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.
Thanks to Gerald Aungst, Curiosity Engineer (@GeraldAungst, www.geraldaungst.com) for writing this guest post.
Parents have many questions while raising a gifted child. Some seek advice about perfectionism.
Many sources, including some psychologists and the National Association for Gifted Children, refer to two types of perfectionism: “healthy” and “unhealthy.” The healthy type, sometimes called adaptive perfectionism, describes people who consistently pursue excellence and persist in reaching those goals. Greenspon (2000) argues, though, that this isn’t actually perfectionism because those people aren’t seeking perfection. Instead, their behavior may be better described as perseverance, high achievement, and having high standards.
Although it is often listed as a common characteristic of giftedness, research has failed to find a link; in general, perfectionism is as likely to appear in both gifted and non-gifted populations (Pyryt, 2004). It is still worth understanding perfectionism and asking how to support and help gifted children who are perfectionists.
Characteristics of perfectionism
Though perfectionism can manifest differently in different children, there are a few common characteristics:
Perceived conditional acceptance
Perfectionists believe their worth as a person hinges on their ability to perform perfectly. They cannot see their own worth and accept themselves only if they are perfect. This leads to a dichotomy: the child and their work is either perfect, or it is worthless.
Perfectionists can feel intimidated by the need to complete the task perfectly, so they delay or avoid it.
No satisfaction from achievement
Since perfection is not actually achievable, perfectionists gain no satisfaction from real achievements. It doesn’t matter how well they perform or what they accomplish; the child believes their work is never good enough.
Transforming desires (wants) into demands (musts)
When perfectionists want to do something well, they interpret that as a requirement to perform perfectly. This can lead to a compulsive drive to succeed. Perfectionists may also feel guilty if they are not constantly working. There is no downtime.
Research suggests several things that can help. Perfectionism is not a disease or disorder. It is a mindset and belief system. Changing this mindset takes time and persistence. Steady, consistent, patient guidance from parents and others over the long term is the most effective course.
Don’t tell them how to be
“Telling a perfectionist not to be so hard on him- or herself may make logical sense; what he or she is likely to hear, however, is the criticism that he or she has not been a good enough perfectionist” (Greenspon, 2000, p. 206). Remember that they already believe their worth in your eyes is tied to their perfection, so directly telling them what to do or not do will be perceived through that filter.
Recognize that perfectionism isn’t a positive trait
Perfectionism doesn’t necessarily result in high performance. Perfectionism can impede productivity through procrastination and learned helplessness (Ullrich, 2013).
To turn around a perfectionist child’s self-perception requires the adults around that child to build an affirming environment:
Point out your own imperfections and failures, modeling how to persist and feel valued even when you do not succeed.
Emphasize effort and process, not end results.
Give affection, support, and encouragement liberally regardless of whether goals are met; withholding these can promote perfectionism.
Help children set realistic expectations
Perfectionists have unrealistic expectations for themselves. They set goals beyond their capabilities.
Avoid setting high standards that are non-negotiable. Show children how expectations can change when circumstances change.
Know when good enough is good enough. Teach children how to recognize that it is time to be done and move on.
Teach children to allocate their time based on the importance of an assignment; perfectionists will spend large amounts of time on a low-value or small task just to keep fine tuning it.
Change the goal. Instead of an end-product, focus on improvement and enjoyment.
Study lives of successful people
Though successful people may seem to be models of perfection, help children to learn that most successful people have flaws and failures in their lives.
Perfectionism is a challenge, but with perseverance and support from adults, a perfectionist child can learn to see their inherent worth and that they do not need to be perfect to make a valuable and meaningful contribution to their world.
Greenspon, T. S. (2000). “Healthy perfectionism” is an oxymoron! Reflections on the psychology of perfectionism and the sociology of science. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 11(4), p. 197-208.
Congratulations to 6-year-old Charles Smith (Ottumwa Community School District) for his appearance on Good Morning America! Charles is a winner of our 2019 Invent Iowa competition who went on to win 1st place in his grade level at the National Invention Convention!
Charles invented the Benge Beacon, a device to help firefighters find the exits in a smoky house. See his invention in action and watch his national television debut! (Trust us, you won’t regret it.)
Charles also won $5,000 in seed money and a mentorship opportunity with entrepreneur Chelsea Hirschhorn through the SSK Kidventor $25,000 giveaway! 🤩 (Watch the announcement here: https://gma.abc/2O3XmJW)
The fall semester has flown by, and it’s almost 2020! Happy holidays and we hope you are looking forward to exciting opportunities in the new year. Goethe has a quote that seems so appropriate for a new year: Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.
Over the short winter break (December 30 – January 17, 2020), educators and/or parents can take advantage of one of our most useful classes entitled Current Readings and Research in Gifted Education (EDTL:4085:0WKA)!
As the title suggests, this is your opportunity to read that book you’ve heard about (or at least several chapters of that book, since a one-semester-hour class requires only about 150 – 175 pages of readings). NAGC has awarded three 2019 book awards:
Scholar Talent Development as a Framework for Gifted Education: Implications for Best Practices and Applications in Schools (Prufrock Academic Press) by Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, Rena F. Subotnik, and Frank C. Worrell
Practitioner A Teacher’s Guide to Flexible Grouping and Collaborative Learning (Free Spirit Publishing) by Dina Brulles and Karen L. Brown
Parent/Caregiver Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World (Workman Publishing) by Deborah Reber
If you attended a state conference or the national convention, you might have heard about other materials that would help you better advocate for or meet the needs of your own advanced learner(s).
You can also read research-based articles for this credit; we give you the tips you need to find your own journal articles (and while you are enrolled for credit, you have full access to all the online materials in the University of Iowa libraries!). We can also help you find the most useful materials on a topic of importance to you (e.g., how to support twice-exceptional learners, or what articles would be most helpful to you for that upcoming professional development session you’re providing at your school later in January).
To participate in our classes, you must register with Distance and Online Education as a non-degree seeking student; for the State of Iowa Endorsement in Talented and Gifted Education, you may register as either a graduate or undergraduate student, regardless of your professional status; if you won’t benefit in other ways from the graduate credit, you can save tuition dollars. Once you have your HawkID and password, you can follow the directions to register for the courses that interest you the most; follow belinblank.org/educators/reg.
All of our classes fulfill strands required for endorsement. All will help you better understand important issues in the field. Billy Wilder, journalist, screenwriter, and filmmaker, is given credit for saying, “Hindsight is always 20 : 20.” Let’s plan ahead for 2020, identifying and implementing best practices for gifted children.
A parent recently told us about her child’s teacher, who confidently stated, “Well, you know the research tells us that it’s a really bad idea for kids to start kindergarten early.” Another parent said that the climate at his children’s school is unsupportive of acceleration. When approached about the possibility of subject acceleration or grade acceleration, the principal simply said, “Kids who accelerate don’t fit in.”
Those of us who have read (and done some of) the research want to jump into those conversations with both feet, summarize 70 years of research, and demand accelerative opportunities for the children. This isn’t necessarily the best approach. Being an advocate for our children might mean introducing information slowly or finding ways to inform educators other than forcefully giving them a list of the “Top Ten Reasons My Child Should be Allowed to Accelerate.”
One important thing to mention up front is that, in general,
educators simply are uninformed about acceleration. Believe it or not, even in
graduate programs in gifted education, students don’t necessarily learn about the
research and tools for acceleration, let alone how to practice acceleration in
schools. Regular education teachers and administrators spend very little time
in their undergraduate courses learning about gifted students, and even less
time studying acceleration. All of this means that you, the parent, might be
better informed than the educator sitting in front of you. It also means that
the educator sitting in front of you might, with every good intention, believe that
certain myths about acceleration are true.
