Category Archives: Summer Programs

AP Summer Institute: Online!

Belin-Blank Center staff members are making plans to host a summer program to prepare teachers to teach Advanced Placement (AP) courses. Those of you who have been following the Belin-Blank Center for some time will remember the professional development program was known as the AP Teacher Training Institute (APTTI). This year, we have a new name! The program is now called the University of Iowa AP Summer Institute, or APSI for short.

The Belin-Blank Center will host our APSI from June 28– July 2, 2021 (Monday through Friday). Classes will meet during the day. All courses will be taught online. Courses will include:

  • Calculus AB
  • Computer Science Principles
  • English Language and Composition
  • English Literature and Composition
  • Human Geography
  • Physics 1
  • Psychology
  • Spanish Language
  • Statistics
  • US Government & Politics
  • US History
  • World History

We are excited to offer APSI online for summer 2021. We look forward to including people from all over the nation in our courses, which will be taught by content experts endorsed by the College Board.

More information can be found here. The new information for 2021 will be updated on the website in the coming weeks.

Summer 2020 Student Programs Update

The Belin-Blank Center is committed to maintaining the safety and well-being of all our visitors and we have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic over the last several weeks. Following the guidance of the University of Iowa and College of Education leadership, we are sad to share that we must cancel many of our 2020 summer programs for K-12 students. After considering guidelines for social distancing, whether families and staff would be able to safely travel and stay on campus, and the protection and wellbeing of minors on campus during a pandemic, we made the difficult decision to cancel much of our summer programming. 

For information about a specific event or program, please check our Emergency Alerts page for further updates.

Photo by Magda Ehlers

We know this is difficult news to hear, and we share your disappointment. We are working hard to create future opportunities for talented students, and their families and teachers, to create community, learn new things, and be supported in their unique needs. Stay tuned! Given this year’s unexpected events, our Summer 2021 programs will be even more special.  

In the meantime, we hope you will stay connected with us through our website, newsletter, and social media channels (@belinblank on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram). If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at summer@belinblank.org.    

We will miss seeing our students this summer, and we hope you stay healthy, safe, and well during this unprecedented time. We look forward to seeing you again soon! 

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.

New 2020 Summer Program for Students!

Two of our previous programs, Blast and the Junior Scholars Institute, have joined forces to create the Junior Scholars Academy (JSA)! Students from 2nd to 8th grade with a deep curiosity, a love of learning, or a lot of talent in a particular area will feel right at home in this program.

JSA is a summer commuter program designed specifically for bright elementary and middle school students who want to thoroughly explore a topic – all while having fun with other kids who share their enthusiasm for learning. Students get to choose one class to focus on all day, for a full week – and these aren’t just any regular classes! With past options like Harry Potter, STEAM, Mixed Media Art, Virtual Reality, Programming (and more!), we’re sure to have something for any curious kid.

Applications open December 15th and will be reviewed by a selection committee composed of Belin-Blank Center faculty and staff. Program acceptance is based on a review of the student’s strengths and interests. The selection committee works to ensure that the class is a good academic fit to nurture the student’s potential. Participation in a school’s gifted education program is not required.

Grade bands for JSA will be 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, 6th-8th, with the structure consisting of four 1-week sessions. Choose any one (or more!) that works best for you:

  • Session 1 is June 15-19
  • Session 2 is June 22-26
  • Session 3 is July 6-10
  • Session 4 is July 13-17

Find more information here: www.belinblank.org/jsa.

Looking for a residential opportunity for 7th and 8th grade students? The Blank Summer Institute (BSI) is a prestigious one-week residential summer program for 120 of Iowa’s most talented 7th- and 8th- grade students, nominated by their schools.

Applications for all of our student summer programs open December 15th at belinblank.org/summer. Please email us at summer@belinblank.org with any questions!


We hope to see you this summer!

How We’re Supporting Academic Talent in Rural Iowa

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation recently published a new report on rural education programs that develop academic talent. The report, “Small Town, Big Talent: Identifying and Supporting Academically Promising Students in Rural Areas”, highlighted the work that is being done across the state of Iowa through the STEM Excellence and Leadership program, administered by the Belin-Blank Center.

The program takes place extracurricularly in rural school districts throughout the state. Teachers identify talented middle-school students with interests in math and science, increase their aspirations, and engage them in advanced, in-depth coursework to prepare them for STEM opportunities at the highest levels.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s report makes the following recommendations for organizations and educators working with rural schools. Here’s how Iowa’s STEM Excellence and Leadership program realizes these 9 ideals. 

