Teach a Gifted Kid Posts

You would think that with a state as big as Texas, and a community as expansive as Houston and my ability to be dual located at any one time would give me a big enough net to find the perfect job — but it doesn’t. I’ve joined a number of listservs in and outside of Texas for both the gifted teacher and the homeschooling parent of the gifted child and have come to determine that if you have lived all your life in Texas you are quite happy with what they have to offer for your gifted child (maybe not entirely true for the profoundly gifted.) If you have experienced some of the other educational situations outside of the state, you’re not. My options are still quite limited. I have my application in for a GT Specialist with an ISD nearby, have interviewed for a gifted teaching position in a different ISD, and have substituted at a small private school designed to teach the gifted population that may or may not have a teaching position open in the fall. None of these situations come close to the all day, all subjects fully supported program for 4th-6th graders team taught with another qualified gifted teacher that I had in Louisiana in a public school. Last year about this time before our move, I warned my former principal about the bad news. She and the entire staff at the school would have to move to Houston. I said this in a jokingly and complimentary way. Little did I know…..

Gifted Education

I had an interesting thing happen on my way to Baton Rouge to help my son pick out a new apartment for the fall semester at LSU. I left Houston around 11 am and had to make two stops during the four+ hour drive. The first stop went off without a hitch. I’m still left wondering when will gas stations create a pump handle that does not require one to use two hands to keep that costly gas pouring into a gas tank. It had been lightly raining for most of the trip but the last 20 minutes was a solid downpour and I needed another stretch break.

The second stop at a Shell convenience store found me following a skink (or lizard, for all ya’ll not from the south) down the potato chip aisle in the convenience store. Mind you, he was dressed for the occasion, dressed to match the motled brown and gray tile beautifully. I happened to look up at the cashier and said, “Did you know you have a skink running down your potato chip aisle?” She thought I said ‘a snake’ and ran completely around the checkout counter, all the while saying, “if there is a snake in this store, I’m leaving.” Now, I’m a very soft spoken person so I could understand her confusion, so I was nice enough to say in my most effective teacher-voice, “no a lizard.” She calmed right down and laughed at the confusion. I poured my self a cup of hot coffee, looking for the well-dressed patron but he had scurried away somewhere. As I approached to pay for my beverage, I noticed a local policeman chatting with the cashier. It’s a good thing I didn’t take advantage of my accidental diversion….

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I want to announce to the whole world that I’m proud of my grandparents! They are celebrating their 70th year together as husband and wife on May 10th. My grandpa was 22 when he married my grandma of 18 in dusty Kansas in 1937. They have been directly responsible for the lives of three children, eight grandchildren and oodles of great grand children. My grandpa has a great sense of humor and my grandma can discuss baseball and politics with the best of them. If you think times are rough for relationships now, try living through the Dust Bowl or working in the lead mines in Colorado while supporting a young family (with orange crates for furniture). They’ve come a long way and planned well for their later years. Picture Caption: That’s me in my daddy’s arms.

My grandparents

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Last night, during a pretty busy storm, I got to thinking about what the ideal gifted school would look like.  I’m sure there are schools out there that do some or all of this or have found that one or two of the ideas just simply don’t work in real life.  In any case, these are just my ‘mind munchings’ on the matter (in no particular order).