Get ready. You might have to learn the information on your own, and you might be the one teaching your teachers and administrators about acceleration. Fear not! There are lots of tools to help you with this:
Learn the facts. Research tells us that acceleration is often the most appropriate avenue for helping academically talented students find a match between their abilities and the curriculum available at their school. The Belin-Blank Center’s Acceleration Institute gathers the important research and information about acceleration in one place. Research articles, practical advice, video stories – it’s all there. Other great places to find information include the Hoagies Gifted website and the Davidson Institute website.
Share what you have learned. Volume 1 of A Nation Empowered and Volume 1 of A Nation Deceived are both very approachable resources that a busy administrator or teacher can read quickly. You can download both of those documents for free from the websites linked above. If you want even more information about the research, read Volume 2 of A Nation Empowered.
Be reassured that there are objective tools that can help us know when it is appropriate to accelerate a student. You don’t have to make the decision about a grade skip or subject acceleration based on a “gut feeling.” The Iowa Acceleration Scale was designed to help families and educators work together to gather information, discuss important factors, and make an informed decision about a grade skip. Above-level testing is the essential tool for making decisions about subject acceleration.
Advocacy might also mean helping to write policy for your school or district. First, a caution: Policy work takes a long time. If you are trying to solve a problem for your child, focus on your child and the issues that are pertinent to your child. Don’t try to solve everything for everyone. Leave the policy for another day. However, if you are in a position to help make things better for future students, this might be the time to have those policy discussions. The Belin-Blank Center and the National Association for Gifted Children produced a helpful document last year on Developing Academic Acceleration Policies. This should help you get started on writing defensible policies for acceleration.
OK. It may seem like a lot but have courage. You have the tools, you have the information, and you can be an effective advocate for your child’s acceleration. Go for it!
This is another example of an assignment completed for the Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education class, based on “This I Believe,” an organization that builds on essays published by National Public Radio, and the thoughts captured during a radio show in the 1950s hosted by Edward R. Morrow. From their Website: Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division.
In reviving This I Believe, executive producer Dan Gediman said, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”
I believe all students deserve to feel like they are cared for and respected while they are learning to their highest potential. Students deserve to come to school each day knowing the people in the school believe they are capable of succeeding in academics and in life, in general. I believe educators should show up to work every day with a fire ignited inside them for their plan to help make the world a better place by educating the future within their classrooms. Growing up, my dad was my principal from K-6th grade. For this reason, I don’t think anything will ever feel more significant to me as an educator than striving to make students feel like school is a second home to them where they are cared for and appreciated.
Education is the foundation for future success, and it is
important for educators to provide the best curriculum for the students who
enter their buildings. Parents and guardians trust educators to provide what it
best for their children, and we need to do that by being flexible and attentive
to the needs of the individual students in our classrooms.
Although the needs of the gifted are tremendous, my hope is to continue to push students within the classroom so that all individuals believe they are gifted and capable of reaching goals they never imagined possible. The passion for education and learning is something educators and high-ability students should be proud of sharing with others around them. It is important to take this passion and energy and turn it into motivation for challenging tasks to create resilient, life-long learners. I definitely want all students to continue to feel like they are capable learners, but I also want to challenge my high-ability students. I want them to reach the point where parts of school are challenging to them now because they shouldn’t have to wait until later in their academic careers to face academic challenges. They need to be prepared for success beyond high school by facing challenges head on with the support of teachers. School shouldn’t be wasted time. It should be challenging and spark new ideas every single day. A child should never end a day of school feeling like they didn’t learn anything.
It can sometimes be hard or feel overwhelming for
teachers to meet the needs of everyone in their classrooms, but it is important
for teachers to lean on each other for support and build a foundation of
educators who strive to empower. There will always be controversial topics
about what is the right or wrong thing to do or teach students who are talented
and gifted, but teachers need to trust in the abilities of their students and
always support them as they grow and develop into world changers.
My role as a teacher of all students, including those
labeled gifted and those not, will be to spread my passion and desire to be a
lifelong learner onto others in the hopes that my excitement lights a spark
within them to go and change the world someday.
The Belin-Blank Center is offering a new book study this fall for one semester hour, available online from September 10 – 30 and taught by Dr. Kimberley Chandler. Effective Curriculum for Underserved Gifted Students, reviewing the book by the same name, helps educators better understand essential elements of curriculum design and delivery for gifted students. Importantly, at a time when gifted programs are attempting to identify traditionally underserved students, the class will explain the need for a differentiated curriculum for typically underrepresented students, including children of poverty and those who are from culturally and linguistically diverse populations. Students will develop confidence in using practical, evidence-based strategies with high-ability learners.
Dr. Chandler noted that “This book study will help to bridge research and practice through examining effective strategies gleaned from various studies conducted with underserved populations.”
This is a second example of an assignment completed for the Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education class, based on “This I Believe,” an organization that builds on essays published by National Public Radio, and the thoughts captured during a radio show in the 1950s hosted by Edward R. Morrow. From their Website: Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division.
In reviving This I Believe, executive producer Dan
Gediman said, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same
beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more
difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”
To read the first post in this series, click here.
I believe in believing in your students. I believe as educators we have many roles and responsibilities, we have at school for students of such diverse backgrounds and home life. The role I believe that connects us to our students, not only in teaching and instructing, is building relationships with our students.
All my life I always knew what I wanted to be a teacher. My mom would encourage me and say I would make a good teacher as I gave my younger brothers instructions and always made them be my students when I played school. I think it was a nice way of saying I was a “bossy” sister. Neither of my parents graduated high school, so they believed in me and supported my dream. When I was in high school, just to be sure that education was the route I would take after high school, I took a couple of business classes and I was in a co-op class for Business Professionals of America. I did the books and accounting for a local salon. I remember one of my teachers asked what I wanted to be, which a teacher had never asked me before in school. I responded proudly that I wanted to be a teacher. She smiled and responded that I would make a good secretary and walked away. I was crushed because as a teenager and student, you want your teachers to believe in you. I was an average student and had to work hard for my grades. I was a bit crushed and wondered if college and my dream of being a teacher would be attainable. Because I had a strong support system at home and I believed in myself…I became a teacher.
This is why I believe in believing in students.
Believing in their abilities, believing in their contributions, believing in their dreams, believing that we can get them one step closer and guiding them there.
I believe in knowing our students’ abilities whether it is a disability to our talented and gifted. What I don’t believe is that the talented and gifted are getting what they need in a pull out program once or twice a week in just the subjects of math and reading but also incorporating the arts. We are motivators, encouragers, and believers in our students from the toughest of students to the most talented and gifted. I believe our responsibility is a great one, but a rewarding one knowing we did our best in providing an education and built a relationship. I choose to believe in believing in students by knowing their abilities, learning styles, and interest so that I can challenge their strengths as well as work on what they need to progress in while building a relationship and providing a culturally responsive classroom.
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.
This I Believe is an organization based on both a more recent collection of essays shared on National Public Radio, and on a radio show in the 1950s. From their website: “Each day, Americans gathered by their radios to hear compelling essays from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Helen Keller, and Harry Truman as well as corporate leaders, cab drivers, scientists, and secretaries—anyone able to distill into a few minutes the guiding principles by which they lived. These essayists’ words brought comfort and inspiration to a country worried about the Cold War, McCarthyism, and racial division.”
In reviving This I Believe, executive producer Dan Gediman said, “The goal is not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.”
Inspired by this idea, Dr. Laurie Croft, our Associate Director for Professional Development, assigned essays on this topic for the Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education class. Over the next few months, with permission, we will share those responses on our blog.
This I Believe by Nicole Behrend Elementary Education major, University of Iowa College of Education, also pursuing the Talented and Gifted Endorsement
I believe education is a tool used to provide individuals with the knowledge to change the world and make it a better place. I think an educational setting is a place for students to learn how to work with peers, engage their critical thinking skills, and prepare them for the future. Education should be meeting the needs of all children. In education, educators need to differentiate instruction so that gifted students are being challenged to their highest potential.
