Category Archives: Professional Development

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!

Professional Development Opportunities

The Belin-Blank Center is home to one of the oldest gifted education professional development programs in the country.  The last week in June, 2019, the Center will have educators living on campus and immersing themselves in the field of gifted education and talent development during Belin-Blank Fellowship XXXIX!  For almost 40 years, the Center has been committed to offering the coursework that educators need to earn the required Talented and Gifted Endorsement, but even more, to providing the understandings that make teachers feel much better informed about the nature and needs of gifted/talented learners as the new academic year races toward them. (Where DOES the summer go?)

The Belin-Blank Center TAG Endorsement  program is aligned with the Faculty Standards for Teacher Preparation Programs in Gifted & Talented Education, developed by NAGC to ensure that educators learning about the field participate in research-based classes taught by highly-qualified professionals.  As well, all of our coursework is aligned with the NAGC-CEC Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted and Talented Education and with the Pre-K – Grade 12 Gifted Programming Standards.

The summer opportunities listed below are offered as workshops (with no additional technology or other fees added to the basic tuition); all of these classes that are still available allow educators to focus on specific topics that are beneficial to their gifted and talented learners.  These are described in more detail at belinblank.org/courses:

  • EDTL:5080:0WKA Teacher Training for Advanced Placement Courses, July 1 – 22, is available for those who attend the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute the last week in June; the Center provides a 50% tuition scholarship off the cost of graduate tuition since participants are also paying to attend the College Board-approved summer institute (since teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money on classroom supplies, we try to provide financial assistance whenever we can!)
  • EDTL:4074:0WKA   Differentiation at the Secondary Level, July 8 – 26, emphasizing the importance of differentiation rooted in content areas, including specific strategies to strengthen secondary courses; those who attend APTTI receive the same automatic tuition scholarship for this class;
  • EDTL:4096:0WKF   Topics: Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented:  Mathematics, July 17 – August 6, utilizing a NAGC publication about strengthening standards developed for general education to provide differentiated learning for meaningful experiences in math for advanced learners (participants do NOT need a background in mathematics to understand the needs of their mathematically gifted youth);
  • EDTL:4085:0WKA   Current Readings & Research in Gifted Education,  July 29 – August 16, allowing educators to focus on the topics the most need to master for their students, schools, and districts (the credit may be applied, depending on readings, to the Psychology, Programming, or Administrative strand for endorsement);
  • RCE:4119:0WKA    Family Issues in Giftedness, August 7  – 27, the last of the summer classes, designed to allow teachers to be ready to work with parents in the new school year, better understanding their concerns and planning effective ways to communicate with parents as the school year begins.

The Belin-Blank Chautauqua will begin on July 8, and will provide six classes in a hybrid format that includes two days on campus with online opportunities for reflection, reading, and final projects submitted online.  The Belin-Blank Chautauqua includes three classes in Week I:

These classes are available in Week II:

Those who enroll at the graduate level for all three workshops in either week—or both—receive an automatic tuition scholarship from the Belin-Blank Center for one of three classes (i.e., three workshops for the cost of two; six for the cost of four).  Chautauqua includes a lunch on Friday of each week, provided by the Belin-Blank Center, when participants can enjoy talking with nationally recognized leaders in gifted education. 

We look forward to working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to the needs of gifted and talented learners!

This I Believe

This I Believe is an organization based on both a more recent collection of essays shared on National Public Radio, and on a radio show in the 1950s.  From their website:  “Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division.”

In reviving This I Believe, executive producer Dan Gediman said, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”

Inspired by this idea, Dr. Laurie Croft, our Associate Director for Professional Development, assigned essays on this topic for the Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education class. Over the next few months, with permission, we will share those responses on our blog.


This I Believe 
by Nicole Behrend
Elementary Education major, University of Iowa College of Education, also pursuing the Talented and Gifted Endorsement

I believe education is a tool used to provide individuals with the knowledge to change the world and make it a better place. I think an educational setting is a place for students to learn how to work with peers, engage their critical thinking skills, and prepare them for the future.   Education should be meeting the needs of all children. In education, educators need to differentiate instruction so that gifted students are being challenged to their highest potential. 

