The Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank Fellowship in Gifted and Talented Education, and Beyond!

Summer 2014 345From June 22 – June 26, 2015, the Center will host the 35th Belin-Blank Fellowship. The Fellowship was the first program provided by Dr. Nick Colangelo, many years before the Center became a center; the commitment to the professional learning of teachers was recognition that each teacher could serve as a critical catalyst for the development of student talent—and for those students’ social-emotional well-being.

Thirteen educators will participate in this year’s Fellowship. Six Fellows are from Iowa (two from Bettendorf, and one each from Glenwood, Harlan, Marshalltown, and Waukee), as well as two educators from Wisconsin (Ashland and Greenfield), and one each from Omaha, NE, from Seattle, WA, from the new Grayson School in Pennsylvania, and from Maryville, MO.  One Fellow will join us from Turkey. These educators represent experience with all ages of students, and while most work in general education classrooms, one Fellow is a school counselor, one has been working as a curriculum developer, and another will represent Apex Learning, the Center’s partner in offering the Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy. Our Fellow from Turkey is a faculty member in the College of Education at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University, with an interest in gifted and talented education.

Educators interested in the Belin-Blank Fellowship apply in January and February; they begin their Fellowship experience with activities and readings in the spring, weeks before they come to campus live in Burge Residence Hall for five days, immersing themselves in gifted education. The Fellows represent educators as life-long-learners; their applications referenced their “passion for learning” and for teaching, and seeking “opportunities to grow as an educator.” Dedicated professionals, one Fellow noted that she was “always seeking ways to improve [her] teaching;” another emphasized that because she strives “to ensure that [her] students are learning and performing at the highest possible levels,” a stronger background in gifted education “would be extremely helpful.” These are all educators who see “each student as a unique individual.”

The Fellows will master the three standards that the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) recommends for all educators, enhancing their understanding of who gifted/talented learners are and how to “select, adapt, and use a repertoire of evidence-based instructional strategies to advance [student] learning,” with exploration of “creativity, acceleration, depth and complexity” essential for gifted/talented children (NAGC, n.d.).

Some of the Fellows will continue to learn more about the field of gifted and talented education, pursuing an endorsement in the field. The Center is hosting a total of 13 one-semester-hour workshops in gifted education this summer, as well as the practicum experience required for the endorsement. Six of these workshops include opportunities to meet with others on campus, as well as access course materials online, during the Belin-Blank Center Chautauqua; the other seven workshops are all online, providing flexibility throughout the summer months. These varied learning opportunities provide educators with the opportunity to understand more about the psychology of gifted learners (e.g., Cognitive and Affective Needs of the Gifted), programming options that reflect best practices in the field (e.g., Differentiated Instruction and Research Projects for High Ability Students), and administrative issues (Evaluation of Gifted Programs).

Courses sponsored by the Center through the College of Education continue throughout the academic year; enrollment in fall classes and workshops has already begun, and the fall schedule will be available in late July. Fall includes three-semester-hour classes (e.g., Psychology of Giftedness and Academic Acceleration), as well as credit options associated with both the Iowa Talented and Gifted (ITAG) Association and NAGC annual conferences. Other one- and two-semester hour options vary, from a focus on the middle school to the emphasis on gifted and general education collaboration.

The Center would love to have you join the professional learning that happens here! The University does not charge students to register as Continuing Education students. Jump in! It’s summer, and it’s the right time to immerse yourself!

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