In elementary school, I was a TAG student. For 1 hour, 2 days a week, myself and two others from my grade level would meet with the TAG teacher. In the class, I learned things at a faster pace and I was learning things I found interesting. I remember one thing I learned in my TAG class was Braille. Being a young elementary student and learning how to communicate in a way different than what I was used to was such an eye-opener for me. We wrote our names with the special machine and learned how braille was used around the world. After class, I bragged to my friends, family, and parents about what I had learned.
When I look back at my elementary years, most of the academic topics I remember were from my TAG class. After being a TAG student myself, I know how beneficial it is for students and how they look forward to that attention from the teacher. I want to be the teacher that my TAG teacher was to me. She made learning fun and made me excited. I want to instill enthusiasm about school in my students. I think more than anything, our gifted students need to be motivated to learn; they need to know there is a reason for the process.
Curriculum for gifted students needs to be differentiated to address their individual strengths, talents, needs, interests, and characteristics.
I believe I will have to modify the basic curriculum to meet the needs of my gifted students. I will provide enrichment opportunities to challenge students and allow them to explore areas of interest. I believe gifted and talented students need to be challenged. They need assignments that are modified or accelerated to meet their advanced needs. Gifted students also need to be with students like themselves. Advanced students benefit greatly from being with students of the same ability. To bring out the best potential for gifted students, the basic curriculum will not meet their needs. Gifted students need to explore their interests and the community they live in.
My role as a gifted educator will be to educate, assist, and encourage my students. I will need to educate my students and their parents on the opportunities and difficulties associated with exceptional students. I will need to assist my students in their learning and opportunities past the school. I will also need to encourage my students to develop creativity, productivity, and leadership skills. Our gifted students need motivation and attention just as much as the typical student, but they also need the modifications to help them continue on the path of high abilities.
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!
Chautauqua I and II
feature an energizing array of one-semester-hour classes and an opportunity to
meet face-to-face with colleagues. Just
as we know it’s important for gifted students to have some time to spend with
true peers, Chautauqua provides gifted teachers time to spend with their
true peers! You can read more about this
opportunity at belinblank.org/chautauqua.
Classes are offered in a “hybrid” format, meeting for two days on
campus in Iowa City, and providing additional time online for readings,
reflection, and submission of final projects.
enroll at the graduate level for all three workshops in either week—or both—receive
an automatic tuition scholarship
from the Belin-Blank Center for one of three classes (e.g., three workshops for
the cost of two; six for the cost of four).
(July 8 – 13)
Design Innovation: Talent Development in the 21st Century, inspiring
your awareness of design principles at the heart of the way we live and work so
you can ready your gifted learners for the unknowns that their futures will
Writing for High-Ability Learners,
featuring ways to develop creative writing skills among gifted students,
enhancing both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills critical for their
success in any professional field;
Skills: Skills for Lifelong Learning, sharpening your awareness of the
factors involved in teaching thinking skills;
Chautauqua II (July
15 – 20)
Issues and Applications in Gifted Education, including an overview of
definitions of and activities that serve as catalysts for student creativity;
Bibliotherapy for the Gifted,
readying participants to select appropriate
materials for students to help them deal with the challenges of growing up
gifted (videotherapy is also considered);
Development for Gifted Programs, preparing educators to lead
professional development/learning in their own schools and/or districts in
order to provide the best programming possible.
Limited housing will be available at Currier Hall, near Blank Honors Center, for those enrolling in all
three workshops during either Chautauqua (or both). Contact Rachelle Blackwell by email or
at 800-336-6463 for registration information. Single rooms are available for $312 for Sunday
– Friday night (additional charge of $52/night for those staying Saturday and
Sunday between the two weeks). Reservations, including payment, are due by
Thursday, June 6th, 2019.
Free music performances are available in downtown Iowa City every Friday
evening. Other extracurricular
opportunities will be available for Chautauqua participants.
The Belin-Blank Center
also offers the Advanced
Placement Summer Institute in Iowa (June 25 – 28), providing teachers the
comprehensive preparation required to develop and teach an AP course. An optional two-semester-hour class,
EDTL:5080:0WKA, Teacher Training for Advanced Placement Courses, is available
for participants; participants receive an automatic
50% tuition scholarship (based on the cost of graduate tuition); participants
can choose to register for two Iowa Licensure Renewal Units as part of their
In addition to
Chautauqua, the Center is offering online only professional learning opportunities
throughout the summer, from May through August.
PSQF:4123:0EXW Academic Acceleration is a three-semester-hour class,
focused on the most effective but most underused intervention for many gifted
learners. Eight additional
one-semester-hour classes are available, each lasting three weeks and focusing
on topics significant to your gifted learners.
Details are available at belinblank.org/educators/courses.
We look forward to
working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to the needs of
gifted and talented learners!
We have classes available for those working on their endorsement, addressing the required strands—or for those who just want to add to their “professional toolkits.” For the summer schedule, we offer an array of opportunities to ensure that anyone new to gifted education can begin their position in the fall with confidence, and to allow the most experienced teacher of the gifted to choose from the wide variety of choices that we offer, strengthening gifted programs in the school and/or the district.
This summer, Dr. Ann Lupkowski Shoplik will offer the newly revised PSQF:4123:0EXW Academic Acceleration, from June 10 – August 1. This three-semester-hour class ensures that educators of the gifted understand the powerful research underpinning acceleration as one of the most important strategies for high-ability learners, are aware of the multiple types of acceleration available, reflect on the reasons why many teachers hold negative attitudes, and have confidence in implementing acceleration in their schools.
The summer opportunities below are one-semester-hour workshops; these classes allow educators to focus on specific topics that are beneficial to their gifted and talented learners. These are described in more detail at belinblank.org/courses:
Topics:Teaching Outside the Lines, exploring the book by the same name
to enhance creativity in the classroom;
Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented: English Language Art, utilizing a NAGC
publication about strengthening
standards developed for general education to provide differentiated learning
for meaningful experiences in ELA for advanced learners;
EDTL:4029:0WKA Leadership Skills for G/T Students, K – 12,
focusing on developing leadership skills (one of the categories referenced in
the definition of “gifted” in Iowa and many other states);
RCE:4125:0WKA Counseling and Psychological Needs of the
Gifted, essential for understanding unique student concerns about
socio-emotional development, career development, and attitudes toward
EDTL:4074:0WKA Differentiation at the Secondary Level,
emphasizing the importance of differentiation rooted in content areas,
including specific strategies to strengthen secondary courses;
EDTL:4096:0WKF Topics:Common Core State Standards for Gifted/Talented: Mathematics,utilizing a NAGC
publication about strengthening standards developed for general education
to provide differentiated learning for meaningful experiences in math for
advanced learners (participants do NOT need a background in mathematics to
understand the needs of their mathematically gifted youth);
RCE:4119:0WKA Family Issues in Giftedness, the last
of the summer classes, designed to allow teachers to be ready to work with
parents in the new school year, better understanding their concerns and
planning effective ways to communicate with parents as the school year begins.
The Belin-Blank Center also
offers six classes in a hybrid format that includes two days on campus with
online opportunities for reflection, reading, and final projects submitted
online. You’ll find more about these at
our page about the Belin-Blank Chautauqua (belinblank.org/chautauqua)
We look forward to
working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to the needs of
gifted and talented learners!
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 email@example.com!
We still have classes available for those working on their endorsement—or for those who just want to add to their “professional toolkits.”
If teachers in Nebraska or western Iowa (or anywhere else within driving distance) can benefit from the credit hour(s), we offer Leadership in Gifted Education (course number PSQF:5194:0WKB; 1 or 2 semester hours) for those attending the NAG 2019 Conferenceon February 21 – 22. Automatic 50% tuition scholarship.
