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Connecting gifted & talented children and youth to opportunities, resources, and recognition
Person of SIGnificance 2016: Shelagh Gallagher
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The 2016 Person of SIGnificance, Shelagh Gallagher | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)Here at the National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT) and Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG), we believe that it is very important not only to be the best we can be, but to recognize and honor those who came before us, allowing and encouraging us in all the ways you can become the best you can be. One of the ways we have chosen to do that is to recognize a leader each year who has greatly influenced our enrichment work with gifted students in the alternative educational settings of summer and online programs. Our first recipient was Dr. Joseph Renzulli for his landmark work with the Enrichment Triad Model, which influences our work in enriching education through an emphasis on creative and authentic learning, and student choice.

This year’s awardee is Shelagh Gallagher who we recognize for her career commitment to meaningful and engaging curriculum through her work with Problem Based Learning (PBL). PBL is such a fantastic way to differentiate, individualize, and challenge gifted students.  The engaging quality of PBL and its facility in creating the need for a broad-based, inquiry approach to learning content and deciding on best courses of action to solve a real problem make it a perfect fit for gifted education. Dr. Gallagher, among many other accolades, has received the National Association for Gifted Children Award for Article of the Year and is a four-time winner of the NAGC Curriculum Division award for exemplary curriculum.

To honor Dr. Gallagher’s contribution to our work, as well as to the work of thousands of other educators, we have many activities going on this fall to share PBL with teachers and to raise scholarship funds for financially needy gifted children, who benefit immensely from enrichment programs that use these types of learning experiences. We will present Dr. Gallagher with her official award at NAGC in Orlando the first week November, but many other activities will precede that recognition.

  • Online Auction: First we will have an online auction to raise scholarship funds for students that will run October 5-November 6. Plenty of exciting items will be up for bid, along with specific and low-cost ways to support needy students. The auction will be live on October 5th at http://www.bluetreemarketing.com/nsgt.
  • Project Based Learning Workshop: Dr. Gallagher has generously written a wonderful article on PBL for us entitled “You are a ….” The Integral Role of Apprenticeship in Problem –Based Learning. On top of that, she has created a fabulous 15 minute video on PBL. Both of these resources will be available to participants in our local area workshop for teachers on October 18, 2016, 6:30 p.m. For more information and to register, please see PBL Workshop for Teachers. Location will be the New Canaan Country Day School, New Canaan, CT. Both the article and the video will be available to everyone on our website after October 18.
  • Free Online Webinar: Finally, we will wrap up our PBL fall in honor of Dr. Gallagher by providing a short webinar on November 9th at 1pm ET – Introduction to Problem Based Learning (PBL).  NSGT will facilitate the event, but will draw heavily on Dr. Gallagher’s work.

I hope you’ll join us for any or all of these ways that we can honor Dr. Gallagher and her work, while enriching our classrooms with PBL and assisting needy gifted children in enhancing their own learning through opportunities that they would not be able to experience, without financial support.

We thank you in advance for your participation.

All the best,

Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.
CEO, National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

Top Four Things to Look for in Your Gifted Program
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Top Four Things to Look for in a Gifted ProgramWith the new school year starting, fortunate gifted, talented, and creative (g/t/c) students will be re-entering or starting a program designed to meet their needs.  If the programs involve grouping or pullout options, they will be part time programs. Some program prototypes are full time, including grade acceleration or homogeneously grouped classrooms. Some programs start with the first day of school, some start later in the year or at different grade levels. Regardless, you should expect to find appropriate management, planning, and implementation of the program, however it is designed, to be a worthwhile experience for gifted students. While g/t/c programs can be complex and organic, the following four components should be in place. (more…)

Top 5 Areas of Effective Gifted Advocacy
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Top 5 Areas of Effective Gifted Advocacy | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)Quite often at this time of year, adults who are concerned about their gifted, talented, and creative students find themselves in a position of needing to advocate for these students. While we generally know that good advocates are positive, persistent, collaborative, and informed, it might be helpful to assess your efforts thus far in several key areas for ensuring that our students get and continue to receive the programs they need.

Start by evaluating yourself, using these 5 questions in key areas of advocacy, to determine whether you have been the best advocate you could be for your gifted student. (more…)

Five Ways to Handle Back-to-School Anxiety
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Five Ways to Handle Back-to-School Anxiety in Gifted Students | National Society for the Gifted and TalentedWe recognize that gifted students often experience anxiety as they approach a new school year. While most people experience some form of anxiety at various times, gifted students, who often feel emotions intensely, may feel anxious about returning to, or starting, a new school program. Will I have a teacher who won’t let me learn about topics that interest me or move at my own pace? Will there be students who will bully or make fun of me for being smart? Will I have to pretend to be unintelligent to have any friends? Will I have to re-learn material I already knew the first time I was taught it? Will my teacher resent me or dislike me for being different? The list of potential sources of stressful anticipation goes on and on. It’s no wonder there might be more than a little cause for anxiety.

