• SAGE (Students Advancement through Gifted Education)

            Mrs. Carmen Giurgiu

             Room 312


                              E-mail: Carmen.giurgiu@dvusd.org

                           Website: https://www.dvusd.org//Domain/2156



    Welcome to the Gavilan Peak Gifted Program-SAGE

    Gavilan Peak is a gifted friendly campus! We have one of the highest numbers of identified gifted students in the district. We cater to students not only with SAGE, but through mastery learning, Thinking Maps, Depth of Knowledge Activities, JGB (Junior Great Books), sports, fine arts, and world languages (Mandarin Chinese).

    SAGE students enjoy a rich curriculum, showcasing their skills in STEAM and Problem Based Learning activities, Socratic Seminars, Passion Projects, Growth Mindset discussions, and leadership seminars provided by guest speakers.

    Typically, young gifted students come to us with a great deal of knowledge, yet they enter our classrooms with a variety of intellectual and emotional needs, strengths, weaknesses and learning styles. They are hungry to make sense of the world around them and desire to exercise and expand their minds intellectually and creatively. I believe that when gifted students feel recognized and accepted their motivation to achieve increases and they become more likely to seek challenging learning opportunities.

    I plan to encourage and foster my students’ unique talents, to provide them with opportunities to experience intellectual challenge, leadership and a sense of accomplishment as well as delight in learning. By incorporating my knowledge and resources of gifted strategies like : curriculum compacting and acceleration ,problem based learning, planning lessons that provide rigor and relevance to the students’ real life experiences, opportunities for project based learning that incorporate personal interest and novelty enabling them to produce original and creative work, I hope to encourage them to :

    *discover new possibilities for themselves
    *experience delight in fresh challenges and the excitement of learning
    *think of school as an exhilarating adventure of intellectual and aesthetic discovery
    *thrive in a setting created to foster their individual needs
    *lead themselves and others
    *play an active role as community helpers and leaders
    *take pride in their academic progress
    *set individual goals and strive to meet them
    *use technology as a productivity tool (AZ K-12 Standards)


    “Challenge “(during SAGE classes)- does not always or only equal acceleration (we are learning things this many grade levels above our own), but it means a more in depth and complex understanding ,as well as an  opportunity to apply ,analyze and synthesize the students’ acquired knowledge. For example in math, exceeding does not  mean solving an algorithm ,or knowing fractions and exponents but a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts, being able to explain mathematical practices and strategies, an ability to collaborate with a group and discuss multiple problem solving strategies ,persevering when a road block comes along as well as leading others to pursue greatness. My goal is to create DISCOURSE in my classroom, to cause the students to think, debate, to respectfully agree to disagree, to see other points of view, to defend their stance on issues and to prove their point or strategy by using research and solid evidence as well as precise, academic vocabulary.


    I believe that “Bored” is an overused word in our society. As a teacher I often ask myself “What are my goals?”, “What am I doing to achieve them?”, “Is what I’m doing giving me the expected outcomes and if not what am I doing to change that?”, “Am I doing my best? “or “Can I push myself harder?” Students, please ask yourselves the same questions and reflect from time to time. Taking ownership of your learning experiences, goals, decisions and choices as well as asking for support when needed are life skills that will serve you well in the future.


    • Classroom Community Building


    I believe in building a strong classroom community. I want our classroom to be a safe space academically and socially, a learning community where I guide and provide opportunities to grow and where students feel cared for by me and each other, and a space where they can make mistakes and learn from them, a place to grow and feel like they belong. Part of this the following will take place:

      1. Compliment Project-various students volunteer to sit in the “hot seat” facing away from the board. The class takes turns writing compliment to them.
      2. Dialogue Journals-A dialogue journal is an ongoing written interaction between two people to exchange experiences, ideas, or reflections. It is used most often in education as a means of sustained written interaction between students and teachers at all education levels.
      3. Interest inventory
      4. Learning Style Inventory
      5. Growth Mindset discussions
      6. Social Emotional for Gifted

     Scope and Sequence for Reading Grades 3-6

    The DVUSD SAGE Reading Curriculum meets and exceeds the Arizona State Standards as well as the Common Core Standards. Besides using the JGB Program (Junior Great Books), award winning novel studies, Socratic Seminars, SAGE Reading students use comprehensive language arts materials provided by the College of William & Mary for Gifted Education and participate in research Passion Projects. Literature studies are also designed and implemented, which provide for expectations of increased depth and complexity that commensurate with the academic abilities and potential of gifted and talented students.

