Archive for the ‘Social-Emotional’ Category


10 Ways Social Media and the Web Are Moving Gifted Education Forward

By Deborah Mersino

Amid early adopters, platform loyalists, time and budget constraints, enthusiasm, privacy concerns, real-time collaboration, media hype, avoidance, and resource-sharing, it’s clear that social media is not only alive and well and impacting the world of gifted education, but it is also truly shifting mindsets and creating opportunities.

Here are 10 ways social media and the Web are catapulting the gifted education movement forward. Some of these developments have been around for a while now; others depict social media’s current and future evolution relative to gifted, talented, and creative learners – and those who serve them. Thank you to those who have helped crowdsource many of these points.

Should you have additional ideas to offer, please “Leave a Reply” so others can benefit. If you’re a parent, educator or organizational leader who is just getting started online, welcome! I’m hoping this post inspires you to delve in further. As always, feel free to contact me with your questions and/or consulting needs. Here we go!

1. Down come the walls

Scholars, gifted education specialists, classroom teachers, administrators, parents, counselors, authors, and advocates are communicating outside of their long-standing silos, which is igniting newfound learning and compelling action.

2. Up comes the engagement and true collaboration

Like never before, you will find parents helping parents, teachers supporting parents, parents enlightening teachers, psychiatrists answering parents’ questions, authors asking for input on new books, journalists finding sources, and teachers sharing ideas online with verve.

3. Read all about it

Access to scholarly articles, resources, videos, podcasts, blogs, and news about the gifted movement is allowing more immediate response and action, especially relative to advocacy.

4. Options galore

Whether searching for homeschooling resources and/or garnering assistance with a passion or specific subject area, open-source and distance learning opportunities continue to give gifted, talented, and creative learners more opportunities to learn 24/7 – often in collaboration with other learners throughout the world.

5. Dialogue develops

Real-time chats, like #gtchat on Twitter, continue to boost understanding among varied audiences and remind us all that gifted learners and those who parent and serve them need and deserve ongoing support. Gifted organizations can – and should – begin planning now for virtual conferences to reach broader audiences cost-effectively and efficiently. And while online discussion platforms have served powerfully for years, we’ll continue to see significant growth in this area and other online parent forums in the years ahead.

6. Facebook groups and Google+ Circles provide ideal platforms

Everyday, these tools allow for audiences to witness and participate in Q&A sessions, professional development, and curricula sharing across the globe.

7. Images create momentum and memories

YouTube, Flickr, video blogs, Skype, and Google+ Hangouts are bringing the power and benefits of gifted education and peer interaction to life.

8. Community comes home

Whether a parent or teacher is looking to connect with others about issues of twice-exceptional students, dual-college enrollment, camps for profoundly gifted learners, and/or students in rural areas, today’s social media platforms are making finding one’s tribe not only possible, but also convenient and rewarding.

9. New Zealand informs New York and vice versa

No longer bound by geography, gifted educators, parents, policy makers and advocates are sharing knowledge, resources, and insights globally.

10. Socratic Seminars in Google+ Circles

We’re just at the beginning of transformative learning. Educators at universities and high schools are already seeing the power of shared learning through social media tools. Group projects and real-time dialogue between professors and students, mentors and students, and learners from different countries will continue to ignite ideation and solutions. Here’s just one of hundreds of examples of an organization recognizing the need to “get it” soon: Stanford University GSB Seeking Social Media & Email Marketing Manager, Marketing & Communications.

No Limits

What impresses me most is the intense commitment shown by teachers who are creating, sharing, and applying the latest social media tools and apps to their curriculum. Parents and students are just now seeing the seeds of true engagement. And we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

As more private gifted schools, gifted nonprofits, publishers, and psychiatrists adjust their views of social media, they will stop “marketing” to target audiences and begin engaging them. They will cross the aisle to communicate with other fields. They will tap advertising and online sponsorship options instead of simply signing up to be a vendor at a traditional, in-person conference or expecting others to manually visit their Web site without interaction. Those who don’t may soon find themselves struggling, wondering why conference attendance rates, revenues, and donations are down, and/or finally realizing they’re becoming obsolete despite long-standing leadership in the past.

It can be hard sometimes to fully comprehend the complexities inherent in the intersection of social media, education, and marketing. Leaders who see behind the predominant myths and embrace the possibilities truly will be the ones shaping the future. Here’s to all of you who are open to seeing these new realities!