  •  Students would work 1/2 of the time on academic issue related to standardized testing, the other 1/2 of the time on topics, projects, research that interested them.
  • Teachers would work in the area of their speciality or passion and not be asked to teach anything else, i.e. a teacher highly interested and skilled with working with ADHD gifted children would do just that.  A teacher with a passion for teaching Language Arts would do just that for any and all grade levels.
  • Teachers are specially trained or knowledgeable about issues such as autism, Augbergers, profoundly gifted, ADHD, etc.  Mechanisms are in place in the program that show that these special needs are being met or dealt with in the classroom curriculum and activity.
  • Programs are divided by the type of gifted child.  Example: the introverted, highly focused child versus the kinesthetically driven, constantly moving child, the overachiever or perfectionist, the dual exceptional child.  Their teacher would be highly skilled on how to motivate that particular type of gifted student.
  • Active informational programs for the parents in active programs dealing with the issues their particular child has or is experiencing at the time.
  • A smooth integration of new gifted students to the program.  Pair up the child with a buddy, provide a place for the student to ‘digest’ his or her new surroundings.  Scaffold the social experience until the child is comfortable in the new school situation.
  • Provide an active place of learning and also provide a place for reflection and thinking.  Encourage each student to do both during the day.  Students need time to reflect on their learning.  Also provide plenty of time for independent play or social play to explore new found knowledge or extend social skills.
  • Portfolios for each student.  A culminating portfolio of all the students best work over the course of the time they are attending the school.  Student projects, assignments, tests, writings plus scores on various standardized testing and a discussion on the student’s strengths and weaknesses from the teacher, parent and child point of view.  Some of the folder can be confidential, some can be for student view.  The portfolios would be documentation of the student progress and thinking.
  • Field trips are sorted by topic, not by grade level.  They are mapped out for the entire school year.  Students are required to attend one field trip in related to each discipline: Math, Science, Fine Arts, Language Arts, History, Social Studies, then they are encouraged to attend as many field trips in their field of interest as financially possible.  This approach would round the individual, yet encourage their passions.  Make sure that each trip is fully described so the parent and student can choose the ones that best suit their interest and needs at the time.  Interest drives their choice.
  • Give the student more control over their own learning.  Use brain based motivational ideas rather than extrinsic motivation to empower the student to move ahead in their learning.  Allow for more choice within a set of guidelines.
  • Have a way that students can show and share their products resulting from their own interests outside of the classroom.  Encourage other students to view and discuss these products.  Value the student work and creativity, share it with others.
  • Provide interactive websites that are playful yet educational.  Students need choices and guidance in choosing sites that have educational and play value.
  • Provide a safe playground. Have students track incidents of accidents and what they can do to reduce those accidents.  Extend this type of real-life learning to other areas of concern within the school environment.  Teacher should bring into the classroom as much real-life learning as possible.

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"

I’m preparing to go on a vacation to see my daughter who has been studying in France for her junior year in college. Wow, what an experience for her! She’s written about the food, people, culture mishaps and the interesting sites. It is almost positive that she feels a real connection to Paris because she really doesn’t want to come back to Texas. And really, in the long run she may end up living and working there in her future. But first, she has to finish her degree at Tulane. I picture her like a baby bird peering over the safe edge of the nest, eager to jump out and try her wings. She just needs a little more time and knowledge and she’s on her own.

My son, however, is at a decision point in his life right now. He’s out looking for employment in far away places like California and New York and Austin. His progress has been more like the contented puppy lingering next to familiar places and people. It’s his time! We’re excited for him and for all the possibilities out there that are open for him.
Raising dependent young children to independent young adults. How did we get from one point to another? I wish we could bottle up whatever we did and sell it to anyone who has concerns about getting their children from point A to point B. I wish we could bottle up this, refine it and require it for all those struggling parents and struggling children. But then again, maybe the struggle is the most important part.

While Adam and Amber struggle with life changing decisions in their future, I get to watch. I’ve made some life changing decisions in my past and they worked out ok. I’m sure their decisions will too.

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I have just watched the Legacy of Rosina Lhevinne on the Documentary Channel. http://www.thelegacyofrosinalhevinne.com/ If you ever have the chance to see this documentary, it is particulary good. The program is fantastic for teachers of the gifted. She taught some of the most gifted and talented individuals during her time at the Julliard School of Music. I’d like to tease you a few quotes from the program to entice you. I’ve italicized a response to each quote and how it might relate to teaching the gifted child.

“She can do so much for a student and get so much out of a student through inspiration.” Van Cliburn Inspiring a gifted student to do more is not easy. I have found that inspiration comes only after a solid, trusting relationship has been established. The student must respect your knowledge on the subject(s) that interested him or her. A teacher may want to become versed in technology for this reason. I won over a particulary difficult gifted student because I could teach him things about technology that he could use.

