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Category: <span>Random ‘Munchings”</span>

I just came across this story about the status of our young children and their weight. Many states have tried various ways to tackle this important issue. Arkansas tried weighing every child at school, then sending a postcard home to their parents as to their child’s status. Virginia had some kind of thing going on. Schools have been working towards taking soda and other unhealthy snacks out of their vending machines. Recess was always on the ‘chopping block’ at the sake of attaining higher test scores. It is an important issue!

Turns out that the schools are doing the right thing, either by way of normal moving about from class to class, health classes or PE. It appears that it is the parent’s choice (before and after school and during the summer). Hmmmm, we needed a study to tell us that. Of course. Schools establish routines and procedures that best suit their population. Teachers implement expectations and rules in their classroom so they are able to manage and teach the children in their care. What assistance do parents get to meet the demands of their children? Virtually none. Perhaps some will seek information on how to manage their children, but mostly, they ‘fly by the seat of their pants.’ Schools should be sources of information and encouragement to parents, sharing their knowledge. Parents should be right there soaking it up. Our children deserve it.

Random 'Munchings"

This is a short video recorded a long time ago and edited with a techno beat. Isn’t it just plain cool how people can add the new with the old. I’ve spent some time with my son the past few days and when I do, I always learn something new. He showed me how to embed a utube video on my weblog and helped me pick out a good tutorial on writing XHTML and CSS. My ultimate goal is to do most of this kind of thing all by myself. I won’t be half as good as him (we and the State of LA helped train him). Enjoy!

Random 'Munchings"

Now that I have lived and researched the educational goals of two different states, I can easily say that this man did make a big difference in education in Louisiana.  The accolades mentioned in the article have nothing to do with gifted but his impact on education was felt by everyone in the state: the teachers, the administration, the students and parents.  I hope the next superintendent is able to carry on in the same direction. 

Random 'Munchings"

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’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 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"

According to this recent article, more teachers are blogging, some anonymously and some not. Even a couple of school districts are starting to lay down policies about blog use.

Teachers are usually one of the last groups to adopt something new, but when they do……

Random 'Munchings"

I should be learning all I can about technology and teaching while I’m on my one year personal sabbatical but I’m not. Well, I am but not as much as I have the time to. I’ve done a little rearranging on my weblog, as you can see. So when I was working, I had the desire to learn more about technology – but no time. When I’m not working, I have the time but no desire. Anyone else feel the same way? Also a factor is how much there is out there that a teacher can explore and use. It is a bit overwhelming. It would be nice to have someone walk you through it.

Getting someone to walk you through it…..The problem arises when a district forms a workshop because they must address the ‘techy’ teachers and the ‘non-techy’ teachers. Have you ever noticed the ones that are the loudest during a workshop? It’s the ones who are non-techy. The rest of us just sit around twiddling our thumbs while we wait for a thorough explanation on how to access one’s email. Only the real serious ‘techy’ teachers have enough motivation to learn on their own. Unfortunately, or fortunately, they have the responsibility to turn around and teach it to other teachers. Who has the time to do both when you are responsible for grading papers, filing forms and calling parents? If teachers were to be given time to explore this ‘tool’ would they use it wisely? What is ‘wise’ use of technology in teaching? Is blogging a ‘wise’ use of a teacher’s time?

I’m sure questions like these and others are being addressed and will be addressed in the coming years. (An example already is how some districts have already made a ruling about when a teacher can blog and on what machine they can blog.)
Back to my own situation, I may have to tap into my son’s vast knowledge of how to write code to get my website to look the way I want. He also points me to new technologies and interesting articles. I’m lucky. He’s a good teacher: patient but busy. Here is my official THANKS for his help!

Random 'Munchings"

It was great to learn more about my ‘writing’ buddy, Nancy on her weblog. I always knew she had far and wide experiences. When you read some of her writings you get a sense of it.

Tagged. The word brings to mind the constant games of tag we played in our front circular yard in Holly, Colorado with my two brothers and best friend, Melveta. Freeze tag was my favorite because you had to stop exactly in the position you were tagged in and you had to wait for someone to unfreeze you. Somebody always did because the more kids running around during the game, the more fun it was. Being tagged in the cyber world is similar. “You” has been chosen as the Man of the Year. It’s a funny choice, but at the same time a good choice. Anyone can post anything from radical plans to deep dark adolescent secrets that never made it past the bedroom door in years past. We’ve been ‘unfrozen’ and the ‘game is afoot’ which brings me to addressing being tagged. Here are a few interesting things about me:

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

My husband just coined a new term: “urban camp”. That’s what he is calling our apartment. Let me explain. For us, our main place for our belongings is our country dwelling. It’s where we have our roots. Our city dwelling is smaller and sparser. It’s like our urban camp. We have some kitchen tools to cook with, we have some of our clothes there, just enough to dress properly for our day jobs, a few pieces of reading materials, minimal channels on the tv, and a very nice bed. Even the dogs have their second set of dog bowls. Our city dwelling (urban camp) is where we go to exist during the week, the country dwelling is where we go to relax and live. We also have come up with a name for our country dwelling: Chateau-ed-teau (we are still working on just the right spelling of it). If you can’t figure out what this in reference to you might have never smacked your big toe on something in the middle of the night as often as my husband has…..

