Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

What is Renzulli?

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The Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment Program is based on a gifted education model developed by Joseph Renzulli, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut.

In developing his educational model in the late 1970s, Renzulli said he discovered that a child could be gifted and talented, with a combination of above-average ability, creativity and task commitment. Having a superior ability in any area is not necessarily important, he said, but focusing on ‘‘creative productivity” or the application of learning, is.

‘‘We can develop gifted behaviors in a lot more kids if we provide them with the opportunities, resources, encouragement and commitment to work on them and follow through on them,” Renzulli told The Gazette this week.

This approach is ‘‘all organized common sense,” he added, and applying the model to all students improves the entire school.

The idea that gifted education could be applied to the whole school set his model apart from previous thinking about gifted and talented education, Renzulli said. In Frederick County Public Schools, three types of enrichment activities are available in the Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment Program – those that expose a student to experiences not available in the curriculum, that encourage high-level thinking and reasoning skills and those that use research skills and result in a final product.

Donna Chesno, coordinator of gifted and talented programs for Frederick County Public Schools, said Renzulli Schoolwide Enrichment is based on student interest, unlike traditional gifted and talented programs that focus on curriculum in content areas. These models often require students to learn at a higher grade-level. Renzulli programs are a good way to meet the needs of students who have a variety of talents, interests and abilities, Chesno added. She noted the program’s democratic approach and said, ‘‘every student who would like to participate, has the option.”

Renzulli said his model is widely used in Maryland and that many educators from the state have participated in training workshops at the University of Connecticut and in Maryland.