“She had an uncanny ability to suit the way she was teaching to what she thought the student would absorb and react to the best.” John Williams This is differentiation in its purest form. Thinking continuously about the needs, levels and abilities of each student was ongoing as I planned curriculum. I asked questions like, “How can I provide challenge for this child and/or for fundamental knowledge in another child within the same lesson? How can I keep this student interested and that student challenged but not so challenged that they grow disinterested or discouraged.”

“She was not a dictator, she was just so severe in the demand that the person really do the ‘completest’ (sic) development that was possible and in that demand, she was very specific.” James Levine Setting high expectations, moving the student to higher and higher levels, encouraging them to wrestle through difficulties….students need to fail at times because that is when their learning becomes personal and valuable. Many gifted students are very hard on themselves when they fail. They know they are smart, they have been told they are smart. It’s important that teachers of the gifted to assure the student that failing is as important as succeeding. In fact, more learning occurs after failing because alternatives and options surface. Masterful teachers know just when to ‘stage’ failure to elicit the most learning for their students.

“She used so many forms of psychology….sometimes it would stimulate you to make it work.” Van Cliburn Every teacher does this on a daily basis. Here Van Cliburn was relating an instance where Rosina told him that a piece was too difficult for him. He set out to prove her wrong. Motivating a gifted child requires he/she has numerous ways to encourage and motivate the gifted learner that are intrinsic in value. Extrinsic motivations will have limited usefulness and value as the gifted student moves through the grades.

“If you convince me your way is right I accept it, and I leave it alone, it is only when I think you don’t know what you want that I move in.” Rosina Lhevinne The gifted child just may have a new of different way to solve problems and are eager to share their insight to anyone standing nearby. Teachers of the average learner might misunderstand the motivation for the gifted child, who just can’t reign their excitement, as trying to take over the class or undermine the teacher’s ability or authority.

” ….beautiful balance between inputing into the student what you are and what the student can absorb …..” James Levine I’m reminded of this frequently. As teachers, we should remember that not everyone in the classroom will like our unit on lighthouses which we feel so passionate about or fall in love with the novel under study for the next six weeks. We have to strike the balance between who we are as teachers and who our students are.

Gifted Education


Originally uploaded by afrench2.

The biggest landscaping project Dave or I have ever done is finally finished. You can see the walkway and three of the planters from this view. There is one more planter just out of the picture. The stones were laid mostly by me, the sand between the stones was done by me. All the heavy stuff and lots of loads of sand and dirt were brought over by Dave.

The plants are all Native Texas plants because I figure they need the best start I can give them. I don’t necessarily have a green thumb. I just hope that all these plants like their new home. I chose white and pink blooming flowers with one deep red bottle brush just in front of the trees.

Big project! It feels good to have designed it and completed it with my husband. We make a great team! I hope your sping projects have gone as well. If not, I give you what’s left of my energy and enthusiasm. You can do it!

Random 'Munchings"

Do you have a quote for educating the gifted child, teaching the gifted child or parenting the gifted child. Please feel free to send your suggestions to teachagiftedkid@gmail.com.

  • “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.” (Arthur Schopenhauer)
  • “Every child deserves an equal opportunity to struggle.” (Mary Landrum)
  • “Expecting all children the same age to learn from the same materials is like expecting all children the same age to wear the same size clothing.” (Madeline Hunter)
  • “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar!” (Helen Keller)
  • “You can never hold a person down without staying down with him.” (Booker T. Washington)
  • “Give me rigor or give me mortis!” (Michael Clay Thompson)
  • “Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.” (Leonardo da Vinci)
  • “There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.” (Justice Felix Frankfurter)
  • “The pupil who is never required to do what he cannot do, never does what he can do.” (John Stuart Mill)


I was spurred by an entry at David Schenck’s weblog (http://geniusblog.davidshenk.com/) entitled “The Myelin in All of Us” so I wanted to share my comment to it here.