    The following will be part of our ELA program:



    Socratic Seminars

    Chat stations

    TQE’s-thoughts, questions, epiphanies

    Vocabulary-Wordly Wise

    Quick Writes

    Response to Text

    Current Events-6th grade


    Passion Projects

    Hexagonal Thinking

    Depth and Complexity


    ELA 6th grade will be taught in a 90 minute block by Mrs.Giurgiu


    3rd Grade gifted reading students see Mrs. Giurgiu for Enrichment only-novel studies, Socratic seminar Discussions, and social –emotional support for students with high abilities. 


    The Passion Project

    The purpose of The Passion Project is to empower students to connect with their best ideas. It is a quarterly opportunity to synthesize your knowledge about something you’ve learned or know about or seek new opportunities to explore a passion, research it, design a choice presentation tool and teach the class about it.

    This sounds simple, right? It is! But it is also a lot of work.  At Gavilan Peak we believe in empowering our students with the right to and the responsibility for having a voice in how they learn. By allowing time to connect with their best ideas, we are allowing them to experience learning at its finest while encouraging risk-taking, embracing 'failures' and sharing in creative break-through.

    I will send home a revised packet explaining this activity.

     Leadership Seminars

    I will schedule them for the upcoming early release days starting in November. Students will participate in interacting with fabulous guest speakers throughout the year and learn about the world, careers, college, cultures and leadership opportunities. Please let me know if you have any leads on great speakers.



    I believe that parents, students, teachers, and administrators are a team that has a common goal: your child’s educational success. I believe in weekly classroom news articles. I will let you know what is happening at school, what we are currently learning about, upcoming events as well as learning celebration by posting an article on my website .Also, please contact me first (just as I would contact you) if you have a question, an issue, or need clarification and I will do my best to accommodate you in a timely manner. If we are unable to resolve the matter at hand we will follow procedure and take it to administration, specialist or counselor.

    PowerSchool-I will update grades weekly. Let’s stay informed about it so we can correct failing grades, missing assignments, etc. before it becomes too late to do so.

    Agenda-please check daily.

    E-mail-please check daily.


    Students and parents should take a couple of minutes at the end of each week to go through backpacks and folders. You may want to keep, acknowledge, toss, sign and return to school papers. Our activities are long term rather than daily-please do not toss papers in their folders unless they are graded and feedback from me is written on it. Building good study and organizational habits is an important life skill and will help you stay on top of assignments as well as provide a time for the family to discuss school happenings and learning.


    Read the chapter assigned to you and keep post it notes-be ready to discuss the next day

    Finish any work that you did not finish in class.


    I believe in building a safe learning environment for my students. I will be fair and use positive reinforcement to encourage learning, maximize on task behavior and student engagement, recognize effort and allow risk taking –failure and mistakes often lead to incredible growth. I see myself as a lifelong learner, a facilitator of learning experiences, and a guide and by the end of the year I will hopefully inspire my students to become lifelong seekers of knowledge and discovery themselves. Our class will be a collaborative learning community, where high expectations are seen as challenges and where respect and discipline are required in order to allow learning to take place.

    3 classroom infractions will results in a Principal Referral


    Please come to class prepared with:  a positive attitude and willingness to work, materials, homework.

    Have a positive, growth mindset and an” I can” attitude

    Be a kind and respectful member of our learning community

    Ask questions if needed to clarify /speak up

    Do you best quality work- apply yourself to the work, do your best, analyze text in depth and provide complete detailed answers based on it, participate in daily classroom discussions. This is not a spectator sport-participation daily is required-you must play the game to learn.

    Have material ready-folder, book, etc.

    Read chapter assigned and keep detailed post it notes in each chapter that you want to bring to our discussion -we can't discuss it otherwise-this will be your only homework

    Complete assigned work in class and if you did not please do so at home that day in order to stay on track.


    Please show leadership and model good choices when you walk to and from the SAGE classroom .Please be on time and quiet as you come and go from your classroom (students in your rooms should be able to continue learning).Also, please wait by the wall patiently and quietly outside the SAGE room as we switch classes.


    PHONES Phones will be placed in the provided classroom organizer upon entering or in the student backpack. They will be turned off and not used in the classroom, between classes or at recess.



    PERFORMANCE LEVEL INDICATORS-will be part of the reporting system. They do not correlate with the letter grades A, B, C, D, F (which still show an average of earned points for assignments) but explain student performance on state standards.


    Description of Performance levels
    The Performance Levels indicated by 1-4 are not based on a percentage. It is a performance indicator based on the student’s performance toward meeting grade level standards

      1. 4 = Demonstrates above grade level proficiency independently
        • The student consistently demonstrates above grade level proficiency independently* for this reporting period
      2. 3 = Demonstrates grade level proficiency independently
        • The student consistently demonstrates proficiency for the grade level concepts and skills independently* for this reporting period
      3. 2 = Demonstrates grade level proficiency with support
        • The student usually demonstrates the skill or understands the concepts and meets grade level expectations with support for this reporting period
      4. 1 = Demonstrates below grade level proficiency with support
        • The student performs below grade level with support and is not meeting expectations for this reporting period


    Independently: The ability to demonstrate proficiency of standards without assistance after being taught a concept or skill


    AZ College and Career Readiness Standards Tagging

    What is tagging?

      1. Associating a specific standard or standards to an assessment entered into Power Teacher Grade Book. After tagging, teachers enter a Performance Level (1-4) based on how the student performed on the task linked to the given standard(s).   

    *Independently: The ability to demonstrate proficiency of standards without assistance after being taught a concept or skill



    Students will earn points based on classroom work, tests, quizzes, presentations and special projects. I will update PowerSchool weekly. Nothing new regarding this aspect.

    SAGE Reading students will receive a reading grade from me 4th and 5th Spelling (Words Their Way Program-individualized spelling for each child) and Writing are part of their regular classroom and will be graded accordingly.

    SAGE Math students will receive a math grade from their Walk UP to Math teacher or if they are in 6th grade from the 7th grade teacher assigned to meet their needs.

    6th Grade ELA-both reading and writing grades from Mrs.Giurgiu


    Deer Valley Unified School District will employ two grade scales (except Kindergarten) to calculate grades using a traditional averaging calculation method.  


    One grade scale will be used to mark student proficiency of the standards.


    One grade scale will be used to calculate the overall course grade.


    GRADES 3-12

    Students in 3rd through 12th grades will receive marks for their proficiency toward the grade level standards using the following scale. All gradebook entries in the "Assessment" category will have at least one standard tagged and scored.  Gradebook entries in the "Coursework" or "Practice" categories can also have standards tagged and scored. 

    4 = Highly Proficient

    3 = Proficient

    2 = Partially Proficient

    1 = Minimally Proficient

    NE = No Evidence



    Students in 3rd - 12th grades will receive marks for their overall performance in each course of study using the following traditional letter grade scale.

                                     A = 90-100%

                                     B = 80-89%

                                     C = 70-79%

                                     D = 60-69%

                                     F = 0-59%

    ASSESSMENT (weighted 80%) 

    This category includes all items used to measure a student’s proficiency toward the learning standards once the student has had sufficient practice. This category can include summative tests, performance assessments, reports, unit or module assessments, quizzes, long-term projects, short-term projects, presentations, capstone projects, research papers, and lab reports. 

    COURSEWORK (weighted 20%) 

    This category includes formative work that provides students with the opportunity to learn content and skills and to receive feedback on their learning.  Coursework is assigned to provide meaningful, independent practice, reinforce learning targets, and extend learning. This category can include in-class assignments, quizzes, exit tickets, checks-for-understanding, and daily activities.           

    PRACTICE (weighted 0%)  

    This category includes formative student work that a student completes while in the process of learning specific skills.  Student work that is done inside and outside of the classroom, such as classwork and homework, falls into this category. 


    The overall course grades for students in 3rd-12th grades will be calculated by averaging the assignment scores entered during the term.

    Students and parents will be able to see the overall standards scores for each standard measured which is calculated by averaging the most recent 3 scores for each standard.  The standards scores do not impact the course grade.  These scores are informational.      


    K-8 Syllabus Statement

    After careful consideration and in alignment with the developmental needs of our students and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), DVUSD has determined that the use of Large Language Models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT,  are not suitable for students in grades K-8 (under 13 years of age) and will not be utilized or endorsed in academic contexts.


    Please check the website if possible before emailing me for general information.


    Please check with your child daily


    Parent Conferences

    At parent conference time I will hold student led conferences. Students will conference with you by using their Data Folders/Portfolios and taking charge and responsibility of their own learning growth. They will discuss their data, goals, reflections, areas of strength, celebrations as well as opportunities for improvement. You can always schedule one on one conferences with me to discuss the needs of your student.


    I am looking forward to an enriching year,

    Carmen Giurgiu