  1. Use quantitative testing appropriately. We believe that every child deserves to learn something new every day, including the ones that ace every test. It’s often the case that bright students are ready to learn things beyond the level of the grade they are in—but how can you tell what level would be more appropriate for a particular student? One way, called above-level testing, is to give a younger student a test that was developed for older students. In the STEM Excellence and Leadership program and at the Belin-Blank Center, we use above-level testing to uncover information about a student’s academic abilities and learning needs, helping parents and teachers discover what that student is ready to learn. Learn more.
  2. Use educator and community feedback. The STEM Excellence and Leadership program is grounded in the philosophy of place-based learning and provides support for educators to have agency in shaping their local programs around the needs and interests of their students and communities. This means that each program implements a unique curriculum that leverages local strengths, opportunities, and needs. Local districts have strong voices in their programs, which have incorporated prairie restorations, algebra, rocketry, butterfly gardens, probability, robotics, statistics, and invention conventions.
  3. Use student interviews. We gather feedback from STEM Excellence and Leadership students by visiting classrooms, conducing focus groups, and sending out surveys. Understanding how students experience our programs is key to living up to our ideals and knowing the extent to which we are truly inspiring excellence and nurturing potential.
  4. Pay special attention to underserved populations. Research shows that rural students have fewer STEM educational opportunities, are less likely to attend a four-year college, and less likely to major in STEM than their urban and suburban peers. We believe talent is not bound by zip code and neither should be opportunities for advanced STEM learning.
  5. Expose promising rural students to people and opportunities outside their home communities and connect talented students with older, near-peer role models cultivating a robust peer community. Students who participate in the STEM Excellence and Leadership program come together in the spring to attend a Student Research Conference at the University of Iowa. There, they learn about research conducted by undergraduate students from rural Iowa communities and hear presentations from Iowa high school students conducting original research. Scholarships sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation are also available to support STEM Excellence and Leadership students in attending Belin-Blank Center summer programs, where they spend their days taking a deep dive into a topic of their choice with like-minded peers. Through these summer programs, students have access to valuable university-level resources and experts. They also live in a residence hall with their classmates and get a taste of life as university students. 
  6. When possible, provide consistent engagement throughout the year. STEM Excellence and Leadership is a year-long program with a fall and spring session. With programming before school, after school, on the weekends, and during the summer, STEM Excellence and Leadership programs create bountiful STEM opportunities for rural students throughout the year.
  7. Encourage professional development in schools. A hallmark of the STEM Excellence and Leadership program is that communities of teachers from a variety of disciplines come together to learn about the identification of STEM talent, the needs of gifted learners, and principles of math and science education. Summer professional development programs create communities that understand and support the development advanced STEM learning ecosystems within and across districts.
  8. Provide acceleration and enrichment opportunities. Through administering the STEM Excellence and Leadership program, we are able to support educators across the state in creating STEM ecosystems that provide acceleration and enrichment opportunities for rural students.

We would like to acknowledge the support of the Jack Kent Cook Foundation for a Rural Talent Initiative grant and a Talent Development Award that have supported the implementation of the STEM Excellence and Leadership program and the Student Research Conference. Additionally, a National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning grant supports current STEM Excellence and Leadership programming and research and rural STEM talent 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!

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!

Summer Enrichment for Middle School Students

The Belin-Blank Center specializes in academically talented kids. If you have 6th-8th grade students who show 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 in our Junior Scholars Institute (JSI)! JSI is a summer program designed specifically for bright students who want to take a deep dive into a topic – all while having fun with other middle school 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 regular classes! With options like Archaeology, Women in Engineering,  Mixed Media Art, Leadership for Students Who Want to Make a Difference, Robot Theater (and more!), there’s sure to be something for your inquisitive kids. Class sizes are small, and they take place on the University of Iowa campus, giving students access to valuable university-level resources and experts.

JSI students also get to experience a taste of college life by staying overnight in the dorm with their peers for the week! Plus, they get to hang out with their new friends and attend plenty of fun cultural and recreational activities in the evenings.

We understand that many bright students may also have a disability or impairment that can present behavioral, emotional, social, or learning challenges. Our experts in twice-exceptionality offer specialized social and academic support for these students.

Payment plans and financial aid are available. Participation in your school’s talented and gifted program is not required. If you think JSI sounds like a good fit for any of your students, be sure to recommend that they 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!

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!

7 Tips for a Successful SSTP Application

SSTP Extracurriculars 2017-5

Applications are officially open for the 2019 Secondary Student Training Program at the University of Iowa. The fall break is a perfect time to work on your materials, so here are 6 quick tips for making your application the best it can be!

