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Barbara Swicord, Ed.D.'s Blog Posts

4 Ways Gifted Students Can Be More Inventive this Summer

4 Ways Gifted Students Can Be More Inventive this Summer | National Society for the Gifted and TalentedAre you an inventive person? If not, wouldn’t you like to be? If you’re a full time student, summer is a great season to think in ways you don’t have time to think during the rest of the year.  You may have increased relaxation time and you may be in situations that are different from what you do the rest of the year, exposing you to new challenges or prompting new ideas.

Maybe you are at the beach and want to come up with new, efficient, and inexpensive ways to desalinate salt water. Maybe you want to find a way to cool things, like drinks or clothes or surfaces, in ways that don’t involve ice, refrigeration, or air conditioning. Maybe you desire more efficient insulation than what you’re currently experiencing. Or maybe you see a lot of plastic waste outdoors and want to think of additional types of biodegradable packaging. Maybe you also find you need some help in thinking through your problems and ideas.

Here are 4 tips we often use in working with gifted students to help them be successful in thinking inventively. (more…)

Summer Camps: Benefits Beyond the Obvious

Summer Camps: Benefits Beyond the Obvious | National Society for the Gifted and TalentedHere at NSGT and SIG, we often discuss the benefits of academic summer programs, referring to the major benefits of increased academic depth, personal independence, development of meaningful relationships, and so forth. These are all fantastic benefits, and of particular significance to gifted, creative, and academically talented youth, as such programs can fill many gaps in the students’ overall education.

It’s also interesting and valuable to note all the additional benefits of summer youth camps, in a more general sense. A recent study commissioned by the American Camp Association, Northeast Region, alerts us to an expanded view of those benefits. Particular attention in their listed results is given to economic benefits associated with employment and the capital contributions placed into the economy through camp operations. However, for those of us who work with gifted students, it is those noted benefits associated with nurturing our future generation that are of most relevance and interest to us here at NSGT. Findings taken from the Executive Summary of the 2017 Economic Contribution of Youth Camping in the Northeast included these three areas: (more…)

4 Benefits of Introducing the Arts to Your Gifted Child

4 Benefits of Introducing the Arts to Your Gifted Child | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)We are pleased to offer this guest blog from Oak Crest Academy in California, a JK-12 school for gifted students.

Providing a well-rounded educational program for the gifted and talented is important because they have the tendency to delve deeply into only one or two subjects if left to their own choices. This is why quality private schools for gifted learners include enrichment courses that focus on teaching elements of the creative arts to students during school and throughout the summer. Since these classes are designed to spark creativity, they offer benefits that enhance a gifted learner’s rigorous academic schedule by expanding upon what they learn in their traditional courses. (more…)

Teaching Gifted Youth about Persistent Problems with Plastics Pollution

Teaching Environmentalism: Persistent Problems with Plastics Pollution | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)The recent news story about the devastating amount of plastics that have washed up onto Henderson Island in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean is shocking to see. However, this problem provides great opportunity for parents and educators to engage their gifted and creative students in being a part of the solutions of such crippling examples of human-inflicted damage to our planet.

We know that gifted and talented students desire curriculum that is authentic or real and that they have the abilities to engage in sophisticated problem solving, analysis, and ingenuity. The Henderson Island problem is one that these students should be aware of and should have opportunity to pursue, whether just on the level of this one significant example, or through interests that this example might generate.

Here are some potential questions that students could pursue to stimulate their thinking about Henderson Island as well as similar problems around the world. (more…)

Make your Space a Makerspace: 4 Things to Consider for Gifted Students

 Make your Space a Makerspace: 4 Things to Consider for Gifted StudentsI often have opportunity to visit schools all over our country. One trend that I have noticed over the past few years is that they all seem to have a designated makerspace for tinkering. This trend is wonderful to see for us here at NSGT as makerspaces provide a terrific outlet for the needs and skills of gifted, talented, and creative students.

The concept of a makerspace can mean different things to different people and can range from a place that contains highly sophisticated and expensive equipment (3-d printers, laser cutters, tools) to a gathering of simple, low-tech, and available materials (LEGOS, arts and crafts materials, wood scraps).