5 Reasons to Celebrate Parenting a Gifted Learner Today

By Deborah Mersino

James T. Webb, Ph.D. not only “gets” gifted children; but he’s also been working tirelessly for decades to ensure parents get the support they need to better understand their children fully. As author, founder of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), and president of Great Potential Press, Webb continues to inspire and educate. Together with the board members and volunteers of SENG, Webb and this organization serve as model exemplars for how individuals and nonprofits can stay fresh and impact.

For my leg of the National Parenting Gifted Children Week Blog Tour (brought to you by SENG), I have decided to focus on the positives of parenting a gifted child. We all know that sanity and harmony can feel elusive at times; however, organizations like SENG continue to remind us that community matters, gifted learners deserve support, and parents need other parents.

So, without further ado, I’m honored to share 5 simple, positive truths about parenting gifted learners today:

  1. Gifted children are complex beings who make life ultra interesting.
  2. Finding other parents of gifted learners has never been easier.
  3. Social media and the Web make finding resources and support a snap.
  4. The more you learn about your gifted child, the more you might find out about yourself.
  5. Our world needs your gifted child.

Let’s take a closer look!

Gifted children are complex beings who make life ultra interesting.

Whether you’ve just started on the parenting journey or have already navigated the complex twists and turns of raising a gifted child, one thing is undeniable. Life is never stagnant! The more you tap organizations like SENG for support and learn about the characteristics of these children, motivation, discipline, peer relationships, sibling relations, stress management, and communication strategies, the more you’ll realize how fortunate you are to be guiding these gifted learners through life. And if you haven’t already downloaded your free SENG NPGC ebook, The Joy and the Challenge: Parenting Gifted Children, do yourself a favor and check it out now.

Speaking of complexities, I recently came across a video, courtesy of SENG Board Member Lisa Rivero’s Everyday Intensity Blog, which blew me away. Click here to access Rivero’s post on Webb’s must-see video on gifted learners. You’ll find yourself nodding in agreement, learning, and appreciating how SENG came to be.

Finding other parents of gifted learners has never been easier.

Finding parents who live in your area, becoming a SENG Model Parent Group Facilitator, and/or starting your own SENG group is just one of many ways to create community. Here’s information on the next training, which will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina. Keep your eye out for training opportunities in your area and/or make a plan to be in Milwaukee next July!

Social media and the Web make finding resources and support a snap.

During NPGC Week only, SENG is offering a FREE SENGinar recording of its popular presentation “Is it a Gift or a Curse?” by Victoria Ragsdell, Ph.D. Sign up during the week of July 17-23, 2011 to take advantage of this limited time opportunity, a $40 value. Register now!

Moreover, whether you favor Facebook, Twitter, Google+, online discussion boards, and/or Webinars, today’s social media and Web are filled with opportunities to find answers, support, and hope. It’s never been easier to find like-minded individuals who have a passion for gifted learners. Take a moment and explore some of the social media and Web platforms available today!

The more you learn about your child, the more you might find out about yourself.

As you arm yourself with new resources, knowledge, and insights pertinent to your gifted child, you may just wind up discovering more about yourself. And couldn’t we all use a bit more grace, understanding, and self-acceptance in this hyper-paced world of ours?

Our world needs your gifted child.

On those days when you’re making tough decisions about the best educational options, coaching kids on friendship challenges, contemplating a grade skip, deciding to homeschool or change schools, and/or find an occupational therapist for your twice-exceptional learner, remember this. You’ve been blessed with raising a child who has the potential to surprise and delight you. This world needs your child, and even though his or her wants and needs may not always align with yours, one thing is clear…these young individuals will find their way into a future that desperately needs them.

So, this week, pat yourself on the back and remember – YOU are to be celebrated!


Wow! Reflections on the First International Adult Giftedness Symposium

By Deborah Mersino

I hadn’t intended to get choked up. After all, I had heard two of the three keynote speakers present before. However, from the moment I walked into the sun-drenched room at the Lionsgate Center in Lafayette, Colorado on April 12, 2011, something stirred inside of me.

As an attendee at “The Gifted Journey: Hardwired for Life – The First International Symposium on Adult Giftedness,” I knew I was in for a treat. After spending the past two years working in the realm of giftedness, launching #gtchat on Twitter, and building my business, Ingeniosus, I was now going to be surrounded by inspiring leaders and colleagues who shared my passion and thirst for learning.

Amid the purple-donned tablecloths and stained glass windows, I spotted Dr. Linda Silverman of the Gifted Development Center; she was glowing and chatting away. When I first met Linda, she was presenting at the Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented Conference in 2009. Her topic was “So what if I’m gifted? Am I thin enough?” I became a fan on the spot.