  1. Once you’ve started your application, write down your username and password! The $75 application fee applies for each application account you start on the portal, so be sure you can log back in when it’s time to finish your application later.
  2. Contact your references now! The application requires two references from you: First, the academic reference, which should come from a teacher who can speak to your abilities in your desired research fields; Second, the character reference, which should come from a mentor who can speak to your character and maturity as a person. We define mentor broadly. Past applicants have chosen teachers, coaches, counselors, pastors, rabbis, etc. Just make sure that your mentor is not a friend or family member. Once your teacher and mentor have agree to provide references on your behalf, enter their email addresses into the appropriate field in your application. We will then email them a few short questions. They have until February 1st to send us their responses. Late references cannot be accepted, and it’s your responsibility to follow up and ensure that your references respond on time.
  3. Start yApp5our essays now! We ask for two separate pieces of writing from you: First, a 750-word essay describing your research interests and background; And second, a 750-word essay explaining why SSTP is a good fit for you. We recommend writing and editing your essays in a separate document and pasting them into the application platform once you’re satisfied with your work. Please bear in mind that the essay fields in the online platform will save your essays as plain text, meaning that your formatting will not be kept.
  4. Carefully consider your desired research areas. In the application, we will ask you for top three research areas, and we include a list of research areas that other SSTP students have used in the past. If you do not see your desired field, that’s fine! You may write in research areas that we have not listed. If you’re not sure what’s available, be sure to check out our virtual poster session on the SSTP website, where you can view past students’ work. Although not every research area you see there will necessarily be available in 2019, what you see can give you a good idea of the kind of research that students have been able to do in the past.
  5. You may only submit one set of test scores. We recommend the SAT, ACT, PSAT, or PLAN, but if you have not taken one of those four tests, you may also submit state-administered standardized test scores. Since you may only submit one set of scores, we strongly advise against submitting SATII subject test scores. If you are a non-native speaker of English, no problem! You do not have to submit TOEFLs scores or any other proof of English ability. Your English results from the SAT, ACT, etc., will suffice.
  6. SSTP Buchholz Lab 2018-1Review the costs of the program. For students applying from within the US, the total costs will add up to $6,270. US students may also apply for financial aid within the online application platform. For students applying from outside the US, however, no financial aid may be awarded. Additionally, students applying from outside the US must pay an additional $550 fee to cover the costs of insurance and two additional nights of room and board, bringing the total costs of the program for international students to $6820.
  7. When you’re done, save your application and leave it is as! There’s no “submit button.” Whatever you have on your application as of February 1st will be what we use to make admission decisions. Until February 1st, you may return to your application and make edits as often as you like. Applications are considered on a non-rolling basis, so there are no advantages to finishing early other than peace of mind and the assurance that your application is complete. You will be able to see at-a-glance what sections still need your attention using the little red lights. Once they all have turned green, you’re all set.

If you have any questions, you can contact us at sstp@belinblank.org. During times of high inquiry volume, it may take us up to two business days to respond to your email, so please contact us sooner rather than later to ensure that you receive your response in a timely manner.

We look forward to seeing your application!

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Scholarships for AP Teachers

The season may be changing, but it is never too late to think of summer! 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.

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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 benefit teachers already teaching AP courses to develop their skills, or gain familiarity with updates to the course.

As deadlines always seem to quickly approach, we want to inform you of the available scholarships that support teachers in attending an APSI. Scholarships offered by the College Board include:

  • AP Fellows Program: For teachers at schools serving minority or low-income students
  • AP Rural Fellows Program: For teachers at rural schools

Additional details and application materials are available on the College Board’s website. The deadline to apply for these scholarships is typically in February, so if you’re considering attending an AP Summer Institute, apply today!

The Iowa Online AP Academy also offers a grant for Iowa teachers to help offset the cost of APTTI registration and attendance. Click here to learn more.

SSTP 2018 is in the Books!

Thursday, July 26th saw the close of the 2018 Secondary Student Training Program at the University of Iowa.

To celebrate a summer of exceptional research, participating students concluded their work by presenting their research in a final poster competition. Represented among the presentations was research from the College of Engineering, the Carver College of Medicine, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to name just a few. Congratulations to all students who presented!

A special congratulations goes out to this year’s valedictory class speaker, Iowa’s own Riley Dejohn, who spent his summer researching physical chemistry in Dr. Alexei Tivanski’s group at the University. Also featured was special guest speaker Dr. Hanna Stevens, professor of psychology and veteran SSTP mentor, who shared her insights gleaned over years of pedagogy during the final banquet dinner.

Thank you to our guest judges from Integrated DNA Technologies, without whom the final poster competition would not have been possible, and to the 2018 SSTP mentors at the University, for all of the guidance and leadership they gave to each student. We know that you have made a huge difference in the lives and careers of these future researchers!

SSTP Group 2018-5

Courses in Gifted Education: Chautauqua (July 9 – 21, 2018)

Chau·tau·qua [SHəˈtôkwə] popular adult education courses

*All are one-semester-hour credits; completion of courses often includes online discussion and/or submission of final projects via ICON

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Ready to Get Started?

  • More details at: belinblank.org/chautauqua
  • New students should follow the link to Register for the directions to apply as a continuing education student (no fee to apply)
  • Classes begin at 9:00 am, ending at 4:00 pm
  • Take 3 classes in one week and receive a full scholarship for 1 class (take 6 over both weeks and receive a full scholarship for 2 classes)
  • Questions? Laurie Croft, Clinical Professor of Gifted Education,  Associate Director for Professional Development (laurie-croft@uiowa.edu)

Summer Social Skills Group for High School Students

The Belin-Blank Center Assessment and Counseling Clinic is offering a social skills group for high ability students who are entering 9th – 12th grade who demonstrate strong intellectual or academic abilities and social skills challenges (possibly due to ASD, anxiety, ADHD, etc.). The goal of the group is to facilitate development of improved social skills and peer relationships through natural social interaction and video modeling techniques.

