The Bell School Regional Gifted Center provides students with an accelerated and enriched curriculum that exceeds the goals and the requirements of the State of Illinois and the Chicago Board of Education. The curriculum is vertical; the content and activities at each grade level provide the foundation for successive grade levels and build upon the foundations established in previous grades.
The curriculum focuses on two aspects of learning: content (the actual information presented in each subject area) and process (the methods of instruction and modalities of learning). The primary content areas include literature, language arts, social studies, math, and science. In addition, students take courses in art, music, computer, library science, and physical education. The emphasis in the program is on an experiential process of learning (i.e., children learn by doing).
From first through eighth grade, social studies, literature, and language arts are woven together into an integrated core curriculum; science and math are integrated where possible.
From the first grade, all reading instruction is based upon picture books, novels, poetry, short stories, biographies, and non-fiction. In the early grades, children are introduced to a wide selection of fine children's literature. From fifth through eighth grade, reading selections correspond primarily to the social studies curriculum, and include children's literature, juvenile and adult recognized classics, and primary source material.
The social studies curriculum focuses on the history and geography of the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, the United States, and the world. Within these areas, students are introduced to the study of governments, architecture, philosophy, economics, and the arts. Current events are stressed throughout the grades.
The focus of the language arts curriculum is on communication through writing and speaking. Throughout the grades, children are taught and practice correct grammar and the conventions of writing and speaking. They follow the writing process from pre-writing through publishing. Student writing takes many forms, including journals, poetry, essays, and research papers. Much of the writing is based on the literature the children read and on the social studies content area they study. Extemporaneous and prepared speaking is reinforced in classroom discussions, presentations, and projects.
The science curriculum emphasizes the scientific process: question, hypothesis, experiment, results, and conclusion. Children are continually involved in hands-on experimentation in grades one through five; and students in grades six through eight participate in daily laboratory science in a fully equipped science lab. The science content areas include physical, life, and earth sciences. Children in grades one, three, five, and seven participate in the science fair.
Reflecting the current best practice thinking, this gifted center places the focus of mathematics onto concepts and problem-solving, while continuing to reinforce computational skills. By the end of sixth grade, the students have completed a course of study comparable to the typical eight year math curriculum. In seventh and eighth grades, students complete a full year of high school level algebra.