Author Archives: belinblank

“Learning about gifted education is a process, not a destination”

The Fellowship has certainly given me more knowledge. It has also helped me to realize that learning about gifted education is a process, not a destination. I think no matter how long I do this I will have more to learn, but that is okay. It will make me a more compassionate, understanding teacher.”

For over 35 years, educators have benefited from a unique professional development opportunity known as The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank Fellowship Program in Gifted Education. The summer 2018 Fellowship will be held June 24 – 29 on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City.

This exciting professional learning experience allows educators to learn more about gifted and talented students and ways to meet their needs. Participants live on campus for a week, collaborating with others who have a commitment to understanding more about high-ability learners, as well as understanding research-based strategies that facilitate authentic talent development among their district’s most capable students.

For an overview of the program, please download a brochure.  Educators may apply online and review more details of the program.  Selection for the 12 Belin-Blank Fellows will be based on a review of applications, as well as a review of the statements of support from administrators.

This unique Fellowship was originally designed for the general education teacher—the individual who spends the greatest amount of classroom time with gifted and talented learners. In recent years, we also have welcomed teacher leaders, counselors, and administrators, knowing they work closely with teachers to ensure best practices for all students. An endowment covers the cost of tuition, room, board, university resources (including Wi-Fi), as well as nationally recognized experts in gifted education. We ask that the district support its participant(s) through a payment of a $250 resource fee. These resources are comprehensive, providing professional learning opportunities for others.

Please share information about the Fellowship with colleagues. Encourage educators to apply online. Each applicant is responsible for completing the application process by March 16 and must ask for a brief statement of support from the Superintendent or other district administrator, also submitted online by March 16.

 If you have any questions about the Fellowship or the application process, please contact Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development at or 319-335-6148 / 800-336-6463. We look forward to having a teacher from your district join us this summer!

Kids with ADHD—We Would Like to Hear About You!

Are you a middle schooler (or parent of one) who has ADHD? We are interested in learning more about kids like you and their friendships, and you have the chance to earn an Amazon gift card. Keep reading to learn more!

Interested individuals are invited to participate in a research study investigating the perceptions of friendship quality amongst middle school students. Information you provide through your participation can help us gain insight that may one day help students like you. This information may help researchers better understand how students with ADHD view their friendships compared to their peers, which may later help clinicians develop and modify social skills interventions and other supports for students.

We are looking for students in Grades 6, 7, or 8 (or the equivalent) who have completed standardized assessments (e.g., Iowa Assessments, Wechsler Assessments, CogAT, etc.) and would be interested in participating in our study. You will also be asked to provide demographic information about your child along with documentation of their cognitive ability (such as Iowa Assessment scores from school) and ADHD diagnosis. To participate, students will complete an online survey. The survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete.

Participants who complete the study will be entered in a drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Principal Investigator (Staci Fosenburg, for more information about how to participate in this study. Thank you!

Curious About Research?

Do you know academically talented teenagers who show curiosity or promise in doing research, or are you one yourself? Then you need to know about the Perry Research Scholars Institute (PRSI), where students can experience lots of different types of research happening at a top public research university!

Students in grades 8–10 (academic year 2017–2018) may apply for the Perry Research Scholars Institute (PRSI), a two-week residential summer academic program at the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center.

At PRSI, students will participate in seminars with university faculty, tour their research facilities, and study their publications. While students will spend some of their time learning advanced lab techniques, they will not be conducting original research in this program. Rather, they will be granted an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at research while it’s happening, in fields such as anthropology, business, education, engineering, medicine, psychology, sustainability, and more. This “backstage pass” approach will help students develop an understanding of research that extends well beyond bench science.

During off-hours, students can expect plenty of fun getting to know other bright teenagers who are also interested in research! They will even experience an authentic taste of life on a university campus, complete with two weeks of living with a roommate in the residence halls. Evening activities include special seminars, off-campus field trips, and cultural and recreational activities. Social events are scheduled, and students will be granted access to the University of Iowa libraries, computer facilities and study areas.