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There will be 6 group sessions, each 50 minutes in length, conducted on the 5th floor of Blank Honors Center. The group will meet weekly on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m. beginning on Tuesday, July 10, and running through Tuesday, August 14.  The fee is $45 per session, and we do accept BC/BS insurance. We will accept up to 6 students for our summer session.

If you have any questions or would like for your child to participate in this group, please contact alissa-doobay@uiowa.edu.

Register for the AP Teacher Training Institute Soon

With summer just around the corner, now is the time to plan your summer professional development. With so many online and on-campus professional development opportunities available at the Belin-Blank Center, you have many options from which to choose!

If your goal this summer is to expand AP opportunities for students in your schools, consider attending the AP Teacher Training Institute (APTTI) on the University of Iowa campus from June 26-29, 2018. With workshops in Calculus AB, Chemistry, English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, Physics, U.S. Government & Politics, and U.S. History, there’s sure to be a subject of interest to you and your students.

APTTI US History

The goals of APTTI are to provide the necessary skills and knowledge to implement an AP course in your school. New and experienced teachers alike can benefit from the training provided by our fantastic consultants. AP U.S. Government & Politics teachers should especially consider attending an AP Summer Institute like APTTI this summer, with the upcoming redesign of the course rolling out in 2018-2019. Seats are still available in our AP U.S. Government workshop, but they’re filling up quickly, so register soon!

If you have questions about APTTI, visit belinblank.org/aptti or email aptti@belinblank.org. We can’t wait to see you on the UI campus 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 qualified to teach an AP course.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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!

 

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.

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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; www.belinblank.org/aptti).

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.

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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

APTTI 2017 Recap

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

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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!

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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!

More Summer Opportunities For IOAPA Students and Mentors

We know our IOAPA students and mentors are always looking for ways to keep busy and to keep improving their skills. We wanted to offer a few more options of relevant opportunities and events through the Belin-Blank Center.

IOAPA Students
Junior Scholars Institute: One-week, residential summer program on the University of Iowa campus for students in grades 6 through 8. Several classes remain open for enrollment for this summer (June 18-23)! JSI is a self-nomination program open to all students regardless of participation in their school’s talented and gifted program. Students select one advanced level course to take for the week. This year’s course topics include mixed media art, Wonder Woman, engineering, and Robot Theater, among others. Visit the JSI website for more information.

National Scholars Institute: One-week, residential summer program on the University of Iowa campus for students in grades 9 through 11. Much like JSI, NSI is a self-nomination program, so all interested students in grades 9-11 are encouraged to apply! Enrollment is still open for several courses. This summer’s course topics include 3D design and printing, engineering, visual arts, and data science. There are two NSI sessions, and students select one advanced level course per session. Students may choose to participate in one or both sessions. NSI Session 1 occurs July 9-14, 2017, and Session 2 runs July 16-21, 2017. Visit the NSI website for more information.

To see all the Belin-Blank Center summer opportunities for students, visit belinblank.org/summer.

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IOAPA Mentors
AP Teacher Training Institute: One-week program for teachers seeking certification to teach an AP course at their school. This is an especially great opportunity for schools that have offered IOAPA courses in the past, but now wish to expand their on-campus AP offerings. Enrollment is still open for most of our courses, including AP Computer Science, AP English Language and Composition, and AP Physics. To learn more, see last week’s blog post or visit belinblank.org/aptti.

Professional Development: The Belin-Blank Center offers extensive professional development opportunities for teachers in gifted education, with both in-person and online coursework options throughout the summer and during the academic year. IOAPA mentors may be interested in looking into the Chautauqua series, which includes 6 separate workshops over two weeks (June 19 – June 24 and June 26 – July 1, 2017). Additional information about PD opportunities and coursework can be found at belinblank.org/educators.

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Four Weeks Until APTTI 2017

In four short weeks, we will be welcoming teachers to the University of Iowa campus for a week of AP training and fun. There is still time to register and join us!

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All workshops remain open for registration. We are especially excited to offer an AP Computer Science A workshop to aid in local efforts to expand access to computer science instruction for all students. To see all the available workshops, learn about our consultants, and register, visit our website.

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If you teach in Iowa, you may be eligible for a grant to help defray the cost of attending. A limited number of grants are available, so check it out and apply today! Pre-service teachers currently studying at the University of Iowa are also eligible to attend APTTI at a reduced rate. Email aptti@belinblank.org for more information about these options.

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Academic credit and Iowa Licensure Renewal Units are available. These can be applied to a gifted education endorsement, graduate degree, and/or licensure renewal, depending upon the credit option you pursue. Visit our Credit Opportunities page to learn more about the available options and find out how to sign up. We encourage you to complete some or all of the credit application and registration process before arriving on campus. Visit our website for details regarding who to contact with questions. 