In elementary school, I was a TAG student. For 1 hour, 2 days a week, myself and two others from my grade level would meet with the TAG teacher. In the class, I learned things at a faster pace and I was learning things I found interesting. I remember one thing I learned in my TAG class was Braille. Being a young elementary student and learning how to communicate in a way different than what I was used to was such an eye-opener for me. We wrote our names with the special machine and learned how braille was used around the world. After class, I bragged to my friends, family, and parents about what I had learned. 

When I look back at my elementary years, most of the academic topics I remember were from my TAG class. After being a TAG student myself, I know how beneficial it is for students and how they look forward to that attention from the teacher. I want to be the teacher that my TAG teacher was to me. She made learning fun and made me excited. I want to instill enthusiasm about school in my students. I think more than anything, our gifted students need to be motivated to learn; they need to know there is a reason for the process.

Curriculum for gifted students needs to be differentiated to address their individual strengths, talents, needs, interests, and characteristics.

I believe I will have to modify the basic curriculum to meet the needs of my gifted students. I will provide enrichment opportunities to challenge students and allow them to explore areas of interest. I believe gifted and talented students need to be challenged. They need assignments that are modified or accelerated to meet their advanced needs. Gifted students also need to be with students like themselves. Advanced students benefit greatly from being with students of the same ability. To bring out the best potential for gifted students, the basic curriculum will not meet their needs. Gifted students need to explore their interests and the community they live in. 

My role as a gifted educator will be to educate, assist, and encourage my students. I will need to educate my students and their parents on the opportunities and difficulties associated with exceptional students. I will need to assist my students in their learning and opportunities past the school. I will also need to encourage my students to develop creativity, productivity, and leadership skills. Our gifted students need motivation and attention just as much as the typical student, but they also need the modifications to help them continue on the path of high abilities. 

Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented: English/Language Arts

As summer vacation draws closer, we want to remind educators of upcoming online opportunities for professional development!  We have one class underway: Teaching Outside the Lines, focused on Doug Johnson’s book by the same name, thinking about creativity in the schools today.

Our next class is EDTL:4096:0WKB, Topics in Teaching and Learning: Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented: English/Language Arts. This class begins on May 28 and continues through June 17, and it’s an important option for those who collaborate with classroom teachers or include ELA in their gifted programs.  This class helps you conceptualize the alignment of CCSS with classroom activities and assessments—WHILE differentiating the classroom for high-achieving students.  This class will use a book published as a service publication of NAGC’s, and edited by Dr. Joyce VanTassel Baska (Using the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts with Gifted and Advanced Learners) and benefit from the expertise of the instructor, Gwen Livingstone Pokora.

You can read the National Association for Gifted Children’s page about Frequently Asked Questions about the Common Core and Gifted Education and review their main points about aligning standards (even if they’re NOT CCSS and might be a state-based version) to gifted education programming standards.  If you, or administrators and colleagues, wonder about the need for a class like this, review and / or share the NAGC Position Statement about the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards for Gifted and Talented Students.

Some of your schools may still believe that the use of standards has made curriculum more challenging for ALL of your students—meaning the gifted program doesn’t really have to facilitate more challenging curriculum—but we know that’s NOT true.  Perfect your “elevator pitch” with this online only class beginning on May 28 (next week!).

We have two additional ELA-focused workshops as part of our 2019 Belin-Blank Chautauqua.  Chautauqua offers classes that meet for two days on campus, typically providing materials online through our ICON platform, as well as a project uploaded online after the meeting on campus:

EDTL:4096:0WKD Topics:  Writing for High Ability Learners, Jul 12 – 13, on campus;

EDTL:4096:0WKE Topics:  Bibliotherapy for the Gifted, Jul 17 – 18, on campus.

We also are offering another fully online class focused on the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics from Jul 17 – August 6:

EDTL:4096:0WKF Topics:  Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented:  Mathematics.

We welcome you and your colleagues to these and our other very focused professional learning opportunities over the summer! 