I then saw Dr. Patricia Gatto-Walden walking across the room with her trademark curls and beaming smile. She, too, had inspired me at that same conference in 2009. When Linda, Patricia, and I found ourselves on the same flight to NAGC’s Annual Conference in Atlanta more than a year later, I felt serendipity at work. For the record, short cab rides from airports to hotels can be life-altering.

Now, I found myself looking forward to a day of learning. Dr. Ellen Fielder was also going to be speaking on adult giftedness. Several members of the online gifted community had spoken highly of her, and I was eagerly anticipating her talk as well.

What transpired over the next eight hours caused me to shift my thinking, expand my awareness, and grow my appreciation for the gifted community. And although I couldn’t possibly do justice to each and every presentation and discussion at the symposium, I have decided to share my most poignant personal learns. Credit goes to the talented presenters, facilitators, and referenced scholars, who captured the essence of what matters to us, what moves us, what makes us tick, and what chokes us up. As I’m traveling through “The Gifted Journey: Hardwired for Life”, I now realize:

  • I can exhaust people! Linda Silverman spoke with levity about how she learned that gifted extroverts sometimes place inordinate and unconscious demands on those around them. Our love for ideation causes us to sometimes chatter away with verve without truly realizing the intensity we’re carrying. I didn’t take this as an affront, but rather it offered me relief. Somewhere subconsciously, I’ve felt this for decades. Now, I get it, and I can be more aware of my impact. I can also view my energetic daughters with fresh eyes.
  • I don’t have to have all the answers! While I’ve considered myself a life-long learner for some time now, I reveled in Patricia Gatto-Walden’s depiction of being in tune with all living things and time. As I heard her poetic words, I opened up my soul a bit. So often, gifted adults have a tendency to want to be “in control” and wind up feeling like they’re “too much” or “not enough.” And while I’m aware of Imposter Syndrome and the like, it finally dawned on me that my overexcitabilities, my intensity, and my creative drive are simply innate. I befriended them – perhaps for the first time in my life.
  • It’s okay to change my mind! Multipotentiality and giftedness can impart confusion and questioning regarding our career trajectories, our love lives, our interests, our preferences, and our desires throughout our lifetime. Add perfectionism to the mix, and it’s easy to confuse “the right path” from “the missed path” or “the horrid path.” The shared anecdotes from the various presenters, panelists, and participants throughout the day helped me let go of having to “get it right” and “do it right now.” Instead, this newfound grace allowed me to embrace “choosing what feels right to me at this particular juncture in time.” I did an inventory of my current “plate” and decided to make some room on it for me.
  • I want someone to do a doctorial thesis based on a question I asked! How does knowing about one’s giftedness – and being supported from an early age – impact a person’s life and their movement through Dabrowski’s 5 levels? With so many myths, paradoxes and debate around the “gifted” label, I believe knowing about one’s giftedness at an early age – and being educated on social-emotional issues in particular – can have a significant positive impact on a life. I’m not likely to pursue a Ph.D., so I hope someone runs with this! I see my own daughters growing up with books like, “101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids” by Christine Fonseca and having lively, critical discussions in their peer groups. I know teens are benefitting from Author Lisa Rivero’s “The Smart Teen’s Guide to Living with Intensity: How to Get More Out of Life and Learning” and the empowering work of gifted authors and specialists throughout the world. I would love to have someone do empirical research on how gifted learners receiving full-fledged affective support in this new generation will forever be altered, as they view themselves more kindly, know themselves better, and travel through their lives with knowledge about their own hardwiring.
  • Gifted adults need peers! This isn’t so we can exhaust each other, but rather, so that we can make sense to ourselves at last. I’m a huge proponent of online communication; I’ve even founded my current career on it. However, at this symposium, I was reminded of the importance of face-to-face learning and dialogue. For instance, having lunch with Tracy Weinberg of the Texas Association of Gifted and Talented (TAGT) gave me a new look into his world, his strengths and his wisdom. Even though we’ve communicated online for some time now, our face-to-face time deepened my appreciation for him and his work and made me even more enthusiastic about supporting TAGT’s Annual Conference in 2011.
  • It’s okay that my daughter’s room is messy! Yes, that’s right. Thanks to the wisdom of Linda Powers Leviton, who serves as director of the Gifted Development Center on the West Coast, I now have a new solution to propose to my visual-spatial daughter, who shares a room with an audio-sequential learner. Linda and I both happened to be at the table discussion on family needs, when I raised the question about kids’ clothes being strewn about a bedroom. Without raising an eyebrow, she shared how she once gave her creative child two laundry baskets – one for clean clothes and one for dirty clothes. Her child didn’t have to hang up his clean clothes (just keep them in the clean basket). This solved the “clothes-on-the-floor” dilemma. And with that empowering support, I officially let go of long-harboring “mommy guilt” associated with non-Pottery-Barn-catalog-looking-bedrooms. Bring on the baskets!
  • I want to hear others’ stories! At one point in the symposium, five individuals representing five different stages of life, shared their stories. Each one blew me away. I found myself laughing out loud, tearing up, sighing deeply as I resonated with a story of struggle, and applauding as vigorously as possible – for these stories moved me. Even the infamous Annmarie Roeper, who is in her 90s, shared her story virtually. Barbara Mitchell Hutton read Annmarie’s written words with reverence and strength. I realized we have so much to learn from those who have come before us as well as those who are coming after us. I am determined to somehow capture more of these stories – either on this blog, in a book, and/or another forum.

