Teach a Gifted Kid Posts

Here is a picture of our Rock Circle Garden all finished. We reset the rocks last fall and filled it with hardy, full sun plants such as: bottlebrush, pentas, bluebonnets & Indian paintbrush, and plumbagos today (March 8, 2009). There is also two crepe myrtle trees that are just twigs right now. Now, our job is to keep it beautiful!

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We’ve also hidden our water tank with lattice work and put in a bi-level planter in front of it. I’ve filled the planter with Pink Simplicity Hedge Roses and Blossom Blank Groundcover Roses. Best of all, we have a soaker hose all set up on a timer that automatically waters these babies every three days for 30 minutes. Yea!

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Fun Stuff

Most of our trip to Rio was an endurance exercise. The temperatures are hotter than Houston and New Orleans (really!), the elusive wind resulted in a fair amount of motoring instead of sailing. There was too much fabulous and food and, of course, Carnaval (which is much like Mardi Gras on steriods). Top of the list, though, was enduring the four nights in the Marina de Gloria in Rio. We arrived in port around 8 pm after a 12 hour open ocean tour. Around 10 pm, we noticed colorful lights flickering in the venue across the marina from us.

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For the next three nights, the routine was the same. Test the lights around 9, fire up the sound system at 10 pm, then crank it up at 12 pm. And the real “cool” thing was that the concert lasted until the sun came up (around 5:30 am) with everyone under the vibrating tent structure actually cheering! No joke! I recalled Amber telling me about these concerts in Europe. Her boyfriend, Germain has taken her to several in Paris during the past two years. Once I realized what we were in for, I knew my job was to educate our crew that we were in for a great deal: three more all night concerts with the driving beat of techno – a retail value of $500 per person!

Surprisingly, all of us joked about our new bedtime/wake up music throughout our time in Rio. I proudly told Amber that we’ve attended four all-night techno concerts when we got home. She quickly dashed my/our achievement when she asked me if we stood the whole time. “That’s what everyone does at these concerts”, she proudly tells me on the phone. No, we tried to sleep in our fiberglass cabins with the sound and vibrations traveling through the water.

It’s amazing how much creativity in differences in style one can hear in a constant 130 beats per minute. Every morning at breakfast, we all discussed what we liked or disliked the DJ like we were veterans in the genre. We all seemed to liked the same DJ that the popular poll at the website shows.

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Germain told Amber that this DJ is one of his favorites, too.

We should have known something was up when we docked. There was no activity in any of the boats already there. Even the marina personnel disappeared, except for the unlucky (or lucky) security.

Fun Stuff

I’m am fascinated with what children know and do in other countries. One incident left a lasting impression on me regarding two girls about 10-12 years old. Several of us jumped into the dingy to go ashore after anchoring for the evening in a beautiful little harbor south of Angra des Reis in Brazil. We went in to check out the bar and restaurant. My husband, Dave, and Diane decided to stay on the Empty Nest.

It is fairly common that the locals come out to each boat to drop off menus or offer to help. As our small group made our way back to the boat, we saw there was a small, wooden colorful canoe tied in front of the Empty Nest. Turns out there were two girls on board talking with Diane, who had the most linguistic skills with Portuguese out of all of us. It appeared to be an animated discussion. We arrived just as the girls were climbing into their canoe, which almost turned over, the bigger girl righting it quickly and expertly. They’ve done this before. Both started paddling on with no preamble or discussion to the next boat in their harbor.

Dave and Diane recounted their time on our boat with us. The girls (or their mothers) had made single strands of beads with a small handmade stuffed dolphin or star about every 3 inches and they were selling them to the visitors in their harbor. Diane said she tried to negotiate the price of their work but the girls wouldn’t budge. Dave told us that the girls were actually quite animated and fun to deal with. By the time they left, they had sold six of their creations at their set price.

Two strong messages came out of this exchange for me as a teacher: children are capable of much more than we think. These girls functioned in their environment with ease, no one telling them what to do, no testing to standards, no adult looking over their shoulder. The second message that I got from this exchange is how the girls stuck to their original objective. Even though both girls were probably illiterate, they knew what their work was worth. They were not willing to take any less for it but at the same time, they made the exchange friendly. Everyone was happy as the girls left for their next business deal.

