Category Archives: Classes and events

Message from the Director: At the Edge of Knowledge, What do Students Need?

The needs of gifted students come from their strengths, not their deficits. 

I’m paraphrasing, slightly, what Executive Director of Western Kentucky’s Center for Gifted Studies, Professor Julia Link Roberts, expressed last month during Denver University’s annual Gifted Education Conference.  This simple yet elegant statement captures the essence of the Belin-Blank Center’s model for serving gifted and talented students from grade 2 through college.  Our strength-based model features various systems for discovering domain-specific talent and then developing that talent.  A strength-based model is synonymous with talent development.

Although highly effective, there is one critical group of educators who neither implement nor advocate for a strength-based model in which talents are developed.  The group is comprised of the vast majority of faculty in colleges of education across the country; the same individuals who prepare future teachers and counselors.  

This was the situation decades ago when I was preparing to be a science teacher, and it remains true today.  For example, students with strengths in science reasoning need to be able to do what scientists do – create hypotheses, conduct research, experience success…and fail, and start all over again. It’s the rare science classroom where students with strengths in scientific reasoning have regular opportunities to experience “science” during the school day.  The same is true for individuals with talent in mathematics. 

To some extent, the lack of emphasis on talent development in schools explains the popularity of university-based summer programs among parents and students.  Every summer, tens of thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students across the country take advantage of myriad programs and courses that build on their strengths and nurture the development of their talent.  The Belin-Blank Center’s programs are among these. Our students explore their interests and stretch their intellectual muscles in the Blank Summer Institute, the Perry Research Scholars Institute, the Secondary Student Training Program, Summer Art  Residency,  and Summer Writing Residency and find respite from the lack of challenge during the school year.

Educators who participate in the Belin-Blank Center’s summer professional development can observe talented pre-college students in programming that is uniquely strength-based and talent-development focused.  Our hope is that by observing a strength-based classroom, educators will see the importance of taking this model into their own classrooms during the academic year.  This is one of the most critical lessons from their professional development experience because for every student who attends a summer program in a university setting, there are several others who are equally talented but don’t have this opportunity.

Education doesn’t have to be strengths vs. deficit.  In fact, every program we offer, including outreach programming such as the STEM Excellence program, now in its sixth year of implementation in nine rural schools across Iowa, is an excellent example of a thriving strength-based program that aims to develop the math and science talents of middle-school students.

Our work in twice-exceptionality offers additional evidence that understanding a student’s strengths is as important as understanding their challenges.  Individuals with a diagnosed disability or disorder face challenges (deficits) that can – and must – be addressed. However, this should be done in alignment with developing their strengths.

The strength-based approach is the essence of our collaborative twice-exceptional research agenda with our Iowa Neuroscience Institute partners. This work uses an unprecedented amount of data from our Assessment and Counseling Clinic to better understand the relationship between high ability and challenges in learning, social-emotional development, or behavior. Indeed, understanding the role of cognitive strengths within the context of learning and social-emotional difficulties is a critical aspect of the research we are conducting.  It is only with a sample of twice-exceptional individuals, who have both intellectual strengths and cognitive challenges, that each of these can be controlled for, allowing researchers to examine their effects both independently and combined.

We are looking forward to bringing together researchers, clinicians, educators, and parents to learn about the research on twice-exceptionality at the Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality this July. We invite you to join us in discussing new, unprecedented studies of twice-exceptionality, the future of research in this field, and the possibilities available for collaboration among institutions, gifted education organizations, and talent development centers in order to advance our understanding of this unique population and their strengths and challenges.

The needs of gifted students – and the professionals who are involved in their education – come from strengths not deficits.  Yet, for the foreseeable future, deficit models in education will likely dominate our thinking – and funding.  I recommend that we “lean into” the current deficit model and use it as a platform to reveal the many advantages to including a strength-based approach in gifted education and talent development.  We will continue to share our perspective and research findings, and we hope to see you at one of our events or programs soon.

Not Your Ordinary Science Fair

Conducting original research projects will spark students’ curiosity. Through research processes, students develop 21st-century skills and meet Next Generation Science Standards. Ok, you’re convinced. You’re ready for students to work on research projects. But how do you take student research out of the classroom and into the world? 

The Iowa Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium (JSHS) is a high school science research competition, grounded in engaging students in unique research experiences. The uniqueness of Iowa JSHS begins with students submitting a symposium proposal in the form of a scientific article. (See how to write a scientific article.) The symposium proposal is an authentic audience for whom students write. Students put their work out into the world, and a panel of experts reviews each submission for potential inclusion in the symposium. 

The premier event of Iowa JSHS is students listening to presentations of research that has been conducted by their peers. Presenting at Iowa JSHS is an exciting experience, but for students in the audience, seeing what is possible through near-peer mentorship is an impactful experience. Yet, Iowa JSHS is more than students presenting research. Time is provided for the students to socialize, forming impactful connections resulting in life-long friendships. Iowa JSHS also enables students to experience a research-intensive university first hand. Through laboratory tours, students get a backstage pass to world-class labs and the professional scientific community. 

Any school in Iowa can bring five students to attend Iowa JSHS free of charge, thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Tri-Services and the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Iowa JSHS truly is an experience that goes beyond the ordinary science fair. If you’re interested in learning more, send us an e-mail at jshs@belinblank.org and check out our website

Message from the Director: Welcome Home!

Our June newsletter coincides with the start of six weeks of amazing energy and enthusiasm for our myriad pre-college and professional development programs.

Our elementary (Blast) and junior high students (Junior Scholars Institute, Blank Scholars Institute) will be challenged in their areas of interest and strength, digging into an advanced course during the day, all while having fun with other bright kids who share their level of interest and ability. Junior high and high school students also get to experience life on a college campus, living in the residence halls and hanging out with new friends at cultural and recreational activities in the evenings.

Our high school students will experience life-changing opportunities for personal and academic growth. Our summer programs include a behind-the-scenes look at research careers and the ways and places we discover new knowledge on many different topics (Perry Research Scholars Institute); an intensive, highly selective, STEM research experience (Secondary Student Training Program); and art and writing residencies (Summer Art Residency, Summer Writing Residency) here at the University of Iowa, one of the premier arts campuses in the US, also home to the famed Iowa Writers Workshop.

This summer, educators will be making progress toward their TAG endorsements, maintaining their license requirements, or pursuing career advancement through a variety of online and on-site courses and workshops or Iowa Licensure Renewal Units. We will also have the pleasure of spending time with many who join us on campus! Some will be here for the Chautauqua program, which carries the benefit of enabling educators to earn half the credits they need for a TAG endorsement in just two weeks! Others will become qualified to teach Advanced Placement (AP) courses, increasing the number of subject acceleration opportunities for gifted students across the country, at our AP Teacher Training Institute.  Still others have been admitted to the prestigious Belin-Blank Fellowship, which aims to help teachers new to gifted education understand the qualities and needs of gifted individuals so they can better teach and develop the potential of those students.

This month, “welcome” is the most often-used word in my vocabulary, as I meet dozens of students and educators new to the Center.  I greet returning students, families, and educators with a warm “welcome home!” Expressing both of these words — welcome and home — sparked my curiosity about the etymology of each.  That curiosity, in turn, led to a few reflections about the next six weeks of summer programming.

“Welcome” comes from the Old English, wilcuma, “a wished for guest.”  Indeed, we absolutely wish for individuals to join us in our programs. We spend months preparing for them to ensure that they will have an engaging and energizing experience.  We know that for many participants their time on the UI campus in a Belin-Blank Center program offers a pivotal, often life-changing, experience.  We never tire of hearing these stories, and now that we are entering our 31st year of programming, we have heard from people who had that experience 10, 20, or 30 years ago! 

We also “welcome home” past participants and use the word “home” with great warmth.   As a noun, home, comes from the Old English, ham, and implies a “dwelling place.”  That is exactly how we want everyone who attends our programs to feel.  We want them to know that we have created a place that inspires them to reach beyond their current level of performance, where they can inspire others to extend their reach, and assure them that professors, residence advisors, and Center staff are dedicated to their well-being and happiness.   Attaining that goal is an indicator that we truly have welcomed our newest participants and welcomed home those who have returned. 

Here’s to the start of a great summer that concludes in late July!  We would love to welcome you at two very special events at the conclusion of the summer program. 

Even if you can’t join us in person this summer, be sure to connect with us by following along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and our blog. However, if you are joining us this summer, welcome home!

Invent Iowa Showcases Student Inventors Statewide

On April 15, the Belin-Blank Center hosted the 2019 Invent Iowa State Invention Convention. It was a day full of energy and excitement as young inventors from schools across Iowa advanced from their local invention conventions to the state competition. We were pleased to see so many creative solutions to the everyday problems that students noticed in the world around them!

Our generous sponsors included McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. and Integrated DNA Technologies. Representatives from each – Christine Lebron-Dykeman and Mark Behlke, respectively – delivered keynote presentations to inspire Iowa’s next generation of innovators. Fourth-grader Manasvi Devi Reddy from the Linn-Mar Community School District won the McKee, Voorhees & Sease, P.L.C. Agricultural Invention Award for her “Environmental Saver.” Her invention uses farming by-products to make paper, thereby reusing discarded materials and reducing the number of trees being cut down.

Inventors competed in two divisions: Kindergarten – 5th grade, and 6th – 8th grade. Winners qualified to compete next month at the National Invention Convention at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The Belin-Blank Center awarded first place winners from each division an expense-paid trip to the national competition.

Quill Orth (Lewis Central Community School District), last year’s winner of the 3rd – 5th grade division, went on to compete at the National Invention Convention, where he won the 3M Innovative Materials Award for his “Hotspot Chicken Insulating Cream,” which prevents frostbite on chickens’ combs. Quill shared his story and words of congratulations and encouragement with this year’s inventors.

2019 Winners from the Kindergarten – 5th grade division:

  • 1st place: Kelty Raap & Sadie Takes (4th grade, St. Pius X Catholic School), for their “I C Safety Straw,” a straw made of ice to reduce plastic use.
  • 2nd place: Luke Amaro & Lexi Geiskemper (5th grade, Alburnett Community School District), for their “Absorbo-Rocks.” These are rocks made of absorbent material that will capture excess water in fields and let it back out when the weather becomes hot and dry.
  • 3rd place: Charles Smith (Kindergarten, Ottumwa Community School District) for his “Benge Beacon,” a bright light to mark exits in homes to help firefighters and residents locate them more easily.

Winners from the 6th – 8th grade division:

  • 1st place: Grace Brand & Sara Schutte (6th grade, Pleasant View Community School District) for “The Noise Neutralizer,” a flashing light system to alert people when the noise level is too loud
  • 2nd place: Dylan Hunt, Thomas Nugent, and Rebecca Yanacheak (8th grade, Adel-Desoto-Minburn Community School District) for their “Eazy Shuck,” which makes shucking corn an easier and safer process.
  • 3rd place: Chloe Goedken & Ellie Kronlage (6th grade, St. Francis Xavier Catholic School) for “The Adjust A-Q,” a pool cue that can be adjusted in size to avoid hitting the walls around a pool table.

Congratulations to all who competed, and keep inventing, Iowa!

Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute (APTTI)

Are you starting to make summer plans? Don’t forget to add the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute (APTTI) into your summer schedule! This professional development opportunity takes place at the University of Iowa campus on June 25-28, 2019. Registration is now open!

APTTI is a College Board approved Advanced Placement Summer Institute (APSI). AP Summer Institutes provide subject-specific training for teachers who are interested in teaching an AP course. Summer Institutes can also support current teachers of AP courses seeking to develop their skills, or gain familiarity with the course.

“It [APTTI] not only provided me the opportunity to gain an understanding of AP-teaching, but I gained resources and new ideas that I now apply to all of my classes. “

“The training was invaluable…I find myself continually going back to my notes, looking at the resources I obtained at the training, and even emailing the facilitator who still quickly responds to me even though it has now been 2.5 years. I would not be as successful in my classroom had it not been for this training.”

Funding

The Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) offers the AP Institution Grant, a grant to support Iowa teachers in attending APTTI. (Participation in IOAPA not required.) This grant will cover $450 (more than 80%) of the $550 registration fee.  Click here to learn more and click here to access the grant application. This application is due June 1st, 2019. 

Academic Credit

Teachers who register for APTTI may pursue additional opportunities for graduate-level academic credit and/or Iowa licensure renewal units (additional fees and registration required). University credit is NOT included in the cost of APTTI. Click here to learn more about academic credit options!

Apply today here, and email us at aptti@belinblank.org with any questions or concerns.

Must-See Summer Enrichment Classes for Middle School Students

If you’re still looking for summer programs for curious middle school students, look no further! Our Junior Scholars Institute (JSI) still has limited seats available in some amazing classes. Check them out before it’s too late!

Robot Theater: Exploring with Cozmo

The focus of this class is to learn the basics of dramatic storytelling that incorporate robot technology (Cozmo, created by Anki) as part of the story. If you have written a script, story, or poem that you have been dreaming of seeing performed on stage, then this class is for you—our Cozmos will be your actors. If you have an interest in robotics and want to work with sophisticated technology, then this class is for you—Cozmo will introduce you to the world of robotics. No previous experience with writing, puppetry, theatre, or working with robots is required.

Environmental Engineering

Students will be exposed to real-world environmental challenges Iowans face with an emphasis on flooding and access to clean water. Through an interactive learning environment, students will connect with professionals from a variety of related fields to learn how we prepare for, respond to, and recover from disaster events, but then also mitigate for future disasters to build community resilience. Classroom learning will be mobile and designed to engage the students in career settings providing opportunities for practicing professional development skills.

Mixed Media Workshop

Are you ready for an exciting week of action-packed art adventures? If so, this class is for you! Our week will be an exciting exploration of several different kinds of art making. You will try your hand at a variety of studio projects throughout the week. The two-dimensional art portion of the class will involve some printmaking, drawing, and painting. The stop motion animation segment will introduce you to the basics of stop-motion in the making of an awesome animation that you will shoot, edit, and create music and sound effects. You will work on individual pieces, as well as work in small groups. Exploring collaboration in small groups will allow us to put our brains together to come up with unique, creative solutions. We will go on a couple of field trips to get ideas for work and look at other artists’ work. Bring your adventurous spirit and creative brain. It’s going to be a great week of getting a little messy, learning some new techniques, getting your creative juices flowing, and challenging yourselves.

Archaeology: Discover the Past!

Ever wonder how archaeologists know where to find ancient sites? Or how rocks and bones provide them clues about how people lived? Archaeologists are scientific detectives, studying people from the past and the objects they left behind. In this course, you will learn to think like an archaeologist using scientific inquiry. We will study real artifacts in the research labs at the Office of the State Archaeologist and participate in hands-on lessons and activities to learn about Iowa’s archaeological past, from the Ice Age to the first Europeans. You will also learn how today’s Native American communities work with archaeologists to strengthen our understanding of their cultures. Part of this course will take place at an outdoor classroom at the Macbride Nature Recreation Area, where we will learn archaeology field techniques to document a real archaeological site!

Other open classes include Leadership for Students Who Want to Make a Difference, Women in Engineering, and Project Discovery: Finding Your Writer’s Voice.

Participation in your school’s talented and gifted program is not required. Payment plans and financial aid are available. If you think JSI sounds like a good fit for your student, be sure to check it out at www.belinblank.org/summer or contact Ashlee Van Fleet at summer@belinblank.org!

The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank Fellowship Program in Gifted Education

Do you know someone who would like to learn more about the nature and needs of gifted learners? Someone who could help advocate for your district’s high-ability learners and the school’s gifted/talented program?  Encourage them to look at the information about the Belin-Blank Fellowship Program in Gifted Education (Belin-Blank Fellowship), one of the nation’s longest running professional development programs.  Applications are being accepted for this summer’s Fellowship, to be held on the University of Iowa campus from June 23 – 28, 2019!  

2018 Belin Fellows

For almost 40 years, the Fellowship has been offering educators, school counselors, administrators, and others, the opportunity to learn more about best practices in supporting the needs of gifted learners.  The program admits 12 educators who want to: 

  • Learn effective new ways to recognize gifted/talented students and meet their unique affective needs.
  • Enhance their abilities to meet the different academic needs of gifted/talented students.
  • Act as an effective resource in gifted education for other educators in their schools and districts.
  • Review their new knowledge and skills for applications to ALL youngsters in their classes.
  • Nurture the sense of social responsibility in the use and development of talents among gifted students. 

The Belin-Blank Center provides full room and board near the Blank Honors Center, where participants hear from leaders in gifted education, and have the chance to ask questions about identifying gifted learners and developing the talents of their highest-ability learners.  Participants receive an extensive collection of professional materials, and those who choose to enroll for two semester hours of graduate credit receive an automatic 50% tuition scholarship.

2018 Belin Fellows learning about best practices in teaching gifted students.

This program is not designed for those who are already taking coursework to complete an endorsement in gifted education; it IS intended to develop the understanding of others in your school who will develop their own skills to work effectively with gifted and talented students, as well as support school and district goals to maximize learning for allstudents, including those who are ready for more.

Educators can apply online; as well, all applicants must have an administrator provide a statement of support for their participation.  Districts are asked to pay $250 toward the cost of materials. Visit belinbelin.org/fellowshipfor more information.  The application period ends on March 11, 2019.

The Scoop on Summer Programs at the Belin-Blank Center

If all the recent school closure days have you thinking ahead to how you’re going to keep your children occupied over summer vacation, now is a great time to start planning! At the Belin-Blank Center, we specialize in bright kids. Whether or not they participate in their school’s gifted and talented program, if your child shows a deep curiosity when a topic sparks their interest, a love of learning, or a particular talent in an area, they will feel right at home here!

Our summer programs are designed specifically for students in grades 2-11 who want to take a deep dive into a topic while having fun with other kids who share their level of interest and ability. Students get to choose one class to focus on all day, for a full week – and these aren’t just any regular classes!

For example, grade school students can choose from classes such as Harry Potter, STEAM, Mixed Media Art, Virtual Reality, and Programming in our Blast program. Middle school schools students can apply for our Junior Scholars Institute (JSI) to explore Leadership, Women in Engineering, Archaeology, 3D Printing, or a Mixed Media art workshop, among many other options. High school students can learn about the research process and just what is involved in creating new knowledge in our Perry Research Scholars Institute (PRSI). Class sizes are kept small (a maximum of 16-20, depending on age group), to ensure that each student has a positive experience learning something they enjoy.

The programs take place on the University of Iowa campus, giving students access to valuable university-level experts and resources. Our instructors are vetted professionals, including classroom teachers, local artists, and professors who have the expertise to delve into a subject at an advanced level, while keeping it accessible for the age group. Classes utilize specialized spaces and equipment, such as research laboratories, the Van Allen Observatory, 3D printing facilities, the National Advanced Driving Simulator, art studios, maker spaces and the university library.

We understand that many bright students may also have a disability or impairment that can present behavioral, emotional, social, or learning challenges. Our staff are experts in gifted education and talent development, and we offer specialized social and academic support for these twice-exceptional students.

If you think our programs sound like a good fit for your child, be sure to check them out at www.belinblank.org/summer. Payment plans and financial aid are available. With options for students from elementary to high school, covering a wide range of topics, we’re sure to have something for you and your family. We can’t wait for you to join us this summer!

How Student STEM Research Can Help Teachers…and their Students

One of the common characteristics of gifted students is a deep curiosity about the topics they are interested in. They may spend hours scouring Google for more information, ask complex questions in class, or observe how the topic relates to one they learned about in another class.

As a classroom teacher, this level of interest can be exciting to witness. However, it may also present logistical challenges when trying to simultaneously maintain curriculum standards and balance the various learning needs of a classroom full of students.

High school student STEM research can help solve both of these challenges. These projects offer a way to implement the Science and Engineering Practices of the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and help students develop 21st-century skills, while also naturally differentiating instruction through inquiry and student choice.

The performance standards of the NGSS emphasize the role of students actively generating conceptual understanding while engaging in the practices of science. In this way, the NGSS reflect the idea that understanding the practices of science is just as important as the content knowledge itself. Research projects also help students develop important skills necessary for success in the 21st century. According to P21, essential life and career skills needed today include flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility. Student research projects offer a chance to practice each of these skills.

Student research also helps the classroom teacher engage students in science content by allowing them to pursue an individual inquiry into a problem or generate new knowledge about a topic of their choice. Having the opportunity to choose an individual project exposes students to design and problem solving skills, as well as hands-on, minds-on, and collaborative learning.

Teachers can differentiate instruction for students who are enthusiastic about diving even deeper into their topic by encouraging them to submit their projects to various high school student research competitions.  These offer students an authentic audience to which to present their work and a chance to win accolades, prizes, and even college scholarships for their work. Competing for a prize adds a level of student engagement by having a real, tangible benefit to completing their projects and putting together a well-written research paper and presentation.

Research competitions, such as Iowa’s regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), provide students an opportunity to engage with experts who will critique their work, and valuable experience presenting and communicating science to a broad audience. These events often offer students a chance to interact with STEM professionals, listen to presentations on other students’ research, or go on tours that expose them to real-world research environments and various STEM careers. This connects students to the STEM community and exposes them to the culture of science.

Iowa’s regional JSHS allows teachers to bring non-competing students as delegate attendees. Students who attend as delegates have the opportunity to see the top projects presented, attend lab tours, and interact with research professionals and other student-scientists from around the state. The top presenters advance to the national competition, where they join student researchers from around the nation to compete for substantial scholarships. There are also opportunities for hands-on workshops, panel discussions, career exploration, research lab visits, and student networking events. Last year, Iowa high school students took home a 1st place win at the national competition and more than $20,000 in scholarships! Next year, it could be your student.

Iowa student Cheryl Blackmer won 1st place at Nationals in 2018!

And for those students who are interested, be sure to check out other opportunities for student research, such as the Perry Research Scholars Institute, Secondary Student Training Program, Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Google Science Fair, and opportunities through the Army Educational Outreach Program.

Register for APTTI and Apply for Funding Opportunities!

AP Teacher Training Institute 

Start the New Year off right by planning your summer professional development! Make sure to save the date for the 2019 AP Teacher Training Institute (APTTI). This will take place at the University of Iowa campus on June 25-28, 2019. Registration is now openWe will be offering workshops for AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP English Literature & Composition, AP Physics I, and AP US History.

AP Teacher Training Institute instructor demonstrating a lesson to smiling AP Biology teachers.

APTTI is a College Board-approved AP Summer Institute (APSI). AP Summer Institutes provide subject-specific training for teachers who are interested in teaching an AP course. Summer Institutes can also benefit current teachers already teaching AP courses to develop their skills, or gain familiarity with the course. Teachers who attended our previous institutes shared some of their valued experiences:

It gave me a framework for how to structure my course, wording for my syllabus for the College Board, and very valuable information to prepare my students for the AP exam.

Not only did I gain more resources to further my instruction, but I also learned many strategies for implementing these materials. I had the opportunity to learn from an instructor who was vastly knowledgeable and taught us as if we were students…so we could better understand how to teach our own students. This knowledge was immensely valuable!

I feel like this program has a direct impact on high school students…I am more confident in the material and the course/text structure, and my experience as an AP teacher has been much more successful than it would have been without an APTTI.

It was a wonderful course that prepared me to teach AP. The instructor modeled an AP class for us, so we not only left with content knowledge, but methodology knowledge as well. These methods can extend beyond just our AP classes and into our general classes as well.

Funding

We want to inform you of scholarships funded by the College Board that support teachers in attending an APSI. Applications for these scholarships are due Tuesday, February 12th, 2019. Scholarships offered by the College Board are listed below, and you can find more information about these scholarships and the application process here.

  • AP Fellows Program: For teachers at schools serving minority or low-income students
    • Scholarship Amount: $1,000 – for cost of tuition and lab fees (when applicable)
  • AP Rural Fellows Program: For teachers at rural schools
    • Scholarship Amount: $1,500 – for cost of tuition and lab fees (when applicable)

The Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) also offers the AP Institution Grant, a grant to support Iowa teachers in attending APTTI. (Participation in IOAPA not required.) This grant will cover $450 (more than 80%) of the $550 registration fee.  Click here to learn more and click here to access the grant application. This application is due June 1st, 2019. 

Don’t miss the chance to apply for these great scholarships, especially since deadlines for some are approaching quickly! If you’re considering attending an AP Summer Institute and/or our AP Teacher Training Institute, apply today!

Professional Learning: Always Available

The fall term is flying by, and we have had teachers enrolled in a wide variety of online learning opportunities, from three-semester-hour classes to one-semester-hour workshops focusing on specific topics over three weeks.  We have had 99 individuals who have enrolled for 221 semester hours of credit; seven of our students this fall are educators from India who are learning to better serve their gifted/talented students in their schools.  Current registrations for conference credits (options at the Iowa Talented and Gifted [ITAG] Association conference and the National Association for Gifted Children [NAGC]) add another 17 people earning 29 semester hours of credit, most often applied to credits required for the Talented and Gifted Endorsement.

woman-791185We still have two online fall credit options available.  One workshop, EDTL:4096:0WKA Special Topics: Personal Learning Plans and the Gifted Students, is helpful for any Iowa educator who needs to provide plans for identified students, in compliance with Iowa Code.  Educators from other states will benefit from learning more about this option, an important component in the continuum of options recommended by the NAGC.

For anyone attending the NAGC convention in Minneapolis in November, the Belin-Blank Center provides a credit option (PSQF:5194:0WKA) for a choice of either one or two semester hours of credit. As with other credit options, those who are interested must be registered as a Distance and Online Learner (belinblank.org/educators/reg), and contact educators@belinblank.org to override the restriction for the conference credit, ensuring that anyone who registers understands that conference attendance is required.  The Belin-Blank Center provides a 50% tuition scholarship for the graduate tuition rate for conference credits, in an effort to support educators’ interest in learning through these opportunities.

The Center is offering one online credit over Winter break. Current Readings and Research in Gifted Education (EDTL:4085:0WKA) will allow educators to review the information they most need for their students and schools.  The class begins on December 26 and ends on January 11, 2019, getting the new year off to a great start.

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Spring enrollment hasn’t opened yet, but the Center will be providing a variety of online three-semester-hour classes, including content focused on identification, on classrooms and curriculum, and on programming models.  As well, Administrative and Policy Issues (EPLS:4110:0EXW) is available as a two-semester-hour online class.  A variety of one-semester-hour online workshops will allow educators to focus on topics such as curriculum development, mathematics for gifted learners, and issues of perfectionism.  Classes for each semester are posted at belinblank.org/educators/courses.

 

Research Competition (with Scholarships!) for High School Students

Looking for ways to support your high-achieving students in math and the sciences? The Junior Sciences and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), a prestigious national science competition, offers substantial opportunities for scholarships. At the regional competition here in Iowa City, students can win up to $2,750, and finalists can go on to win an additional $12,000 at the National JSHS in April. Last year, Iowa high school students took home a 1st place win at Nationals and more than $20,000 in scholarships!

To compete, Iowa high school students must submit papers describing original research in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) by January 14th, 2019, so there’s still time to get projects started. The Iowa Regional JSHS competition will be hosted by the Belin-Blank Center on March 4th and 5th, and top presenters will earn scholarships go on to compete at the National JSHS competition!

Regardless of whether submissions are selected for competition, we invite all interested students and teachers to attend the regional event. Those who attend can participate in laboratory tours, informational sessions for students and teachers, and learn about Iowa students’ research. This is a great way to introduce students to the idea of doing their own original research and prepare them for future projects. It also gives them an opportunity to see the kinds of world-class resources and ideas that are available to students on a university campus. Students and teachers alike leave feeling inspired every year!

The first five students in attendance from each district attend free of charge, including overnight lodging and some meals, while the fee for each student beyond the first five comes to just $25.

For details, please visit our website at www.belinblank.org/JSHS, and don’t hesitate to contact us at JSHS@belinblank.org if you have any questions.

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The Power of One: Lessons Learned from a Mentor

Wallace_Group

The Belin-Blank Center is proud to organize the Wallace Research Symposium on Talent Development every two to four years.  This year’s April symposium was in Baltimore and co-hosted by the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, and Vanderbilt University Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth.  It was truly remarkable to gather with 200 other individuals, many of them renowned researchers in gifted education, creativity, and related areas.  The conversations that occurred at the dinner table were impressive!

One of the purposes of the Wallace Research Symposium this year was to honor the legacy of Julian Stanley. His ideas and his scholarly example can inspire all of us.

Stanley’s creative ideas and hard work planted the seeds for many of the activities and programs we provide in gifted education today. Millions of students have benefitted from Talent Searches, in which bright students take an above-level test (one that was developed for older students). This simple concept, which is still considered somewhat revolutionary, has given us a way to discover high-ability students. Once discovered, it is possible to provide these students with appropriate challenges.

Perhaps most important is the work Stanley did documenting the characteristics and educational and career trajectories of exceptionally talented youth. Dr. Stanley began a 50-year study on talented youth in the 1970s, which continues today. This is an almost unheard-of accomplishment in educational research.

Lessons learned from Julian Stanley:

  1. Mentors are important. Academically talented students benefit from mentors who not only teach them content, but also guide them through educational decisions, inspire them to work hard, and point out challenging opportunities.
  2. Objective tools, such as standardized tests, provide valuable information to discover and guide talented students.
  3. It is useful to look at specific domains of talent. Instead of searching for the all-around gifted student, focusing on specific subjects, such as mathematics or science, helps us to discover students who are ready for additional challenges.
  4. Acceleration is one of the best-researched methods for challenging talented students. Stanley’s Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth contributed a great deal to this work and shows us that academic acceleration and appropriate educational placement can have a profound effect on talented students, even many years later.

Julian Stanley changed the landscape of gifted education. It all started with the power of one.

Watch the video about the legacy of Julian Stanley.

Congratulations, JSHS Student Researchers!

Last month, students from across the state of Iowa attended the Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), hosted by the Belin-Blank Center at the Marriott Hotel in Coralville, Iowa.

JSHS is a collaborative effort with the research arm of the Department of Defense and is designed to challenge, engage, and publically recognize high school students conducting scientific research in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM).  JSHS aims to prepare and support students to contribute as future scientists and engineers – conducting STEM research on behalf of, or directly for, the Department of Defense, the Federal research laboratories, or for the greater good in advancing the nation’s scientific and technological progress.

Students completed an original research project and submitted a research paper to the regional competition. The authors of the top 18 papers were invited to compete for scholarships and recognition by presenting their results before a panel of judges and an audience of their peers.  Students also toured various labs and facilities at the University of Iowa to hear about cutting edge research, potential career paths, and student opportunities.

JSHS 2018-12.jpg

After an intensive day of presentations, the judges had the difficult task of selecting five finalists based on their research papers and presentations:

1st place: Megan Ertl (Beckman Catholic High School) – “Quantification of Muscle Accelerations to Interpret Individual Fatigue as an Industrial Application

2nd place: Cheryl Blackmer (Ballard  High School) – “Development of a LAMP Assay for the Detection of Powassan Virus”

3rd place: Pranav Chhaliyil (Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment) –  “Metagenomics Analysis of Bedtime Oral Cleaning by the Novel GIFT Method, Shows a Reduction in Dental-Damaging Bacteria”

4th place: Aaron Wills (Central Lee High School) – “Engineered Environmental Containment: “Using Lemna minor L. to Reduce Nitrate Levels in Aquatic Environments”

5th place: Brianna Cole (Valley High School) – “Cumulative Effects of Recurrent Amygdala Kindled Seizures on Respiratory Function”

JSHS 2018-50

Additional presenters, who were winners by virtue of having their papers accepted, included Allison Brasch (Waterloo West High School), Mason Burlage (Beckman Catholic High School), Ava Depping (Madrid High School), Serenity Haynes (Central Lee High School), Sean Kluesner (Beckman Catholic High School), Pearl Krieger Coble (Winfield-Mt. Union High School), Kayla Livesay (Van Buren High School), Kathryn McCarthy (Sioux City East High School), Evylin Merydith (Keokuk High School), Tyler Montgomery (Kennedy High School), Elizabeth Smith (Waterloo West High School), Laura Stowater (Algona High School), Shelby Westhoff (Beckman Catholic High School).

The top five finalists will attend an expense-paid trip to the JSHS National Symposium next month in Hunt Valley, MD to present their research and compete for additional prizes.

To see all the fun we had, including tours of the IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering, Iowa Flood Center, and Additive Manufacturing-Integrated Product Realization Laboratory (AMPRL) in the University of Iowa Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, check out our full photo album! Congratulations to all, and good luck at Nationals!

 

“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 laurie-croft@uiowa.edu or 319-335-6148 / 800-336-6463. We look forward to having a teacher from your district join us this summer!

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 www.belinblank.org/students. 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!

 

Wallace Research Symposium on Talent Development

Wallace postcard 2017

Registration is open for the Wallace Research Symposium on Talent Development, to be held April 29-May 1, 2018 at the Mt. Washington Conference Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.  The Wallace Research Symposium is the premiere scholarly conference for the latest research findings in gifted education and talent development.

Featured speakers include:

  • Susan Assouline
  • Camilla Benbow
  • Linda Brody
  • Nicholas Colangelo
  • Elaine Hansen
  • David Lubinski
  • Matt Makel
  • Besty McCoach
  • Paula Olszewski-Kubilius
  • Jonathan Plucker
  • Sally Reis
  • Joseph Renzulli
  • Ann Robinson
  • Nancy Robinson
  • Robert Root-Bernstein
  • Michele Root-Bernstein
  • Del Siegle
  • Amy Shelton
  • Rena Subotnik
  • Joyce VanTassel-Baska
  • Frank Worrell

The Wallace Research Symposium for Talent Development is co-hosted by the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, and the Vanderbilt University Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth. For more information and to register, please visit belinblank.org/wallace. For questions, please contact wallace@belinblank.org.

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

Sharing the Secret to Understanding High-Ability Students’ Academic Needs

Infographic above-level testingWe have called above-level testing “the best-kept secret in gifted education.” What do we mean by that? Above-level testing, which is a way of helping us more accurately measure a student’s aptitudes, is under-utilized in gifted education. Imagine you are working with two students, Jessica and Mary. Both of them have scored at the 99th percentile on the mathematics subtest of the Iowa Assessments when compared to other 5th graders. They are both strong in math, but how do we know the extent of their skills?  What should they learn next?  Psychologists say that the students have “hit the ceiling of the test” because they got everything (or almost everything) right on the grade-level test. What we need is a harder test that would more accurately measure their talents and help us to tailor instruction to their specific needs.

Enter an above-level test. Rather than creating a special test for these students, we give them I-Excel, which contains 8th grade content.  Jessica scores at the 85th percentile when compared to 8th graders, and Mary scores at the 20th percentile when compared to 8th graders.  This indicates that Jessica is ready for much more challenge (likely accelerative opportunities) in math than Mary, even though both students have shown they are very good at math compared to typical students in their 5th grade regular classroom.

We’ll dive into this concept in more detail in the webinar and the (optional) online class that follows it. Learn how you can apply the process of above-level testing so you can learn more about your students’ aptitudes and to think about the types of programming accommodations they need. Above-level testing is key to helping us tailor educational programs for gifted students. It helps us to understand the students need for challenge in specific subject areas and to act on the information appropriately.

The webinar will be held on January 9, 2018 from 4:30-6:00 p.m. Central time. Register for the webinar here.  Registration is for one computer, and one registration may be shared by multiple participants. We encourage schools, districts, and even AEAs to register to allow as many participants as possible access to this Webinar. Can’t make the live webinar? Don’t worry. You can still register for the event and a link to the recording will be emailed to you when it’s available.  Cost: $45 for registration for either the Webinar or the link to watch it after the Webinar; $55 for registration for BOTH the Webinar and the link.

After the webinar, you may also take a one-semester-hour class on the topic. Registration information for that class is available here. The class meets online from January 16-February 5, 2018.

Professional Learning Opportunities for Teachers

Aug17_PDDear Colleagues,

I wanted to be sure you are aware of upcoming professional learning opportunities!

The day before the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association Conference (October 15), Dr. Susan Assouline will provide a pre-conference session about academic acceleration, and the Iowa Acceleration Scale.  You can register here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/pre-conference-workshop-on-academic-acceleration-tickets-37100929880.

If you would like to earn credit at the conference itself (instead of OR in addition to the pre-conference credit),

Please let me know if you have questions about these opportunities! As well, if you live in a different state and would like to discuss similar options for your own state conference, let me know.  If you have the chance to attend the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) convention in Charlotte, NC, this November, you can earn either one or two hours of credit there, as well (https://www2.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/educators/courses/schedule.aspx#PSQF:5194:0WKA).

I look forward to seeing you at ITAG!

Laurie Croft

laurie-croft@uiowa.edu

Join Us for Saturday Fun on September 9th!

UPDATE: All seats are now filled for September 9th; however, we do still have availability in our October date for 4th-6th graders and 6th-8th graders, and February classes will be up soon.  You may also join the waitlist for classes that are full – occasionally we have drops and can add students from that waitlist.

Do you have a 2nd-8th grader with an interest and talent in robots, circuits, geography, art, or science fiction?  Check out the classes for our upcoming WINGS date on September 9th in Iowa City!

A variety of classes are available, such as Watercolor Science (grades 2-4). In this workshop, students will use chemistry to create their very own watercolor paints. Using cabbage dye and household items, students will learn about the pH scale and mix their own liquid watercolor palette. Using our homemade watercolors, we will learn about other nifty watercolor tricks and techniques including using salt, rubbing alcohol, and wax to create watercolor works of art!

Another option is Making A World Through Science Fiction Writing (grades 6-8).  Want to build and explore your favorite sci-fi setting in VR? In this course, we’ll talk about what makes our favorite sci-fi worlds so rich and enjoyable.

We’ll try designing and possibly exploring some of these worlds using the virtual reality design program, CoSpaces. Once we’ve spent some time exploring, we’ll work on coming up with ideas for worlds of our own and some stories that could happen there.

And if you already have plans on the 9th, we have several additional WINGS dates coming up, too.

Wallace Research Symposium

Wallace postcard 2017Registration is open for the Wallace Research Symposium on Talent Development, to be held April 29-May 1, 2018 at the Mt. Washington Conference Center, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.  The Wallace Research Symposium is the premiere scholarly conference for the latest research findings in gifted education and talent development.  The call for papers is open until September 15th.

Featured speakers include:

  • Susan Assouline
  • Camilla Benbow
  • Linda Brody
  • Nicholas Colangelo
  • Elaine Hansen
  • David Lubinski
  • Matt Makel
  • Besty McCoach
  • Paula Olszewski-Kubilius
  • Jonathan Plucker
  • Sally Reis
  • Joseph Renzulli
  • Ann Robinson
  • Nancy Robinson
  • Robert Root-Bernstein
  • Michele Root-Bernstein
  • Del Siegle
  • Amy Shelton
  • Rena Subotnik
  • Joyce VanTassel-Baska
  • Frank Worrell

The Wallace Research Symposium for Talent Development is co-hosted by the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, and the Vanderbilt University Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth. For more information, please visit belinblank.org/wallace. For questions, please contact wallace@belinblank.org.

APTTI 2017 Recap

We had such a great week of AP training at the end of June!

APTTI English Literature & Composition 2017-4

More than 100 teachers participated in 8 AP workshops in science, technology, math, language arts, and history. They are now certified by the College Board to teach those courses in their schools!

APTTI Computer Science 2017-7

They also got to take home some AP materials to get them started in their courses!

APTTI Biology 2017-34

Interested in becoming an AP teacher? Keep an eye on our website (belinblank.org/aptti) and the blog for details on next year’s APTTI. If you’re curious about other ways to offer AP courses to your students, visit belinblank.org/ioapa.

Message from the Director: Summertime is Talent Development Time

Welcome to the Belin-Blank Center’s 29th summer of programs for teachers and students!  While in the midst of serving hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school students, we will deliver TAG courses and workshops to teachers, evaluate clients in the Assessment and Counseling Clinic, and prepare for 2017-2018 fall and spring opportunities.  Dozens of short-term faculty and staff, including program coordinators, teaching assistants, instructors, and residential advisors, assist our permanent staff members in accomplishing our goals for Summer on the Brain.  While many students come from Iowa, we will also welcome students from 28 other states, plus Canada, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, and Turkey!

Saying good-bye at the end of each program is always difficult.  However, everyone can stay connected to the Belin-Blank Center through our newsletter and The Window, a new podcast hosted by Director Emeritus, Dr. Nicholas Colangelo.  As described in the article published in The Gazette, The Window aims to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the listeners and break new ground in our thinking about talent development and our educational systems vis-à-vis the talent development process.

Speaking of talent development, we are thrilled to share that the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has introduced a new grant program, the Rural Talent Initiative, and the Belin-Blank Center is one of the six grantees.  In 2014, the Center received a $500,000 Talent Development Award from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation for its STEM Excellence and Literacy (SEAL) program for students in grades 5 to 7.  It will use its new grant to expand the program to students in grades 8 and 9 in the 10 rural Iowa school districts currently implementing SEAL. More than 1,000 students and their teachers in these districts will receive direct benefits over a two-year period due to this grant.

One thing we’ve found in nearly thirty years of summer programs is that there is always more to learn.  Even on the sleepiest summer days, students of all ages are at the Center learning exciting new things!

Costumes, Poetry, and Dancing at the Scholastic Celebration

Students who received a Gold Key, Silver Key, or Honorable Mention for their submission to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (Iowa or Midwest Regions) were invited to our Scholastic Celebration!

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Educators Are Thinking about Summer, Too

“Summer is always the best of what might be.”

Charles Bowden, author, journalist, 1945-2014

As teachers finish this school year, they are already thinking ahead to next year.  Summer is not only an opportunity to enjoy family and friends; it is also a time for lemonade, travel, new books—and new plans to make next year even better for their students.

The Belin-Blank Center is offering more professional learning opportunities than ever.   The full list of classes is available at www.belinblank.org/educators.  Starting on June 12, nine online and asynchronous  one- or two-semester-hour workshops are available, with opportunities in all the strands required for the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement.  Classes include

  • Reading for High-Ability Learners
  • Gender Issues and Giftedness
  • Cognitive and Affective Needs of the Gifted
  • Teacher Training for Advanced Placement Courses, for those who enroll in the Center’s Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute (2 semester hours, with a 50% tuition scholarship off the cost of graduate tuition)
  • Differentiation at the Secondary Level (those who have completed a 2017 APTTI class can earn one more hour with a 50% tuition scholarship; participants do not HAVE to participate in APTTI to enroll)
  • Special Topics: Personalized Education Plans for Gifted
  • Special Topics: Developing Curriculum for Gifted Learners (new!)
  • Current Readings & Research in Gifted Education
  • Practicum in Gifted Education

The Belin-Blank Chautauqua (B-BC) is back, too, for those who prefer some face-to-face time with other educators. Chautauqua was a popular early 20th Century adult education movement, and this summer’s B-BC offers a series of one-semester-hour hybrid classes, with two days on campus, as well as access to resources through ICON, the Iowa Course Online platform.

Chautauqua I begins on June 19 and includes

  • Counseling and Psychological Issues of Giftedness
  • Differentiating Projects with Technology
  • Special Topics: MATHALON—Hands-on Math for Gifted Learners (new!)

Chautauqua II begins on June 26, featuring

  • Creativity
  • Staff Development
  • Special Topics: TEAM: Teachers Engaged in Active Modeling for Gifted Learners (new!)

All Chautauqua participants are invited to lunch on Friday with Belin-Blank Center staff, providing an informal opportunity to learn about Center services and ask questions of renowned leaders in the field of gifted education and talent development.  Those who enroll at the graduate level in all three classes in either week—or both weeks—receive an automatic tuition scholarship for the full cost of one class for each week.

Both online and hybrid Chautauqua classes align with national standards developed by the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC), including the Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education, the Pre-K – Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards, and the new Faculty Standards for Teacher Preparation Programs in Gifted and Talented Education.

Visit the Center’s General Information page for more information about tuition and fees, and for details about registering for coursework as a University of Iowa Continuing Education student.  Contact Dr. Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development, with questions about summer at the Belin-Blank Center (laurie-croft@uiowa.edu  or  319-335-6148).

 

Come Join Us This Summer For Blast!

Check out more about the courses below and additional academic programming at belinblank.org/summer.

It’s Debate Time


We are very excited to announce two new classes this summer in Public Forum Debate!  Students in grades 8-10 can sign up for one or both classes in July.  In the first session, you will learn more about the principles of argumentation, research and rebuttal, and  tournament preparation.  The second session will focus on strategy decisions and in-round decisions about argumentation. All students will receive individualized critiques and instruction to help them advance as debaters.

Apr17_debate

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 (laurie-croft@uiowa.edu  or  319-335-6148).

Challenge Comes to Cedar Rapids!

We’re excited to partner with Imagination Iowa to offer enrichment courses in Cedar Rapids for gifted middle school students this fall!

challenge_fridays

Starting October 21 – November 18, gifted middle school students in Cedar Rapids can explore the world of business development with the iEntrepreneur class or try out the art of 3D Design & Printing. Classes will start at 2:00 pm after the early release from school and last for three hours.

Imagination Iowa is a K‍–‍12 STEAM-based program powered by the non-profit NewBoCo. It prides itself on encouraging creative growth by teaching students coding, engineering and entrepreneurship skills. All Imagination Iowa courses are hands-on, experiential and project based. This ensures that students apply real world concepts to their learning and have opportunities to work with experts in those fields. Located in the heart of the NewBo District, this innovative program is growing quickly and expanding its efforts to reach the needs of all learners.

Are you in the Cedar Rapids area? Check out the courses!

No Time for Your Own Professional Development? Take Graduate Courses in Your PJs!

Dec15_slippers

The Belin-Blank Center offers a variety of online courses in gifted education, so you can learn at a time that is convenient to you (even if that means late at night!).  The cost of courses starts at $297 (undergraduate credit), and you can register for one or more classes.  There is no travel requirement, and all online courses can be completed at home.  Learn about gifted education when and where it’s convenient for you!

Spring 2017 courses include:

  • Program Models in Gifted Education (3 semester hours)
  • Identification of Students for Gifted Programs (3 semester hours)
  • Topics: Smart Girls in the 21st Century (2 semester hours)
  • Administrative & Policy Issues (2 semester hours)
  • Thinking Skills (1 semester hour)
  • Ethnic & Cultural Issues / Giftedness (1 semester hour)
  • Math Programming for High Ability Learners (1 semester hour)
  • Leadership Skills for G/T, K-12 (1 semester hour)

Ready to get started? More details at: belinblank.org/educators.  New students should visit belinblank.org/EdReg and follow the directions to register as a continuing education student.

You need a computer and a reliable internet connection. Many courses provide all necessary course materials. For others, you will need to purchase one or two books.

In addition to these online opportunities, the Belin-Blank Center again is facilitating two different academic credit opportunities for those who are attending the Iowa Talented and Gifted (ITAG) Association Conference on October 17-18, 2016:

  • For teachers NEWto gifted education, TAG: You’re It provides a guided overview of the field, building on the ITAG Conference (2 semester hours)
  • For more experienced teachers, Leadership in Gifted Education, ITAG 2016 provides a structure to reflect on ITAG in light of national standards in gifted education and complete projects inspired by conference content (1 or 2 semester hours)

For those who are attending the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Convention in Orlando on November 3-6, the opportunity for academic credit again builds on convention content, national standards, and educators’ applications of material.

To see more information about the ITAG and NAGC options, view the Fall 2016 schedule of courses online.  (Note: The list of spring courses is not yet online.)

All educators (or interested parents) who would like to earn academic credit should register as Continuing Education Students.  Questions?  Contact Dr. Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development, Belin-Blank Center.

A (New) Visual Guide to Middle School IOAPA Courses

With the introduction of our middle school courses in Fall 2015, many students and teachers may still have questions about the types of courses offered by the Iowa Online AP Academy, who these classes might benefit, and how to select students who will be prepared for and challenged by online coursework.

Based on the information and experiences we have gathered so far, we are excited to provide a visual guide to our middle school classes! These data are based on middle school Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) courses taken during the 2015-2016 school year. We hope they will be helpful as you and your students consider IOAPA registration in Spring 2017 and beyond.

If you are looking for more information about IOAPA’s middle school classes, check out our past posts on middle school courses and above-level testing, or visit our website. Make sure to check back here soon for our guide to high school courses!

ioapa-ms-data-2_15989647_1fa58e6b50830374a3588f371ed149ad6ad5e41e

Professional Learning for Fall 2016

Professional learning opportunities for educators are available throughout the year, and Fall 2016 has some new and exciting opportunities.  In addition to the semester-length classes that have already begun at the University of Iowa, educators can enroll as Continuing Education students in:

  • Topics in Teaching and Learning: Competitions for Elementary and Secondary Gifted/Talented Students (September 12 – 30, 2016, 1 semester hour)
  • Topics in Teaching and Learning: Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented—English Language Arts (October 3 – 21, 2016, 1 semester hour)
  • Topics in Teaching and Learning: Differentiating: Going Beyond the Basics (November 7 – 29, 2016, 1 semester hour)

In addition to these new opportunities, the Center again is facilitating two different academic credit opportunities for those who are attending the Iowa Talented and Gifted (ITAG) Association Conference in October:

  • For teachers NEW to gifted education, TAG: You’re It provides a guided overview of the field, building on the ITAG Conference (2 semester hours)
  • For more experienced teachers, Leadership in Gifted Education, ITAG 2016 provides a structure to reflect on ITAG in light of national standards in gifted education and complete projects inspired by conference content (1 or 2 semester hours)

Those who are attending the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) Convention, the opportunity for academic credit again builds on convention content, national standards, and educators’ applications of material.

The Fall schedule of courses is available online.

All educators (or even interested parents) who would like to earn academic credit should register as Continuing Education Students.

Dr. Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development, can answer questions about the Talented and Gifted Endorsement, a shortage area in Iowa and many other states.

 

An Iowa Acceleration Scale “Booster Shot”

Iowa Acceleration Scale

The Belin-Blank Center recently hosted the Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute. The theme this year was, “A Nation Empowered: Research-Based Evidence about Acceleration and Gifted/Talented Students.” During the Pre-Institute, we spent a whole afternoon talking about the Iowa Acceleration Scale. Many of the people attending the session had already used the IAS, and they were looking for answers to specific questions or they simply wanted a “booster shot” of best practices concerning the scale. Some of the major points made in the session include:

  • Become informed about the research. We have over 60 years of research on acceleration, and it is consistently positive. Knowing the research helps us to make well-informed, data-driven decisions for students.
  • Prepare your team for the meeting. Nobody likes surprises. Help them to understand the purpose of the meeting and the information you would like them to bring to the meeting.
  • Provide information about acceleration. It’s helpful to give team members some basic information about grade skipping (see resources listed below).
  • Collect all profile information before the meeting to use everyone’s time well at the meeting.
  • Talk with the student about the acceleration. The student plays a critical role in making the acceleration experience successful or unsuccessful. Find out if the student is on board and if he or she has any questions or concerns.
  • Schedule enough time for the meeting. This is an important decision worthy of thoughtful discussion.
  • Pre-plan other options. For example, if there is a possibility that the student might be subject accelerated (rather than skip a grade), it would be helpful to think through issues such as transportation and scheduling before the meeting so the team doesn’t get sidetracked with related issues or questions.
  • Select a receiving teacher. This person is critical to the success of an acceleration.
  • Support the receiving teacher. Some teachers feel a little bit intimidated by the fact that they will have a younger student in their class, and they might have questions about how best to support the student and to help the other students in the class welcome the young student.
  • Follow-up with parents, teachers, and student. It is very helpful to schedule a specific time period that serves as a “trial period” for the acceleration. The team should take the time to meet again about the accelerated student and discuss what is working well and how they can make things go more smoothly.

Resources

The Iowa Acceleration Scale is an instrument designed to guide the discussion about academic acceleration. The IAS is not a test; it is designed to help the child study team members think about the various aspects of acceleration (for example, academic development, social development, physical development, etc.). http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Resources/IAS.aspx

A Nation Deceived:  This 2-volume set published in 2004 provides research and practical information about acceleration. Volume 1 includes some of the myths (and responses) relevant to acceleration.  Volume 2 includes research findings. www.nationdeceived.org

A Nation Empowered:  Published in 2015. Volume 1 includes stories about acceleration and is a “quick read” for busy administrators and others looking for an introduction to the topic of acceleration. Volume 2 provides the updated research. www.nationempowered.org

 

A Nation Empowered: Empower Yourself with Information about Academic Acceleration, July 24-26

Invent IA footerThere’s still time to register: The early bird discount is available until July 8th!

We are looking forward to seeing you at the July 2016 conference on academic acceleration (www.belinblank.org/bbali). Our aim is to present attendees with practical information about acceleration, using existing research and tools to help make data-driven decisions.

All participants will receive a copy of the two-volume book, A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, which includes updated information about the best-researched yet most under-utilized educational option for gifted students: academic acceleration.

The Pre-Institute (July 24th) focuses on the important tool for making decisions about a grade skip, the Iowa Acceleration Scale.  The Institute (July 25 and 26) provides the opportunity to learn from researchers as well as educators who have successfully implemented various forms of acceleration, including subject-matter acceleration, early entrance to college, dual enrollment, and grade-skipping. In the portion of the conference focused on policy, participants will have the opportunity to hear from schools, districts, and states with successful acceleration policies. They will share their stories of how they were able to put successful policies in place, as well as what participants should consider as they advocate for acceleration in their region.  Participation in the Advanced Leadership Institute on Monday and Tuesday is NOT required for participation in the Pre-Institute.

We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks at this exciting institute.  Speakers include nationally-recognized experts in gifted education research and policy, as well as administrators and educators.  Participants will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of individuals reflecting on the local impact of acceleration policies and practical implications of the research.  We encourage you to register by July 8th, to take advantage of the early bird discount!  See www.belinblank.org/bbali.

Everyone Loves an Early Bird Discount!

Register by July 8th for the early bird discount for the conference on academic acceleration!

The SeTypes of accelerationventh Biennial Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute is focusing on Research-Based Evidence about Acceleration and Gifted/Talented Students in July 2016.  The institute will provide attendees with practical information about acceleration, using existing research and tools to help make data-driven decisions.  Participants will have opportunities to learn from educators who have successfully implemented various forms of acceleration—and from students or parents who have personally experienced the benefits of appropriate programming.
All Institute participants will receive a copy of the two-volume book, A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, which includes updated information about the best-researched yet most under-utilized educational option for gifted students: academic acceleration.

Speakers who plan to participate include:

Editors of A Nation Empowered:

  • Susan Assouline
  • Nicholas Colangelo
  • Joyce VanTassel-Baska
  • Ann Lupkowski Shoplik

Authors of Chapters in A Nation Empowered:

  • Linda Brody
  • Laurie Croft
  • Megan Foley Nicpon
  • Lori Ihrig
  • Katie McClarty
  • Michelle Muratori
  • Susannah Wood

Additional expert speakers:

  • Wendy Behrens
  • Jane Clarenbach
  • Beth Hahn
  • René Islas
  • Maureen Marron
  • Jaquelin Medina
  • Panel of students who have accelerated

We are looking forward to seeing you at the Institute! For more information and to register, visit:  www.belinblank.org/bbali.

 

 

Many Online Learning Opportunities for Teachers this Summer!

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It’s time to think about your own personal learning opportunities! You don’t have to travel long distances to take courses in gifted education. Consider taking an online course this summer through the Belin-Blank Center!

Topics include:

  • Gender Issues and Giftedness
  • Perfectionism and High-Ability Learners
  • Cognitive and Affective Needs of Gifted Students
  • Counseling and Psychological Needs of the Gifted
  • Math Programming for High Ability Students
  • Differentiation at the Secondary Level

More information is available at http://www2.education.uiowa.edu/belinblank/Educators/Courses/Schedule.aspx.  Also see the links on the same page at the right: General Information and Register. You should register as a University of Iowa Continuing Education student (no cost to register).

There are also numerous face-to-face educational opportunities for teachers at the Belin-Blank Center, if you’d like to plan a trip to Iowa City. Housing is available on campus.

Whatever your schedule, the Belin-Blank Center has an opportunity for professional development to match!

Tools for Advocating for Gifted Students

Effective Advocacy for Gifted Students

Both parents and teachers may find themselves advocating for gifted students. Many resources for effective advocacy can be found online. For example,

  • The Hoagies’ Gifted website is one of the best places to look for information on “all things gifted.”  The portion of the site dedicated to advocacy is http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/advocacy.htm
  • Some of our favorite blogs are gathered together on the Hoagies’ Gifted site under the umbrella, Blog Hop on Gifted Advocacy: http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_gifted_advocacy.htm. Some tips include:
    • Don’t focus on the past,
    • Take the other person’s perspective, and
    • Try to make the teacher’s life easier while advocating for your child.
  • The National Association for Gifted Children has developed an Advocacy Toolkit (https://www.nagc.org/get-involved/advocate-high-ability-learners/advocacy-toolkit) for individuals and groups working to improve gifted education programs and services. They recommend (1) know your information, (2) maximize your impact, and (3) work with the media. They provide detailed information for each of those three steps.
  • The Davidson Institute provides recommended readings about educational advocacy: http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10291.aspx
  • If you would like to learn more about advocating for academic acceleration, the best-researched method for challenging gifted students, consider attending the Belin-Blank Center Advanced Leadership Institute July 24-26, 2016. A portion of the conference will be devoted to effective advocacy as well as policy issues.  The conference will
    • Provide the talking points for your work with administrators
    • Give you the opportunity to talk to people who have “been there,” and
    • Help you to learn about the tools that others have used successfully in their advocacy.

For more information and to register, see: www.belinblank.org/bbali

A One-Day Training Session on Using the Iowa Acceleration Scale

Iowa Acceleration Scale

How do educators and parents make objective, well-thought-out decisions about academic acceleration?  On Sunday, July 24th, you can attend a pre-institute explaining just how to do that!  Learn how to maximize the value of the Iowa Acceleration Scale (3rd edition), a tool designed to help educators and parents make data-driven decisions about academic acceleration. This session will be provided from 2-5 p.m., July 24, on the University of Iowa campus.  Cost = $75.

The Iowa Acceleration Scale is a tool designed to help educators and parents make informed decisions about a grade skip. It helps to move the conversation away from a selective biased recall of specific acceleration stories to a focus on each aspect of students’ development that should be considered. The focus is on:

  • Student ability, aptitude, and achievement
  • School and Academic factors
  • Developmental factors
  • Interpersonal skills

All of these areas receive consideration in the discussion. The Iowa Acceleration Scale is not a test – it is a tool that guides the conversation of the child study team around the topic.

Using an instrument such as the IAS when making this decision helps us to:

  • Separate the people from the problem,
  • Focus on interests, not positions,
  • Generate possibilities before making decisions, and
  • Base results upon objective criteria.

Pre-institute participants are invited to attend the Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute Speakers Reception, Sunday evening, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. Starting the next day, the Belin-Blank Center will provide a two-day Institute (July 25 and 26) focused on the new publication on academic acceleration research and practice, A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students.

For more information and to register for these events, visit:  www.belinblank.org/bbali.

Looking Forward to Discussion and Dessert with the Editors of A Nation Empowered!

Nation Empowered Cover

In July, the Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute at the University of Iowa will focus on academic acceleration, the most under-utilized, yet best-researched educational option for gifted students. The four editors of A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students together have over a century of experience teaching, counseling, researching, and providing programs for gifted students. This two-volume book provides the latest research on academic acceleration as well as stories about individuals who have accelerated and teachers, parents, and others who have been involved with acceleration decisions.

Why are the editors, Drs. Susan Assouline, Nicholas Colangelo, Joyce VanTassel-Baska, and Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik, such passionate advocates for acceleration? At the Institute, you will hear the answer directly from them.  Bring your questions about acceleration, policy, and gifted education, and learn from an interactive session while enjoying a delicious dessert!

For more information and to register, visit:  www.belinblank.org/bbali.

Message from the Director: What’s Wrong With Being Confident?

An appealing refrain plus a catchy tune find their way into our heads and often stick.  This is exactly what happened to me during a recent Zumba class when the refrain, “What’s wrong with being confident” from Demi Lovato’s song “Confident” started. During Zumba, my thoughts are typically absorbed with upcoming Belin-Blank Center programs or events, the director’s message, or a research project.  These thoughts often flit from one to the next and back and forth like a moth in a room with lights on opposite sides of the space.  It’s no big surprise that these simple words, with the subtle, yet profound message, infiltrated my mind.

First I thought about two special events hosted in March.  The month started with the highly successful, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS), at which 13 high school students confidently presented their research findings to an audience of nearly 200 teachers and students from around Iowa and 5 were selected to attend the National JSHS.  We finished March with the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Recognition Ceremony, where Gold Key, Silver Key, and Honorable Mentions from Iowa were recognized for their creativity.

How wonderful to meet these young, talented, creative, and confident students and – for both programs — to have the support from the national offices of these long-running, prestigious recognition programs.

Everything that we do at the Belin-Blank Center is designed to nurture potential and inspire excellence and thereby support the development of self-confidence. We live up to our tagline through well-established programs and service as well as through new, innovative programming:

“Confidence” is a longish song, one reason it’s good for a Zumba warm up!  My thoughts jumped to a current research project, based upon previous Belin-Blank Center research findings that investigated the differences in the attributions boys make for success in math or science compared to girls.

The answer to the research question “What attributions do gifted boys and girls make for success – and failure—in math and science?” was juxtaposed with Lovato’s words and appealing tune: “What’s wrong with being confident?”

The respondents in the study were asked to choose among ability, effort, luck, or task difficulty as attributions for success and failure. Ability and effort were overwhelmingly the two categories selected (these two attributional choices accounted for 75% or more of the responses for success in math or science). However, the two choices with the highest percentages for ability for both math and science varied significantly for boys and girls: 44% of the boys chose ability as their reason for their success in math and 42.5% made the same choice for their success in science. The next highest choice for boys was effort, 32% and 37%, respectively. Girls’ choices, however, varied significantly from boys: 26% of girls chose ability as the attribution for their success in math and 23% chose ability as their attribution for success in science. Nearly twice as many girls (50%) chose effort as their attribution for success in math and more than twice as many (55%) chose effort as their attribution for success in science.

Attributional research is but one facet of the complex topic known broadly as motivation, an area that is extremely important to our understanding of patterns that could impact, positively or negatively, the performance of students. Attribution theory represents a well-researched cognitive model. However, despite its relevance to our understanding of gifted students, attributional research specifically investigating the beliefs that gifted students have for their academic successes and failures has not been thoroughly researched.  Results from the study mentioned above are much more extensive than reported here; however, they are the foundation for a new investigation of attributional choice regarding success and failure from a current generation of students.

For educators and psychologists to be effective in designing curricular or counseling interventions, it is important to know an individual’s motivational mindset. It is also important for society to recognize these mindsets. As we concluded a decade ago, “We see potential negatives for girls [or boys] who do not accurately recognize their academic abilities. They may be more tentative about undertaking challenges or putting themselves in competitive situations” (Assouline et al., 2006, p. 293).