NEW FLOW experience (webinar format) on February 27. FLOW stands for Focused Learning On your Work. For the inaugural session, we are featuring Dr. Shelagh Gallagher discussing Problem-Based Learning, one of the best learning opportunities for gifted/talented students. Visit belinblank.org/webinar for more details and to register. Those who register for or watch the live event via another registered computer (e.g., district or Area Education Agency) can enroll in Programming/Curriculum for High Ability Students: Problem-Based Learning (EDTL:4073:0WKA; 1 semester hour). Automatic 50% tuition scholarship. If the time doesn’t work for you, you can register to receive the link for the recording that will be available following the webinar ($45 to register a computer for either the live event or the link).
Curriculum Concepts in Gifted Education(EDTL:4066:0EXW) is a three-semester-hour class beginning on March 11 through May 10. Only three seats left in this thorough review of curriculum models, as well as best practices in the implementation of differentiated curriculum for high-ability learners.
Topics: Developing Curriculum for Gifted Learners (EDTL:4096:0WKC; 1 semester hour) provides an excellent opportunity to focus on the principles essential for the new units you want to offer to your gifted/talented learners.
Governor Reynolds declared the month of October to be Gifted Education Awareness Month. The Iowa Talented and Gifted Association (ITAG) proposed many activities to celebrate giftedness in your school and district! Here on our blog, we revisited some of your all-time favorite posts all month long.
Although October is coming to a close, we know that for advanced learners, and their families and educators, every month is gifted education awareness month. To carry you forward from here, we are sharing some of our most helpful resources. We hope you can return to these again and again as you continue to advocate for your own gifted students.
Go-To Resources on Academic Acceleration
A Nation Deceived, published in 2004, is still relevant today. It highlights disparities between the research on acceleration and the educational beliefs and practices that often run contrary to the research. We highly recommend Volume 1, which contains responses to common myths about acceleration.
The update to that publication, A Nation Empowered, came out in 2015. You can download the free pdf here or obtain a paper copy or Kindle version here. Volume 1 contains many stories about acceleration, and those seem to resonate with people. Volume 2 contains the up-to-date research supporting acceleration.
When most people think of acceleration, they think of either skipping a grade or moving ahead in a particular subject. But did you know there are at least 20 different types of acceleration within the broad categories of grade skipping and subject acceleration?
Thinking about early entrance to kindergarten? These resources will be helpful.
How do you make an informed decision about skipping a grade? The Iowa Acceleration Scale is a highly recommended tool.
Do you have a talented math learner? Be sure to check out the book, Developing Math Talent, by Susan Assouline & Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik (published by Prufrock Press, 2011). Build student success in math with the only comprehensive parent and teacher guide for developing math talent among advanced learners of elementary or middle school age. The authors offer a focused look at educating gifted and talented students for success in math.
To help answer questions about which students are ready for subject acceleration, consider investigating I-Excel, an online, above-level test for high-ability 4th-6th graders. I-Excel offers the research-supported power of above-level testing in a convenient online format.
If you’re wondering whether your child is ready to be accelerated, these tips for parents can help guide you. This Tip Sheet from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) will also be helpful.
Does your school need to create or update its policy on academic acceleration? Guidelines for Developing an Academic Acceleration Policy are available in a free download. This document supports schools in creating a comprehensive and research-based acceleration policy that is compatible with local policies. (And be sure to keep an eye out for an update to this publication, Developing Academic Acceleration Policies: Single Subject and Whole Grade, in late 2018!)
We know that TAG educators can sometimes feel a bit isolated from their other colleagues in gifted education. If you are looking for a group of like-minded professionals and experts to connect with and share ideas, be sure to subscribe to the Gifted Teachers’ Listserv.
In Iowa, October has been declared Gifted Education Awareness Month! To celebrate, we’ll be revisiting some of your favorite posts from the blog all month long. We get a variety of questions about what our Assessment and Counseling Clinic does and how to know if a particular service is right for a given child. Today, we’re focusing on educational assessments.
Services at the ACC: Educational Assessment
Dr. Alissa Doobay, Licensed Psychologist, Supervisor of Psychological Services
Individualized educational assessments are conducted to assist with academic planning. They involve individual assessment of intellectual and academic skills, including above-level skills, as well as a screening of psychosocial factors that may be relevant in academic planning decisions. These assessments are not diagnostic in nature; therefore, they cannot be submitted to insurance for reimbursement.
Following the assessment, parents are provided with a comprehensive report detailing the test results and our recommendations. The cost depends on the number of hours spent, but a typical educational assessment includes approximately 6 hours of testing and costs $730.
Some initial reasons to consider an individualized educational assessment include:
You’re considering whole grade acceleration and would like to get the bulk of the information needed all at once.
The student is in 3rd grade or younger, and therefore too young for most other assessments.
The student has behavioral/cognitive factors that result in individualized assessment being more accurate than group-administered (e.g., 2e students who don’t “test” as well as expected based on knowledge).
We also offer twice-exceptional assessments, which include intellectual and academic testing in addition to a diagnostic assessment to determine whether the child meets criteria for a particular psychological diagnosis (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Specific Learning Disorder, anxiety or depression, etc.). These evaluations are conducted by a licensed psychologist and may be submitted to insurance depending on your insurance provider. There is a currently a waitlist for twice-exceptional assessments.
Could an educational assessment help your child? You can request an appointment through our online intake form.
This month, we’re bringing back some of our most popular blog posts to celebrate Gifted Education Awareness Month! Today, Dr. Ann Shoplik, Administrator for the Acceleration Institute, explains why it’s so important to advocate for academic acceleration! “Acceleration” can be an intimidating word for some, but did you know that there are at least 20 different forms of academic acceleration?
The word “acceleration” actually refers to over twenty different educational interventions! (Source: A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students*)
Why am I an Advocate for Academic Acceleration?
The short answer to this question is that I am tired of gifted students being under-challenged in school. They need the intellectual stimulation that comes from rigorous courses taught at a reasonably advanced level, and acceleration can provide that stimulation. The longer answer is, I am familiar with the research. No educational option for gifted students has the research support that academic acceleration has. In other words, the research is clear and unambiguous: Acceleration works. Gifted students benefit from acceleration. Gifted students are not negatively impacted socially if they are moved up a grade or advanced in a particular subject. Gifted students who accelerate turn out to be higher-achieving, higher-paid adults. In other words, the effects of acceleration are positive, short-term, and long-term. So why wouldn’t I be an advocate for academic acceleration?
Now that we have the information that is summarized so clearly and succinctly in the comprehensive 2015 publication, A Nation Empowered, it’s time to put that information to work. There are at least 20 different types of acceleration, including grade-skipping, subject matter acceleration, distance learning, and dual enrollment in high school and college. There are many forms of acceleration, and that means that we can tailor accelerative opportunities to the needs of individual gifted students. Acceleration means allowing gifted students to move ahead in school, at a pace appropriate to their needs. Acceleration can be implemented individually, in small groups, and in large groups. Each type of acceleration can be used to match the level, complexity, and pace of the curriculum to the readiness and motivation of the student.
Educators and parents do not have to be afraid of implementing acceleration. Tools are available to help them make well-informed decisions. These tools include the book already mentioned, A Nation Empowered, and they also include the Iowa Acceleration Scale (developed to help the team consider all aspects of acceleration, including academic development, social development, physical development, and school and parental support for the decision), IDEAL Solutions (developed to assist educators and parents as they consider subject matter acceleration in STEM subjects), and university-based talent search programs, which help identify students and give them challenging courses they can take in the summer or via online learning opportunities.
If you are interested in advocating for acceleration for an individual student or you’re attempting to change policies in your school or district, consider starting with the information found at the Acceleration Institute website. It includes the tools already mentioned in this article, and many more. Don’t miss the PowerPoint presentation on acceleration, which you can download and share with other educators and families.
We have the research and we have the tools to help us make good decisions about implementing acceleration for academically talented students. Now, we need the courage to act.
