in the three areas most linked to academic success in school: Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal. It is a group administered ability test, not an individualized IQ test. Test results will be reviewed by the school counselor and recommendations will be made for students to proceed to the gifted screening*

*If a student is referred as a potential gifted candidate outside of the district-wide screening process (by school staff or a parent), they would begin with the gifted screening.

Gifted Screening
During the Gifted Screening process, students will be administered a brief measure of intelligence and academic achievement. Additional data collected will include teacher rating scales and consideration of current classroom grades and performance. Using this data, a decision will be made as to whether a formal gifted evaluation is recommended. Regardless of the recommendation, parents may choose to proceed with a formal gifted evaluation at any time, with a limit of one request every 365 days.  

If a formal gifted evaluation is recommended or requested by a parent, signed parental consent is required prior to beginning the evaluation. The formal evaluation consists of a full-length intelligence assessment and the collection of additional parent and teacher input including rates of acquisition and retention.

The Pennsylvania Chapter 16 guidelines indicate that students with gifted ability are defined as “a student who has an IQ of 130 or higher or when multiple criteria as set forth in this chapter and in Department Guidelines indicate gifted ability.” The Norwin School District uses information gathered throughout the screening and evaluation process to determine whether a student meets criteria and is in need of gifted services. The Norwin School District utilizes tests and evaluation materials that are free from racial and cultural bias and bias based on disability.

*In the event that a student is found ineligible, parents at their own expense, may obtain an independent evaluation. The school district is required to consider the information when making a decision regarding student identification. A list of approved psychologists can be provided at parent request.