Monday, January 31, 2011

If You Give a Gifted Kid a Pencil

If you give a gifted kid a pencil,
She’s going to want a piece of paper to go with it.
When you give her the paper,
She’ll probably ask you for a dictionary.

Once she gets the dictionary,
She’ll ask you for a quiet place in which to work.
She’ll start writing a novel,
But then she’ll begin to daydream.

And when her thoughts turn to the environment,
She’ll probably ask you for a thermometer.
When she takes it outside,
She’ll notice how hot it is and begin to think about global warming.

She’ll ask to borrow your iPad,
And then she’ll ask for a wireless connection to go with it.
So, you’ll have to give her the access codes,
And then she’ll ask to borrow a flash drive.

When she finds enough information,
She’ll want to make a PowerPoint presentation.
She’ll make an excellent one,
And then she’ll want to print it out.

When she prints it on your printer,
She’ll notice a slight mistake.
She’ll ask for a piece of paper to make corrections.
And chances are … if she asks for a piece of paper …

She’s going to want a pencil to go with it!

(This piece was inspired by an inquisitive young lady from Florida to whom I wish to dedicate it to.)

Disclaimer: This story is intended purely for entertainment purposes only. It is intended as parody only. Any likeness to a published work is coincidental.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gifted Advocates … Why We Bond

“2010 has proven to be a year of growth, learning and global collaboration. Your support, participation, questioning, ideas and passion have ignited new life into the advocacy movement on behalf of these bright and creative students.”
~ Deborah Mersino, Ingeniosus and #gtchat

Gifted advocates often discuss the need for gifted children to engage in true peer interaction; both in school and out. Why is that so important? Because it has been shown that these kids thrive and grow exponentially when allowed to learn and socialize with others who are ‘on the same wave-length’! They can bounce ideas off each other and they can be comfortable in the knowledge that classmates truly understand them.

The same can be said for gifted advocates! Through the magic of the Internet and social media networks, gifted advocates find solace and friendship with those of like-minds. Many gifted parents and advocates were often isolated in the past and found their ability to make a difference … well … overwhelming. Today not only can parents and those who advocate for their children within a school district join together, but that bonding takes place at the global level. Talk about inspiration and collaboration and cooperation!

There are those in the gifted community who shun social media. Some are technophobes; some are grounded in a past era; some are protective of their intellectual property; and some don’t believe they have the time to engage in online activities. Their choices must be respected. The work these folks do at the local level is invaluable. We must therefore work together – both online and off - to bridge any barriers to forming a vibrant community dedicated to the children we care so much about. This is what ‘social-networking’ is all about!

Practicality is another reason gifted advocates as well as parents must consider bonding online. In a world and time when economic issues place so many constraints on personal budgets, advocates are often forced to pick and choose how and when they will meet and collaborate. The Internet, however, provides a near-perfect solution to this obstacle through online conferences. They are convenient, can take place at virtually any time or place, and provide a platform for all levels of expertise. Many more people can be involved in such experiences thus enriching the knowledge-base of all community participants.

The same goes for the local level where organizing meetings online provides excellent opportunities for gifted parents to meet without the hassle of traveling to a physical meeting place. Forget finding a suitable location, refreshments, finding a babysitter, coordinating schedules, and dealing with weather-related issues. This may require a training session or two on whatever platform you choose, but it is well worth it. Exchange of information instantly becomes 24/7 and easily accessed without having to print out hard copies of everything.

Final thoughts … global bonding provides us with new ideas, fresh perspectives, a ready-made set of FAQ’s based on years of experience, emotional support and encouragement, access to the latest and greatest in gifted research, and sometimes … just sometimes … a shoulder to cry on. How can you say ‘no’ to all that?

Let us commit to growing our community of parents, advocates, researchers, and educators as we strive to make a difference in the lives of children who will make a difference in our world!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Instructional Strategies for Gifted Students

There are many types of instructional strategies that teachers can use to accommodate gifted learners in the regular classroom apart from those used by their gifted teacher. Being knowledgeable about some of these strategies can be of great benefit to parents of gifted children when they discuss options for their child.

RTI or Response to Intervention is all the rage in education today. Originally intended for lower performing students, it has been adopted in many school districts as a way to provide differentiation for gifted students. Students’ abilities are assessed periodically and teachers use flexible grouping to provide extra support in areas of weakness. During this time, gifted students can be given a more advanced curriculum thus extending lessons without burdening them with more work than their classmates. Many times these students can work independently or with minimal support and this gives the teacher more time to work with other students.

The idea of differentiating work in a classroom is not a new idea. For years, many forward thinking teachers did this by allowing gifted students to choose an area of interest and then develop a project around that interest or topic. These projects took the form of research papers, science projects, and creative writing assignments; just to name a few.