You can learn more about these at belinblank.org/educators.  Follow the link to “Register” for information about registering as a Distance and Online Learner (non-degree seeking)—you can even register as an undergraduate with the lower tuition rate of $324 if the graduate tuition won’t help you progress on your salary scale.  The full summer schedule is here:  belinblank.org/educators/courses

Belin-Blank Chautauqua

Chautauqua (Shuh-taw-kwuh) was a popular movement during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; President Teddy Roosevelt called Chautauqua “the most American thing in America.”  Because it focused on adult education through summer classes, it seemed the perfect name for an opportunity for educators of the gifted to get together to complete some of their coursework for the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement.

Chautauqua classes are aligned with national standards in gifted education, including the Pre-K to Grade 12 Gifted Education Programming Standards(essential to ensure best practices in our programs) and the Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education(guiding professional learning goals as beginners—or as practicing professionals). 

The Belin-Blank Center TAG Endorsement program is aligned with the Faculty Standards for Teacher Preparation Programs in Gifted & Talented Education, developed by NAGC to ensure that educators learning about the field participate in research-based classes taught by highly-qualified professionals.

Chautauqua I and II feature an energizing array of one-semester-hour classes and an opportunity to meet face-to-face with colleagues.  Just as we know it’s important for gifted students to have some time to spend with true peers, Chautauqua provides gifted teachers time to spend with their true peers!  You can read more about this opportunity at belinblank.org/chautauqua.

Classes are offered in a “hybrid” format, meeting for two days on campus in Iowa City, and providing additional time online for readings, reflection, and submission of final projects.  Those who enroll at the graduate level for all three workshops in either week—or both—receive an automatic tuition scholarship from the Belin-Blank Center for one of three classes (e.g., three workshops for the cost of two; six for the cost of four).

Chautauqua I (July 8 – 13)

  • EDTL:4096:0WKC    Topics: Design Innovation: Talent Development in the 21st Century, inspiring your awareness of design principles at the heart of the way we live and work so you can ready your gifted learners for the unknowns that their futures will bring;
  • EDTL:4096:0WKD    Topics: Writing for High-Ability Learners, featuring ways to develop creative writing skills among gifted students, enhancing both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills critical for their success in any professional field;
  • EDTL:4072:0WKA    Thinking Skills: Skills for Lifelong Learning, sharpening your awareness of the factors involved in teaching thinking skills;

Chautauqua II (July 15 – 20)

  • RCE:4129:0WKA      Creativity: Issues and Applications in Gifted Education, including an overview of definitions of and activities that serve as catalysts for student creativity;
  • EDTL:4096:0WKE    Topics: Bibliotherapy for the Gifted,  readying  participants to select appropriate materials for students to help them deal with the challenges of growing up gifted (videotherapy is also considered);
  • EPLS:4113:0WKA    Staff Development for Gifted Programs, preparing educators to lead professional development/learning in their own schools and/or districts in order to provide the best programming possible.

Each class is described in more detail at belinblank.org/courses.

Limited housing will be available at Currier Hall, near Blank Honors Center, for those enrolling in all three workshops during either Chautauqua (or both). Contact Rachelle Blackwell by email or at 800-336-6463 for registration information.  Single rooms are available for $312 for Sunday – Friday night (additional charge of $52/night for those staying Saturday and Sunday between the two weeks).  Reservations, including payment, are due by Thursday, June 6th, 2019.

Free music performances are available in downtown Iowa City every Friday evening.  Other extracurricular opportunities will be available for Chautauqua participants.

The Belin-Blank Center also offers the Advanced Placement Summer Institute in Iowa (June 25 – 28), providing teachers the comprehensive preparation required to develop and teach an AP course.  An optional two-semester-hour class, EDTL:5080:0WKA, Teacher Training for Advanced Placement Courses, is available for participants; participants receive an automatic 50% tuition scholarship (based on the cost of graduate tuition); participants can choose to register for two Iowa Licensure Renewal Units as part of their participation. 

