Gifted Education (GATE)

Welcome to Gifted Education (GATE)

Dr. William Smith, Director of Student Services

Paige Brill, Principal Barcelona Middle School

Melody Hodges, Gifted Resource Teacher
623-842-8616 ext. 5378

Suzanne Schmit, Gifted Resource Teacher
623-842-8616 ext. 5308


Big Idea Event

It was literally standing room only at our GATE Big Idea Event on Wednesday evening. The AESD gifted students, lead by gifted resource teachers, Melody Hodges and Suzanne Schmit, displayed their final projects and shared interactive experiences with the audience. 
3rd and 4th graders researched and published information about important inventors and inventions. They also conducted a needs assessment to identify a problem and develop an invention to solve that problem. We saw everything from futuristic sports equipment to life-saving, impact-resistant car armor to machines that create building materials from recycled goods. Don't worry, folks. The future looks bright with these creative problem solvers! 
Our 5th and 6th graders became experts in the field of forensic science. After traveling to the Glendale Forensic Lab and conducting in-depth research, they teamed up to plan and implement interactive experiences, helping the audience become forensic scientists! We loved learning how to secure and document a crime scene, dust and analyze fingerprints, identify hair and fibers, question eye-witnesses, examine blood spatter, and analyze bite and track impressions. Science in action! Pretty cool! 
The GATE teachers and students sincerely thank the Barcelona Middle School administration, cafeteria staff, and custodial staff for helping to make this night a success. They also thank all of the parents, homeroom teachers, and administrators for their enthusiastic support of the program. What an incredible year it has been! 

GATE students present their invention and forensic projects

Forensic Science

Our 5th and 6th graders have been challenging themselves to master the methods of forensic scientists. Their observation, analysis, and interdependence skills are being put to task! 

Students practicing forensic science skills  Students practicing forensic science skills 
 Students practicing forensic science skills  Students practicing forensic science skills

Glimpse at GATE

February 2017

 Our year is off to a wonderful start! We have welcomed our new students, and we have started our new Big Idea Units. A GATE Big Idea Unit is a high-interest topic of study that engages our students in authentic academic learning while helping them expand their social skills and Habits of Mind.

 Our 3rd and 4th graders are studying inventions this semester. They will learn important research skills as they choose an interesting inventor and his/her invention to explore. Along with this, they will be journaling about problems and needs they observe in their homes, school and community. They will use this information to inspire, design and develop their very own inventions! Students will create presentations for their research and models for their inventions.

 Our 5th and 6th graders are studying the exciting world of forensic science! They will be involved in analyzing mock blood spatter, fingerprints, eyewitness accounts, and impression evidence. They will research and practice preserving and collecting evidence from a crime scene. They will be creating presentations and interactive experiences to share their learning.

 All of this important work will be shared at our next Big Idea Event on May 2, 2017. Mark your calendars and prepare to be AMAZED! 



GATE Big Idea Event


Glowing Light Bulb.png

After a very challenging semester of learning, innovation, and collaboration, we recently enjoyed our Big Idea Event. GATE students worked hard during our first semester to learn about themselves. They took personality quizzes and multiple intelligences tests. They studied and practiced the Habits of Mind. They researched and reflected on what they learned about themselves. They were then challenged to write, film and edit a TED Talk-style video about their findings. They also created a model to show their intelligences, strengths and personalities.  Nearly 150 audience members had the pleasure of viewing the videos on our iPad theaters and with QR Codes on their personal devices. They also enjoyed browsing the models proudly displayed with the students’ written descriptions.

 This very unique project helped us practice persistence, flexible thinking and finding humor, three very important Habits of Mind that lead to success. We’re so proud of our students and their accomplishments! 

 Watching TED Talks  Nice T-Shirts! :)  Catalina Crew  
 Wonderful Family Support  Hakuna Matata, Ladies!  Celebrating Hard Work  


Habits of Mind
For students growing up in the 21st Century, having knowledge alone is no longer a key indicator of success in life. Children must be equipped with the mindset and disposition to act intelligently when confronted with problems and uncertainties. We have to equip our students with mental attributes such as persistence and flexible thinking. We have to empower them with the skills to act on reliable information, ask the right questions and think critically to confront problems. In the Alhambra GATE Program, we believe the acquisition of these habits is an important key to success. 

Habits of Mind Chart

Developing Our Creative Thinking
Some people believe a person is either creative or not. Today we discussed that everyone has creative potential. When a person works at any skill, he or she can develop that skill. Creative thinking is a process. It takes practice to catch ourselves in thought, ask ourselves to look at problems and ideas from different aspects, and persist to never be satisfied with our first idea. You can help your child develop creative thinking by playing word association games, having your child help you solve problems around the house, and playing the “Yes AND” game! Let me know how your practice goes. Hopefully you will find great joy in the process!

What Are Healthy Expectations?
Understanding our social and emotional needs is one of the important goals for our gifted students. During our Meeting of the Minds, we discussed the expectations we place on ourselves. We talked about the difference between healthy expectations and perfectionism. We also discussed taking responsible risks to try new activities, challenge ourselves, and be honest with others and ourselves. Take a moment to talk to your child about expectations. Finding a healthy balance between work and play, and embracing challenge without bridging into perfectionism, can help us all enjoy life while building our skills and being as successful as we can be.

About the Alhambra GATE Program


Alhambra Elementary School District is dedicated to providing meaningful curriculum and instruction to our eligible gifted students, preparing them to thrive in our global society.

Real World Concepts
Students explore units of study through a project-based approach in topics such as:
  • Natural Disasters
  • Forensic Science
  • Inventions
  • Architecture
  • Environmental Science
  • Service Learning
  • Advertising
  • Documentary Film Making
  • Computer Programing / Code
Technology Exploration
Laptop computers, iPads, SMART Boards, video equipment and other technology tools are used for student research, computer programming, learning experiences, production opportunities and presentation capabilities.

Social Skills
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Habits of Mind
  • Class meetings
Talent Development
  • Logic Activities
  • Problem Solving Strategies
  • Spatial Activities
  • Creative Thinking Activities
  • S.T.E.M. Activities
  • Computer Programing
  • Choice Opportunities
Identification and Assessment Indicators
  • High Academic Achievement
  • Curious Mind
  • Innovative
  • Learns rapidly and easily
  • Intense Focus on Topic of Interest
  • Complex Thinking
  • Creative Problem Solving
  • Original, Unique Ideas
Referral Process
Parents, students, and staff members may refer a student for the Gifted screening process.

Screening Process
  • A completed referral form is submitted to the designated site personnel.
  • The CogAT and Naglieri assessments may be administered.
  • Grades and standardized test results will be considered.
  • Interested parties will be notified of the final results.

Meet the Teachers
Melody Hodges has been an educator for eighteen years, ten of which have been as a gifted resource teacher. When she is not working with her gifted students, Mrs. Hodges loves to travel with her adventurous husband. She also loves hiking, going to the movies, and spending time with family and friends. 

Suzanne Schmit has been an educator for eighteen years, and this is her second year as a gifted resource teacher. Mrs. Schmit enjoys spending time with her beautiful family which includes her dedicated husband, her smart daughter who just started kindergarten this year, and her spunky labrador retriever.