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Middle School Gifted Education (“O.W.L.”) Course Syllabus

2017-2018 Gifted Education (“O.W.L.”) Course Syllabus

Mrs. Angie Fears

Windsor Middle School 464-4417 ext. 4901

Course Description: O.W.L. (Outstanding Windsor Learners) is an academic program for students who have met the Windsor C-1 qualifying criteria for gifted and talented educational services. At Windsor Middle School, O.W.L. students are scheduled to meet daily for one class period. The course is designed to be a support system that addresses the emotional and social needs of the gifted and provides strategies for coping with life’s situations. It is also designed to be a student-centered environment that challenges students to fully develop their interests and abilities.  This is accomplished through individual and group projects, extended challenges, enriching experiences that emphasize higher-order thinking skills (such as problem solving, divergent and critical thinking, and logic), and/or modifications to curriculum.

Course Objectives: The ultimate goal of O.W.L. is to help gifted students become autonomous (independent, self-directed) learners who have a lifelong desire to achieve their full potential and become productive contributors to society. This goal will be addressed in the following ways:

  • By exploring new interests and uncovering students’ passions
  • By having opportunities to discover, develop, and express personal gifts and talents through a combination of group discussions and individualized projects.
  • By practicing effective communication skills in formal and informal settings, with a variety of groups and individuals.
  • By setting goals and developing time management and organizational skills.

Difficulty level, depth of study, and degree of autonomy when selecting and completing projects will increase from one grade level to the next:  6th graders will complete a number of short-term  “investigations” over the course of the year;  7th graders will be expected to complete a few investigations and at least one “seminar;” 8th graders will be expected to complete a minimum of either two “seminars” or one “in-depth study.”  (The Autonomous Learner Model, by George Betts and Jolene Kercher, provides the foundation on which the O.W.L. class is built.)

Classroom Expectations & Responsibilities:

  • All students are expected to follow Windsor’s Code of Conduct (Student Planner pg. 2).
  • Students should also follow the WMS Behavior Matrix guidelines (Student Planner p. 5) for being respectful, responsible, and safe at all times.
  • In the O.W.L. classroom, the Matrix expectations are described in the following manner:

Be Responsible

1. Always be prepared for class.

2. Be on time and make good use of time.

3. Make good choices. Take care of things and each other.

4. Be honest and own the consequences of your actions.

Be Respectful

1. Always use good manners and treat people considerately.

2. Leave the room as you found it (or better!).

3. Be a good listener and follow directions immediately.

Be Safe

1. Keep your hands, feet, and other objects to yourself (KYHFOOTY!).

2. Use objects the way they are meant to be used.

3. Listen and follow directions immediately in an emergency.

  • Students should be active participants during all group discussions and learning activities.
  • Students should pursue excellence rather than perfection in all that they do.
  • The pursuit of excellence will require students to work on O.W.L. projects outside of class!

Discipline Policy: The official MS Student Discipline Policy is located in the Student Planner on pages 21-31.  The decision not to follow the O.W.L. Classroom Expectations & Responsibilities and/or the MS Student Discipline Policy will result in the following actions:  (1) An initial minor offense will be addressed through teacher-student conferences, re-teaching of appropriate behaviors, and/or loss of classroom privileges.  (2)  A minor offense that is repeated will be addressed through teacher-parent contacts (note, e-mail, phone call).  (3) The accumulation of three minor offenses will result in an office referral.  (4) Major offenses will result in an immediate office referral.

Grading Policy and Scale:  Due to the emphasis on project-based learning, actual point values will be used to “weight” O.W.L. grades rather than the “75% summative/25% participation” formula used in most classes.  Approximately one-third of the grade will be based on planner checks, journal entries, and other class participation, while two-thirds of the grade will be based on short- and long-term projects, classroom assignments, and occasional quizzes.  Final exams will be worth 10% of the overall semester grade. Grades will be tabulated using the following percentages:

93-100 A 87-89 B+ 77-79 C+ 67-69 D+ 0-59 F
90-92 A- 83-86 B 73-76 C 63-66 D
80-82 B- 70-72 C- 60-62 D-

As a general rule of thumb, projects that meet the minimal requirements but appear sloppy or hastily done will earn a “C” grade at best, while projects that are neatly and carefully done, exhibit a great deal of detail and/or creativity, and elicit a feeling of pride (“This was the best I could do!”) will be recognized with an “A” grade.

Making Up Work After Absences: Students will have the opportunity to make up any schoolwork that was missed due to an excused absence. In general, students will be allowed one day to get the work completed and turned in for each day they were absent. Full credit will be given for properly completed make-up work following an excused absence.

Late Work Policy:  Time management is an important skill that we will be working on in O.W.L., therefore a 10% deduction for each day that an assignment is late (up to 5) will be incurred (1 day=10%, 2 days=20%, etc.)  Assignments that are 5-10 days late will receive a 50% deduction.  Assignments received 11 or more days late will not be graded but will receive a score of 1 point for completion.

Materials Needed: The following materials will stay in the O.W.L. classroom:

  • 2″-3″ three-ring binder to be used as a portfolio of completed work for all three years
  • Composition book to be used as a journal  (provided by the teacher)
  • USB flash drive (optional)

O.W.L. students will need to bring their Student Planner and a pen/pencil each day.

When and How to Contact Me: My contact information is noted at the top of this syllabus.  My prep period at the MS is from 8:33-9:18.  My web page is on the Windsor website.



(Signed copy of this syllabus is to be pasted inside each student’s planner for future reference).

(updated Aug. 2017)