Tag Archives: gifted

This I Believe

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. 

Message from the Director: Springtime Renewal Extends to Gifted Education through Javits Grants

Conducting research focused on gifted education and talent development is central to our mission. The Belin-Blank Center’s Acceleration Institute, featuring A Nation Empowered: Evidence Trumps the Excuses Holding Back America’s Brightest Students (2015), is a prime example of how gifted education research assists educators and policy makers in better understanding and developing the talents of bright students. While gifted education research has had many advocates, there were perhaps none whose reach has extended quite as far as Jacob K. Javits.

Q: Who was Jacob K. Javits and what does he have to do with gifted education?

A: In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the only 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 society.

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!

Belin-Blank Chautauqua

Chautauqua (Shuh-taw-kwuh) was a popular movement during the late 19th and early 20th centuries; President Teddy Roosevelt called Chautauqua “the most American thing in America.”  Because it focused on adult education through summer classes, it seemed the perfect name for an opportunity for educators of the gifted to get together to complete some of their coursework for the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement.

Chautauqua classes are aligned with national standards in gifted education, including the Pre-K to Grade 12 Gifted Education Programming Standards(essential to ensure best practices in our programs) and the Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education(guiding professional learning goals as beginners—or as practicing professionals). 

The Belin-Blank Center TAG Endorsement program is aligned with the Faculty Standards for Teacher Preparation Programs in Gifted & Talented Education, developed by NAGC to ensure that educators learning about the field participate in research-based classes taught by highly-qualified professionals.

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.  Those who 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).

Chautauqua I (July 8 – 13)

  • EDTL:4096:0WKC    Topics: 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 bring;
  • EDTL:4096:0WKD    Topics: 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;
  • EDTL:4072:0WKA    Thinking Skills: Skills for Lifelong Learning, sharpening your awareness of the factors involved in teaching thinking skills;

Chautauqua II (July 15 – 20)

  • RCE:4129:0WKA      Creativity: Issues and Applications in Gifted Education, including an overview of definitions of and activities that serve as catalysts for student creativity;
  • EDTL:4096:0WKE    Topics: 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);
  • EPLS:4113:0WKA    Staff 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.

Each class is described in more detail at belinblank.org/courses.

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 participation. 

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!

MORE Just-in-time Online Professional Learning for Summer

The Belin-Blank Center is committed to supporting your professional learning needs throughout the year!  We offer classes in a variety of formats, but everything we offer applies to the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement.  We collaborate with many Iowa educators, but we also have the opportunity to work with educators from around the country—and even from other countries!  All of our classes are aligned with national standards in gifted education, including the Pre-K to Grade 12 Gifted Education Programming Standards(essential to ensure best practices in our programs) and the Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education(guiding professional learning goals as beginners—or as practicing professionals).

The Belin-Blank Center TAG Endorsement program is aligned with the Faculty Standards for Teacher Preparation Programs in Gifted & Talented Education, developed by NAGC to ensure that educators learning about the field participate in research-based classes taught by highly-qualified professionals.

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:

  • EDTL:4096:0WKA   Topics: Teaching Outside the Lines, exploring the book by the same name to enhance creativity in the classroom;
  • EDTL:4096:0WKB   Topics: 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 achievement;
  • 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);
  • EDTL:4085:0WKA   Current Readings & Research in Gifted Education, allowing educators to focus on the topics the most need to master for their students, schools, and districts (the credit may be applied, depending on readings, to the Psychology, Programming, or Administrative strand for endorsement);
  • 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) in July.

We look forward to working with you this summer; we appreciate your commitment to the needs of gifted and talented learners!

Summer Enrichment for Middle School Students

The Belin-Blank Center specializes in academically talented kids. If you have 6th-8th grade students who show a deep curiosity when a topic sparks their interest, a love of learning, or a particular talent in an area, they will feel right at home in our Junior Scholars Institute (JSI)! JSI is a summer program designed specifically for bright students who want to take a deep dive into a topic – all while having fun with other middle school kids who share their level of interest and ability. 

Students get to choose one class to focus on all day, for a full week – and these aren’t regular classes! With options like Archaeology, Women in Engineering,  Mixed Media Art, Leadership for Students Who Want to Make a Difference, Robot Theater (and more!), there’s sure to be something for your inquisitive kids. Class sizes are small, and they take place on the University of Iowa campus, giving students access to valuable university-level resources and experts.

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

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

Payment plans and financial aid are available. Participation in your school’s talented and gifted program is not required. If you think JSI sounds like a good fit for any of your students, be sure to recommend that they check it out at www.belinblank.org/summer or contact Ashlee Van Fleet at summer@belinblank.org!

Just-in-Time Professional Learning

The Belin-Blank Center is committed to supporting educators’ professional learning needs throughout the year! We offer classes in a variety of formats, but everything we offer applies to the State of Iowa Talented and Gifted Endorsement. We collaborate with many Iowa educators, but we also have the opportunity to work with educators from around the country—and even from other countries! All of our classes are aligned with national standards in gifted education, including the Pre-K to Grade 12 Gifted Education Programming Standards (essential to ensure best practices in our programs) and the Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education (guiding professional learning goals as beginners—or as practicing professionals).

The Belin-Blank Center is one of the only programs in the state that is aligned with the Faculty Standards for Teacher Preparation Programs in Gifted & Talented Educationdeveloped by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) to ensure that educators learning about the field participate in research-based classes taught by highly-qualified professionals.

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.

Gifted Education Awareness Month: Go-To Resources on Academic Acceleration

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. 

First, we encouraged you to think about who your talented students are and what they need to stay challenged and engaged at school. Then, we gave away the best-kept secret in gifted education and shared why we should all be advocates for academic acceleration. Finally, we discussed educational assessments, including twice-exceptional assessments, and explained when and for whom they might be helpful.

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

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 1.25.34 PMA 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.

ne-cover-vol-1-full

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.

The Acceleration Institute website has many, many resources on academic acceleration for parents, educators, policy makers, and researchers.

20 Forms of AccelerationWhen 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.

What about early entrance to college? Start here and then head over to the Bucksbaum Academy website.

How do you make an informed decision about skipping a grade? The Iowa Acceleration Scale is a highly recommended tool.

Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 4.07.28 PM.pngDo 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!)

If you’re a fan of podcasts, you can listen to Dr. Ann Shoplik talking about acceleration on Mind Matters, and Dr. Megan Foley-Nicpon discussing twice exceptionality on Bright Now by Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY). Or check out our own podcast, The Window, and listen to our founder, Dr. Nicholas Colangelo, engage thought leaders on issues relating to maximizing human potential and directing talent toward a larger social good.Screen Shot 2018-10-16 at 4.08.59 PM

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.

Connect with your state and national organizations, the Iowa Talented and Gifted Association (ITAG) and the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). The Iowa Department of Education’s Gifted and Talented webpage also has helpful resources and information about important legislation affecting gifted education. Not in Iowa? Find information about your state gifted association, statistics, and policies concerning gifted education here.

For a comprehensive look at all things gifted education, grab a cup of coffee and settle down to peruse Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and the Davidson Institute for Talent Development’s database.  The Hoagies’ Gifted Blog Hop on acceleration was so excellent, it was offered a second time (with fresh content) in “Acceleration, Again.”

Follow our own @AnnShoplik and @LCroft57 on Twitter, who often tweet about topics related to acceleration and gifted education, and read through the hashtags, #nationempowered#gtchat, and #gifteded.

And finally, be sure to connect with the Belin-Blank Center on social media (you can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) and subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated all year long!