Several times during our trip, we saw children selling things on the side of the road. Two memorable times were at a construction site on the road and in the historical neighborhood of Rio. One child was selling a local popcorn like snack, the other was selling beer to our open jeep tour stuck on the road because of a local parade. These children are doing what they have to do to survive. Many, many more around the world are doing the same. Our children sit in classrooms feasting on whatever the state says they must learn to be successful. Then they go home to feast on the internet, tv and music. We, as a culture, need to insure that our children can function expertly in whatever situation they find themselves in. Real-life situations and real-life problems are much more effective teachers than any worksheet or test.

Random 'Munchings"

Sorry, I haven’t posted recently. Not much had inspired me lately, then we took a 12 day trip to Brazil/Rio sailing with friends. More about that later.

What I really wanted to write about was a discussion that my daughter and I had a couple days ago. She’s currently doing her internship in the education branch of UNESCO in Paris. She attended an interesting task force on teachers. I decided to explore this a bit deeper by going to their site online. I found this very interesting statistic in the action plan document: Without adequate numbers of professionally qualified teachers, access, quality and equity of education suffer. Globally the recruitment, deployment and retention of 18 million additional teachers is needed by 2015 to reach the goal of universal primary education with a pupil- teacher ratio of 40 – 1.

Forty students to one teacher worldwide by 2015. Sounds reasonable if you live in the US or other developed countries. If you live in the desert, deep in the outback, or in the slums of Brazil, this number becomes more daunting. How can one teacher be supported and encouraged in less than desirable conditions?

Eighteen million teachers are needed worldwide by 2015. That’s six years from now. So today, say, ten million teachers are needed. That’s quite a demand. Our world deserves teachers, our children deserve to learn. For those of you who are teaching right now – you’re doing a great thing! Let’s inspire more individuals to teach and support international programs that work to provide education to all!

Added: 3/18/09 This tidbit of information came across my screen and I thought it appropriate to add to this article from The American Board of Certification for Teacher Excellence “Need for New Teachers – America’s children will need 2 million new teachers by 2014.”

Random 'Munchings"

Just before the election I noticed that I am just about two weeks older than Barack. It has been unusual to run into individuals born in ’61 but a week or so later I listened to a fellow sitting behind me at the airport tell another that he was born in ’61.

Why do we identify so much with the year we were born when we don’t even become aware of things until 5-7 years later? Those born in ’61 missed out on the Vietnam War protest and barely have memories of segregation. We were only 2 when Kennedy was shot. We were in an elementary classroom when a man landed on the moon and we watched Gilligan & Brady Bunch after school every day. We are the fringe of the baby boomers from the end of WWII. Are we qualified to be in charge?

Will our youth, playfulness and intellectual experiences plus the benefit of the technology be enough to to move our world forward?

Random 'Munchings"

I thank Lauri over at Laurie’s Reflections for for inspiring me to write this entry. I can easily relate to her questions about what to do with the Christmas photos of friends and relatives she’s been sent. Every year, I put away the Christmas cards to cut up to use as tags the next year. When I pick up the collection of photos, I just can’t throw them away so I carefully put them in a box. I don’t have one place to put these groups of photos. I find them in all kinds of places as I unpack my Christmas decorations every year. It’s like I hold the souls of my friends and family in my hand and throwing them away would be a sin. I need an altar or shrine or at least a special place for them.

Laurie jumped into my head and read my mind when it comes to my everyday photos! My parents just sent me a portion of the photos that my grandparents had accumulated over 70 years of marriage. I remember sending them Adam’s artwork as a 3 year old and pictures of Amber’s graduation from high school. Grandma kept everything she received from her kids, grandkids and relatives in the handiest box or envelope. I will keep them on the counter for a while, then I will put them somewhere, too.

When I have time, I put together a scrapbook. I have around 15 now from the past 25 years. I don’t do it because it is a fad or I just saw a program on a fancy new trick. I create something for me that I think others will enjoy someday down the road. It does take time which we all have so little of. I’m not up on the newest tricks, don’t buy the fanciest empty albums. I just get started. I sit amazed when I look at how many I have assembled.

