Recognizing Stress and Helping Students Manage


Now that we’ve passed the halfway point of the semester, it’s likely that students are beginning to feel the pressure of upcoming assignments, projects and tests for their IOAPA courses or otherwise. Here are some tips for recognizing stress in your students (or yourself!) and ways to manage it.

Recognizing Stress: and suggest looking out for

  • Physical illness or pain with no medical explanation
  • Over-the-top emotional reactions or increased aggression
  • Decreased effort in school or on homework
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Increased anxiety or panic attacks
  • Unhealthy and dramatic behavior changes, including engaging in more risky behaviors (drinking, smoking)
  • Increased sadness, depression, or isolation from family or friends

Managing Stress: and the American Psychological Association recommend

  • Helping teens understand their own feelings by talking to them about what’s bothering them
  • Helping students break big projects down into manageable chunks if they are a source of stress
  • Celebrating small victories and achievements to help improve self-esteem
  • Finding appropriate ways for teens to blow off steam (exercise, engaging in favorite activities, etc.)
  • Being clear about your expectations to help reduce worries about letting you down
    • It’s also important to consider whether your expectations are appropriate for your student
  • Creating a safe harbor by maintaining routines and rituals that can offer a sense of security
  • Modeling healthy behaviors to manage your own stress – actions speak louder than words!

Other Resources: The University of Iowa Counseling Service (UCS) devoted an issue of their newsletter to stress and anxiety, and it is available here. UCS also has a list of stress management strategies on their website. You can also consult our previous blog post on this topic for more strategies and resources.

Get the Latest From the Belin-Blank Center

Our October newsletter has TAG identification advice, online courses, a roundup of media from the Recognition Ceremony, and more!


Message from the Director: Words Matter

Words matter. No, it’s not the current political discourse that prompts this understated opening to my message; rather the publicity around a recent presentation here on the University of Iowa campus by a newly-minted sociologist invited to guest lecture for a seminar on inequality.

The publicity promoted the following topics: “the nature-nurture debate, social inequality in gifted education programs and experiences of the — so called — gifted students.”

Ironically, the presenter claimed to “not challenge the concept of giftedness in general”; rather, to “disprove key ideas of gifted education scholars…[and] discuss the theoretical frameworks which [sic] question the social category of giftedness.”

The two words that concern me most are “so-called.” Unfortunately, I could not attend this seminar due to a conflict, i.e., work.  Nevertheless, I felt it important to contribute to the dialogue, even if not in that particular forum, because, as a “gifted education scholar,” my work, and that of dozens of colleagues, is being targeted.  I have three points:

First, qualifying the term “gifted” implicitly judges individuals who, through no fault of their own, have academic and social-emotional needs that are not typically met in the regular classroom.  The psychological concept of individual differences forms the theoretical foundation underlying the vast range of research and programs for gifted students.  The Belin-Blank Center is but one of several gifted education centers that address research and programming for gifted students as well as professional development for their teachers.  Formative evaluation of these programs (not judgment) is ongoing and necessary for program improvement.  All university-based centers engage in this evaluation.  Research conducted throughout the world is available in peer-reviewed journals and supports these efforts.

Second, professionals and parents who advocate for gifted students should always search for ways to eliminate geographic and psychological barriers.  Ironically, the very students who are likely to be overlooked for needed accommodations are the ones who would most likely be disadvantaged if the concept of giftedness were questioned and associated programming were eliminated.

Third, discourse around these topics, especially social inequality and conceptualization of giftedness, are welcome and necessary – especially with professionals outside of the fields of education and psychology.  However, honest inquiry is difficult when conclusions have been predetermined and fundamental respect for the needs of the individual are ignored.

Those two words created ire; however, they also forced me to reevaluate my own values.  I concluded that the Center’s commitment to programs and services for gifted and talented students and their educators is unwavering. Therefore, we will continue to look for ways to address the needs of our most vulnerable students (e.g., economically vulnerable or twice-exceptional students).  Furthermore, we always will champion the interventions that promote the development of talent in students and their teachers.   Because how else can we “nurture potential and inspire excellence” so that we make this world a better place?