The common thread of all makerspaces is that they provide a physical place where people can gather together to make things, think creatively, and explore, using a variety of materials and supplies.   (more…)

The Rise of Homeschooling Gifted Students

The Rise of Homeschooling Gifted Students | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)At Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG), our summer programs, we are finding that more and more families with whom we interact are either engaging in or contemplating homeschooling options. This development is understandable for gifted children due to several trends. First, funding for gifted education is tenuous at best. Gifted programs are usually first on the chopping block, if existent at all, and are afforded no real protections at local, state, or federal levels. Second, programs that do exist are often inadequate, either by virtue of being part-time or by not having the resources to provide the complexity, depth, and rigor of the widely varying needs and abilities of gifted students. Additionally, I believe that parents today are better informed about gifted education and the characteristics of their gifted children, than when I first started out in this field, so that there is an increased awareness of what their needs are and of what they are not receiving in school. Finally, I believe the ubiquitous existence of technology everywhere has made it much easier than ever to provide an education from home that is, at the very least, competitive with the education a gifted child can get in a school setting. (more…)

5 Ways to Close the Gender Gap in STEM Fields

5 Ways to Close the Gender Gap in STEM Fields | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)We offer a many STEM-related courses in our SIG programs. I’m always happy when I visit these classes in the summer and see a good percentage of young women in them and also disappointed when I see no girls or very few in them. Our world is increasingly technological and computerized, creating a need for all people to be knowledgeable and many to be innovative in STEM areas. While the gender gap in engineering fields is slowly decreasing, there is still a concerning disparity in the number of women in engineering fields, as compared to men. Considering that February contains National Engineers Week, now is an appropriate time to take another look at this issue, particularly with our concern for young girls with talent and skills not participating in STEM areas to the extent we would like to see. (more…)

Compassionate Gifted Student Inspires President Obama

When images of Omran, the young Syrian boy in the ambulance in Aleppo made the news, many of us were moved emotionally, but how many of us took action? How many of us have any idea of what to do in the face of traumatic news like this? Well, one brave little boy named Alex knew exactly what to do, so he took action.

Alex wrote a letter to the President of the United States. You may have heard of Alex, because his thoughtful letter did in fact inspire President Obama, and in turn, this little boy’s decision to act had a meaningful impact on millions of people around the world.

Something you may not know about Alex is that he is a gifted and talented youth, and like many children with high intelligence, he is incredibly sensitive and compassionate. These qualities are wonderful, but they are also part of the challenges facing the parents of exceptionally bright kids.

Alex is a student at the Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG), and looking forward to returning this summer. SIG is a program of the National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT), providing educational and social opportunities to meet the needs and abilities of academically gifted and talented students. In the following, Alex’s mother Val graciously answers a few questions about their family’s approach to dealing with a gifted student with extreme empathy — especially in light of Alex’s profound experience with President Obama bringing attention to the plight of refugees. (more…)

NSGT is Searching for Creative Talent!

NSGT’s Search for Creative Talent | National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT)Today’s challenging world requires all the complex human capabilities we can generate in our youth. The National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT) and Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) remain dedicated to encouraging creative thinking and creative problem solving in our gifted, talented, and creative youth. As such we have added an avenue of eligibility in creative thinking for entrance into all SIG programs.

Additionally, NSGT/SIG is committed to helping students learn more about their creative strengths through a nationally-normed assessment. We will invite 35 eligible students to take the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking in Stamford, CT on Saturday, March 11, 9:45 AM – 11:00 AM, free of charge. Participants not only will have the opportunity to learn more about their creative abilities, those in this round of testing will vie for $4,000 in SIG summer scholarships funds. (more…)

Out of Sync but Not Out of Mind: 4 Ways to Help the Asynchronous Gifted Child

Out of Sync but Not Out of Mind: 4 Ways to Help the Asynchronous Gifted Child | National Society for the Gifted and TalentedOn November 30, 2016, I delivered a webinar entitled Family Relationships and the Gifted Child, Techniques for Staying Sane. If you weren’t able to attend and wish to view it, please click here.

A few of the questions that were asked, but there was not time to answer, dealt with asynchronous behavior. One questioner asked how to help the school understand asynchronous learning.

Probably nothing is more indicative of gifted behavior than asynchrony, which refers to the different degrees of development that gifted students possess in different areas. They appear to be out of sync with their age peers. For example, a preschooler may be able to read books that upper elementary students can read, but would still have behaviors one would associate with a toddler. Such asynchronous behavior is often a challenge as we witness advanced abilities in learning and thinking that don’t coincide with other behaviors, emotions, and skills that we would associate with an age commensurate to that ability. It can be confusing and frustrating to both child and adult. (more…)