These findings, along with our new research, lead back to the question: What’s wrong with being confident?

A Visual Guide to Middle School IOAPA Courses

With the introduction of our middle school courses in Fall 2015, many students and teachers may still have questions about the types of courses offered by the Iowa Online AP Academy, who these classes might benefit, and how to select students who will be prepared for and challenged by online coursework.

Based on the information and experiences we have gathered so far, we are excited to provide a visual guide to our middle school classes! These data are based on middle school Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) courses taken during the fall 2015 semester.We hope they will be helpful as you and your students consider plans to register for 2016-17 courses through IOAPA.

If you are looking for more information about IOAPA’s middle school classes, check out our past posts on middle school courses and above-level testing, or visit our website. Make sure to check back here soon for our high school courses recap!

IOAPA Fall 2015 MS Data Infographic

 

Do You Want to Know the Ins and Outs of Developing an Acceleration Policy?

If you haven’t already decided to attend the Belin-Blank conference on academic acceleration in July, we have even more compelling reasons for you to register!

One portion of the conference will focus on academic acceleration policies. You’ll have the opportunity to hear from schools, districts, and states with successful acceleration policies. They will share their stories of how they were able to put successful policies in place, as well as what you should consider as you advocate for acceleration in your region.

Speakers include nationally-recognized experts in gifted education policy, including Joyce VanTassel-Baska, as well as state-level experts (Beth Hahn of Ohio, Wendy Behrens of Minnesota, and others).  Other administrators will participate in the discussion, so participants will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of individuals considering the impact of acceleration policies.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the Institute! For more information and to register, visit:  www.belinblank.org/bbali.

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Learn All About Academic Acceleration at the Belin-Blank Conference in July!

The Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute is focusing on Research-Based Evidence about Acceleration and Gifted/Talented Students in July 2016.  The institute will provide attendees with practical information about acceleration, using existing research and tools to help make data-driven decisions.  Participants will have opportunities to learn from educators who have successfully implemented various forms of acceleration.

All Institute participants will receive a copy of the two-volume book, A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, which includes updated information about the best-researched yet most under-utilized educational option for gifted students: academic acceleration.

Speakers who plan to participate include:

Editors of A Nation Empowered:

  • Susan Assouline
  • Nicholas Colangelo
  • Joyce VanTassel-Baska
  • Ann Lupkowski Shoplik

Authors of Chapters in A Nation Empowered:

  • Linda Brody
  • Laurie Croft
  • Megan Foley Nicpon
  • Lori Ihrig
  • Katie McClarty
  • Michelle Muratori
  • Paula Olszewski-Kubilius
  • Susannah Wood

Additional expert speakers:

  • Wendy Behrens
  • Jane Clarenbach
  • Beth Hahn

We are looking forward to seeing you at the Institute! For more information and to register, visit:  www.belinblank.org/bbali.

We’re Impressed

…by the research that high school students presented at the Iowa Regional Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS)!

The finalists (in order) were:

  • Kaylie Wilson – Central Lee High School, Donnellson
  • Manasa Pagadala – Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf
  • Megan Ertl – Beckman Hugh School, Dyersville
  • Rachel Mehmert – Holy Trinity High School, Keosauqua
  • Carl and Maracus Schneider – Beckman High School, Dyersville

Iowa Online AP Academy: Changes Coming to Computer Science

As many of you know, we introduced our first pilot course in Computer Science during this academic school year. Given the number of students interested in computer science, we are excited to expand our offerings to three new Computer Science courses, beginning in the 2016-17 school year through Edhesive (registration will still take place through the Belin-Blank Center’s website). Not only are we expanding our offerings to include middle school students, we are pleased to provide both new AP Computer Science courses:

  • Introduction to Computer Science (one semester, grades 6-9; students must meet IOAPA for MS eligibility guidelines)
  • AP Computer Science Principles (full-year, grades 9-12)
  • AP Computer Science A (full-year, grades 9-12)

What will these courses look like?

Edhesive utilizes a video-based lesson format to present content needed for labs and assignments. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with other students, instructors, and teaching assistants in an online forum for support any day of the week. As with all other Iowa Online AP Academy courses, students will have both an online instructor as well as a classroom mentor (generally a teacher at their school) available at the school for additional in-person support.  Courses should be scheduled as part of the student’s regular school day.  Mentors do not need to have content knowledge in computer science, as they do not deliver course content.  However, all mentors will also receive 24/7 access to Edhesive’s forums and complimentary professional development materials to help them more effectively mentor computer science students.

Why encourage students to take computer science courses?

Computer science opens up a new world, enabling your students to create programs that can make a real impact. If they’ve ever had an idea for a game, an app, or a better way to do something or help people, computer science gives them the tools they need to design, build, and create code and programs that can bring ideas to life. By 2022, it is estimated that there will be over one million open jobs in the US economy that are computer science-related, and that employers will struggle to fill these positions. Check out this video to see why learning to code is so important and how coding will open doors for your children in the future: http://bit.ly/whycodingiscool

How do Edhesive students do on the AP exams?

Last year, students who completed Edhesive’s AP Computer Science A course achieved an average score of a 3.3 on the AP exam, compared to a national average score of 3.09. Scores above 3.0 are considered passing and are eligible for credit at many colleges and universities.

IOAPA registration will open in April. Until then, be talking with your students about whether IOAPA or Computer Science is right for them!

Professional Development Is Always Available

The Belin-Blank Center still has opportunities for professional learning experiences this spring. Two new classes are available, including a two-semester-hour extension class about Cluster Grouping for Gifted Students (EDTL:4096:0EXW) and a one-semester-hour workshop about Personal Learning Plans and the Gifted Student (EDTL:4096:0WKA). Both focus on specific strategies for gifted learners that have strong research support, and both apply to the “Programming” strand for the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement. More information is available at belinblank.org/educators, following the links to “Coursework” and to “Schedule”. Those who are interested in enrolling in these classes should be registered as University of Iowa Continuing Education students (no cost to register); information about registration is is available on the same page, following the links to “Coursework” and to “Register”.

As well, information about summer coursework will be available by March 21. A wide variety of one-semester-hour workshops will be available online, and six classes will have face-to-face meetings on campus during the Belin-Blank Chautauqua on campus the weeks of July 11 and July 18. Participants will have access to university housing during Chautauqua; those who enroll in all three workshops during a Chautauqua week will receive an automatic tuition scholarship for one of the three graduate courses (or two of the six if participating in both weeks). The Belin-Blank Chautauqua takes its name from the adult education experiences of the early 20th century and features the sense of community common in those events. Information about summer will be available at belinblank.org/educators.

Immediately following the Belin-Blank Chautauqua series, the Center will host the Seventh Biennial Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute, showcasing A Nation Empowered: Research-Based Evidence about Acceleration and Gifted/Talented Students.

Whatever your schedule, the Belin-Blank Center has an opportunity for professional development to match!

Become an AP Teacher This Summer (Or Improve Your AP Skills)

Registration for the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute (APTTI) is now open! This week-long summer program aims to provide specialized training to teachers interested in adding to their knowledge about AP coursework. Both new and veteran AP teachers can gain new insight and strategies about teaching AP, establishing AP courses at their high school, and building curriculum in preparation for new AP course audits. This year’s APTTI session will be held July 5-9, 2016, on the University of Iowa campus.

Wondering how to fund this great training opportunity? The College Board provides teachers with several funding opportunities to attend training workshops—check out their website for more information and to apply. APTTI in partnership with IOAPA also provides some funding for Iowa teachers interested in furthering their AP training. Check out our website for more information, including class schedules, instructor information, and to register.

Mark Your Calendar!

We have WINGS coming up on March 5! 

Grades 2-4:

You Scream, I Scream! The Science of Ice Cream

Who doesn’t love ice cream!? Come learn about the science of ice cream, and maybe even get to do some taste testing!

ice cream

 

First Contact

We will learn about the Columbian Exchange! From it came many exciting times but also many consequences. Come learn more!

ship

Grades 4-6:

CSI: Crime Scene Investigators!

Come learn how to be a real crime scene investigator by learning how to lift fingerprints and analyze evidence!

magnifying glass

Slam Poetry

Come create and perform a poetry slam with other young writers!

poet

Grades 6-8:

Two Observational Astronomical Instruments

Interested in learning more about astronomy and creating your own refracting telescope? Sign up to take this class!

 

Visit belinblank.org/WINGS to learn more and register!

Students: Get Your Invention Noticed

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Where can I register my invention?

Go to belinblank.org/inventiowa to register!

What do I need to do register?

Students will need to complete an online registration form. They will also be asked to print a cover sheet to include with their inventor’s log that will be mailed to the Belin-Blank Center.

New this year: Payment will be $20 per invention. For example, if a group of students are working on their invention together they will register one invention as a group.

What’s next?

After inventions go through the adjudication process, students will be notified on March 21 if they will be advancing to the State Invention Convention on May 7.

Then what?

For the first time, students who win at the State Invention Convention level will have the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. to participate in the National Invention Convention at the United States Patent and Trade Office!

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