Category: Gifted Education

http://www.edweek.org/chat/transcript_03_19_2007.html

I’m linking to an online chat sponsored by eduweek.org. The topic: gifted and the moderators just recently published an interesting book on the topic. Parents and educators can both glean some useful information from the chat. The main points are: gifted learners truly learn differently than others. This fact needs needs to be part of the gifted child’s academic plan, gifted educators need to inform/educate all educators about these learning needs, and parents should to educate themselves on their child’s academic needs. We should all keep in mind that when a child is tested and labeled ‘gifted’ it does not mean they are gifted in all areas. They may actually encounter additional difficulties socially and emotionally derived from their ‘giftedness’.

There are lots of wonderful sites within the chat that one can go for more information.

Gifted Education

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Gifted Education Uncategorized

I just got my first issue of “Tempo” put out by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (Winter 2007). I looked over the contributing authors, the executive board members. I read through the president’s goals for the coming year. It was interest to note that the TAGT organization has the goal of obtaining 6,000 members during the coming year and I further noted that there are 336,000 identified gifted students in the state of Texas. I don’t know the exact numbers for Louisiana but it is significantly less. I never made it to a Louisiana Gifted Conference so that I could compare its membership number with Texas. Several classmates and my gifted professor had attended the conference in Louisiana and talked highly of it.

Read More Teaching Requirements differ

Gifted Education

I found an article in a Malaysian Online News Site “Sun2Surf” with the following quote in it. Martin Luther King is the man behind the quote. We all know about him, the author of the article was providing his background for the readers in Malaysia. The author’s point is that providing a great education is not enough, a society must also provide character education to the brightest of its population. I thought it was a very valid point.

“King reminds the intelligentsia that “intelligence is not enough”. He maintains that the goal of true education is to produce persons with intelligence and character. It is character that differentiates good leaders from bad ones. According to King, “the most gifted criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morality.””

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

I was just cruising around the edweek.org’s website, checking out the blogs when I came across a fellow’s blog titled “Two standard deviations from the left”. I went to it, thinking that it was a blog for a special education teacher. It’s not, its for a high school math teacher. But I still like the concept: maybe I can do something clever with my weblog title that reflects the status of the gifted child’s location on the common bell curve. Have to think about that.

It’s been a while since I reported on my job hunting status. I completed substituted ‘training’ for three different school districts in my area, gotten on the list to sub at a private Baptist school, actually subbed at a school for the gifted, researched tutoring from my home, researched augmenting homeschooling parents through a loose organization that meets at two churches in the area, researched working for summer camp programs and even did some research on working for curriculum based companies to write and test new curriculum. It was pretty hard to get very far on that idea.

I’ve reached a temporary conclusion. I will work for only one of the school districts because they use an online sub finding program. The other two districts assume that you like to be called daily and told what job they want you to have. First, I travel from my home and my apartment so reaching me by cell phone is the best, however, their systems don’t call out of state numbers. Yes, I could forward calls and I’m set up to do so, I just have to remember to punch a few numbers before I leave each place. I’d rather check online to see what is available and choose the job in the quiet of my home.

Second, Texas is a big state. They have to approach education from that perspective. They go for the ‘masses’ and anything that does not fit in the main stream isn’t really funded. To be a teacher of the gifted in this state does not mean teaching a class of gifted students. It means seeing a gifted student about 45 minutes a week, seeing a whole bunch of gifted students for about 45 minutes a week. That’s why working at the small school for the gifted as their permanent substitute and working for the one school district that seems to respect a person’s other ‘life’ has my top vote so far. Maybe even for the next two years, until several personal things fall into place.

Maybe this is a good time to advocate for the gifted child in higher places such as the government. I received an email the other day from the Davidson Institute asking for gifted teachers to share their experiences with No Child Left Behind. I hope the reporter finds some hard evidence of the effects of this act on the gifted child. It might be difficult to dig through the hearsay, but I hope that gifted teachers across the nation respond. I may have to see if he/she thinks I have anything interesting to contribute to hisher research…..

Dear Ed Guild members,Yesterday, a national newspaper education columnist contacted the Davidson Institute seeking information (both positive and negative) regarding the impact No Child Left Behind has had on one or more of the following: gifted students; gifted programming (cut or increased); or funding of gifted programs in schools, school districts or states.
If you have specific examples you would like to share with this reporter, please send an email to me at jdudley@ditd.org with the following information:

Your Name,
Title, Email, daytime phone number, where you live, plus name of school or school district and a Summary of NCLB impact

If you could send me this information by
tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 31)

at noon pacific it would be most appreciated as this reporter is working under a tight deadline.

Thank you!

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

This post is to address Nancy’s blog recent blog entry (see Nancy’s link below). I wish I could share this book that I purchased at the recent TGAT conference with you, “Differentiation: Simplified, Realistic, and Effective – How to Challenge Advanced Potentials in Mixed-Ability Classrooms” by Bertie Kingore, PhD. I needed a clear and precise definition of what it means to have different things going on for the different learners in the classroom. Everyone talks “differentiation’ but no one tells you what it is. This book does it very clearly.
A determined teacher could use any number of Bertie’s suggestions for any age level with appropriate modifications. Not only did she outline and define 12 different methods of differentiation, she points out their strengths and lays out strategies to implement each in a simple way that is mostly handled/managed by the student. She gives you clear and concise forms and suggestions to manage your differentiated classroom.  In addition to this book, I attended several other workshops about differentiation, one by Susan Winebrenner, another by a professor from UT Texas.  All of them stressed that differentiation enables the learner and frees the instructor to truly assess the learner’s depth of understanding (not the topical learning.)
I’m eager to try some of what I see in this book. It was reassuring to find out that I had already tried some things during the four years that I taught.  I did have some success and could immediately tell when something did not work.  Now, I can go back and try the failures again using the information I’ve learned.  Start small, work up.
I have this vision of a classroom with students taking full responsibility for their learning. They determine the level and quality of their work. Not many children know just how this can be done, however, a much older student already has a concept of their strengths, skills and interests. They need coaches, encouragers, resources and demonstration.

Think about it – are you always in the mood to paint with watercolors? or read a technically challenging book? or write an essay? or sew clothes?  We should, as teachers, respect the fact that our students aren’t always in the mood for creating the product that we want.  In some cases, we can allow them choice and still attain the goal of assessing their learning.

I’ll write more on this as I think it through for my particular situations. In the meantime, visit Bertie’s site at http://www.bertiekingore.com.

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

I had a really good time and learned a lot from the gifted conference that I went to, however, I’m a little discouraged with how Texas approaches teaching their gifted. It’s like the “one size fits all” concept. We had such a sweet deal in St. Tammany Parish. I asked my professor at SLU that taught all the gifted class how the Parish was able to individualize so much and she said that it was because of the tax base provided by the residents that allowed for such a great program. It’s not like that throughout LA. Now, I truly understand how lucky Adam and Amber were to be educated there.

My choices for a future job in the gifted field (as I see it so far) include:

pull out gifted teacher (barely respected by the rest of the teachers),

cluster grouping teacher (where I would have 6 or more gifted in a regular ed class),

gifted coordinator (administration),

working at a private school with emphasis on gifted (subject to their interpretation of gifted), or
teaching in a private school entirely dedicated to the gifted,

tutoring, or offering services to homeschoolers,

The situation that I had at PineView does not exist in the big state of Texas unless I take a position at the school entirely for the gifted that is about 45 minutes from here. At least it is minutes away from the place where Dave used to work in West Houston. After a couple of years, he may end up back there. I am amazed that there are not more schools in the Houston area dedicated to meeting the needs of the gifted. As far as I can tell, the programs available to the parent of a gifted child are the public school situation (which is not all that differentiated), private school situation (expensive), homeschooling (a good answer especially with distance learning connected to esteemed universities) or moving to Nevada to the Davidson Institute (or other similar programs.)