Professional Learning in Spring 2017

Professional learning never stops at the Belin-Blank Center!  While we schedule flexible classes for educators who are earning their Talented and Gifted endorsements in gifted education, we welcome anyone with an interest in the topics below.

Even before the spring semester begins, we are offering EDTL:4085:0WKA, Current Readings and Research, from December 28 – January 13, for one semester hour of academic credit. Readings are selected by each participant, based on his/her needs and interests.

During the spring semester, we are offering the 10 classes below; the selection includes both “workshops” (course numbers are followed by 0WKA; these classes have no additional fees) and “extension classes” (course numbers are followed by 0EXA; these classes include technology fees, in addition to tuition).

As well as spring classes, the Belin-Blank Center is sponsoring a webinar with Dr. Jaime Castellano, one of the nation’s leading authorities about the needs of culturally and linguistically different gifted students.  Registration for the Webinar (February 2, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.) will open in January; participants register ONE computer for the webinar, allowing multiple participants to access the session.  If the date or time isn’t convenient, participants may choose the DVD option.

Course Number Course Name (semester hours) Dates
EDTL:4199:0EXW Program Models in Gifted Education (3 sh) Jan 17 – May 5
PSQF:4121:0EXW Identification of Students for Gifted Programs (3 sh) Jan 17 – May 5
EDTL:4072:0WKA Thinking Skills Jan 23 – Feb 10
EPLS:4110:0EXW Administrative and Policy Issues in Gifted Education (2 sh) Jan 30 – Apr 28
RCE:4124:0WKA Ethnic and Cultural Issues* (1 sh) Feb 9 – Mar 1
EDTL:4022:0WKA Math Programming for High Ability Learners Mar 13 – 31
EDTL:4096:0EXW Pract in Tchg & Curric Devel Gifted Educ (2 or 3 sh) Mar 20 – May 5
EDTL:4096:0EXW Smart Girls in the 21st Century** (Special Topics 2 sh) Mar 20 – May 5
EDTL:4029:0WKA Leadership Skills for G/T, K-12 (1 sh) Apr 3 – 21
EDTL:4189:0WKA Practicum in Gifted/Talented Education*** (1 sh) Apr 10 – 28


* Interested in Ethnic and Cultural Issues in Gifted Education?  Participants must also register for the webinar on the same topic with Dr. Jaime Castellano on February 2, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.

**Smart Girls in the 21st Century uses the book by the same name (Barbara Kerr and Robyn McKay, authors) to explore this topic.

*** Educators who are interested in the one required hour of practicum (EDTL:4189:0WKA) may enroll as early as January 2017.  The ICON website will open in January, allowing more time to complete the practicum experience.  Those who want more than one semester hour of practicum should enroll in EDTL:4096:0EXW.

Questions?  Contact Dr. Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development (  or  319-335-6148).

Join us at #NAGC16!


Will you be at #NAGC16?  The Belin-Blank Center staff will be attending and presenting at this year’s National Association for Gifted Children conference, and we hope to see you there!  Below are listed the NAGC sessions by Belin-Blank Center staff members:

Thursday, November 3, 2016

7:30 AM – 2:30 PM  –  Pre-Convention Program: Models to Implementation: From Theory to Practice Room: Fiesta 5

Susan Assouline et al.


Friday, November 4, 2016

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM  –  Addressing the Needs of Today’s Gifted Learners: Putting Research into Practice Room: Fiesta 6

Susan Assouline et al.


8:00 AM – 9:00 AM  –  Making Informed Decisions About Early Entrance to Kindergarten Room: Fiesta 3

Joyce Goins & Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik


1:15 PM – 2:15 PM  –  Imagine the Possibilities for Arts and Humanities in an Era of STEM Enthusiasm Room: Exhibit Hall – Roundtable

Clar Baldus, Lori Ihrig, Ashlee Van Fleet, Jan Warren


2:30 PM – 3:30 PM  –  It Takes a Village: Partnerships to Support the Whole Gifted Child Room: Durango 2

Susannah Wood et al.