*Southern, W.T. and Jones, E.D. (2015) Types of Acceleration: Dimensions and Issues. In S.A. Assouline, N. Colangelo, J. VanTassel-Baska, and A. Lupkowski-Shoplik (Eds.), A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students (pp. 9-18). Cedar Rapids, IA: Colorweb Printing
The Best-Kept Secret in Gifted Education: Above-Level Testing
The secret of above-level testing is really not much of a secret. It’s used extensively at universities that have centers for gifted education. Unfortunately, it’s not used much by schools. This secret is hiding in plain sight!
What is above-level testing and how can it be used? Let’s answer the second question first. Above-level testing is useful for decisions about:
Identifying a student for a gifted program
Determining what a student is ready to learn next
Deciding whether or not a student is ready for subject-matter acceleration
Deciding whether or not a student is ready to skip a grade
“Above-level testing” is exactly what it sounds like: Give a younger student a test that was developed for older students. This idea was pioneered over one hundred years ago by Dr. Leta Hollingworth, sometimes called the “mother” of gifted education. This concept was fully developed by Dr. Julian Stanley in the 1970s when he devised the “Talent Search” in which 7th and 8th graders took the college admissions exam, the SAT. Fast forward to the present day, and above-level testing is used extensively in outside-of-school programs for gifted students. In fact, hundreds of thousands of students around the world take above-level tests each year as part of university-based talent searches, such as the one offered by the Belin-Blank Center. Some of these tests used are the SAT, ACT, Explore (recently discontinued), and I-Excel. Unfortunately, above-level tests are not used extensively in typical school gifted programs; we would like to change that!
Academically talented students tend to perform extremely well on tests developed for their own age group. They do so well that they get everything (or almost everything) right, and we don’t really know what the extent of their talents might be. Psychologists call this “hitting the ceiling” of the test. Think of it like a yardstick: The grade-level “yardstick” measures only 36 inches. If the student is 40 inches tall, we can’t measure that accurately using only the grade-level yardstick. What we need is a longer yardstick, and a harder test. An above-level test, one that is developed for older students, provides that longer yardstick and successfully raises the ceiling for that talented student.
The advantages of above-level testing include differentiating between “talented” and “exceptionally talented” students. In the figure above, the bell curve on the left shows a typical group of students. A few students earn very high scores (at the 95th percentile or above when compared to their age-mates). These are the students who “hit the ceiling” of the grade-level test. If we give that group of students a harder test, an above-level test that was developed for older students, voila! we see a new bell curve (the one on the right). The harder test spreads out the scores of the talented students and helps us to differentiate the talented from the exceptionally talented students.
What does this matter? Knowing how students performed on an above-level test helps us to give the students, their families and their educators better advice about the kinds of educational options the students might need. For example, does this student need educational enrichment? Would that student benefit from moving up a grade level or two in math? Would another student benefit from grade-skipping? Organizations such as the Belin-Blank Center who have used above-level testing for years have developed rubrics to help educators and parents understand the student’s above-level test scores and relate them to appropriately challenging educational options. In just one or two hours of testing, we are able to get important information about the student’s aptitudes, which allows us to make good recommendations about the types of educational challenges the student needs.
We at the Belin-Blank Center are thrilled to be able to provide educators with specific information about your students via the in-school testing option for I-Excel, an above-level test for talented 4th – 6th graders. For more information about how this could work in your school, see www.i-excel.org and www.belinblank.org/talent-search, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Reynolds declared the month of October to be Gifted Education Awareness Month. The Iowa Talented and Gifted Association (ITAG) proposed many activities to celebrate giftedness in your school and district! Some of these include:
Ask to have gifted students present their achievements at the October school board meeting
Communicate with other staff about how to best work with your gifted students
Attend the ITAG Conference Parent Night
How will YOU celebrate?
Beyond ITAG’s suggestions, our team hopes you celebrate by thinking about who your talented students are and what they need to stay challenged and engaged at school. One way to do this is by selecting students for above-level testing to find out what they already know and, more importantly, what they are ready to learn next. Another way is to help students sign up for advanced courses, such as those available through the Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA).
As you may know, IOAPA and the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS) have teamed up to provide identification and programming services in order to help Iowa teachers find talented middle school students and develop their abilities. For more on how BESTS and IOAPA work together, check out our IOAPA-BESTS blog roundup. In order to use above-level testing scores to inform eligibility for IOAPA courses, make sure to begin the above-level testing process soon. There are four basic steps for participation in BESTS:
Find the students who are ready for additional challenge; these are the students who will be recommended for participation in BESTS. Typically, students who have earned scores at or above the 90thpercentile on grade-level standardized tests, such as the Iowa Assessments, are strong candidates for above-level testing.
Notify the students identified in Step 2 and their families about the opportunity to participate in BESTS.
Contact email@example.com as soon as possible to set up testing. Note that if you have 7th-9th grade students in need of above-level testing, they will be taking the ACT, and there are specific deadlines for registration; visit belinblank.org/talent-search for specific information. I-Excel testing sessions for current 4th-6th graders are more flexible to schedule, but it’s still important to reach out soon to ensure that the process can be completed in time for your desired test date(s).
Inform students and parents about test results and the recommended course of action following testing. Families receive above-level test score reports and an extensive interpretation of results that can help with these discussions.
As part of this process, you may be wondering ‘What do gifted students look like? Who are good candidates for above-level testing or advanced courses?’ High grades are a traditional means to determine giftedness, but grades and assessment scores are not the only avenue. For instance, many gifted students are bored in class, and therefore may stop trying or may create classroom disruptions. In order to expand your school’s view on gifted qualification, make sure to look at class performance along with psychosocial factors, and socioeconomic and cultural factors. This blog post discusses identifying gifted students from underserved backgrounds.
However you choose to observe Gifted Education Awareness Month, we hope you’ll consider us a resource and partner in supporting Iowa’s brightest students and developing their talent!
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!
The Belin-Blank Center, in partnership with departments in the University of Iowa College of Education, offers a variety of online classes this summer. While we would love to have you join us on campus for our Chautauqua course series, we know that many of those advocating for gifted/talented students benefit from the flexible online format. Each of the online classes is offered for one semester hour of credit and are three weeks in length. You can learn how to develop creativity in every learner, facilitate research projects, enhance your understanding of differentiation at the secondary level, and more!
If you will be joining us on campus for the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute, we offer your choice of two hours of academic credit; the Center provides a 50% tuition scholarship for those who take advantage of the graduate credit.
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.
With the introduction of our middle school courses in Fall 2015, many students and teachers may still have questions about the types of courses offered by the Iowa Online AP Academy, who these classes might benefit, and how to select students who will be prepared for and challenged by online coursework.
Based on the information and experiences we have gathered so far, we are excited to provide a visual guide to our middle school classes! These data are based on middle school Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA) courses taken during the fall 2015 semester.We hope they will be helpful as you and your students consider plans to register for 2016-17 courses through IOAPA.
If you are looking for more information about IOAPA’s middle school classes, check out our past posts on middle school courses and above-level testing, or visit our website. Make sure to check back here soon for our high school courses recap!
Registration for Iowa Online AP Academy 2016-2017 classes open in just one week (April 19), and many teachers want to register their students promptly to ensure access to these courses. Whether you are new to IOAPA or just need a refresher, take a look at the following handy registration guide for pointers on the registration process!
To register, visit our website (belinblank.org/ioapa). Be sure to read through the Getting Started section for important program information. You will need to re-register your school each academic year.
When you’re ready to register, take the following steps:
Register your school and assign a site coordinator and mentor. The first step is for principals to register their schools. They can do that on our website (belinblank.org/ioapa) by clicking on Register on the homepage. As part of this step, schools assign a site coordinator and a mentor. They can be the same person or different people; however, the mentor needs to be a certified teacher at the school. We’ll be discussing this difference more in future blog posts.