Everyone who is associated with the gifted field knows that No Child Left Behind is leaving behind our nation’s brightest minds. Barely 7% of the entire money spent on Special Education is spent on gifted programs (according to CNN’s reent program  http://www.cnn.com/CNN/Programs/genius/ ). The rest is spent on the lower end of special education. I agree that much work is needed there but it should not be at such an expense to those students who just might carry the economy of our nation into the future. The thinkers, the doers, the high acheivers. Those parents and administrators in St. Tammany Parish are on the right track and should be proud of their efforts. I’m sure there are other ‘pockets’ of support in other areas of the nation. I’d like to know about them!

The good thing is that I am setting myself up to experience all the situations (except the coordinator) so that I can experience each to decide what will best suit me. I’m all set to substitute in four school districts, a private Baptist school with a gifted program and a school entirely dedicated to the gifted. I’m batting around the idea of tutoring in the spring and contacting the homeschoolers association in the area. We’ll see what happens!

ps. I did forget one thing. At the conference, I was made aware of several science summer camps geared for the gifted. One meets at an elementary school nearby. I would be paid $550 for the week to teach and a bit more to coordinate. Always a possibility that would allow for lots of flexibility. For that matter, I could probably go to work for a curriculum company or a product company (except that sales doesn’t excite me right now….but I could work it from my beautiful home….) Thoughts to ponder

Gifted Education

The very last breakout session that I attended at the TGAT (http://www.txgifted.org/) was one entitled “Pascal’s Triangle”. I like to go to as many Math related presentations as I can because, frankly, Math is my weakness when it comes to understanding what I teach. I had already attended the presenter’s previous session on “NIM Games” which was very good. Saturday was “Family Day” so there were children and parents moving in and out of the session, including one very tall gentlemen with mussy hair and an approximately three year old with identical hair. They both sat down at the closest table to the front while the presenter kindly said, “This may be too difficult for your son.” The father looked at his son, then the presenter and said, “We shall see.”

The session began, the presenter had a depth of knowledge of his material and a great way of eliciting responses from the students that “elevated their learning”. He had posed a particular question, and I watched the three year old raise his hand in a fairly confident manner. The presenter called on him and this tiny flute-like voice carefully spoke his answer. It was to the point and ‘right on the money’. Our presenter was not taken aback, because, you see, he was used to the surprises of the gifted child. He had taught thousands of them in summer programs or during the school year. He complimented the child as if he were a middle schooler and moved on with the lesson. Three or four times, this tyke spoke, while the others in the room were absolutely glued to what he had to say. Meanwhile, the father was smiling down at his prodigy.

There were five year olds, seven year olds and older children who participated in the discussion. Even a 12 year old (probably) who seemed to have an edge to his answers that sounded like, “I’m always the smartest” respected the tyke.

This may have been the first time that I have sat near a child prodigy, a profoundly gifted individual, an individual who’s body of a three year old contained a mind at least nine grade levels above in mathematical ability. This is scary to me. Not in the way that most people think, but for the child and his father. Students like this must have a different setting for their learning. Parents of a prodigy must be acutely aware of the social and emotional issues their baby will endure – I’m not sure this parent knew. From his proud smile, I don’t think he did. Perhaps, I’m wrong. Did he bring his child to show him off, or did he bring himself and his child to learn more about this unique thing called ‘being gifted’?

Gifted Education

I went to my first sub job since moving to Texas. It felt good, even though it was short-lived. I actually enjoyed it so much that I told the director not to pay me for the two hours that I spent there. I was responsible for a class of 8 gifted students who had just spent the past week on a field trip. Attendance was optional and only one student came to class. He showed me around the classroom, talked about the field trip and mapped out his day academically.

This job was not at your normal, everyday public school but at a private school specifically for the gifted (http://www.rainard.org). The studies for this class included an indepth look at South Africa in all its glory, and shortcomings. Lots of student work hung around the classroom, evidence of deep understanding of the issues of apartheid, economy and everyday life. I was in awe at what this teacher was able to ‘pull’ from his students. I worked so hard with my 4th-6th graders to get detailed work like this in the public school setting. It is amazing what difference ‘attitude’ makes in a learning environment.

I hope to return soon to the campus and work in other classrooms. The strength of this school is the ability to focus on where the student is and to develop substantial relationship with the student and his/her family.