3:45 PM – 4:45 PM  –  Inspiring Innovative Thinking to Develop STEM Talents Room: Exhibit Hall – Roundtable

Laurie Croft & Ashlee Van Fleet


Saturday, November 5, 2016

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM  –  Helping Gifted Students Reach Infinity and Beyond: Effective Collaboration Between Teachers and Counselors Room: Fiesta 4

Erin Lane & Susannah Wood


9:15 AM – 10:15 AM  –  A Nation Empowered: Professional Learning About Acceleration Is Essential Room: Coronado D

Laurie Croft


9:15 AM – 10:15 AM  –  Imagining the Possibilities for Underserved Students: How to Make Online Courses Work Like Magic Room: Exhibit Hall – Roundtable

Kristin Flanary & Emily Ladendorf


9:15 AM – 10:15 AM  –  Research and Statistics Made Easy (and Relevant!) Room: Coronado B

Megan Foley Nicpon et al.


9:15 AM – 10:15 AM  –  Understanding One of the Best-Kept Secrets of Identifying Gifted Students: Above-Level Testing Room: Monterrey 1

Susan Assouline & Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik


12:00 PM – 1:00 PM  –  Identification for Academic Acceleration: Recommendations for Best Practice Room: Exhibit Hall – Poster

Katie Schabilion


1:15 PM – 2:15 PM  –  Early Entrance Programs and Academies: Four Diverse Approaches with a Common Mission Room: Monterrey 2-3

Susan Assouline, Jan Warren et al.


2:30 PM – 3:30 PM  –  Lightning Talks: Innovative and Collaborative Professional Development Exemplars Room: Monterrey 2-3

Laurie Croft et al.


2:30 PM – 3:30 PM  –  The Arts and Humanities: Swimming Upstream in a Sea of STEM Room: Exhibit Hall – Roundtable


3:45 PM – 4:45 PM  –  The Coalition for High Performance: Advancing the Psychological Science of Talent Development Room: Coronado N

Megan Foley Nicpon et al.

5:00 PM – 6:15 PM  –  Celebration of Excellence Awards Ceremony (followed by reception) Room: Coronado H-J

Sunday, November 6, 2016

8:00 AM – 9:00 AM  –  Academic Acceleration Policy and the Talent Search Model: Using Evidence to Guide Policy Room: Coronado F

Susan Assouline, Nick Colangelo, Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, Joyce VanTassel-Baska


8:00 AM – 9:00 AM  –  Career Counseling and the Gifted Student: Making Possibilities Happen Room: Coronado C

David Duys, Carol Smith, Susannah Wood


9:15 AM – 10:15 AM  –  Imagining the Possibilities: Effective Teacher Preparation in Gifted Education Room: Coronado A

Laurie Croft et al.

What Will the Next Innovations in Education Be?

Recently, we were lucky enough to host Sally Krisel and Holley Murchison at the Belin-Blank Center!  Sally is President-elect of the National Association for Gifted Children and Director of Innovative and Advanced Programs for Hall County Schools in Gainesville, Georgia.  Holley founded the Hall Pass Tour and Oratory Glory and was an Inspiration Director at The Future Project.

We had a fantastic group discussion about serving high-ability and highly creative students in new ways.  Sally talked about how Hall County Schools created a completely different, interdisciplinary, interest-focused gifted program and the challenges that come with a massive change in a school’s culture.  Holley told us about the common denominator in all of her projects: helping people own their voice.  Whether this happens with a group of students planning a concert for their school or a professional learning how to give a presentation with confidence, it’s all about learning to communicate effectively.   Thanks, Sally and Holley!

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A (New) Visual Guide to High School IOAPA Courses

Although Iowa Online AP Academy has been offering Advanced Placement classes to high school students in Iowa since 2001, students and schools often wonder which students may best benefit from certain IOAPA classes. Check out our visual guide to AP classes based on data from the 2015-2016 school year!

If you need more information on IOAPA, visit our website. For a visual guide to our middle school courses, check out this post.