Nominate the student(s) taking IOAPA course(s). Completing the school registration page sends the principal an automated email with a link in it to nominate the student. The principal either needs to complete the nomination or forward the link to the site coordinator or mentor to complete.
Confirm that the student has self-enrolled in the course. Once the student has been nominated, an email will be automatically sent to the student to enroll himself/herself in the actual course. Be sure to have students check their junk mail folders, as the automated emails sometimes get filtered there. Students should complete this process and be sure to click submit when they’re done.
Pre-Institute: The Iowa Acceleration Scale, Sunday, July 24, 2016, (2-5 p.m.), $75.
Learn how to maximize the value of the Iowa Acceleration Scale (3rd edition), a tool designed to help educators and parents make data-driven decisions about academic acceleration.
Participants are invited to attend the Belin-Blank Advanced Leadership Institute Speakers Reception, Sunday evening, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Two-Day Institute: A Nation Empowered: Research-Based Evidence about Acceleration and Gifted/Talented Students. Sunday, July 24, 2016: Speakers Reception 5:30 – 7 p.m. Institute is on Monday, July 25 (9 a.m. to 7 p.m., plus optional evening activities) and July 26 (8:30 a.m. to noon), $250, early registration fee. Bring a friend! Group registrations (2 or more registrations submitted together) are discounted, $225 per person, early registration fee.
Meet the editors and authors of A Nation Empowered; interact with others who have successfully implemented acceleration in their schools; choose from multiple sessions focusing on practical applications of how to implement acceleration in schools; and create your own plan for next steps!
Released last spring, A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students, includes updated information about the best-researched yet most under-utilized educational option for gifted students: academic acceleration. In spite of the strong research base supporting the implementation of the many forms of acceleration, many schools do not routinely utilize any of the options, and educators often express concerns about accelerating students, assuming that doing nothing is better than taking a “risk” with acceleration.
All Institute participants will receive a copy of A Nation Empowered. The Institute will include a strong focus on applying the research in practical settings, and participants will have opportunities to learn from educators who have successfully implemented various forms of acceleration, as well as hear from parents and from students who have benefited from one or more accelerative options. Audience: gifted education teachers, administrators, school counselors, parents.
Discounts are available for students and groups, and an academic credit option is also available (50% tuition scholarship provided by the Belin-Blank Center).
Khizer with the 1991 SICEI class (photo from the University of Iowa College of Engineering’s newsletter)
In 1991, Khizer Husain attended the Summer Institute for Creative Engineering and Inventiveness (SICEI), one of the early summer programs that the Belin-Blank Center hosted (at the time, the Center was called the Connie Belin National Center for Gifted Education). High school students came from across Iowa to spend three weeks studying environmental science. The program was a blend of engineering and creativity, bound together by the idea of solving a real-world problem. Among other experiences, they heard from an environmental science expert who discussed how poplar trees can help reduce groundwater pollution by removing nitrates from the water.
Following the program, the students teamed up with mentors and began an independent project related to environmental science. Khizer said that the program was meant to “whet your appetite [for research] over the summer, but now we want you to do whatever you want with environmental science.” One student designed a bicycle trail. Khizer focused on how industrial scrubbers can help reduce pollution, and he recalls another student who “built sort of a precursor to a Nest system with his home computer. The judges were so impressed that they gave him a scholarship to the University on the spot.”
Khizer had as many stories about the other students as the projects and topics. “I felt like the program…was the first time I had colleagues so deeply passionate about stuff – the meaning of life and philosophy.”
Today, Khizer works for Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, DC. as Chief of Staff. His job is about “the odd nooks and crannies that make an organization work.” The school focuses on expeditionary learning and self-discovery. In addition to his work at Two Rivers, Khizer has also written severalstories for Farfaria, a story app for children in grades 2-9.
Are you a Belin-Blank Center programs alum? Check out our alumni page!
The Belin-Blank Center will provide a variety of options this summer – both for experienced and new/new-to-GT teachers!
Belin-Blank Fellowship: Apply by March 4
We invite teachers who do NOT have a background in gifted education to join us June 22-26, 2015 for the 35th Annual Belin-Blank Fellowship, an intensive week-long learning institute for educators interested in gifted and talented learners. Facilitated by Dr. Laurie Croft, the Fellowship includes guest presentations from professionals such as Dr. Susan Assouline, Director; Dr. Megan Foley Nicpon, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, Dr. Nicholas Colangelo, Director Emeritus and Dean of the College of Education, and Dr. Randy Lange, Adjunct Instructor and Enrichment Coordinator, LaGrange (IL) District 102. The application and letter of support from an administrator should be submitted online.
In July, the Belin-Blank Center is hosting the second Chautauqua series in Iowa City. Chautauqua I (July 13-18, including class on Saturday) and Chautauqua II (July 20 – 25, including class on Saturday) will feature six separate workshops on campus with additional online components.
Creativity: Issues and Applications (M-T)
Programming/Curriculum for High-Ability Students: Facilitating Student Research Projects (W-Th)
Differentiating Projects with Technology (F-S)
Neuroscientific Implications for Gifted (M-T)
Special Topics: Effective Instructional Strategies for Gifted Education (W-Th)
Evaluation of Gifted Programs (F-S)
Participants who enroll at the graduate level for all three workshops in either week—or both—will again receive an automatic tuition scholarship from the Belin-Blank Center for one of three classes (three workshops 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 Melissa Keeling at 800-336-6463 or firstname.lastname@example.org for registration information. Single rooms are available for $57/night; double rooms are $40/person/night.
In addition to face-to-face classes during Chautauqua I and II this summer, the Center provides a variety of online classes in professional development.
Online classes include:
Programming and Curriculum for High Ability Students: Real-World Problem Solving
Ethnic and cultural Issues and Giftedness
Cognitive/Affective Needs of the Gifted
Differentiated Instruction for the Gifted
Differentiation at the Secondary Level
Current Readings & Research in Gifted Education
Special Topics: Writing for High-Ability Learners
The Belin-Blank Center also hosts the Advanced Placement Teacher Training Institute (APTTI) during the week of July 6 – 10. Participants may enroll for two hours of credit; the Center provides an automatic tuition scholarship for 50% of the graduate-level tuition. As well, APTTI participants may enroll in Differentiation at the Secondary Level for a third hour of credit (APTTI participants will also receive the scholarship for this credit hour).
All workshops, on campus or online, fulfill requirements for the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement. Early in March, more information will be available on our website.
Mark your calendars for Tuesday, November 12, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
The Iowa Acceleration Scale (IAS) has been successfully used by educators and administrators throughout the country since 1998 to objectively determine if a student would benefit from whole-grade acceleration. The IAS guides a child study team (including educators, teachers, parents, and other professionals) through a discussion of the academic and social characteristics of the student. Dr. Susan Assouline, lead author of the Iowa Acceleration Scale, will lead this Webinar, exploring the instrument and answering your questions.
The Webinar (or DVD option) is required to enroll in the available credit option; the online credit will explore challenges to acceleration, as well as alternatives to whole-grade acceleration. Participants will go through the process utilized in the IAS*.
The cost for either the Webinar or a DVD of is $45 (the cost for both is $55).
Academic credit is available. Automatic tuition scholarship (50% of graduate tuition, or $226, for one semester hour). ContactLaurie-Croft@uiowa.edu.
* The Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual can be purchased through the Belin-Blank Center for less than the cost at most other outlets. Please contact Rachelle-Blackwell@uiowa.edu (or 800-336-6463 / 319-335-6148) for details. One copy of the form used to complete the scale will be provided at no cost to those who purchase the manual through the Center.
The Belin-Blank Center’s administrators have some exciting international presentations and workshops coming up – learn more about the places they’re headed to speak about gifted education.
Click on the image above to enlarge.
Dr. Laurie Croft (Administrator, Professional Development) will be traveling to Quezon City in the National Capital Region of the Philippines at the end of November.
