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!

Need a Last-Minute Summer PD Opportunity?

PD in Science 2014.jpgThe Belin-Blank Center still has professional development opportunities for educators available this summer!

See the schedule (in chronological order) and learn more about getting registered for any of the remaining opportunities this summer.

If you’re thinking about professional learning for the fall semester, we’ll be updating our the link above in late July with the fall schedule.

New for 2017-2018: Environmental Science Classes

We are thrilled to present IOAPA’s newest offerings, available now for Fall 2017 registration: AP Environmental Science for high school students and Environmental Science for middle schoolers.

High school students can register for AP Environmental Science to learn about the natural world, identify environmental problems, and examine solutions for resolving and preventing them (College Board). Suggested prerequisites include two years of lab science courses (one year each of life science and physical science) and one year of algebra. This is a two-semester, lab science course, and required materials can be found here. Learn more about this course from Apex Learning.

Students in 6th through 8th grade can enroll in Environmental Science to explore the biosphere, the environment in which organisms live on Earth. This is a two-semester course, and there are no recommended prerequisites. This course includes a lab component, and students and mentors can choose to complete “dry” labs, which do not require additional materials, or “hands-on” labs, which require materials listed here.

For more information and to see all of our course offerings, visit belinblank.org/ioapa.

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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.

Summer Activities for IOAPA Students

The end of the school year is upon us! Summer is a time for fun and relaxation, but some IOAPA students may also be searching for intellectually stimulating activities to occupy their free time. Here are some ideas:

Participate in summer enrichment activities such as Blast (Iowa City, Ankeny, and Waukee; open to students through 6th grade), Summer of Learning (West Des Moines Community Schools; opportunities for all grades), or Summer Enriched & Accelerated Learning (Sioux City; open to high-ability students entering grades 1 through 9). Your school or Area Education Agency may have more ideas of local opportunities.

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Engage in volunteer opportunities in your community. Volunteer work can strengthen college and job applications, and it has social and psychological benefits for both the volunteers and the people and communities they serve.

Read for fun, read the news, read alone or with friends or family. Reading helps expand your vocabulary and build your analytical skills. The Iowa Reading Research Center offers resources for promoting literacy development and Hoagies Gifted Education Page offers reading lists for gifted students. Public libraries often offer summer reading programs for students of all ages.

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Learn something new like a skill you’ve always wanted to master. There are free online tutorials for almost anything, and it’s a great way to challenge your brain to operate in a different way.

How do you plan to spend your summer? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @belinblankIOAPA!

 

I-Excel Testing Session for 4th-6th Graders at University of Iowa

BBC students outsideAre you thinking about having your high-ability student take I-Excel?  The Belin-Blank Center is hosting a testing session on the University of Iowa campus on June 12th.

I-Excel is considered an above-level test. It contains 8th grade content, but it is administered to high-ability 4th – 6th graders.  Students scoring at the 95th percentile or higher on any subject of the grade-level test (such as the Iowa Assessments) have reached the ceiling of that test.  An above-level test raises the ceiling, measures the student’s aptitudes more accurately, and can inform parents and educators about readiness for advanced curriculum.   More information and a video about above-level testing can be found at this link.

I-Excel is a test of 8th grade content, which provides a challenge for talented 4th-6th graders.  This test enables students to demonstrate their academic strengths in math, science, English, and reading.  The results of an above-level test tell us what students are ready to learn, which can help parents and educators make appropriate curriculum modifications and programming.  Outstanding individual scorers will be recognized in a formal recognition ceremony at the University of Iowa.  Families receive above-level test score reports and an extensive interpretation of results. This interpretation includes recommendations for curriculum readiness.  More information about I-Excel can be found here.

The next testing session on the University of Iowa campus is June 12th, and students may register here.  Check-in begins at 12:30, and testing will conclude around 3:00 p.m. The cost is $65. A few weeks before the test, we will send more details to students who have signed up.

Students unable to participate in the testing session at the University of Iowa can still take I-Excel testing this school year. See detailed information about Individual Testing, which can be arranged at a convenient location and time.  The deadline for testing this is June 10th, and testing will resume again in the fall.  If you have any questions, email us at assessment@belinblank.org.