Here’s a short list of five tactics you might consider if a moderate level of anxiety is a concern for you. (more…)

Giftedness of Olympic Proportions
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Giftedness of Olympic Proportions | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)Oh, the Summer Olympics! What gifted education professional can resist the temptation to point out the obvious when it comes to using the Olympics as a model for outstanding gifted educational programming? I’ve noted in the past how well this world event demonstrates just what can be accomplished on a personal level, when gifted athletes are given the best training, the best coaches, the best facilities, and incredible financial and emotional support. And we can’t ignore the fact that these elite athletes are allowed to be in groups of athletes of equally impressive ability and given the time and opportunity to hone their skills. Can you imagine Michael Phelps having to take a swimming class with a beginner, an intermediate or even an expert swimmer? It just wouldn‘t make sense, and that is a point that is even obvious to non-educators. (more…)

Back-to-School: A New Year of Advocacy
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back-to-school-gifted-advocacyWith the school year rapidly approaching for most students, and perhaps already underway for others, now is a good time to plan for a new year of effective advocacy for our gifted students. Rather than being caught off guard or surprised by what modifications may or may not be found in the student’s educational program, parents, teachers, and students can be well informed and prepared to be effective advocates as the new school year unfolds. Because we don’t want students to be invisible or for schools to be obstacles for highly creative, achieving, or intelligent students, it is prudent to plan ahead.

Advocacy is a means of motivating decision makers to provide those resources or acquire the understanding necessary to provide appropriate education for gifted students. Advocacy can occur individually one-on-one, instructionally, systemically, through policy, and through attitudinal change within the community. (more…)

Finding Mentorship: Gifted Students Need Guidance, Too
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Finding Mentorship: Gifted Students Need Guidance, Too | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)Mentoring and volunteerism go hand-in-hand in the summer months. Mentoring is a great way for gifted students to have the opportunity to apply their abilities and skills within a real-life context under the guidance and encouragement of an adult who can share expertise in a common area of interest, as well as provide an emotional connection that is nurturing to both parties. Mentors share more than just interests and skills-they give of their time, talents, and values. While passing along traditions, information, and passions from one person to the next, mentors can change and direct young lives in positive directions. Most successful individuals will admit to having had a significant mentor at some point.

There are many forms of mentorships. They can occur in academic pursuits, career mentoring, or simply as friends or neighbors who share common interests or hobbies. I think the related idea of volunteerism provides a near-perfect type of mentoring for gifted students in that it can combine personal areas of interest along with gifted students’ need to make a difference in the world. Even from a very young age, gifted children may worry intensely about social concerns and issues.  Volunteering can be a great resource for mentoring gifted youth, as most people involved in social causes are idealists. A gifted individual will likely feel that someone who works in fields intended to help others will understand and identify with their feelings and their needs to act in positive and constructive ways. (more…)

Why Gifted Students Should Start Summer Clubs
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Why You Should Start a Club This Summer | National Society for the Gifted and Talented | Dr. Barbara SwicordOne great summer activity that gifted students can organize is that of a book or writers club. Such an activity can serve two wonderful purposes for these students. It can provide a place to put all that passion and energy about a certain topic, or genre, that gifted students often have, and, if organized locally, it can provide a nurturing environment for social interaction. When young people share a passion for a common topic or skill, bonding is natural and comfortable. The group could focus on reading favorite selections or could focus on writing about the selected theme of the club or it could be a combination, with in-depth discussion naturally included either way.

You might be interested in the scientific analysis of time travel, or (more…)

Using Museums to Tap Into Your Gifted Child’s Interests
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Using Museums to Tap Into Your Gifted Child's InterestsMany lists of characteristics of gifted children mention that these children have many interests, hobbies, and collections. Such a characteristic makes sense. Gifted children want to be involved in a variety of activities and are capable of entertaining a wide variety of concepts and ideas at once. We also note that the hobbies, interests, and play preferences of gifted children can also “set them apart” from their age-peers.

I think a great way to set these students apart in a positive way, make good use of their summer time, and provide a forum for their hobbies and collections is to have them create their own personal specialty museums. These museums can be presented as traveling museums to show various audiences (schools, senior living facilities, libraries, preschool programs, etc.) or as rotating exhibits where collections might be displayed or as a more permanent display in a home, local gathering place, museum, or school, to mention a few examples. Students will likely want to visit local museums to get ideas for how museums are set up, how materials are displayed and protected, and what kinds of things other people are curious about. (more…)

Utilizing News in Gifted Students’ Independent Summer Studies
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gifted youth use news in summer enrichment independent studySummer is a fantastic time of year for gifted and talented students to engage in independent study, meaning they have the opportunity to learn in-depth about something that interests them. Students learning on their own can move at their desired pace, create questions that intrigue them, go off in directions of interest to them, and do all of this at any time of day. Sometimes students with eager minds want to learn about new things, but have nothing in mind or don’t know what they’d like to learn about. Teachers often have this complaint as well—”I’ve offered to have students do an independent study but they don’t know what they want to study.”

Ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes, it’s just exposure to new ideas that is needed to tweak someone’s interest in a topic. (more…)

Summer: How Does Your Teaching Garden Grow?
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WTeachers Need Professional Development for Gifted Educationith little to no training in gifted education, classroom teachers are expected to know how to teach gifted students. As gifted education programming is often not a priority in many locales, teachers might not have access or opportunity or motivation to become knowledgeable in gifted education practices or in the research that supports such strategies. Yet if we are to speak with authority on what all students need, including the gifted, the voice of authority needs to come from knowledge and understanding. Authority is an imperative factor in creating appropriate learning environments where gifted behaviors will thrive. Educators have a responsibility to supplement their incomplete training in this area of special education in whatever way they can.

Below are some potential sources of professional development. (more…)

How to Create a Diversified Gifted Program
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summer institute for the gifted diversity in gifted education and gifted programIn a recent blog post, I spoke to the benefits and importance of diversity in creating rich curriculum for gifted students. Diversity that we create through wide-ranging and open-ended content in our courses and in our teaching strategies is paramount to facilitate creative thinking, self-awareness and mental awakening.  Such variables are consciously managed decisions that we can plan, enact and manipulate as needed to stimulate thinking. (more…)