The most recent was a recipe scrapbook using my grandmother’s recipes and photos of family sharing food together. Each time I make a scrapbook, I struggle with what order, my objective, and what to include. Then I forge ahead to put together something. I have no idea if anyone else will like what I’ve done. Mostly it is a process was a labor of love and quite satisfying to me. I’ve done everything in my human power to preserve my memories except to chisel them into a stone tower like the ancient conquerors did.

I haven’t even scratched the surface of the photos that I’ve collected! I have 5,368 photos residing in digital form on my computer right now. This represents my picture-taking skills from about 1995. Photos prior to 1995 have been carefully archived onto CD’s and stored away in the security chest. I imagine I am not the only one like this. New questions come up: should I print them, if I print them what do I use so they last over time, should I store them in more than one place, or put them online? Using digital albums like iPhoto has one great advantage: they are in chronological order and the date it was taken is associated with the file (if it is set correctly.) If I were persistent when I imported the photos in, I could tag each one and sort them by subject, too. Which leads me to my next question. Will my great, great grandkids be able to see them? Which format will exist 60+ years from now?

Everyone has a different reason for taking photos. I take photos because my long-term memories are always fuzzy. My brother and husband are so good at recalling things we’ve done. I’m not. I use my photos as a crutch to help me remember. In the process, I create for others to enjoy and remember.

Fun Stuff Random 'Munchings"

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I stepped out my back door with my nothing-spectacular camera and took this shot.


Random 'Munchings"

People are a distinct species known as the homo sapiens sapiens. Do you realize the full impact of the thought that you are ONE in 6,751,687,611 humans in the world according to the best estimates of the U.S. Census Bureau on 01/05/09 at 00:06 GMT (EST+5)? My mind has been churning lately on just how many homo sapiens sapiens there are and have been in the world. Each with their own thoughts, desires and needs. Each looking daily for their sustenance. Do you realize right now that a mother of two may be cooking a meal in her big kitchen fully stocked at the same time that a mother of ten is cooking over a fire in a worn pot using what she can find? Do you comprehend that around half of the 6,751,687,611 people in the world are preparing, storing or throwing away food at the same time? I have watched the driven suburban mother on her cell phone urgently telling someone to pick up their child from soccer while scanning the grocery shelf like her family is the only family in the world doing the same thing.

We can easily find opulent images of the wealthy and healthy on the billboards, in the newspapers and on the net. Then in one the matter of a second we can see images of the depravity and cruelty that exists around the world with humans in all types of situation. Consider people enjoying their yacht lacking nothing then swing your mind to the starving child that has nothing and you can understand why I feel the urge to explore this issue.

Now, take the vertical plunge and imagine the images you’ve seen from the past – the remains of a prehistoric homo sapien sapien, the artwork portraying a Pharaoh of ancient Egypt or learn how many people died from the Bubonic Plague in the Middle Ages or the black and white photographs men lying on Normandy Beach on D-Day. As archeologists explore more and more of the layers of history in areas such as South America, the ancient Puebloans living in the valleys of southwestern Colorado, and the Middle East, science is discovering that humans have lived, loved, and learned since forever.

You are reading this blog because someone in your life, be it the government or an individual made sure you had an education. According to UNESCO about 80% of the people in the world are literate. You are one of the lucky ones who can read AND have access to the internet, 1,350,337,522 people cannot.

Well, that’s just some food for thought.

Random 'Munchings" Uncategorized

Take the time to listen to Mike Wesch, the US Professor of the Year. I want to thank my friend, Nancy, for her discussion on his video.

The “WE” in education is critically important in any classroom from 1st graders up to university classes of 400+. The teacher who can inspire the community to go beyond learning for the test is the teacher of the future. How does a teacher know when they have succeeded in teaching the individual to truly love learning? When the student no longer comes up to ask questions like “How long does this essay need to be?” or “What I need to study for the test tomorrow?” I can truly relate to the statement Mike makes about when the student knows the ‘why’ the ‘how’ does not matter. In terms of my own life: I understand why I need to work two hours to mow my two acres of grass so I don’t mind putting in the effort to do it. The reward for me is how beautiful and healthy my yard looks not how it measures up to someone else’s standards.