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

The National Council on Teacher Quality has a brochure that outlines what makes an effective teacher.  What I like about this publication is that it looks at the research before it makes a general claim about what makes an effective teacher.  I was also interested in their finding that teacher literacy was the most effective indicator of student acheivement.  So, keep reading and writing and keep those kids reading and writing.  It may feel like you are not making any gains in the education of your children but research shows that you are!  And it doesn’t hurt to brush up on those ‘soft’ issues that make a great teacher such as  the ones outlined on page 12 of the brochure.

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I have just finished reading a biography of Leta Stetter Hollingworth, (“A Forgotten Voice” by Ann G. Kelin, Ed.D.) One of my favorite things to do is read or watch shows about influential people throughout history. The Biography Channel and the History Channel feed this hobby for me and many other people in our world.

What was so significant about Leta? First, you wouldn’t be drinking the same amount of caffeine in your Coke without her research back in 1911. Second, women may still be in the “stone ages” without her research and writings. Third, identification and education of the gifted child may not have the solid foundation that it has with her findings. Fourth, the field of Psychology may not be recognized as a professional field of study. She was the founder of the American Assoc. of Clinical Psychologists.

As a newly married woman in the early 1900’s, Leta couldn’t continue teaching after her and her husband moved to New York City from Valentine, Nebraska. Teachers could not be married and still teach, “because it was viewed women teachers as interchangeable and replaceable like pieces of machinery.” She had a graduate degree and several years experience before her move; after her move the public viewed her experience and knowledge as nonexistant. More important was her skills in birthing and raising children. Then her husband was awarded a research project from Coca Cola to find out if the levels of caffeine were harmful to human behavior. As a man who respected the individual’s achievement, he gave the study to his wife to conduct. She was meticulous and thorough, finding that there was no significant difference in human behavior. Caffeine was only a mild stimulate. From this success, she gained the respect of others and continued researching in several fields including differences in the sexes and intelligence through her 53 years of life.

At the time, there were several myths about sex differences between men and women like male brains weighed more than female brains,. Her research refuted many common myths of the day and forwarded the women’s movement by research rather than banter. She believed that you should not claim something unless you had the research to back you up.

She oversaw one of the first large-scale studies regarding the education of the gifted child. She looked at each child as an individual rather than a number or label as she conducted her studies. Her findings mirror most of the concepts we used today to teach the gifted. Namely, IQ was the most accurate and valid measure of intelligence but use of multiple methods were most effective, IQ’s of 130-180 occur in the top 1% of the population, schools should be obligated to make provisions for educating the gifted, funds should be made available for those students of profound giftedness to further their academics regardless of their family’s income level.
Despite all the progress made today in the field of educating the gifted, though, many states choose to educate their gifted populate through the use of programs that are enrichment based and meet only once or twice a week with a trained gifted teacher. Leta understood the social and emotional value of gifted students meeting frequently with their intellectual peers and would frown upon this practice if she were alive today.

Leta was a gifted, influential woman of the early 1900’s when it wasn’t acceptable to be one. She worked tirelessly to use her giftedness to better our world. She struggled without a mother (died in childbirth), a father who abandoned his family, an alcoholic step mother and the ideals of the day. She did have strong grandparents and a caring set of friends and teachers.  Would she have been as effective without this background? That was a basis of a discussion my friends and I had on a recent trip. How many gifted individuals are ‘discarded’ because we as a society ignore them? Leta was one individual who rose above the circumstances. My opinion is that society loses about 75% of its gifted individuals because it ignores their existance. What about the child rummaging through the garbage heap for his/her existance because there was no adult to care for them? What about the child who must labor in the fields to help his/her family survive? What about the child who much suffer at the expense of an unstable parent?

We have much to do as a society to educate each child to their full potential. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ mantra needs to be adjusted to fit the capabilities of the individual. Under the No Child Left Behind program put forward by the Bush Administration, the education of the gifted child is ignored, and the education of the special needs child is misdiagnosed. Responsible law makers need to look at educating the child the way Leta Hollingworth did throughout her studies. A child is an individual with propensities, interests, capabilities and feelings. And law makers need to provide the means for the teacher to meet the needs of the individual child by providing resources, training, and support.

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

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

What a great title for my next novel (don’t expect it anytime soon.) My husband thinks this should be an entry about how things sometimes need to be said even though they are extremely obvious. I think it should be a metaphor for something but I haven’t had enough time to think of something clever. I do like, however, how these little statements get said in the middle of ‘goofing’ around. My husband and his friends were playing pool here this past weekend. How many times has this happened in the course of your get-togethers? It takes a pretty sharp wit to remember this kinds of statements and write about them later in a blog or something. My son can do this, I normally can’t. I’m just not quick enough, nor is my memory span long enough to remember it the next day or the next time I have a chance to write.