Don’t miss this unique chance to see how research works, up close and personal; experience college life for two weeks; and meet new friends with similar abilities and interests! Applications are open through March 16 at The program will run from July 8–July 20, 2018.

summer program students looking at university science research

Looking for more research programs for high school students? Check out the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) and the Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP). PRSI is great preparation for programs like these!


Message From the Director: How Did We Get From 1988 to 2018?

Quite simply, with a lot of dedication and commitment from our generous founders and benefactors, much effort and commitment to excellence from our staff, and belief and trust in the mission – empowering the worldwide gifted community – from students, educators, and families we serve.   Simple but not easy.

In a few days, we will flip over the calendar page from December 2017 to January 2018 and will usher in not only 2018, but the beginning of a yearlong celebration of 30 years of nurturing potential and inspiring excellence at the Belin-Blank Center!  That symbolic flip of the page, especially during the month of December, evokes both nostalgia as we reflect upon the growth of the Center over three decades and wistfulness when we think about what’s coming up in the immediate and how that will shape the next few decades.

For the next year, each director’s message will include an installment of Belin-Blank Center past and a glimpse of Belin-Blank Center present and future.

The early years of the Belin-Blank Center’s past reveal that professional development has always been at the heart of the Center’s programming.  Starting with 17 teachers from Des Moines and West Des Moines, and pre-dating the founding of the Center, the professional development programs have grown to include dozens of courses, workshops, and webinars.  The courses and workshops offer educators the necessary experiences to earn the State of Iowa Endorsement in Gifted Education.

Educators are the heart of the Center and students are our soul.   The programs for students continue to evolve from the first program in 1988, which we hosted for middle-school students.  New opportunities for students in grades 3 – 11 abound.

I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into Belin-Blank past, and on behalf of the all of the Belin-Blank Center faculty, staff, and students, I wish you a very happy and healthy 2018!

Spring Into Professional Learning

Almost 20 years ago, Dettmer wrote an article entitled Positive Ripple Effects of Professional Development for Gifted Programs (1998); citing Dettmer and Landrum (1997), she suggested that professional development (PD) serves “one  or more of five purposes…role renewal for certification…; role reassignment to earn additional or expanded credentials; professional growth to acquire new methods or make curricular changes; personal growth to improve skills and have enriching experiences; and inspiration…” (p. 1).  She also suggested that PD “directed toward education of gifted and talented contributes in a sixth way by activating positive ripple effects that influence curriculum, instructional methods, teaching techniques, resource materials, and support services” (p. 1).

The positive ripple effects that she detailed included “challenging all students with great expectations and strong encouragement to do their best; “making schools and teachers look good”; “pleasing parents and satisfying communities”; “optimizing opportunities for collaboration and networking”; and “encouraging action research” (Dettmer, 1998, p. 4).

Even before Spring semester begins, the Belin-Blank Center, in partnership with the College of Education, is providing professional learning experiences that facilitate that ripple effect.  Over Winter term (December 27, 2017 – January 12, 2018), Dr. Laurie Croft is offering EDTL:4085:0WKA Current Readings and Research in Gifted Education (1 semester hour workshop); this class can fulfill the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted requirement for credit in either the Psychology strand, the Programming strand, or the Administrative strand, depending on the choice of readings.

During Spring semester, Dr. Susan Assouline is offering PSQF:4121:0EXV Identification of Students for Gifted Programs; this three-semester-hour class provides educators with more information about issues related to identification, one of the most pressing issues in gifted education.  The class fulfills the requirement in the Psychology strand and is offered in an online asynchronous eight-week format from January 16 – March 19, 2018).  Dr. Croft is facilitating two sections of EDTL:4066 Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education (Programming strand); one is the traditional 16-week online asynchronous format (0EXU), and the other is also an eight-week format from March 19 – May 11, 2018 (0EXW).   Although these classes are asynchronous, they do require participants to complete readings, activities, and discussions on a weekly basis.  For those who would enjoy class on campus, EDTL:4066:0001 Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education meets on Monday evenings for 90 minutes, followed by online collaboration with those enrolled in the 0EXU section.

Dr. Randy Lange is offering EPLS:4110:0EXW Administration and Policy in Gifted Education from January 29 – April 27, 2018.  This two-semester hour class is online and asynchronous, and fulfills the requirement for the endorsement’s Administrative strand.

Dr. Croft will facilitate EDTL:4096:0EXW Topics / Giftedness 101 from March 19 – May 7, 2018.  This two-semester hour book study will explore Linda Silverman’s book, Giftedness101. This two-semester hour class is online and asynchronous, and fulfills the requirement for the endorsement’s Psychology strand.

The Center is offering a number of one-semester-hour online asynchronous workshops (workshops have no additional fees associated with enrollment):

  • EDTL:4096:0WKA Topics / Best-Kept Secret in Gifted Education: Abovel-Level Testing (Ann Shoplik and Laurie Croft), January 16 – February 5, 2018. This workshop requires participation in the Webinar on January 9, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. Registration for either live participation or the link for later streaming is available here:   As always, AEAs, school districts, or individuals only need to register one computer, while multiple individuals can take advantage of that registration and participate as a member of a cohort, discussing the content during the Webinar itself.  Cost for the Webinar or the link is $45; cost for both options (Webinar and the subsequent link) is $55.  Those who enroll in the credit option receive an automatic 50% tuition scholarship.  The class fulfills the requirement in the Programming strand.
  • EDTL:4022:0WKA Math Programming for High-Ability Students (Ann Shoplik), February 20 – March 12, 2018. This class fulfills the requirement in the Programming strand.
  • EDTL:4153:0WKA Gifted and General Education Collaboration (Gerald Aungst), March 13 – April 2, 2018). This class fulfills the requirement in the Programming strand.
  • EDTL:04073:0WKA Programming/Curriculum for High-Ability Students: Real-World Problem Solving (Kristine Milburn), April 9 – 27, 2018. This class fulfills the requirement in the Programming strand.

Information about enrolling in any coursework that helps educators and even parents learn more about supporting the needs of gifted/talented learners can be found at; follow the link to General Information, to Schedule, or to Register for those details.  We look forward to working with you.


Dettmer, P. (1998). Positive ripple effects of professional development for gifted programs. Tempo, 18(2), pp. 1, 4.

A New Summer Opportunity for High School Artists and Writers

We are excited to announce our new Summer Art Residency and Summer Writing Residency!  Spend 3 weeks this summer in an immersive art or writing residency on one of the premier arts campuses in the US.   Participate in classes, workshops, evening tours, lectures, and events that will stretch you as an artist or writer. The residency concludes with an art and reading show and a portfolio review. Priority will be given to students who have participated in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  Applications are currently being accepted.

Summer Art Residency

Summer Writing Residency

Free Fuel for Aspiring Inventors

We’re excited to announce the STEMIE Coalition, the host of the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo, have developed a K-12 Youth Invention Curriculum available for use by Invent Iowa teachers!

This comprehensive online invention and entrepreneurship curriculum has been released in beta version, and will be in development for the next few months. Each week, new lesson plans including videos, alignment to standards, activities, and slideshows are added, with material ranging from lasers to a shark tank styled activity. All resources are freely available for you to adapt to meet the needs of your inventors. You can access the free curriculum here:

Also, be sure to check out information about the 2018 National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo (NICEE), that will be held at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan in June 2018! Winners of the Invent Iowa State Invention Convention will have the opportunity to attend the National Invention Convention funded by Invent Iowa. If you have questions regarding Invent Iowa, please email them to