We look forward to having you on campus this summer! Share your experiences on Twitter using #APTTI2017.

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.

Join Us For APTTI 2017

Do you want to learn how to teach an AP class? Join us at the AP Teacher Training Institute this summer, June 27-30, 2017, on the University of Iowa campus. This 4-day institute provides comprehensive preparation for developing and teaching an AP course. We are offering 8 classes: AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science A, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Physics 1, and AP US History. You can read letters from our instructors, check out the syllabi, and review the institute schedule on our website.

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Iowa teachers are eligible for a grant from the Iowa Online AP Academy to attend APTTI at a reduced cost. Visit our Financial Assistance page for more information.

For an additional fee, attendees can also earn academic credit and/or Iowa Licensure Renewal Units. Registration for these options is separate from APTTI registration. Further information is available here.

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We had a lot of fun last summer, and we’re looking forward to another great institute! To join us, please visit our Registration page. If you have questions, contact us at aptti@belinblank.org. We can’t wait to see you this summer!

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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.

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Summer Opportunity for Talented Iowa 7th/8th Graders

BSIWe are still accepting nominations for the Blank Summer Institute (BSI)!  BSI is our most selective middle school program, and it’s a great time for talented students to do a deep dive into their favorite subject and connect with peers with similar interests.  Eight exciting classes await your very best and brightest 7th and 8th graders this summer:

  • Math Problem Solving
  • Advanced Science
  • Social Studies
  • Global & Cultural Studies
  • Invention & Innovation
  • Creative Writing
  • Performing Arts
  • Visual Arts

The deadline for completed applications is February 17…so please get the ball rolling for your students as soon as you can! BSI students must be Iowa students and they must be nominated by their school.  Nominating students is easy!  Visit the BSI page and click on the “Nominate a Student” tab.

APTTI Registration Opening January 30

While the snowflakes are flying in Iowa City, think warm thoughts and start making plans to attend this year’s AP Teacher Training Institute (APTTI)! Registration opens Monday, January 30. The institute runs from June 27th to 30th on the University of Iowa campus. This year, we are offering workshops in AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science A, AP English Language & Composition, AP English Literature & Composition, AP Physics 1, and AP US History. (If there’s a course you’d like to see us offer in the future, send the course name to Katie Schabilion at katherine-schabilion@uiowa.edu and we’ll consider adding it in future years.)

Who says teachers can’t have fun, too? Last year’s APTTI included social media giveaways, Twitter competition between science workshops, and a whole lot of learning. Who knows what might happen in 2017!

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Financial assistance is available through IOAPA and through the College Board. College Board scholarship application materials must be submitted by February 15, so don’t wait too long! For more on funding opportunities, visit our website.

To learn more about our workshops, instructors, and schedule, and to register for APTTI 2017, visit www.belinblank.org/aptti. We’d love to see you there!

Message From the Director: It’s Cold Outside

The radio and The Weather Channel are constant reminders that “It’s cold outside.”  However, my colleagues and I are warm inside the Blank Honors Center thanks in large part to the work of the Center conducted on behalf of the students, educators, and families we serve.

The cold weather in Iowa coincides with the end of the calendar year, when it’s typical to reflect upon the previous 12 months.  The dedication of the Belin-Blank Center faculty and staff resulted in several new initiatives, including a board report.  See the colorful and informative 2014-2016 report for a full accounting of the initiatives.

As an added bonus, online readers of the report can meet 12 of the members of the Belin-Blank Center administrative staff through an individual 1-2-minute presentation.  Go to page 14 of the report and click on an administrator’s name to view their video.

Planning for 2017 was also a major aspect of 2016.  This next calendar year will feature several new endeavors in addition to ongoing services and opportunities for students and educators.  Here’s a peek at what we’ve been up to:

  • Extending our reach through a series of podcasts hosted by Belin-Blank Center Director Emeritus Nicholas Colangelo. The first episode of The Window, a podcast about talent development that asks the unanswered questions, will be released in mid-spring.  Keep an eye on our social media for more details.
  • New programming for pre-college students: thanks to generous funding from the Perry Foundation, we established the Perry Research Scholars Institute, a two-week summer program for students in grade eight through ten.
  • Our research agenda continues to grow, and we will be reporting on major findings over the next year.
  • We’re in the midst of creating a new design for our main website.  Look for a cleaner, easier-to-use Belin-Blank Center website in early 2017.
  • We recently opened registration for our 2017 summer programs.

My best wishes to all of you for a happy and healthy 2017, and happy holidays from all of us at the Belin-Blank Center.

JSI Alliant Energy Community Grant

students_for_ae_blogThe Belin-Blank Center is proud to announce a new scholarship opportunity for gifted students. The Alliant Energy Community Grant will provide scholarships for 10 STEM Excellence and Leadership students to attend our Junior Scholars Institute.

As an advocate for education and innovation, Alliant Energy offers a number of scholarships. In less than 20 years, the Alliant Energy Foundation has given nearly $50 million to local communities. We want to thank Alliant Energy for helping us pave the way for gifted education for students in rural Iowa.