A Templeton Fellow, Dr. Leticia Peñano-Ho, invited Dr. Croft to do a two-day training about differentiation titled “Differentiation: A Whole School Program” in conjunction with the Philippine Center for Gifted Education‘s annual convention.
PCGE expects about 200 educators, but you can learn more about how to join them on their Facebook page.
While in India, Dr. Croft plans to work with another Templeton Fellow, Dr. Narayan Desai, and his wife, Dr. Devasena Desai (who was a Belin-Blank Fellow three years ago), as they collaborate with Jnana Prabodhini Institute of Psychology at Pune University (Maharashtra State) to launch a professional development program in gifted education.
Belin-Blank Center Director Dr. Susan Assouline will be in Portugal November 22-23 as a keynote speaker at the inaugural ANEIS conference in Porto, Portugal. The conference theme is “Giftedness: Challenges of teaching and learning in different contexts.” The title of Dr. Assouline’s talk is “From Gifted Education to Talent Development: A Global Perspective.”
In early January, Dr. Assouline will travel to Sydney to participate in the University of New South Wale’s (UNSW) Certificate of Gifted Education Program (COGE), which has been in existence since 1991. She is looking forward to teaching the opening course, “Key Concepts and Issues in Gifted Education.”
On November 1st, Director Emeritus Dr. Nicholas Colangelo will present at an international conference organized by the Center for the Study of Giftedness (CBO) and the Behavioural Science Institute of the Radboud University Nijmegen titled “Potential Development and Gifted Education.”
Taking college-level coursework while still in high school is an important opportunity for high-achieving high school students who are ready for an extra challenge in high school. The benefits of college-level coursework include enhanced preparation for college and, in some cases, reduced college tuition costs, because students are able to accumulate college credit free of charge while still in high school. Many colleges and universities award college credit for such coursework.
At first glance, it might seem like enrolling in community college credit coursework and APTM coursework are two different means to the same end. In some cases this is true, but in other cases there are subtle differences that are important for students, teachers, parents, and school counselors to know.
Q. Isn’t college credit the same whether I earn credit through a community college course, or through an APTM course?
A. Many times students earn college credit from a community college course, if they have earned at least a C- in the course. Once students graduate from high school and transfer their community college coursework to a post-secondary institution the way the credits transfer is not uniform. Each post-secondary institution has a community college credit transition guide. Students should consult the transition guide to see how their community college credit will be applied to graduation requirements at their post-secondary institution. In some cases coursework may be transferred in as general education credit, in others the credit may count toward a liberal arts core requirement. Very rarely does the credit transfer in to replace a specific course (unless of course the student is attending the institution granting the concurrent credit in the first place!)
Q. How do I get college credit for an APTM course?
A. Post-secondary institutions have policies for accepting APTM test scores to replace required credits for first-year required courses. Many times, in order to earn college credit from an APTM course, students must score at least 3 on the APTM exam(some schools have more restrictive requirements). Students transferring in APTM scores of 3 will find that these scores are applied in much the same way that community college credits are applied to required coursework (general education or liberal arts core credit). However, an important difference between community college credit and APTM scores is that in some core areas students earning a score of 4 or 5 on an APTM exam can use the score to replace a particular course, instead of being transferred into the institution as general education or liberal arts core credit.
Q. Isn’t there a lot of pressure to perform well on the APTM test, in order to earn credit at my post-secondary institution?
A.If your post-secondary institution awards credit for APTM courses, students earn credit based on the exam they take at the end of the course. To enroll in APTM coursework The College Board strongly recommends that students have completed all prerequisite courses, but any student regardless of an exam score can enroll in the course (and thus be exposed to the rigorous curriculum). Regardless of the APTM exam score at the end of course, the student has been exposed to the expectations and workload of a college course. Students enrolling in community college courses, with transferable credit must earn a qualifying score (or have a qualifying ACT score) to enroll in the course. Students who do not earn a qualifying score are not eligible to enroll in the course. Once students have earned a qualifying score for the community college course they will earn some type of college credit, as long as they maintain the minimum grade requirements for the course.
Yesterday, the University of Iowa College of Education and Dean Nicholas Colangelo welcomed visiting dignitaries from the National University of Science & Technology MISiS, Moscow, Russia.
The presentation focused on the State of Iowa STEM Initiative and featured Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and a panel that included Belin-Blank Center Director Susan Assouline. Many of the speakers referenced Sputnik as a catalyst for gifted education and especially STEM education in the United States.
The Belin-Blank Center and B-BC Administrator Kate Degner covered the event on Twitter:
(L to R) Dr. Susan Assouline, Associate Director of the Belin-Blank Center; Professor Emirita Miraca Gross; Ms. Bronwyn MacLeod
Greetings from down under! I’m spending the week in Sydney with gifted colleagues, Professor Emirita Miraca Gross (center), and Ms. Bronwyn MacLeod (right), where I have the honor of serving as the international guest lecturer for the 23rd session of the University of New South Wales COGE (Certificate of Gifted Education). It’s easy to adjust to the change in climate (it’s summer and there are many hours of sunlight . . . ). The time difference is a bit more challenging. But this group of educators is bright and passionate and very energizing which makes the minor inconveniences well worth it.
Another adjustment is walking on the left side of the street, hallway, and stairs, or even just figuring out where the up/down escalators are (hint: think left). Shifting to the left was the (unintentional) theme of my first lecture: Definitions of Giftedness and Talent: Key Influences and Influencers. We started with a historical perspective, which connected us with the development of IQ tests and a psychometric approach to thinking about giftedness . . . and we concluded with a discussion based upon the comprehensive monograph by Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius, and Worrell (2011), “Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education: A proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science,” in Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
We’re off to a great start. Today (or tomorrow, depending on where you are in the world), we’ll tackle twice-exceptionality – and we’ll have pictures of the members of COGE.
The Belin-Blank Center recently hosted 13 administrators from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Moscow. The visit allowed the university administrators to learn more about policies and practices at The University of Iowa and benefit from the wide array of expertise here, especially in the College of Engineering. A second group of administrators from NUST will be visiting in late April.
Dr. Laurie Croft of the Belin-Blank Center recently visited several schools in India:
We visited this school on 27 September—these students are tribal children who stay at the Kamshet Campus, a residential program supported by the government and by private foundations. Dr. Narayan Desai has given the students a Mensa exam to determine who could benefit from enriched or accelerated academic programs, and I was their special guest, awarding certificates for those who achieved the highest scores on the exam.
During the fall semester, Challenge Saturdays provides engaging weekend classes for students in Des Moines and Iowa City.
These classes are designed for high-ability elementary- and middle-school-aged students who are current members of the Belin-Blank Exceptional Student Talent Search (BESTS). Students who are not part of BESTS but who are of high ability are also encouraged to attend.*
In small classes, students receive direct instruction and do advanced work. Students choose one class only. The class meets five times. Financial assistance is available.
*Students who are not part of BESTS generally register for BESTS – but in the meantime, parents provide a copy of the child’s most-recent ITBS scores. If test data is not available, a teacher recommendation may be submitted. To register a non-BESTS student, first sign up for a class. Following registration, send the above information to Bridget Pauley, 600 Blank Honors Center, Iowa City, IA 52242 or fax it to her attention at 319-335-5151.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to support gifted and high-ability students, especially those who are underrepresented and underserved, on April 14.
The legislation, known as the TALENT (To Aid Gifted and High-Ability Learners by Empowering the Nation’s Teachers) Act (S. 857), will:
Require states and local districts that receive Title I funding – those that serve a high proportion of students from disadvantaged settings – to include gifted and talented and high-potential learners in their plans for using the federal funds.
Require states to report on the performance and learning progress of gifted students on their annual state report cards.
Take the critical step to make sure teachers, principals, and other school personnel are trained to recognize and serve gifted and high-ability students appropriately by supporting the development of best practice strategies and helping states and districts get those strategies into the hands of teachers through national dissemination efforts and professional development grants.
