In 2011, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School embarked on a partnership with the USC
Rossier School of Education to provide every student at our School with access to gifted education
strategies. Working with Dr. Sandra Kaplan, Professor of Clinical Education at USC, our teachers
received high-level professional development throughout the year on how to differentiate the
curriculum while incorporating the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) standards, as defined by the
National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). In the classroom, our students work with intellectual
peers in Reading, Math, and Hebrew, and work collaboratively with grade level peers in Science,
Social Studies, Project Studio, Technology, and the Arts. This is the first partnership of its kind in an
independent school, and we are proud to be pioneers in offering a truly individualized approach to
gifted education curriculum.
Independent Study – Every Student, Every Year!
For an individualized scholarly experience, Elementary School students complete an Independent
Study on a grade level theme, which incorporates asking sophisticated unanswered questions, the
pursuit of a topic of interest, research, and, ultimately, an end-product that exemplifies the learning.
Through this process they explore the challenge to pursue an argument, how to take a position and
defend it, and how to look at a topic from multiple perspectives.
Critical and Creative Thinking: Essential Tools for the 21st Century
Students in Grades K-6 actively learn how to learn and think about their thinking, so that they can
apply these essential skills in a variety of contexts.
• Critical thinking: Students prompt their thinking with depth and complexity by looking at details,
trends, patterns, perspectives and the great unanswered questions of our times. They apply the skills
of proving with evidence, determining the relevance, noting ambiguities, and judging with criteria.
• Creative thinking (what does it actually mean to be creative?): Use divergent thinking to add-to,
re-arrange, substitute, combine, and maximize or minimize.
About the Staff
Dr. Sandra Kaplan is a state and national leader in the field of gifted education and has assumed
the role of President of the California Association for the Gifted and National Association for Gifted
Children. She is the author of numerous books and articles, the recipient of many awards and honors
and is a consultant for several state departments and school districts nationwide on the topics of
education for gifted students.
Karen Anderson (Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School Director of Curriculum and Instruction)
has worked with Dr. Kaplan for seven years as a demonstration teacher, session facilitator and Adjunct
Professor in the MAT@USC program. She specializes in the integration of GATE strategies for English
Language Learners across the disciplines.
Watch a video about our partnership with USC.