Gifted teachers MUST realize that it is no longer a time of ‘let me fill your head with wonderful knowledge.’ It’s time to teach critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, researching and communication skills then to provide a multitude of opportunities for the students to collaborate and communicate what they have learned. It’s time to get away from the cutsy themes such as rainforests and cowboys and move into the ‘how and why’ it is important for us to learn about them. We need teach our students how to ask relevant questions and come to logical and substantial conclusions about what they have learned.

Share this video with all the teachers that you know! It’s not only good for gifted students but for the 1st grader who will be functioning in the world as an adult in 2024!


All you educators will enjoy this site and its sense of humor.

Weapons of Math Destruction Comics

This comic has particular links to the state of gifted education in the US.

Imagine, you as an adult, sitting in a workshop where the instructor is slowing down the delivery of information to a snail’s pace so everyone can keep up. What do you do? Start flipping around in the book, draw, write notes to your neighbor, pull out your cell phone, go to the bathroom, etc. You have been taught over time just how far to go with your off-task behavior in a public situation.

Now, imagine you are ten years old!

It’s critical that we meet the needs of the identified gifted in our midst before they develop coping behaviors that have to be untaught later in their academic life. In my last position in a private school just for gifted, I needed more than half the school year to correct my students off-task behaviors before I could truly teach them. Alternatively, these students needed to trust that I would provide them with active, engaging learning situations. Both are a gradual processes.

This comic highlights that when we try to “level” the learning in the classroom, we loose our brightest minds. Our goal is to meet the academic and social needs every student under our care or offer alternative situations where they can receive help or acceleration. Leveling needs to take on the new meaning of “every student is learning to the level of their needs”.

Recently, I listened to Hillary Clinton during her nomination to be our next Secretary of State talk about everyone reaching their potential in our nation. Does she truly know what that means?

Gifted Education Uncategorized

The Department of Education in the Philippines celebrates the 2008 National Observance of the week for the gifted and talented.

A clip from their website:

1. Every fourth week of November, the nation observes National Week for the Gifted and Talented, an event declared through Presidential Proclamation No. 199 signed on Oct 19, 1999. This year’s celebration will be observed on November 24-28 2008 with the theme “Building Gifts into Talents”.

If the United States can’t make it official this year, we can still celebrate. There is always exciting things happening in our GT classrooms! What are you doing?

Happy National Observance week all gifted and talented!

Gifted Education

I consider myself fairly tech-savvy but I learned something that probably most tech-savvy people already knew: the Monday after Black Friday is called Cyber Monday. This is when companies make a big push to get you to order online. I decided to check my Business filter in GMail, and found 86 emails from companies like Barnes & Noble, Solutions and ShopPBS.org, etc. I just cleaned out that box yesterday!

Most of my Christmas shopping was done in the stores in the past with a few things ordered online. I had already decided to do most of my shopping online this year, taking the cue from my friends who recently moved to Nigeria. About two months ago, I decided to take my name off at least 25 catalog mailing lists thinking I would make my mail person’s job much lighter and save a few trees. Unfortunately, the work load is about the same. The retailers had warned me that it could take up to three months to see any results.

Seems like the retailers could have come up with more interesting titles for this tech phenomena like Slamming Monday.

Random 'Munchings" Uncategorized

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Adam and I were fooling around with Wordle at the same time we were listening to the news about the Mumbia attacks in India. We’ve captured an article from each of the following news sites about the topic and ran them through Wordle to come up with the images below. You can see the relative size of words based on the number of times it is used in the article which could give you an idea of the ‘slant’ of the article.

One could use this an analysis tool in the classroom. We’ve discussed the concept and determined that it would be better to use the same design/color theme to make it more ‘scientific’ in approach. Let us know how you use the concept.

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

Adam (my 25 year old son) has soundly defeated all my attempts to teach him to put his socks in the laundry after taking them off at the end of the day. This has been an ongoing battle between him and I since he was in elementary school. Every day after school, he’d remove his socks in my living room. Now he has Pixel to help him! Apparently, Pixel loves having his socks strewn about. They are instant toys to her.