Collect appropriate data on high-ability students to enable policymakers and educators to make informed decisions.
The bill is sponsored by Grassley and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) in the Senate. The TALENT Act is expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives by Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Donald Payne (D-NJ).
The Belin-Blank Center applauds Sen. Grassley for his leadership on the TALENT Act and thanks him for his long-standing support of high-ability students.
Please urge your Members of Congress to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.
Dr. Susan Assouline, Associate Director, Belin-Blank Center
Register here for a free Webinar – You Already Know This: How to Use Your Teaching Skills & Current Resources with Math-Talented Students (Grades 3-7). On Thursday, April 14, from 3:30 to 4:15 PM (US CDT), Kate Degner, a doctoral candidate in math education, will demonstrate a technique for accelerating the math curriculum. I will give a brief explanation of the reports generated from our new online system for making informed decisions about math acceleration, IDEAL Solutions® for Math Acceleration.
As you know, mathematically talented students have varying academic profiles. This aspect is described in Developing Math Talent (Assouline & Lupkowski-Shoplik, 2011); you can read about one very talented student, Zach, here.
Although it may seem surprising in light of the gains women have made in the last forty years, recent research shows that the gender gap in STEM fields still exists. According to the American Association of University Women, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found that as of 2008, although more than half of biological scientists are women:
Just over 30% of chemists and material scientists are female
Women make up a little over 20% of computer programmers
Less than 7% of mechanical engineers are women
So why are women so underrepresented in STEM fields? While some people may assume that the gap is due to intrinsic ability or differences in interest, the research suggests that the real reasons are more complicated:
A recent study found that having a female instructor rather than a male instructor makes a big difference for female students in an introductory calculus, increasing class participation as well as the likelihood that a female student would ask the instructor questions outside of class.
Having female professors appears to provide a sort of “inoculation” against the stereotype that STEM fields are for men only. It’s therefore important that women be well-represented in STEM departments in colleges as professors, TAs, and older students in the program.
Other findings “…suggest that other characteristics such as gender differences in orientation toward people versus things (Lubinski & Benbow, 2007), the value placed on different occupations (Eccles, 2007), and commitment to child rearing, family (Halpern, 2007), and full-time work (Lubinski & Benbow, 2007) are responsible for the differences in occupational choices and career achievement levels of males and females in math and science fields.” (55-56, Olszewski-Kubilius & Lee)
“…although gender differences on cognitive tests may be small and disappearing when heterogeneous samples of students are studied, they appear to remain robust for gifted samples. These gender differences for gifted students have implications for the representation of the most able females in STEM professions.” (56, Olszewski-Kubilius & Lee)
What can parents, educators, and counselors do to help more girls find success in STEM?
Include female scientists and mathematicians in your history courses not as “special cases” but as equal contributors to their fields. Researchers emphasize that instructors need to make references to accomplished women in STEM in a “regular and low-key” way.
If a girl shows interest in STEM, encourage that interest – provide relevant activities, academic programs, enrichment, and acceleration.
Model genuine interest in STEM – excitement about learning is contagious.
Dr. Laurie Croft, Administrator, Professional Development, Belin-Blank Center
Since 1980 (for over 30 years!), the Belin-Blank Center has provided an intensive residential experience for general education teachers who want to learn more about gifted education. This experience is designed for those with little or no previous background in gifted education. This is a GREAT way to encourage a colleague in your building to join you in your support for gifted programs!
The Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank Fellowship program, June 27 – July 1, 2011, provides
Full room and board in a University of Iowa residence hall
Readings and university resources
Presentations from leaders in gifted education
Participants’ districts are asked to pay a $250 materials fee for books and readings. Participants may also enroll in two graduate-level credit hours. Those who choose this credit option will receive an automatic tuition scholarship and pay only 50% of the graduate-level tuition.
Learn more about the Fellowship program, and be sure to apply by March 18th. Twelve applicants will be notified by e-mail of their acceptance to the program.
Dr. Clar M. Baldus, Administrator, Inventiveness, Rural Schools & Visual Arts Programs; Belin-Blank Center
More than 10,000 Iowa students have taken Advanced Placement classes online through the Belin-Blank Center’s Iowa Online AP Academy (IOAPA), based in the University of Iowa College of Education. Altogether, that translates into 2.7 million hours of homework completed and an equivalent of more than 30,000 college credits earned by students from the comfort and convenience of their local high schools.
Started in 2001, IOAPA is designed especially to serve students from schools in Iowa’s smaller, rural towns—such as Akron and Humboldt—to ensure that they have the same academic opportunities as students from larger, more competitive schools across the country. The online academy’s AP courses also give Iowa students a chance to measure themselves against a nationally rigorous, meaningful academic standard.
For capable and motivated high school students, AP courses and exams provide college-level coursework along with opportunities to earn college credit or placement.
A recent news release from the Iowa Department of Education credited IOAPA, in part, for the increase in participation and success among Iowa students.
And because of programs like IOAPA, geography will not dictate educational opportunity for Iowa students.
Dr. Susan Assouline, Associate Director, Belin-Blank Center
Almost daily we hear about the weak performance of American students in math and science when compared to their international counterparts.
Many of the national reports that convey this message have issued a “Call to Action.” In 2008, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel released its final report about math education in the US and recommended that districts ensure that all prepared students have access to algebra by Grade 8. For general education students, this is great – but for mathematically talented students, the need for challenging math comes well before Grade 8.
The Belin-Blank Center is responding to the “Call to Action” with a brand new website: IDEAL®Solutions for Math Acceleration. This website is designed to assist parents and educators of mathematically talented students in understanding the degree to which their students would benefit from additional challenge. After entering data about the student, parents and educators receive a report that provides individualized recommendations for the student. This report also offers a detailed summary of the research related to acceleration and documents the information about the student for both parents and educators.
An IDEAL®Solutions for Math Acceleration report provides a starting point in the discussion about how to meet a mathematically talented student’s academic needs. To learn more, visit www.idealsolutionsmath.com.
If you are an educator, contact us about becoming an IDEAL®Solutions for Math Acceleration School.
To learn more about STEM in gifted education, join us on Twitter this Friday, February 18th, at noon EST for #gtchat.
Dr. Nicholas Colangelo, Director, Belin-Blank Center
One of the biggest obstacles that gifted education faces is anti-intellectualism, which Richard Hofstader defined as “a resentment and suspicion of the life of the mind and those who are considered to represent it; and a disposition constantly to minimize the value of that life.”
Anti-intellectualism is most damaging to our young gifted students, who face disrespect and even ridicule for what we as a society should consider good things – excitement about new ideas, high test scores, and good grades.
What can we do about it? Schools can display student accomplishments not only in sports, but also in academics, music, and art. Teachers and parents can recognize gifted programs not as undemocratic or elitist, but as a way of accommodating individual student needs. Finally, we can recognize that anti-giftedness is anti-intellectual and ignores individual differences in abilities.
If you have a third-through-eighth grader looking for something interesting to do, the Weekend INstitute for Gifted Students (WINGS) still has openings for upcoming classes in Iowa City, IA and Council Bluffs, IA.
Advanced Placement (AP) classes and exams have become the standard for advanced curriculum.
The Belin-Blank Center’s Iowa Online Advanced Placement Academy (IOAPA) was initiated in 2001 to provide access to AP for students who otherwise would not be able to participate. The heart of the IOAPA program is the commitment to preparing students to succeed in AP. This is done by a combination of three educational programs:
The IOAPA structure, which provides excellent online AP courses as well as support in the local schools.
The preparation that Iowa students receive through the Iowa Excellence Program, a Belin-Blank Center program that prepares students (especially in rural schools) for AP while they are still in middle/junior high school.
The Belin-Blank Dynamic Model of Professional Development, which prepares teachers to prepare students to seek out and succeed in highly challenging courses, such as AP.