Category Archives: Professional Development

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APTTI Registration Is Open!

Attention, educators: Are you interested in expanding your school’s AP offerings and developing an AP culture at your school? Come join us on the University of Iowa campus June 26-30, 2018 to become certified to teach an AP course.


We will be offering workshops for AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Physics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, and AP U.S. History. Visit our website to learn more.

APTTI Biology 2017-34

Registration is now open, and financial assistance is available from the College Board, and for Iowa teachers through an IOAPA grant.

We look forward to seeing you this summer!



Financial Assistance for AP Summer Institutes

Though nothing about the current weather suggests that it’s time to start thinking about summer, the quickly-approaching deadlines for the College Board AP Summer Institute scholarships suggest otherwise.


Each year, the College Board offers a number of scholarships to support teachers in attending an 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 further develop their skills, or gain familiarity with a redesigned version of the course (such as the 2018-2019 redesign of AP US Government and Politics). There are APSIs all around the country, including a College Board-approved APSI on the University of Iowa campus (AP Teacher Training Institute;

Scholarships offered by the College Board include the AP Fellows Program for teachers at schools serving minority or low-income students, the AP Rural Fellows Program for teachers at rural schools, the AP Redesign Scholarship for teachers of the AP US Government and Politics course, and the AP Capstone Scholarship for teachers of the AP Capstone course. Additional details and application materials are available on the College Board’s website.

The deadline to apply for these scholarships is February 15, 2018, so if you’re considering attending an AP Summer Institute, apply today!

The AP Teacher Training Institute (APTTI) also offers a grant for Iowa teachers to defray the cost of tuition. See our website for more details.


Spring Into Professional Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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 For questions, please contact

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.

Credit for the NAGC Conference, Best Practices in Differentiation, and More

The Belin-Blank Center still has upcoming professional learning opportunities this fall!

If you attend the National Association for Gifted Children Conference this year in Charlotte, North Carolina (November 9 – 12), the Belin-Blank Center is offering Leadership in Gifted Education: NAGC 2017 for either one or two semester hours of credit; this workshop is offered from November 16 – December 8.  The Center provides an automatic 50% tuition scholarship, applied to the cost of graduate tuition, for those participating in this conference credit.

Our final one-hour workshop this fall is Differentiated Instruction for the Gifted, beginning on November 13 and ending on December 5.  Be sure to share the availability of this workshop with teachers who would benefit from information focused on best practices in differentiating for high-ability learners.

Educators completing their endorsements still have time to sign up for the practicum experience beginning on November 6.

Please visit the in November to see what professional learning opportunities are available this spring; if you have a topic that you would like to see offered, please contact Dr. Laurie Croft at either or  319-335-6148.  And for some of the best informal professional learning in the field today, please join our gifted-teachers listserv.  To subscribe to the list, send an email to LISTSERV@LIST.UIOWA.EDU and, in the text of your message (not the subject line), write: SUBSCRIBE GIFTED-TEACHERS First-Name Last-Name.  You can also join our new Gifted Education and Talent Development Ning, designed to extend the topics discussed on the listserv, for another tool to facilitate professional development in gifted education.