I stayed with Adam and Pixel for three nights while I attended the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented conference in Dallas. I arrived on Tuesday night to his apartment and was happily greeted by Pixel, she was a temporary distraction from the nearly 20 white athletic socks laying all over the front room floor.

Once I get over the shock, I’ll write some ruminations from the conference.

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

Today’s entries all have one thing in common. They were sparked by reading the front section of the Houston Chronicle (Nov. 9).

I noted that Obama runs in all the same social networks online as I do. The article relates his digital presence to President Kennedy and his televised conferences and Roosevelt’s radio presence. Another article uses texting terminology to connect Obama to his confidants (BFF) and creates a new one: FOB (Friends of Barak) It will be interesting to see what the history books will write about our time.

AC/DC is back! I have to check out their newest album. Yea, I know their lyrics in Back in Black could be offensive to some. To me it is the what I call “the musicality” of their work that I like. You’ll laugh because at this very moment, I’m listening to harp music. My selection of music has always been based on my mood and Sunday morning is a good time for harp music. Saturday night is a good time for AC/DC.

On the same page is the cutest picture titled, “Pesky Patriot.” The photographer, Dave Weaver was lucky enough to capture a squirrel grasping onto a small American flag, the kind that are placed at grave sites. Of course, the animal was more interested in eating the material, than respecting it. I wish I could find the picture on the Chronicle’s website.

Attention all teachers! Macys has a very interesting promotional ad going for Christmas. They have reprinted a letter from Virginia O’Hanlon from The New York Sun originally published on Thursday, Sept. 21, 1897. Macys is using the letter to jump start a campaign to encourage you to write a letter explaining why “you’re one in a million.” They’ll donate a $1 to Make-A-Wish Foundation for every letter they receive. Teachers can teach a lesson on the historical and social aspects, finalizing the lesson with writing a letter with a purpose.

Camp Pendleton in California had to stop their training because a herd of 147 bison wandered onto their training field. The bison are a protected species. Remember 20 to 60 million roamed the plains for hundreds of years. The top biologist was quoted as saying “they are a symbol of the American West.

I love when history becomes evident today!

Random 'Munchings"

Halloween was pretty much a disappointment in our neighborhood after living in Greenleaves in Mandeville. There I learned to buy 10-12 packages of candy to have enough. Our neighborhood was well-known throughout the area as the best place to go trick or treating. Families would park their car outside the neighborhood, load up their little red wagons with kids and drinks. It was so crowded several years in a row that the police had to come in to direct traffic! No kidding!

Now, we are in a neighborhood with families and little kids, mostly running around on their 3-wheelers, golf carts and skate boards, even horses. On Halloween night, though, we had exactly one group of trick or treaters. There were eight kids total and they rode in a trailer hooked to a tractor driven by our next door neighbor. There is still evidence in my circular driveway: hay and black tire tracks.

Since my kids and their friends are grown and most are still in college, I prepared several packages full of treats and small gifts and mailed them about two weeks before Halloween. I’m glad I did! I still have candy left over so stop by sometime. You don’t have to dress up.

Random 'Munchings"

Twelve days ago I started wearing a pedometer because I wanted to see just how many steps I take in a day. Turns out that I average about 4,200 steps during a week. I plugged in a screen shot of my chart below so you could see my inconsistent performance. This is my honest numbers without changing any patterns or habits. You can easily tell which days I was writing a web log entry, updating my Facebook page or some other task that was ‘necessary’ at the time and which days I took a walk.

The site that I used to input the data has a goal for each participant of an average of 10,000 steps during a week. Using my superior mathematical skills, I determined that doing a simple chore like doing the laundry be made into a couple hour ordeal if I just picked up one piece of clothing at a time and walked it from the bedroom to the laundry room. Of course, my dog, Nemo, would be entirely confused by this. He carries ‘socks’ to the laundry room for me while my other dog, Tillie, cheers for us waiting by the washer. They get a treat for their valuable contribution. I just get to enter my steps on to a web page.