Another instructional strategy that works well in science or mathematics is accelerated pacing. It is used when students display academic abilities in these areas. It has been found that accuracy and retention can be increased if the material is covered at a significantly faster rate. However, teachers must be specifically trained to teach at an increased pace which can be 2 to 3 times greater than experienced in a regular classroom.

One of the biggest complaints expressed by gifted students concerning school is boredom. A simple strategy employed by educators is to reduce or even eliminate excessive reviews or drills. Once the student is able to show they have mastered the content, it should be reviewed no more than two or three times. Again, teacher training is essential to making this work. Additional materials need to be provided for the extra time that is freed for students to pursue other projects or interests. There is new evidence that this is a strategy that can be used across the curriculum. Teachers have seen this motivate students to delve deeper into the content being studied.

These are just a few strategies to help gifted parents know what is available out there. Hopefully, you will find teachers who will be willing to work with you in providing the best learning opportunities for your child. Remember that relatively few teachers are exposed to any training in gifted education. Sharing information can go a long way in building a solid relationship with your child’s teacher.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Socialization and the Gifted Child

"Even though your experience is not exactly the same as mine, I feel far less alone if I know that you have had experiences that are reasonably similar."
~ James T. Webb

Providing your gifted child with opportunities to socialize with their peers is an important part of their development. It is easy to forget when so much emphasis is placed on academics and/or talent development.

Socialization can take place anywhere, but it can be difficult for some gifted children. An obvious place where you hope peer interaction is occurring is at school. There are many potential opportunities here if school personnel realize its importance and work to make it happen. Parents’ influence is limited to what is offered by the school.

Some of the possibilities include ability or cluster grouping, pull-out programs, regrouping within the regular classroom for differentiation, and like-grouping in performing groups such as band, chorus, or dance. It is best if this can happen on a daily basis.

Parents can also provide opportunities outside of school in a multitude of ways. Art, music, and dance classes are good places to start for children interested in the arts. Many universities offer summer academic camps, both day camps and residential. Museums and science centers in major cities also offer camp experiences. Parent support groups often set up activities on the weekends. Academic competitions such as Academic Games, Destination Imagination, Invention Convention, Odyssey of the Mind, and chess clubs also provide places for kids to interact.

Outside the U.S., additional opportunities exist in the form of social gifted centers where student can work on special projects, attend movie nights, and engage in reading clubs. Gifted students often express how much more comfortable they are when interacting with their peers.

Bavarian Centre for Gifted and Talented Children

Sutherland, Australia

Gifted educator, lecturer, and author Dr. Karen Rogers has estimated that this type of social interaction can increase academic achievement by 2 ½ to 4 ½ months every school year.

Every parent wants their child to be happy. Friends are not an assurance of happiness, but many would agree that true “peer” association for the gifted child can be a source of inspiration and camaraderie.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meeting with School Officials

Regardless of where you live or where your child attends school, meeting with school officials to discus your child is often a daunting task. It can make you feel like … it’s you against the world! But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Oftentimes, the school’s administration and psychological team will try to intimidate parents; especially during the first meeting. As the old saying goes – the best defense is a good offense. As a parent, the better prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. And your child will be the benefactor.

Research the school’s programs offered to other students and what you believe to be your child’s needs. This is key! Too often, schools are more concerned about their budgets and will try to deny services or limit your child’s access to services. Don't be afraid to ask for more than is being offered.

Do not feel that you have to be alone, either. In the U.S., you can join your state’s advocacy group for support and they may provide you an advocate or be able to refer you to a local advocate. In lieu of this, both parents should make an attempt to attend. If you anticipate issues arising and you can afford it, a lawyer is also advisable. There’s nothing wrong with doing a little intimidating yourself! At any rate, bring someone with you to serve as a witness to what is said in the meeting. And take notes!

Another piece of advice I always give to parents is that from the moment they learn they have a gifted child, keep meticulous records. Few school district personnel or teachers have the time to keep track of your individual child as well as you can. Keep records of every time you communicate with a teacher or anyone from the school; i.e., psychologist, principal, administrator and insist that you get it in writing. The easiest way to do this is to require all communication be done by email. Information conferred during a phone call can never be proven. Even the nicest, most well-intentioned teacher has a tendency to defer to their school’s principal or district superintendent during a meeting where all parties are present.

Before you agree to a meeting, at the very least, have a working knowledge of gifted education and what you want to request for your child. The library and Internet are both good sources of information. Two of the best books for newcomers are Christine Fonseca’s Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students and Karen Rogers’ book, Re-forming Gifted Education.


Once you get through the first meeting, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect the next time. I’m not going to say it will get easier; it probably won’t. And the meetings will continue until your child is finished with school. During the last few years of high school, it is advisable to start including your son or daughter in these meetings. When they go to college, they will need to be able to advocate for themselves. This is especially important if your child is twice-exceptional.

Life as a gifted parent can be a roller coaster or it can be a walk on the beach with the waves rolling in. It’s all in your viewpoint. I prefer the beach.