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SALTA Gifted and Talented Program

A group of elementary students examine the plants in their school garden.

Canyons School District’s SALTA (Supporting Advanced Learners Toward Achievement) Program is all about supporting the unique abilities and thirst for knowledge of gifted and talented learners.

We believe in challenging students’ minds, fostering curiosity, and nurturing leadership potential. Learning experiences in SALTA are designed to match students’ unique characteristics and learning profiles, allowing them to explore subjects in greater depth, ask thought-provoking questions, and respond creatively.

With a focus on critical thinking, creativity, research, and communication skills, we aim to equip our gifted students with the tools they need to excel academically and make a positive impact on our schools, district, and community.

Announcement

We’re excited to announce a restructuring of our 3rd-5th grade SALTA program for the upcoming school year. We will be transitioning to a two-teacher departmentalized model, wherein one teacher will specialize in English Language Arts and Social Studies, while the other will concentrate on Math and Science. This model allows for a more focused and in-depth exploration of each subject area, thereby enhancing the rigor of our curriculum.

Research in gifted education substantiates the efficacy of this model and emphasizes the importance of providing challenging and engaging learning opportunities for gifted students, which can be achieved more effectively in a departmentalized setting. Furthermore, this model facilitates a smoother transition to the middle school environment, where students will interact with multiple educators. Each student will continue to have a designated homeroom teacher for consistent support.

For any inquiries, please feel free to contact the SALTA program coordinator, Halley Kirk, at 
halley.kirk@canyonsdistrict.org

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Frequently Asked Questions

Interested families complete the SALTA Request for Testing Form on our website during the registration window each fall (early September-October). 


Testing is offered at every CSD school during the regular school day. Testing is then administered to registered students at every CSD school during the regular school day between October and November. Families are notified of their child’s test results in late December. Students who meet SALTA qualification criteria are then offered placement at a SALTA school for the following school year. 

Any interested families can elect to have their child tested. Teachers can also recommend testing for the SALTA program to a student’s family at any time, ideally at fall Parent/Teacher Conferences. 

Testing is free and occurs at each school during the regular day within our testing window. There is no obligation to the teacher that the student does or does not ultimately qualify for the program. 

In the classroom gifted students may:

  • Already know the information being presented.
  • Instantly grasp new concepts, apply them, and expand on them, taking them to more advanced levels very quickly and easily.
  • Demonstrate unusual talents or abilities.
  • Ask a lot of questions or challenge the teacher’s understanding.
  • Cause mischief or seem withdrawn when their learning needs are not being met.
  • Hide their ability in order to fit in with the other students or to avoid being given additional work that is merely more of the same work that they have already mastered.
  • Have learning disabilities that mask their actual cognitive ability. 
  • Show uneven abilities being very advanced in some areas and at or below the level of age peers in other areas. 

Gifted students learn and process information differently than their age-level peers and show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels given opportunities to develop their talents. Gifted learners exist from all cultural groups, across all economic strata, and in all areas of human endeavor. Though no single profile encompasses all gifted learners, they often exhibit common traits, including.

  1. Advanced Cognitive Abilities: Gifted students might demonstrate high intellectual curiosity, quickly grasp complex concepts, and exhibit a strong capacity for abstract thinking.
  2. Exceptional Problem-Solving Skills: Look for students who excel at solving intricate problems, whether in mathematics, puzzles, or real-world scenarios.
  3. Rapid Learning Pace: Gifted students may learn new material faster than their peers and are eager to explore more challenging content. If not appropriately challenged, gifted students can become bored and disengaged in a standard classroom setting.
  4. Creativity and Imagination: Pay attention to students who consistently generate imaginative ideas, think outside the box, and offer innovative solutions to tasks.
  5. Inquisitiveness: Gifted students often ask probing questions beyond the surface of what’s being taught, showcasing their desire to delve deeper into subjects.
  6. Advanced Language Skills: They might possess an extensive vocabulary, communicate thoughts clearly, and engage in complex discussions even at a young age.
  7. Intense Focus and Dedication: Look for students who display high concentration and persistence when engaged in tasks that interest them.
  8. Strong Critical Thinking: Gifted students tend to analyze information critically, make connections between different concepts, and apply their knowledge in novel ways.
  9. Exceptional Memory: Some gifted students have an impressive capacity to recall information quickly and accurately.
  10. Independence in Learning: Gifted students might seek learning opportunities beyond the classroom, pursue self-directed projects, or delve into subjects not covered in class.
  11. Interest in Diverse Topics: Watch for students who express a fascination with a wide range of subjects, often exploring areas beyond the curriculum’s scope.
  12. Perfectionism and High Standards: Gifted students often hold themselves to high standards and may exhibit perfectionistic tendencies. They may be highly self-critical and strive for excellence in their work.
  13. Asynchronous Development: Gifted students might experience asynchronous development, where their intellectual abilities outpace their emotional and social devleopment. As a result, they may display heightened emotional sensitivity and intense frustration when their intellectual abilities aren’t matched. 
  14. Social Challenges: Gifted students’ differing interests and abilities can sometimes lead to challenges in relating to peers, as they might not share common interests. They may prefer to engage with older peers or adults, as they find more intellectual stimulation in these interactions. 

Remember, while these characteristics can indicate giftedness, they might not appear in every gifted student, and some students may display some traits more prominently than others. It’s important to consider a holistic view of the student’s abilities and behaviors and to collaborate with families in the identification process.

Learn more here: NAGC’s Common Characteristics of Individuals, Recognizing Gifted Students: A Practical Guide for Teachers, Manifestation of Characteristics of Gifted Learners.   

Instruction for SALTA students is designed to challenge academically advanced learners and promote critical thinking, reasoning, creativity, research, communication, and interpersonal skills.


By combining the SALTA Performance Standards with grade-level Utah Core Standards, the Depth and Complexity Framework, and principles of personalized learning, teachers guide SALTA students to go deeper into subjects and explore complex concepts and relationships.


The pace of learners is often faster, as gifted students typically require less repetition to achieve mastery. SALTA classrooms aim to provide enrichment opportunities that emphasize real-world problem-solving and the application of knowledge to address complex issues relevant to the student’s interests.


Teachers in the SALTA program also have specialized training in the form of a Gifted and Talented Endorsement to understand the unique needs of gifted students better and implement appropriate strategies.

 

Canyons School District currently offers Gifted and Talented Endorsement courses in conjunction with Utah Valley University. 

Additional Bite-sized PDs and targeted learning opportunities on the Depth & Complexity framework are also available.

For more information, contact Halley Kirk at halley.kirk@canyonsdistrict.org. 

Suppose a student in your class has previously tested for SALTA and met qualification criteria but opted not to attend our magnet schools. In that case, they are coded with a ‘G’ on Skyward and DataDashboard.

Upcoming Events

Registration for SALTA Testing: Sept. 3-Oct. 4, 2024

SALTA Testing Window: Oct. 22-Nov. 15, 2024

SALTA Magnet Program Locations

Gifted & Talented Specialist
Halley Kirk

Gifted and Talented Specialist

halley.kirk@canyonsdistrict.org

Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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