Daily Report

On a totally different front, I came across a website a few days ago that encourages people to write 20,000 words a day. Their basic premise is if we can get you to write everyday starting Nov 1, you could turn out a novel just after Christmas. During the interview, the creator of the program said they have “flying monkeys” to monitor that its participants are actually writing their quota of words a day. I think he is jesting but the image of flying monkeys straight out of “The Wizard of Oz” is enough to keep me honest! In fact, I was scared enough to pull out a story I had started several years ago and see just how many words I had already written so I could get a sense of what 20,000 words looked like on the screen. I was hoping for something like 50,000 words in the statistics on the document as I had spent a number of days writing on it, instead it was closer to 20,000 words. It took me a few minutes to wrap my mind around how much time it would take to write 20,000 words that made any logical sense.

So to wrap this entry up, I’ll need to drink my quota of water, eat my quota of calories, get my quota of sleep so I can step my quota of steps and write my quota of words. If not, I can only wish that flying monkeys will swoop down and take this pedometer that started the whole thing!

Fun Stuff Random 'Munchings"

So the other local paper Tomball Magnolia Tribune (not to be outdone by last week’s excellent article) ran an interesting Sheriff’s Office report for the week of Oct. 20, 2008.

“When Patrol Sgt. Dwayne Finley of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office went to investigate a reported explosion at a business, what he saw when he went inside was believed to be bloody hoof prints on the carpet.

As he continued to check the interior of the business, he entered the last office and a large eight point buck jumped up from behind a desk. The deer attached the sergeant, trying to gore him with his atlers. Sgt. Finley was able to shoot the deer before being injured.”

The best reason for placing this on my weblog is because this is so ripe for puns! If you have one, add it to the comment section. I know my husband and son will have a few. You don’t want to be outdone by them!

Writing Entries

I just finished reading an article in my local paper, The Magnolia Potpourri on Oct. 15, 2008 and had to write about it. I don’t usually write two entries on one day but I just couldn’t pass up on this one.

The title of the article is “Blogger takes virtual bike ride through Tomball” by Dustin Bass (dbass@hcnonline.com) The article is about Clifford Walk who is using Google Maps new walking directions feature to chart his course from baseball stadium to another baseball stadium. He climbs on his exercise bike and pedals away until he reaches the appropriate mileage, then makes a blog entry about the special baseball events that occurred at that stadium. He’s combined his love of baseball with exercise and brought it into the virtual world! (Unfortunately, the link given in the article didn’t work and I couldn’t locate the article link online so you will have to email Dustin Bass above for more details.)

I can see grandmothers bicycling to their grandchildren’s homes, boyfriends making their way to their girlfriend’s house or even just virtually pedaling my way to the local coffee shop! First, I will need a bike, tho! Perhaps this will start a few more rider/bloggers out there!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Number Four on the list of Top Ten Things is the topic of my next entry. It reads:

Asking regular education teachers to differentiate for the gifted sounds great, but if teachers do not know just how high those “high” kids can get, then the gifted never get needs met. In-service does not always show teachers just how much these children can really do.

Regular education teachers are very aware of the gifted child in their classroom and that’s about it. Every teacher struggles with meeting the wide range of social, emotional and academic needs of every child in their classroom. They can scale back the lesson for the lower learner and pile on more work to the high achiever but with the gifted learner, teachers can be clueless. For instance, what may look like a unproductive child on the outside may be a highly intelligent child on the inside. High achieving children may be just that – high achieving but are they gifted thinkers? I’ve learned that some behaviors in a gifted child is simply a coping mechanism or their way of handling boredom. Giving away the right to be in a gifted classroom to the best behaved child is just plain misguided. That little boy who can’t sit still but can make thoughtful connections and announces them impulsively is the same young man who drops out of school around his sophomore year.

How can a teacher better met the needs of their gifted learner without taking away from the others? When you assign a writing, allow the gifted learner to take it as far as they wish. I have approached more than one writing assignment this way. After buffeting several, “so how many pages does this need to be” type questions, students exploded. Some turned in one or two pages, others took the opportunity to write stories of great lengths! I encouraged students to come to me with a proposal for a project or topic for further study, then I made sure there was somewhere that they could present or publish their work.

Find out all you can about how different and unique gifted children are. Ask them what they would like to do. Play with their sophisticated sense of humor, appreciate their gifts then let them soar!

Gifted Education