In January 2020, members of the Belin-Blank Center and the Iowa Neuroscience Institute were eagerly preparing for a summer Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality (2e). We planned to invite researchers, clinicians, and educators to the University of Iowa campus to discuss and advance the field of 2e research. Like many other large gatherings scheduled for this year, the COVID-19 pandemic led our team to reimagine the event as a virtual experience. We are excited to invite you to join us online this spring!
The virtual Summit on the Neuroscience of Twice-Exceptionality will occur May 17-18, 2021, and registration is available now! This event aims to advance research in the area of twice-exceptionality by sparking conversation and collaboration across disciplines. Both days will feature presentations from prominent scholars highlighting the potential for collaboration among neuroscience, gifted education, psychology, and special education. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from experts at the Belin-Blank Center, including Dr. Susan Assouline, Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon, and Dr. Alissa Doobay, as well as members of the Iowa Neuroscience Institute, including Dr. Jake Michaelson, Dr. Ted Abel, and Dr. Thomas Nickl Jockschat. We’re also proud to welcome Dr. Sally M. Reis from the University of Connecticut, Dr. James Booth from Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Marjorie Solomon from the University of California-Davis. More information about all of our speakers is available on our website.
Everyone is welcome to register. The content will be most relevant for people interested in learning about research developments on the topic of twice-exceptionality, pursuing or informing future research, and applying research findings to better understand and support twice-exceptional individuals. We hope you will join us for this exciting interdisciplinary event!
Have you heard about Let’s Talk 2e! virtual conference? Launching for FREE on August 19-21, this conference (formerly known as “2 Days of 2e”) is for parents of twice exceptional children to learn about:
Strategies to address and relieve stress
Alternative educational placements
Identifying learning styles
Culturally diverse learners
Strategies to address trauma
Giftedness and Autism
Connecting personality and learning styles
Technology tips for your 2e learner
Launching your 2e child
Gain free access for 24 hours and then the option to purchase an ALL ACCESS PASS, which includes speaker gifts for you, audio files, and a live Q/A session with speakers!
Don’t miss our own Drs. Alissa Doobay, Megan Foley-Nipon, and Katie Schabilion’s session, “Twice Exceptionality: The Intersection of Giftedness and Autism” on August 20. And check out the rest of the incredible line-up below.
We know that times are hard for many students and their families right now. On this #GivingTuesdayNow, we are grateful that the Iowa way is to support each other.
If you are able and would like to help gifted and twice-exceptional students have their unique needs met, please consider donating at belinblank.org/donate. Your support creates life-changing experiences for the next generation of our most promising minds.
Parents and educators are often looking for useful resources in gifted education. We would like to highlight a few. The Davidson Institute’s guidebooks for parents and educators on advocacy, early entrance to college, homeschooling, mentorships, and twice exceptional students can be downloaded for free:
The Belin-Blank Center offers extensive information on academic acceleration in several publications.
A Nation Empowered: An update to the watershed report on acceleration, A Nation Deceived, the 2015 report provides the latest research on acceleration. A Nation Empowered: Volume 1 is written in an accessible format for parents, educators, policymakers, and the general public. A Nation Empowered: Volume 2 provides the research and an in-depth look at topics specific to acceleration, including grade-skipping, early entrance to college, twice exceptional students, and longitudinal research.
A Nation Deceived, Volume 1: Published in 2004, this volume includes an overview of the issues surrounding acceleration for gifted students. The discussion of the myths is still relevant today.
Two resources on twice-exceptional students are also provided by the Belin-Blank Center:
The Hoagies Gifted website provides a somewhat overwhelming list of books in gifted education. We encourage you to visit the page again and again. Hint: start with the books that have a star next to them. Some of those are classics.
Q: Who was Jacob K. Javits and what does he have to do with gifted education?
A: In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed theonly federal legislation for gifted and talented education. It was named in recognition of its primary advocate, Jacob K. Javits, a long-serving Congressman (R-NY, 1947-1954) and Senator (R-NY, 1957-1981). As the National Associated for Gifted Children explains, the “purpose of the Jacob Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act is to orchestrate a coordinated program of scientifically based research, demonstration projects, innovative strategies, and similar activities that build and enhance the ability of elementary and secondary schools to meet the special education needs of gifted and talented students.” Javits grants typically focus on students who are traditionally underrepresented in gifted and talented programs, and the Javits Act provides opportunities to better understand best practices in gifted education.
Q: How does the Javits Act fit into current federal legislation for education?
A: Federal legislation for education has existed for more
than 50 years (first passed in 1965 as the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act, ESEA; currently known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, ESSA). Ten years
later, special education programs became mandatory with the 1975 passage of the
Education for All Handicapped Children Act (re-authorized and re-named the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA, in 1990). The original IDEA
legislation was an essential mandate to ensure that every student had the right
to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.
IDEA protects society’s most vulnerable individuals, which is essential to any
Q: What does ESSA or IDEA have to do with gifted students?
A: Importantly, when the 1990 IDEA was re-authorized in
2004, there was – for the first time – recognition that gifted and talented
children may also have diagnosed disabilities or disorders. These students are
referred to as “twice-exceptional.” Shortly thereafter, when the 2005 request for
proposals for Javits Grants was issued, the Belin-Blank Center and the Iowa
Department of Education submitted a proposal to further investigate a specific
group of underrepresented students, those who are twice-exceptional.
That proposal was funded, thus launching our work in the area of
twice-exceptionality and significantly impacting the field.
Q: Has the Belin-Blank Center been awarded other Javits grants?
A: Yes! We were awarded a second Javits grant in the late
1990s to investigate gifted and talented students attending alternative schools.
Most recently (2017), the Belin-Blank Center and the UI College of Education were
awarded a third
Javits grant to explore the effects of a talent development model along
with a career intervention program on underrepresented gifted students.
Q: How much funding is available from the Javits Act?
A: The short answer is, “not that much.” This is a true statement in absolute terms, as well as relative to other education initiatives. Since 1988, annual funding has varied from $5 million to $12 million, which is about 1 to 2 cents for every $100 spent on education. In 2013, no funding was available and in 2011 and 2012, there were no new awards presented. It is important to know that, even at the modest levels at which monies are allocated, Congress must reauthorize funding for the Javits Act each year.
Every year, the Javits funding is tenuous. However, the impact
of Javits awards on participating students, teachers, and schools is far from
tenuous. We have experienced the positive impact first hand.
In addition to the Javits demonstration and scale-up grants awarded to states, there is periodic funding for a national gifted and talented center. The original Javits legislation funding in 1988 resulted in the establishment of the National Research Center on Gifted and Talented ([NRC/GT]; 1990-2013), housed on the University of Connecticut campus. After the funding was re-established in 2013, the National Center for Research on Gifted Education (NCRGE), also on the University of Connecticut campus, was established. Current Javits funding supports the NCRGE, which offers a prolific research agenda. Most recently, researchers presented an impressive study investigating the (mis)alignment of identification for gifted programming and the content of the programming. This NCRGE research project, in addition to three other relevant projects, was reviewed in a recent Education Week article, “4 Ways Schools Help or Hinder Gifted Students,” by Sarah D. Sparks.
There is no shortage of excellent
research in the field of gifted education, and we are grateful that the Javits
Act has advanced the field in significant ways over the past 31 years. We are
also grateful that we have had a role in that advancement. We look forward to
continuing to contribute to a broad research agenda and collaborating with teachers
to improve programming for gifted students.
Hope springs eternal for continued
funding to support this important research!
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.
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 email@example.com!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org!
A new group has been organized in the I-380 corridor to provide an informational support network to parents and educators of twice-exceptional (2e) learners.
Understood.org has partnered with Amanda Freese to offer monthly meetings that provide information about strength-based advocacy for 2e individuals as well as resources and services related to enrichment academic opportunities and learning and attention challenges.
The group meets on the third Tuesday of each month from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Odd monthly meetings are held in North Liberty and even monthly meetings are held in Cedar Rapids. The April meeting, “Building a 504/IEP Success Binder Workshop,” is scheduled for Tuesday, April 17 at Grant Wood AEA.
To fulfill our mission of “empowering and serving the gifted education community through exemplary leadership in programs, research, and advocacy,” the Belin-Blank Center relies on a 4-D service delivery model:
Discover individuals with high ability in a talent domain;
Other “dissemination” products include the Gifted Child Quarterly special issue on twice-exceptionality, guest edited by Associate Professor Megan Foley Nicpon. Usually a peer-reviewed journal is only accessible to the members of the professional organization; however, through the end of December, NAGC has made the special issue available for free download at http://gcq.sagepub.com/content/current. In addition to the special issue on twice-exceptionality, NAGC has three new books on the core curriculum and gifted students including A Teacher’s Guide to Using the Common Core State Standards with Mathematically Gifted and Advanced Learners, co-authored by Professors Susan K. Johnsen, Gail R. Ryser, and Susan G. Assouline.
Stay tuned for the iBook release of Volume 1 of ANation Deceived as well as the second edition of Packet of Information for Professionals (PIP-2), a comprehensive booklet that addresses the complex learning and socialization needs of high-ability students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a specific learning disorder (SLD), or an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These dissemination products take a great deal of time and energy, but they are well worth the effort because they are so important in fulfilling our mission. None of this would be possible without the tremendous commitment of the team of professionals – our faculty, administrative and clerical staff, and our undergraduate and graduate students. I thank our staff for their dedication to serving high-ability students, their families, and the professionals who serve them.