At the elementary school Gifted program I attended for four years, one of the most important and time-consuming activities every year was the Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP consisted of picking any topic of interest, and using all of the Bloom’s Taxonomy cognitive objectives as guidelines for understanding, thinking, and communicating about the topic in more depth than we would normally do so in the traditional school system. These cognitive objectives included, in order from simplest to most difficult: knowledge (e.g. facts), comprehension (e.g. understanding of ideas), application (e.g. applying known facts/ideas to solve new problems), analysis (e.g. analyzing relationships between ideas), synthesis (e.g. using known ideas to create something new), and evaluation (e.g. making judgments about ideas).
In terms of the ISP, we would be graded on how well we met each of these objectives (if at all). During your first year of doing an ISP, in Grade 5, students weren’t expected to have met the synthesis or evaluation objectives. However, it was the hope of the teachers that students would be meeting all of the objectives in their ISP’s by the end of Grade 8. In case you were wondering, my project topics from first to last were the Brain and Nervous System, Flying Machines, Genetic Engineering, and Stem Cell Research – so I guess it’s previous obvious that since early on I have been interested in science, but particularly topics dealing with ethical issues.
Admittedly, before I was even identified as gifted, I already had a bit of insider knowledge about the ISP because my brother had already been in the gifted program for two years. Not only was I aware of my brother’s projects, but I also attended the annual ISP showcase and got to see the different projects and how the students already in the program approached meeting the six objectives for the ISP. This information would prove invaluable later on when I started doing my own ISP’s.