I am a slow-processor. I have figured this out after going through all the education courses towards my Masters so don’t expect some clever come-back to the title of the entry anytime soon. That’s why it is in the “random munchings” section of my webpage. It could happen, or it could happen that it sparks something interesting in your brain and you feel compelled to write that novel before I do. Go for it and send me the results!

Random 'Munchings"

It’s true! It was a dark and stormy night last night. We enjoyed a cloud to cloud lightening show for at least 30 minutes. At first, we sat outside under our small back porch, but when a loud crack sounded to the right of us, we scampered inside. Our bedroom has three large windows facing near direct South. We opened the blinds and continued to watch the storm march across to the left of our natural television. The last flashes were still quite bright but well off in the distance. There wasn’t much rumble in this storm because all the action took place high in the sky.

Our pond

(Click the picture to see it better)

Now, its early morning. Bright, bright sunshine, muddy patches of grass and glistening sparkles of water in the small pond at the end of our property. Exactly opposite of the night. One can easily relate to the purifying sense that the morning and sun brings to a difficult night that many authors uses so dramatically in their writing after this. I have to remember that I live on the Texas plains now, and not in the Louisiana swamp. There are lots of similiarity with the trees, grass and water yet it is so very different. The wind blows here nearly everyday. Some days, it’s light and breezy; today, it’s blowing with much more force as if the rid the land of the nasty storm of the night. I am sure the only good use of the wind is to power a sailboat! Otherwise, it causes me to chase a stray box or lost trash can lid, forget any sense of styling hair, and sidetrack the sun’s rays.

Too bad the ‘dark and stormy night’ was last night. Tonight is the date we celebrate Halloween which really is a non-holiday that everyone treats as a holiday. Maybe this is God’s way of letting us know that the weather is not going to help set the mood. Fall is definitely here.

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

It seems funny to take a vacation when you are on vacation. Ya’ll know that I am not working this year. We’ve moved into a gorgeous house NW of Houston and keep a really cool apartment downtown Houston. We just returned from a sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands. We spent 95% of the time on a sailboat cruising between islands and parties. The temperature never wavered more than a degree or two from 82 degrees. There were several small squalls of rain and two pretty good rains as a result of a tropical wave or depression. It was interesting to be in the place where those things begin to form instead of on the receiving end in LA or TX. It was literally ‘paradise’ and it was very hard to leave. I shall spend the rest of my life trying to match the temperature and atmosphere of the trip. I’m such a wimp when it comes to cold. I just stepped outside my house to put some trash away. It’s 69 degrees here right now.

I’ve sat down several times to write (longhand) about our experiences. I still plan to do that along with putting together a memory book of this trip. We had long conversations with the other couple that we sailed with and enjoyed some really good jokes and experiences. Sailing, after I got my ‘sea legs’ was extremely enjoyable. I never thought I would like the wind until this trip. After living in SE Colorado and experiencing dust storms, I swore that wind was my enemy. My opinion has changed, officially, at least for the Caribbean winds.

I’ve unpacked some of my souveniers and completed three loads of laundry, and downloaded what pictures I took before my camera battery ran out. I can’t wait to see the pictures we took on our friend’s camera! You will want to check out my Flickr site soon. I’ll be posting most of the pictures there. If you ever get the chance to sail in the BVI’s – TAKE IT!

Random 'Munchings"

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 enjoyed my front porch this morning. I’ve been eager to since Dave finished it back in December (it is now mid-March). The temparature was just right, a slight overcast of clouds kept the heat away. A tiny breeze, not enough to blow the newspaper but enough to feel its light movement. But first, to enjoy my porch, I had to sweep away the pine needles, leaves and pine dust. There’s sure to be more during the rest of the spring.

I made the perfect cup of coffee, grinding my own beans. Vanilla aroma filled the kitchen as it brewed. I threw a couple pieces of Texas toast in my new toaster and wrapped a couple of sausage links in a paper towel to warm them in the microwave. It took two trips out the front door to carry everything. I even treated myself to one of my fancy coffee cups and saucers. I’d already fetched both clear bags filled with the Sunday paper laying out at the end of my driveway. Now, I know why the rich had slaves! Wouldn’t it be cool to just walk out and sit down to your favorite breakfast and perfectly sweetened coffee.

Time passed at a slow pace while I munched my breakfast and shuffled about reading my favorite sections of the newspaper. Only a couple of cars passed by the the house for that whole hour. I was lucky that a pine needle didn’t take aim at my perfect cup of coffee to spoil it all.

It was the coffee that got me started thinking about writing today. As I pulled the white cup with the dark brown liquid up to drink it, I noticed its glassy surface reflecting the skyline behind me. There was the roof of my home, then the rise of the few trees that we have left standing after the storm, then the sky. No ripples, just a perfect reflection of what was behind and above me. I thought, “Life was about as good as it can get around here after all the changes that I and my home have gone through.”

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries