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globe smallNearly ten years go, Mackintosh Academy’s leadership recognized the power of the the International Baccalaureate Program for the gifted child.  The IB Primary Years Program (PYP) and Middle Years Program (MYP) provide the gifted child with a context for learning that not only helps them make real and authentic connections to their world but works with their highly inquisitive hearts and minds.

Mackintosh Littleton is hosting a conversation about IB and the Gifted Child on Thursday February 19th @ 9 am  (Littleton campus: 7018 South Prince Street).

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak of four key reasons why IB and the gifted child are “perfect together.”

1.  Addressing “Why?” How often have we heard a child ask, “Why do I need to know this?” The IB’s six transdisciplinary themes provide relevance by connecting learning to the child’s world.  Whether we are studying Colorado History within “Who We Are” or symbols as part of “How We Express Ourselves,” students are given a broader context to connect their learning to themselves and the world around them.

2.  Promoting Depth and Complexity As students progress through their units of inquiry they continually construct meaning and explore higher level thinking concepts.  Each unit is comprised of three lines of inquiry that take the student from the concrete to the more abstract and complex thinking. As our first and second graders explore simple machines under “How the World Works,” they begin with a simply inquiry into machines and work:  What is a machine?  How does it do work?  As they explore and play with levers, wheels and pulleys, they  move to a more advanced inquiry into complex machines and their composition of simpler machines.  Finally the students have the opportunity to connect their studies to their world and explore the relevance of their learning as they conduct an inquiry into how advances in technology change the way people work. They leave the unit with a greater understanding of technology and its tendency to move from simple to complex  as well as the significant concepts of form, function and change.

3.  Teaching EQ as well as IQ  With its IB Learner Profile, the IB framework not only satisfies the intellectual needs of the gifted child, but the emotional needs as well.  Students are encouraged to be internationally-minded and to consider that others, with their differences, can also be right. Students are explicitly taught skills for communication and collaboration.  They learn to be listeners as well as speakers, supporters as well as leaders and to stand up for themselves while being open to different perspectives.

4.  Taking Ideas into Action. Gifted children often have a level of compassion and sense of justice well beyond their years.  The IB Action Cycle encourages the children to take their learning to the next level in creating a better and more peaceful world.  At Mackintosh we not only explore the “what” (What is it? How does it work?), but the “so what” (What’s important about this? How is this learning relevant?) and most importantly the “now what” (What important things can I do with this knowledge? Can my knowledge help me improve the world?)  A study of weather and natural disasters led students to planting trees in burn areas, a study of energy usage led to a grant award for the installation of solar panels on the school.  A study of how animals take care of their young led our very youngest students to make environmental contracts with their families.

Ultimately, the International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world.

The IB framework allows us to meet the intensities of the gifted child through a structured framework that allows for inquiry, creativity, critical thinking and design.  It ensures that learning has relevance and meaning and encourages our compassionate children to make a difference in their world.  Finally it allows us to maintain the tenet that questions are more important than answers.


By Beth Steklac, Admissions Director and Assistant Head of School, Littleton Campus

Mackintosh Academy Littleton