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One student from each of our STEM Excellence & Leadership schools will be eligible to receive this grant. STEM Excellence & Leadership, funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, is a unique educational program that helps empower under-resourced rural schools in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Alliant Energy’s generous donation will allow ten 6-8th grade students from these schools to participate in a one-week-long summer program. JSI students take an advanced course and live on the University of Iowa campus in the Honors program residence hall.

Other students interested in attending are also welcome. Registration for this and other summer programs will open December 15, 2016. For more information on the Belin-Blank Center’s summer programs, visit belinblank.org/summer.

To learn more about all of Alliant Energy’s charitable donations and community involvement, visit: http://www.alliantenergy.com/CommunityInvolvement/

APTTI 2017 – Save the Date!

We are so excited to announce the dates for next year’s Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute! APTTI 2017 will take place on the University of Iowa campus June 27th-June 30th, 2017. Registration for the institute is coming soon.

APTTI is a College Board-endorsed AP Summer Institute that provides teachers comprehensive preparation for developing and teaching an AP course. 2017 courses include AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Chemistry, AP Computer Science A, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Physics 1, and AP US History.

For more information, visit our website (belinblank.org/aptti) and check back to the blog for updates on registration and course availability. We hope to see you this summer!

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Message from the Director: Who Are the Gatekeepers for Talent Development?

That was the question roaming through my thoughts with each opening and closing session of our summer pre-college student programs.  For the nearly 1,000 students who attended one or more of our summer programs, each opening session exudes anticipation as the staff and faculty describe the amazing classes and opportunities awaiting the students.  The closings are similarly fulfilling, yet also different, because students, faculty, and summer program staff have spent an intensive week engaged in learning.  The closing sessions are bursting with energy as the students, teachers, and residential staff share their week-long experiences with each other as well as with parents.  The bonds that are formed during the student programs in the summer are unique.  One of the high school students captured the sentiment:

THANK YOU! I have spent 6 of the last 8 summers at Belin-Blank camps and I am so going to miss them. Thank you for all the opportunities, friends, and experiences you have provided me with. I will forever treasure these summers. Thanks again for everything. I love your programs and what you do here.

I never tire of the thrill of being part of a team of professionals that open the talent development gates to young, highly capable students eagerly seeking ways to develop their talents. I also can’t help but wonder about the bright students whose families and schools don’t know about programs like this and thus miss out on the “opportunities, friends, and experiences … [to] forever treasure.”  How can we make programming accessible to them?  Who are the gatekeepers for these students?

Similarly rewarding is the annual experience of opening the talent development gates to educators pursuing professional development.  Over the summer, 183 teachers enrolled in 249 credit hours.  The Center’s concluding on-campus professional development opportunity, the Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute (B-BALI), was truly an opportunity for all attendees to reflect on their role as gatekeepers for talent development in their respective schools, districts, and states.

B-BALI featured expert presentations by several of the A Nation Empowered authors and all of four of the editors (S. Assouline, N. Colangelo, J. VanTassel-Baska, & A. Lupkowski-Shoplik).  Professor Emerita Joyce VanTassel-Baska’s final keynote presentation, “The Individual and Societal Value of Acceleration:  Research, Practice, and Policy,” was as engaging as it was comprehensive.  Professor VanTassel-Baska wove the three strands of the title into an elegant finale that referred to Julian Stanley’s Talent Search Model as the genesis for the various types of accelerative practices that should be available to high-potential students who are ready to learn more advanced material at a faster pace and at a younger age than typically-developing students.

As Professor VanTassel-Baska’s keynote concluded, I realized that the question about gate-keepers really needs to be not “who are the gatekeepers,” but rather, “Are you a gatekeeper for talent development?”  This is a perfect question for the beginning of a new school year.  Educators, now is your chance to open those talent development gates for your students and to support them walking through the gates to the myriad opportunities for developing their talents.

Although developing the talents of our young people is a lifelong journey, the starting point – the gateway activity – for many who are talented in academics starts with participating in the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS).  BESTS incorporates the Talent Search Model.  As models go, the Talent Search Model is elegant in its simplicity.  BESTS is a system of above-level testing that produces results designed to inform high-potential students and their parents and teachers how much acceleration and enrichment students need.

Despite its potency, the Talent Search Model is not widely used in schools.  There are multiple reasons for this, not the least of which is that traditionally the process occurred outside of the school setting.  Although this is still true for 7th – 9th graders, the Belin-Blank Center is expanding the model for 4th – 6th graders.  Now, teachers and parents of high-potential 4th – 6th graders can access  above-level testing through BESTS in their schools, which we call BESTS In-School.

Educators, especially the teachers of 4th – 6th graders in gifted and talented programs, can become the champions of talent development by opening the gates through appropriate acceleration and enrichment opportunities in subject-specific areas (math, science, English/language arts).  It can start with BESTS In-School.

We hope this year is the year that educators and parents will partner with us to open the gates and support high-potential students though this robust model of talent development and/or through one of the myriad opportunities offered by the Belin-Blank Center.

Welcome to #APTTI2016!

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Welcome to all 125 educators joining us this week at the Belin-Blank Center, where you will receive comprehensive preparation for developing and teaching an Advanced Placement course! This week, you will learn about AP updates, discuss teaching strategies, peruse course materials, prepare for your upcoming course, and network with colleagues from near and far.

For those interested, you have an additional opportunity to earn academic credit or Iowa Licensure Renewal Units for your work here at APTTI and beyond.

We hope your week here is productive, and that you leave here with a host of resources that you can put to use this fall. We also hope that you are able to connect with others and be resources to each other! To that end, we have several social media channels where you can connect with those in your own workshop, or in others, as well as with the Belin-Blank Center.

Use the hashtag #APTTI2016 on your favorite social media platforms to connect! Tell us what you’re learning, make dinner plans, or just chat with each other. We will be posting information and watching for questions, using program director, Kristin Flanary’s, Twitter account: @kflanaryIOAPA.

As an added bonus, we will be hosting several giveaways this week! The more you connect, the better your chances to win. You can earn entries by following @kflanaryIOAPA on Twitter, visiting the Belin-Blank Center facebook page, and/or tweeting a message on your own account. Prizes include $25 Amazon.com gift cards, copies of Serving Gifted Students in Rural Settings and A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, a goodie bag full of Hawkeye merchandise, and an Apple TV. Winners must be registered and present at APTTI. Click below for details and to enter to win.

APTTI Giveaways Collage

Have a great week!

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE GIVEAWAY!

Winners will be selected via Rafflecopter.com and be notified by email. Winners will have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. Each winner may win only one prize. Two to five winners will be selected each day from July 5-8, 2016; all winners will be notified by July 9, 2016. Prizes can be picked up at 600 Blank Honors Center, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242 by July 9, 2016.

Message From the Director: Keeping Time

These two words capture the perennial essence of the Belin-Blank Center’s buzz during the summer weeks and months.  Like a world-renowned orchestra, we’ve been rehearsing our opening number for months.  Like a world-renowned orchestra, we have multiple sections (programs for educators, pre-college students, clinic and assessment services, and research).  And, like a world-renowned orchestra, our professionals are extremely talented artists (administrators) who are trained on a variety of instruments. They are poised and ready to strike the first note as soon as the conductor raises the baton.

Why does the “music” of Belin-Blank Center programming sound so rich and fulfilling?  Because we’ve learned to keep time.  We’ve learned how to balance the benefits of exact timing with the nuances of human expression.   The end result is a polished performance that sounds comfortingly familiar, yet offers a new approach through creatively applying a new tempo, a new instrument, or a new combination of notes.

I hope that educators, parents, and students will experience first-hand the joy of the music we make each summer (and throughout the year!).  If you can’t experience the Belin-Blank Center’s summer in person, tune in to our blog, Twitter feed (@belinblank), or check out photos on our website.  Read our newsletter to stay informed about our newest compositions.

At the end of July, the music softens and the tempo slows, but we never completely stop.  We pause just long enough to take a breath, re-tune our instruments and get ready for our fall performance.

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!

Belin-Blank Chautauqua – Back by Popular Demand!

In July, the Belin-Blank Center is hosting another Chautauqua series in Iowa City.  Chautauqua I (July 11-16, including class on Saturday) and Chautauqua II (July 18 – 23, including class on Saturday) will feature six separate one-semester hour classes on campus with additional online components.

Participants may enroll in any one of these workshops. Those who enroll at the graduate level for all three classes in either week—or both—receive an automatic tuition scholarship from the Belin-Blank Center for one of three classes (i.e., three classes for the cost of two; six for the cost of four).

Limited housing will be available at Burge Hall, adjacent to Blank Honors Center, for those enrolling in all three workshops during either Chautauqua. Contact Rachelle Blackwell by email or at 800-336-6463 for registration information.  Single rooms are available for $342 for each week (additional charge of $57 for those staying Sunday between the two weeks) . Reservations, including payment, are due by Monday, June 13, 2016 at 9:00am CDT.

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

The following courses are offered during the two Chautauqua weeks:

Chautauqua I

  • RCE:4119:0WKA Family Issues and Giftedness
  • EDTL:4021:0WKA Science for High Ability Students
  • EDTL:4065:0WKA Social Studies for High Ability

Chautauqua II

  • EDTL:4096:0WKB Topics in Teaching and Learning: Bibliotherapy for the Gifted
  • EDTL:4025:0WKA Differentiated Instruction for the Gifted
  • EPLS:5240:0WKA Topics in Education: Coordinating Gifted and Talented Programs

The Belin-Blank Chautauqua is a part of the extensive opportunities to learn more about gifted education during the summer.  In addition to the six Chautauqua classes, the Center, in collaboration with the University of Iowa College of Education, is offering eight different online classes; all classes apply to one of the strands required for the Talented and Gifted Endorsement.

