What is the Workshop Program?
The Westport Public Schools attend to the unique characteristics of all of our students. In each elementary and middle school, the intellectual and social needs of gifted students are addressed in their daily classes through differentiation as well as through the small-group Workshop Program. Workshop is designed to meet students’ intellectual and social emotional needs in a focused setting. Among the alternatives provided to students in Workshop are independent “passion projects,” group collaborations, and special problem-solving activities, all within a nurturing, supportive, and challenging environment.
The Workshop Program aligns with the Westport Public Schools mission statement to foster students’ unique capabilities in developing 21st century thinking skills and dispositions. This includes critical thinking, creative thinking, global thinking, communication skills, and ethical reasoning, as described in the Westport 2025 Lens. Workshop provides an inquisitive, caring environment that encourages independence as well as collaboration, creative as well as critical thinking, and sparks intellectual curiosity through an inquiry-based approach to learning. Students are encouraged to tolerate ambiguity, develop perseverance, and increase their resilience. A continuum of services is offered to our students, coordinated by teachers of the gifted and regular education teachers, to differentiate and enrich the curriculum. Opportunities are crafted that cultivate this potential across various contexts, fostering multiple perspectives, while supporting students’ social and emotional development.
Each of the five elementary schools and two middle schools in Westport has an on-site Workshop teacher. Approximately once a week, Workshop students in grades three through eight are pulled out of their regular classes to receive specialized instruction in the Workshop classroom. The days and times of Workshop often change on a rotating basis so students are not missing the same classes each week. In addition, the Workshop teachers collaborate and co-teach in the regular classroom across the grades to provide enhanced learning opportunities for both Workshop and high achieving students. Just two examples include extensions developed by the elementary Workshop teachers with Math specialists and classroom teachers, and middle school Workshop teachers with Social Studies teachers, providing new levels of challenge to students.