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!