From what I can determine from the other school districts in the area, gifted teachers are more like coordinators than teachers. Students attend a gifted class once a week, that is really more enrichment than academic. Quite a shock for someone who was able to spend the last three years working with these delightful students everyday for nearly every subject. I haven’t yet gone into the public school setting so I can’t be sure of the environment. My goal is to sub in as many different settings as I can so when it comes time to select my full-time employment, I will choose the one that best suits my goals as an educator.

Gifted Education

There is a huge but subtle undercurrent bias or leaning among educators and staff when it comes to teaching the gifted. I’ll give you a prime example. I attended the substitute orientation for a district near Houston today. All was going along just fine, the Human Resources guy had a nice sense of humor coupled with the seriousness of the job of a substitute in teaching and role modeling for children.

He had an easy going and flexible style and probably didn’t even know that he had said something that ‘set off fireworks’ in my head. His quote was “some people don’t want to teach gifted” as part of his speech on making sure you know the assignment before you sign up for it. He also mentioned other special positions as well. Maybe he said it thinking that there wouldn’t be a gifted teacher in the midst; maybe he was thinking that he had a nice crosscutting of the type of positions, who knows. But couldn’t he have said, “maybe you want to teach only gifted students”. The positive swing of the comment sounds so much better, don’t you think?

I guess you can call this ‘subtle discrimination’. It’s not anything like what women in Afgahnistan or Iran are dealing with. I’m currently in the middle of the novel, “Reading Lolita in Tehran.” What is the parallel here? That type of discrimination got its start very subtly and became a full blown way of life over time. The author of the book talks about how she plays a game with herself “imagining that she is invisible”. She sees the bones of her body holding up the black covering not the academic professor and loving mother she really is.

Can there be a connection between a full-blown discrimination in Tehran and the subtle discrimination of the gifted children or a teacher of the gifted? To a gifted child, who has little experience to draw from, I believe there is. Adults have the maturity and experiences to realize that the world just isn’t a perfect place. To a gifted child, what is is what is. There isn’t a need to change because, frankly, they aren’t aware that there is a problem. The gifted child deals with his or her disappointments in much the same way as this woman in Tehran – imagining that they aren’t really there anyway.

Will anything come of this? Probably not. But it did in Tehran. It is most real for the author of my novel and it didn’t start out that way. It is so important for teachers and speakers to be aware of the value each individual can bring to a program or project. Never, never discount the value of an individual, celebrate it! Always be positive in your remarks. You never know when you could be part of a total, cultural discrimination in the future.Even the Pope can make mistakes and must be careful when speaking. His quote during his latest speech was taken from a 1400 Byzatine ruler which had something to do with religion and fighting with a sword has caused bad feelings in the Muslim world. I hope that the apology from the Pope can extinguish any cause for this to be laid in the ‘pile’ of discrimination against a culture but likely it will.

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

I’m in the mood for tiny steps when it comes to finding my next teaching assignment. Yesterday, I filled out the paperwork to attend the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented’s yearly conference in November. I was surprised to see that the attendance at this conference is somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 individuals. It includes teachers, administrators, and parents. I’m very excited to see what the breakout sessions are. Jim Delisle is one of the main speakers. In all my gifted courses, we talked about his writings and studies on the gifted individual.
Seeing a person’s name in print associated with an article or study tends to put them on some type of ‘shelf’. Demi-gods, of a sort. It’s amazing because first you realize that they are, in fact, still alive. They are focusing their life’s work on the topic that you just have passing interest in. Ok, my interest is a bit more than ‘passing’ but you do begin to realize how little you really know.

Learning more is the reason for going to this conference. That’s the reason that educators of the gifted in Texas need additional hours of instruction in the gifted field every year. Perhaps I will feel more ready to take the Gifted Supplemental test here after the conference. I just completed the same type of a test at Southeastern to complete Louisiana’s requirements. Every state will have its slight differences. I’m hoping this conference will enlighten me on the differences, the actual focus here. Austin, here I come!!

Gifted Education

The other day, I sent off for a membership in the Texas Assoc. for Gifted and Talented. I figure that, if anything, I can begin to understand how Texas works by reading their material. Only one of the districts (Tomball or Klein) asked what I would like to seek a position in or even had Gifted on the list. My guess is that Gifted and Talented takes a back seat to everything just like in Louisiana.

