Reflections – In-Service Day with Dr. Renzulli

Renzulli Workshop

On Friday, I got to travel to the Avery Coonley, a school in the western suburbs of Chicago which also has a focus on gifted education, to attend a workshop with Dr. Joseph Renzulli. This was my first true exposure to the work of Dr. Renzulli, who has been been a major contributor to the research and building a framework to define giftedness in students since I was a student in one of the first gifted programs in the public middle school that I attended.

I appreciated seeing how my education was forged by the framework created by Dr. Renzulli. I now have a deeper understanding how the class was constructed using the enrichment triad model. I loved being able to development my own project and go deeper into the issue, what I have now learned as a type 3 engagement. These were some of the projects which I still remember to this day, many years later.

Looking at Dr. Renzulli’s work through the lens of of both a 21st Century Learning and a Technology Integration models and frameworks, I am amazed how pioneering his work is. The enrichment triad model is a similar model to the definition of excellent teaching in both of the new frameworks. We employ type 1, the general exploratory activities to build a context and perspective, a common vocabulary, to form a foundation for the learning community to begin to study a particular idea or concept. We follow up with the type 2 work, group training activities to build the skills needed to dig deeper into the idea or concept. These will include both the technology skills, but also research, interviewing, and other skills to allow the learner to gather information and then use it to make new connections. This then follows with the type 3 focus on investigating a real world problem either individually or with small groups. At the end, the individual or small group need to build a compelling call to action, not for the audience of one, their teacher, but for the world. Both the Google 20% time or FedEx project are Renzulli type 3 projects, where one explores a passion-based project of their choosing.

What was affirming is that in my own teaching for the past 19 years, I tried to use the Renzulli Enrichment Triad Model as the basis for my teaching, not just of gifted students, but for all students. This model has always resonated with me and I have had great success of engaging students in my classes. These ideals has become the the basis of a goal which I have shared with students for each of the last four years:

It is my goal to enable you to gain the skills so that you can create a call to action for a project which you are passionate about. I want you to be able to communicate this call for action in the medium of your strength so that your message, your call for action, will rise above the “white noise” of other ideas competing for others time and attention.

Afternoon Affinity Group Meetings

At lunch and in the afternoon, we had the opportunity to meet and share with colleagues from the other schools. The lunch meeting was more informal discussion and the scheduled afternoon meetings were more formal meetings with members of the affinity groups which we belonged to.

I had the chance to meet first with the librarians and technology staffs of the other schools, and then only the technology staffs. We had rich conversations about where we were with our programs and what challenges we were experiencing. We had the opportunity to share our thoughts, goals, and ideas. I always enjoy these conversations because even though the specifics of the community are different and each school is at a different location on their journey, connecting with others allows for us to modify and brainstorm new ideas which can be applied to our own situations.

At the end of the day, it was agreed that having the ability to engage in conversations with members of our affinity groups from other schools needs to become more regular and purposeful.

I want to thank my Head of School, Ben Hebebrand and the heads from Avery Coonley, Paul Barton, and the Da Vinci Academy, Scott Etters for making this day possible.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *