About 18 months ago, the founders of iGifted School began to search for academically Gifted and Talented students in the Naples, Florida area in order to test an idea about the value of providing virtual supplemental education material that included facilitated interaction with a teacher. We ran a Beta Test of a Math Club for middle school students, with students from three different school systems; and introduced them to Probability Theory. Our sample is small, but 100% of the parents and students who participated in our Focus Groups said that it was an excellent idea, and our pre and post testing showed rapid and strong learning patterns. We are now redesigning the Math Club to include the ideas we have gathered from participants, parents, and teachers.
The purpose of this post is to introduce you to our Debate Club. Debate is an area that has been included in educational experience for over a century, but due to the cost of operation has been dramatically reduced or eliminated completely. The primary cost of academic Debate is the travel involved with getting students, parents, coaches, and chaperones to debate tournament sites for competition. The iGifted School concept eliminates those costs through modern technology which allows students to participate online for learning, team building, and competition.
Our Beta Test conducted this past Spring received rave reviews from both parents and students. We were particularly gratified to receive very positive comments from Homeschoolers.
The student experience with Debate Club begins with the Building Blocks of Debate through which students learn the elements of successful debate. This is followed by a series of practice debates which will prepare them to compete on a nationwide basis. We are extremely fortunate to have a world class Debate Advisory Board that includes former collegiate debaters and coaches who have gone on to successful careers and who attribute much of their success to debate. The Thought Leader of our Debate Advisory Board is Dr. William Colburn, Professor Emeritus from the University of Michigan, who coached the university debate team, taught communication courses, and published books on the elements of successful debating.
The Building Blocks are available via web cast which the students can view on their own time and as often as they would like. Each Building Block has a short work product which the student can use to demonstrate their understanding of that portion of the program.As in our Math Club, students will initially create and then participate as avatars, verbally and in videos. In this way they can not only be encouraged to take intellectual risk, but their actual identity is shielded from all participants and coaches thereby eliminating risk of harassment or bullying. We believe this will help those who are reluctant to speak publicly to overcome their shyness.
Here are some key features that you should know:
- There is no cost to the students iGifted School is currently self-funded which requires us to limit enrollment. We hope to raise sponsorship funds and donations to fund the future growth.
- We are focused on Middle Schoolers, so grade equivalents of 6-8. The program is intended for academically gifted students. However there are no barriers such as testing or evaluations. The majority of school systems that I have reviewed seem to think that an IQ test at 130 or above is the baseline for academic Gifted.
- The amount of time that a student puts into the program will vary. Students will have access to the Building Blocks, archives of discussions within their teams, etc. 24/7. In addition students will be able to do research and present evidence within their team space as well as writing drafts for briefs as often as they would like. Upon completion of the Building Blocks, students are placed into teams, and then provided coaching to prepare them for live debates in front of an experienced debate judge. Our experience to date says that this will take about three hours a week of online time per student.
- It is accurate to say that:
- The Building Blocks are made up of ten minute videos, and students will be able to return to them as much as they would like. We anticipate that the resulting work products will take about an hour per week.
- After completion of the Building Blocks the practice debates will begin.
- Once team members begin gathering research and evidence on an issue, they will have access and be able to post information for their team at any time.
Enrollment is limited, so prompt response is advised. If you are interested, please fill out the pre-registration form and I will be in contact with you shortly. You can always send me your questions via e-mail or just leave a comment below.