Credit is also available for the practicum experience in gifted education; the practicum, an individualized experience, requires prior approval before enrollment. Contact Dr. Laurie Croft, Associate Director for Professional Development, for more information.

The Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute, A Nation Empowered: Research-Based Evidence about Acceleration and Gifted/Talented Students, offers an optional semester hour of credit, as well as a 50% tuition scholarship for those who enroll.

The Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute also offers an optional two-semester hour credit, and a 50% tuition scholarship. Iowa Licensure Renewal Units are also possible for either institute.

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.

Get the Latest News from the Belin-Blank Center

Our December newsletter is out, featuring everything from bunny slippers to webinars!

December newsletter

Message from the Director: Thanks a Million x 10!!

Question: What is the result of juxtaposing generosity and inspiration with excellence in programming and collaboration?

Answer: Educational leadership and innovation designed to create outstanding educational experiences for some of the world’s most capable high-school-aged students, all supported through an endowed program made possible with a $10 million dollar commitment to the Belin-Blank Center.

 

In the February newsletter, we’ll have additional details regarding the program and the people who inspired philanthropist Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan to create an endowment for this unique and highly specialized program (formal naming subject to Board of Regents, State of Iowa approval). The endowment will include merit scholarships to students admitted to this specialized program and comprehensive programming to support the scholarship recipients.  Learn more at belinblank.org/academy.

This exciting news is an indescribably incredible welcome to 2016.  While the calendar year is just winding down, 2016 has been a major presence at the Belin-Blank Center since August, when we commenced planning for summer. In fact, it’s not too early for professionals and students to think about this coming summer.

At the same time, it’s not too late for parents to register students for spring 2016 opportunities, including above-level testing through BESTS and enrichment experiences through the Weekend Institute for Gifted Students (WINGS). Likewise, professionals have myriad options for spring professional development, including a webinar on twice-exceptionality and several courses offering from one to three semester hours of credit.

An end-of-year edition of a newsletter would not be complete without an acknowledgement of the highlights from the past 12 months and an expression of gratitude to the people responsible for the highlights as well as the every-day activities, which form the foundation of the center’s programming. My thanks to the Belin-Blank Center’s staff of 14 administrators, 5 secretaries, 19 students (including graduate, practicum, and undergraduate students), 2 faculty partners, and 2 resource staff members. Through our collaborations, we made possible the two-volume publication of A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students; summer programming for 743 pre-college students; the installation of the Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan Gallery; the launch of the STEM Excellence and Leadership program for middle-school students; professional development courses and workshops that resulted in 852 credit hours earned by 572 educators; the creation of I-Excel, an online above-level test for advanced 4th-6th grade students; specialized social-skills groups for high-ability students; and at least 15 paper, poster, round-table, special sessions at the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) conference in Phoenix.

Our founders and benefactors continue to inspire our work with the students and professionals we serve. We look forward to continuing this work into the next year! Happy New Year!!

SSTP Mentor’s Graduate Student Lands a NASA Fellowship

Check out this great story about a graduate student who works with a mentor for the Secondary Student Training Program, one of the Belin-Blank Center’s summer programs.  Congratulations, Jake!

Not only do our mentors guide SSTP students in the summer, but they are also overlooking the work of graduate students in their labs. Randall McEntaffer is an associate physics professor with a research interest in x-ray astronomy and instrumentation. He currently mentors Jake McCoy who has recently received a NASA fellowship. Read more here at Iowa Now!

Source: SSTP Mentor’s Graduate Student Lands a NASA Fellowship

Your Summer Research Adventure Starts Now

SSTP_lab_visits_2015-43 2The Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) connects high-achieving high school students with faculty mentors from the University of Iowa. Through this program, students gain first-hand experience with a faculty mentor’s research during five-and-a-half weeks of the summer. Applications are due February 26th, 2016. Get ready for another fun summer at the Belin-Blank Center!

Check out the SSTP website for more information on SSTP and the application process.

 

Attention, Iowa Middle School Teachers!

BSIThe Blank Summer Institute nomination process will be new and improved this year! We will make the nomination process available to educators in December and it will now be entirely electronic. No more papers to print and no more packages to mail! Nominations will be due March 1st.

Watch our website for more information on how to nominate students in the new system.

Summer is Coming!

summeronthebrain_logoSummer is coming sooner than you might think, so start making plans now! Our Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) begins accepting applications in November and all of our other programs (Blast, BSI, JSI, and NSI) will accept applications in December. Get ready for another fun-filled adventure with a summer at the Belin-Blank Center!

Remember the Performing Robots?

They’re back!  If you’re looking for something fun to do Saturday, October 3rd, come to the Theatre Building on the University of Iowa campus for a 20-minute performance consisting entirely of robots.

A brief Q&A will follow, so if you’re curious about the robots and future opportunities to program them yourself, stick around after the performance.

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Have You Seen Our August Newsletter?

It’s hot off the (virtual) presses and full of updates from the Belin-Blank Center: belinblank.org/newsletter

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