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…)
With 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…)
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…)
One 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…)
Many 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…)
Summer 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…)
With 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…)
In 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…)
The field of online education is booming in multiple arenas – gifted education and elsewhere. Enrollment numbers have increased exponentially over the past ten years. With increased demand, the capabilities and range of offerings provided by online programs have grown in similarly rapid fashion.
Less attention, perhaps, has been given to the overall benefits online education provides to gifted students. There are many. (more…)
We know that good programming for gifted learners begins with good curriculum and instruction, which means it also begins with good teachers. These are teachers who understand gifted students, care about them and empathize with their educational needs. Teachers who are most effective in working with gifted students typically exhibit many of the characteristics of their students. They prefer abstract themes and concepts, prefer open and flexible learning venues, and enjoy logic, analysis and rational thought. Nonetheless, the social qualities of the teachers are as important, if not more important, than the intellectual characteristics. Emotional intelligence is as important as knowledge and skill when working with gifted students. (more…)
When considering the many aspects of creating effective curriculum and learning environments for learners with gifted and talented potential, diversity is critical. By diversity I mean a wide array of attributes that come from both the learner, the instructors and the curriculum. Some attributes are inherent and some are created.
First, diversity of ideas helps to create freedom of thought, which is so important for innovation to happen. When students tackle wide-ranging problems that have no single response, working among peers who bring diverse backgrounds and opinions to the problems, then students are forced to break out of the usual response frameworks to deal with potentially opposing viewpoints surrounding those issues. (more…)
At Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG), our gifted summer program, the social and emotional components of our programs are as important as the academic and intellectual components of our program—in other words, very important! After all, if one is not happy, self-assured and at peace with who one is, personal fulfillment will remain elusive.
There are many reasons why the social and emotional development of gifted students is critical to include with academic endeavors. (more…)
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