What do I mean by a back seat? If you have taught in gifted, you may have experienced the lack of communication between the school as a whole and you. All through my children’s education and my teaching years, I had to claw for information about events and opportunities for my children. Most of the time, I would overhear something or even find out about it the day of the event. Why? These are the brightest and able minds in the country and we impede them and their teachers most of the time. I’m sure there are a myriad of reasons that can be explored at length.

This struggle is not all negative. Gifted individuals and their teachers have become very independent and self-sufficient. Gifted and talented individuals tend to forge their own way (fortitude) and do it over and over again (resilience) both major characteristics of gifted individuals. They can work at solving a problem using unconventional thinking and focus.

There are companies/universities out there who are reaching out to the gifted individual. I applaud them but at the same time, do they really know their ‘stuff’ about how a gifted individual functions, what he/she needs to ‘shine’? I noticed in the Rice Continuing Studies program there was a course entitled, “Creativity in the Office, (It’s not an Oxymoron)”. They may have it right. The activities in the course description sounded much like the Creative Thinking course I took for my gifted certification at SLU. At a large company like Shell Oil, I can tell that they haven’t totally grasped the unique characteristics of their gifted employees. If they did, they would offer more social skill training, allow more time for thinking, create more opportunities for collaboration and brainstorming. Out of all the companies that I experience with (which is limited), Shell comes about as close as anybody in utilizing the abilities of their diverse thinkers and it still falls short.
Someday, maybe, these individuals will be utilized for their potential contribution to society with placing stupid little obstacles in their way. However, gifted individuals must also realize that, even though they don’t mean it, sometimes their behaviors can be misinterpreted as ‘snubbing’. We all have a lot to learn. And with my experience with the gifted individuals that I know, they will find a way!

Gifted Education

I’m in Texas, actually, back in Texas. We lived here over 13 years ago. At that time, I had babies. Then we moved to Louisiana, just north of New Orleans. I educated my children in St. Tammany Parish and eventually, I became a teacher in the district. I studied over 8 years to earn my teaching degree and masters. I also worked on my gifted certification and taught gifted 4th-6th graders for three years. It was worth every bit of effort and time. Gifted children are mostly a joy to teach.

My children are off to college and working now. They were educated in the gifted program in St. Tammany Parish schools. Adam from 5th grade, Amber from 1st grade. In addition to raising two gifted children, I live with a gifted man. If there was a poster child for the creatively gifted in the 1960-70’s, he would have been on it. Actually, learning about the creatively gifted has helped me to understand how he functions. I would have to say that I have been exposed to every stage of a gifted individual’s life up to the mid 40’s.
Now, why did I tell you all this? To give you a background for where I am coming from and where I am now. I’m looking for a teaching job. I want a gifted position like the one I had at Pine View. I can be patient. I can figure out this new system. I plan for this weblog to be a journal of that process.

Gifted Education

I will be blogging about teaching and living with gifted individuals as determined by the arbitrary rules and requirements set out by each state. I know this is a bit of a saterical comment so you will have to stick around for discussion on the matter. I’d love to hear about your experience with the gifted individuals you come in contact with and how you would determine if someone is ‘gifted’.

Even after my 30+ hours of training in the subject, I have found that there isn’t a concrete definition of giftedness, no expert out there can truly agree on a succinct, all encompassing definition of what makes an individual unique in their thinking and their problem solving abilities. What do you think?

Gifted Education

In two days in Texas, I’ve applied to three school districts now, and one private school since I’ve been here. I feel like a little fish in the big sea. One district has over 100 schools. How to choose the right one? Dave wants me to drop off a resume at every school in the areas that I like. It’s just not that easy. I’d be wasting a whole bunch of gas and a whole bunch of time. I filled out the online applications, which get sent to every principal who wants to take a moment to look through the choices for a candidate that fills their staffing needs. With over 300 schools to choose from, I think I’m likely to get called by one or two of them during the month of April or May. Time for bed – off to Austin area tomorrow

Gifted Education