His entry brings to mind a ‘random munching’ I dwelt on for a few months. “What if I wanted to play the piano like Horowitz, lead an army like Patton, or cook like Julia Child? Would I have been able to, if I were trained to do so from a very early age? Is it too late now for me to become an expert in a field like astrophysics (I’m 46). With intensive training and practice, how far would I progress to be a tennis star? Can an expert tell ‘right off the bat’ that I wouldn’t do well in ballet (even if my general build indicates that I would be?)

In the eons to come after all this research, I envision that every field of endeavor’s criteria so well documented that no time is wasted on training that doesn’t fit the individual’s natural tendencies. Another direction might be capturing all knowledge and information in a tiny chip and installing it in an individual’s mind. Schools might only be used for teaching morals and good social behavior. Then I could be that expert in whatever field I choose for today, and then, tomorrow I could choose something else. But would I still be limited physically and mentally?”

It’s food for thought.  Where will all this research take us?

Gifted Education Random 'Munchings"


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


Originally uploaded by afrench2.

It is so nice outside right now. If you haven’t been outside to enjoy the nice weather, shame on you. It won’t wait for you. If you live in the south, you only have a few days to be outside. It’s now or never!

We’ve picked an outside project to try to complete before the weather turns hot. This our front circle. Those stones…we moved them all. I moved the little ones, Dave moved the bigger ones. That dirt and sand, we moved it too. We still have several loads of dirt to bring over, several loads of flagstone and some planting to do. It’s expected to rain Wednesday and Thursday this week, just like it rained last week Friday and Saturday. Those prints you see in the walkway is the neighbor’s dog. He’s huge and he’s only a puppy. We’re hoping that the fencing (we are adding a 24 inch high wire fencing to the railings) will keep him out and our dogs in. That is the other spring project.

So, get outside! If you need something to do, head over to Texas. We got plenty!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Looks like nearly all zillion school districts in Houston go on spring break the same time.  Dave says the office is really quiet this week, workmate’s and their families are off skiing somewhere, probably.  I was thinking about how important a break is to teachers.  Some people think that a teacher’s yearly schedule is ideal; working shorter days, getting three months off.  That’s not really true.  Teachers need that break from the intensive day to day demands and schedule in their classroom.

To show for my spring break, my husband and I have nearly completed the landscaping in our front circle.  It has large square rust and gray colored stones outlining a curvy walkway that leads in and out of the circle.  It will soon be filled with flagstone that is reddish in color peppered with white leftover limestone from the house.  We’ve made a large garden bed and filled it with native Texas plants and so far, they are still alive.  And I’m hoping that the small white concrete bench will lend the area an informal invite to walk the path and come sit for a while.  The whole project has been quite enjoyable.  Lugging large stones and next to a zillion loads of dirt and sand into the space, planning the design and spending the money hasn’t been a drain on my mental and physical system, it’s been a boost.

The other thing we have to show for this spring break is a fence.  Now, we aren’t doing the work ourselves but we sure are paying for some quality work out there.  The 3 rail white vinyl fence (just like you see in the country magazines)  is being installed by a master.  You can tell.  He wastes no movements, works methodically, checks his work frequently and talks little.  In an essay I wrote for an undergraduate course, I called this type of person a ‘maestro’.  Someone who is a master of his/her chosen field.  My goal is to someday be a maestro in the field of education ….. but it is hard to give up days working at my own pace, creating something visibly pleasing.

Taking breaks are part of the process of becoming a maestro.  It gives one time to regroup, rethink and reflect on their live’s goals.  Spring break is a necessary thing if we, as a society, want to increase the quality of teachers working with its students.  Problem is, most teachers are working even harder during their break catching up on unfinished projects, housework, appointments or working with their own children.   What teachers truly need is a break from all their responsibilities.  A trip somewhere, time to sleep in, time to read a book for leisure (instead of planning lessons for the next week or month), time to work towards something they enjoy.  We all need it, whatever field we are in!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

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"


Gifted Education Uncategorized

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 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.

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"

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"