The Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) assists us in designing a program to help fulfill our vision of creating a safe, challenging, and individualized learning environment.
SEM was developed by Dr. Joseph Renzulli of the NEAG Center for the Gifted and Talented. Through his studies of the challenging, creative lessons developed for gifted students, Dr. Renzulli became convinced that the same curriculum could benefit all students. Over 30 years of research led to the development of this model to improve instruction for an entire school.
SEM applies the theory that “a rising tide lifts all ships” by integrating high-end learning into the total school program. SEM consists of three interacting components.
Component 1 – Total Talent Portfolio
The Total Talent Portfolio (TTP) involves systematically gathering information about student’s abilities, interests, learning and expression styles, then utilizing this information to help students set personal goals and design enrichment activities.
Component 2 – Curriculum Modification Techniques
The second component of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) is the use of Curriculum Modification Techniques. These techniques are designed to “adjust levels of required learning so that all students are challenged, increase the number of in-depth learning experiences, and introduce various types of enrichment into regular curricular experiences” (The Schoolwide Enrichment Model by Joseph Renzulli, pg. 28). The use of these modification techniques assists North Star in offering a more individualized education.
The primary ways North Star utilizes this SEM component are through ability grouping, small group instruction, and differentiated instruction. Ability grouping consists of dividing students into groups with similar learning capabilities. All students are ability grouped for math. Elementary students are also ability grouped for language arts. Small group instruction is utilized for reading. Students are divided into small groups of 4-6 students and given reading instruction tailored to their level and abilities.
Differentiation is modifying the curriculum content, processes, or products to best suit the needs, interests, and preferred expression style of an individual or group of students. Differentiation can be used at all grade levels and in every subject.
Component 3 – Enrichment Learning and Teaching
Enrichment Learning and Teaching consists of forming Enrichment Clusters, which are multi-age groups of students who meet the last 1.5 hours of the school day on Friday afternoons with a facilitator to work on a project based on similar interests. The goal is to apply knowledge and skills to produce a product or deliver a service for a community audience.
Dr. Renzulli’s model does not replace existing school structure or curriculum, but seeks to improve them by providing enriched and challenging learning opportunities to all students based on personal interests. For more detailed information on how North Star Academy utilizes SEM, see the article Understanding SEM.
Through extensive research and working with children, Dr. Renzulli found that all children benefit from hands-on, student-driven, and interest-based activities. These types of activities assist each child in developing critical thinking skills and the ability to work cooperatively while increasing the child’s positive self-concept. To help illustrate the different types and levels of enrichment activities Dr. Renzulli has incorporated the Enrichment Triad Model into the SEM (see figure below).
Each type is designed to build upon prior knowledge and student interest. To learn more about the School Wide Enrichment Model and the Enrichment Triad Model visit the Website at: http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/sem/
To view an example of a Type III activity, and to learn more about the SEM, please visit the student created SEM information website here: http://sem.north-staracademy.com/