In addition to Chautauqua, the Center is offering online only professional learning opportunities throughout the summer, from May through August.  PSQF:4123:0EXW Academic Acceleration is a three-semester-hour class, focused on the most effective but most underused intervention for many gifted learners.  Eight additional one-semester-hour classes are available, each lasting three weeks and focusing on topics significant to your gifted learners.  Details are available at belinblank.org/educators/courses.

We look forward to working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to the needs of gifted and talented learners!

MORE Just-in-time Online Professional Learning for Summer

The Belin-Blank Center is committed to supporting your professional learning needs throughout the year!  We offer classes in a variety of formats, but everything we offer applies to the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement.  We collaborate with many Iowa educators, but we also have the opportunity to work with educators from around the country—and even from other countries!  All of our classes are aligned with national standards in gifted education, including the Pre-K to Grade 12 Gifted Education Programming Standards(essential to ensure best practices in our programs) and the Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education(guiding professional learning goals as beginners—or as practicing professionals).

The Belin-Blank Center TAG Endorsement program is aligned with the Faculty Standards for Teacher Preparation Programs in Gifted & Talented Education, developed by NAGC to ensure that educators learning about the field participate in research-based classes taught by highly-qualified professionals.

We have classes available for those working on their endorsement, addressing the required strands—or for those who just want to add to their “professional toolkits.” For the summer schedule, we offer an array of opportunities to ensure that anyone new to gifted education can begin their position in the fall with confidence, and to allow the most experienced teacher of the gifted to choose from the wide variety of choices that we offer, strengthening gifted programs in the school and/or the district.

This summer, Dr. Ann Lupkowski Shoplik will offer the newly revised PSQF:4123:0EXW Academic Acceleration, from June 10 – August 1. This three-semester-hour class ensures that educators of the gifted understand the powerful research underpinning acceleration as one of the most important strategies for high-ability learners, are aware of the multiple types of acceleration available, reflect on the reasons why many teachers hold negative attitudes, and have confidence in implementing acceleration in their schools.

The summer opportunities below are one-semester-hour workshops; these classes allow educators to focus on specific topics that are beneficial to their gifted and talented learners. These are described in more detail at belinblank.org/courses:

  • EDTL:4096:0WKA   Topics: Teaching Outside the Lines, exploring the book by the same name to enhance creativity in the classroom;
  • EDTL:4096:0WKB   Topics: Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented:  English Language Art, utilizing a NAGC publication about  strengthening standards developed for general education to provide differentiated learning for meaningful experiences in ELA for advanced learners;
  • EDTL:4029:0WKA   Leadership Skills for G/T Students, K – 12, focusing on developing leadership skills (one of the categories referenced in the definition of “gifted” in Iowa and many other states);
  • RCE:4125:0WKA    Counseling and Psychological Needs of the Gifted, essential for understanding unique student concerns about socio-emotional development, career development, and attitudes toward achievement;
  • EDTL:4074:0WKA   Differentiation at the Secondary Level, emphasizing the importance of differentiation rooted in content areas, including specific strategies to strengthen secondary courses;
  • EDTL:4096:0WKF   Topics:  Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented:  Mathematics, utilizing a NAGC publication about strengthening standards developed for general education to provide differentiated learning for meaningful experiences in math for advanced learners (participants do NOT need a background in mathematics to understand the needs of their mathematically gifted youth);
  • EDTL:4085:0WKA   Current Readings & Research in Gifted Education, allowing educators to focus on the topics the most need to master for their students, schools, and districts (the credit may be applied, depending on readings, to the Psychology, Programming, or Administrative strand for endorsement);
  • RCE:4119:0WKA    Family Issues in Giftedness, the last of the summer classes, designed to allow teachers to be ready to work with parents in the new school year, better understanding their concerns and planning effective ways to communicate with parents as the school year begins.

The Belin-Blank Center also offers six classes in a hybrid format that includes two days on campus with online opportunities for reflection, reading, and final projects submitted online.  You’ll find more about these at our page about the Belin-Blank Chautauqua (belinblank.org/chautauqua) in July.

We look forward to working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to the needs of gifted and talented learners!

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.