These are just nuggets I gained, but are by no means representative of the full gamut of learning that took place at the symposium. Those who orchestrated this event did a laudable job ensuring that each individual had the opportunity to reflect on their own situation in a non-threatening, encouraging environment that was rich with support, peppered with humor, and enveloped in kinship. Near the end of the day, I choked up as I witnessed the main speakers reflecting on their life’s work. I felt honored to be in their presence and joyous that I’d found my home at last.

As I pulled away in my car at the end of the day, I felt immensely grateful. A thought immediately came to mind, and it has stayed with me until this day. The Adult Giftedness Symposium absolutely has to go on the road!


Freaky Slam Poetry, Zombie Attack, Philosophy, Music Recording Studio and More…

Severn Young and Erick Quintanilla, both 13 years old, have attended the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) at the University of Northern Colorado for the past two years. Both currently go to the same school in Colorado and have become close friends. I recently had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with them to dialogue about their experiences at camp. Hearing two seventh grade boys talk about how life-changing SEP has been made me recognize how critical camps like this are. The right environment and support for both the cognitive and social-emotional needs of our gifted, talented and creative students can, in fact, alter the trajectory of lives.

Here’s a compilation of my favorite comments from Severn and Erick:

What makes SEP powerful are the surroundings, the interesting classes and the teachers! In my Zombies Attack class, we got to use our imagination and explore what it might truly be like to face an apocalypse. The teachers are all different from one another, but that’s what makes it so interesting. Unlike school, there are no bullies at SEP. Every one treats you like you want to be treated. My favorite class was a philosophy class and a Freaky Poetry Slam class. Everyone at SEP is so understanding. They’re in the same shoes as you. I learned that when I put my mind to something, I can achieve it. My favorite class was a Musical Recording Studio. I felt so welcomed. It really surprised me how nice everyone was. I expected them to be like other kids at school, but that wasn’t the case. These kids understand. SEP makes you want to go out and change the world and make it a better place. I learned that if you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, nothing can get in your way!

When I asked them what advice they might offer to a new camper and/or someone who might be considering the Summer Enrichment Program, they offered this:

If you’re considering it, but aren’t sure, follow your instincts. You’ll realize later that coming to SEP was a great decision! You’ll change the way you look at things; you’ll change for the better. Parents should know that it’s really safe. We’re always supervised. And if someone’s shy, they shouldn’t worry about making friends. Everyone here is accepting.

Finally, when I asked these two to give me three adjectives or descriptors that best depicted SEP, Severn responded, “Astonishing, great and fun.” Erick said, “Fun, exciting, better than anyone can expect.” Severn added, “I would recommend it because it’s the most amazing experience I’ve had as a kid; I couldn’t be ‘me’ without it.” How’s that for life changing?

Lastly, here’s a glimpse – a montage actually – of some of the courses offered at SEP. To learn even more about the Summer Enrichment Program at UNC, click here.


“From Kentucky to Taiwan” – Thoughts on a Relevant, Engaging & Transformative Education

By Kia Allen, a Gatton Academy Senior

I was fifteen when I first moved two-and-a-half hours away from my friends and family, and made the decision to put my education first. I was ready to be challenged in a way that I had never been before. And–believe me–it has been very challenging. Not only has the Gatton Academy pushed me and my peers mentally but it also opened doors for us to wonderful opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else.

Last year, I was presented the opportunity to spend the summer in Taiwan with another academy student and five other Western Kentucky University students. I was told that I would be doing chemical engineering research at National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan. When I was first presented with the idea I was quite nervous, and I didn’t know what to expect. But this was one opportunity that I couldn’t pass up!

To me the trip wasn’t exclusively about working in a lab; it was about learning and experiencing a new culture.

The Taiwanese were some of the nicest people I have ever met. Every day there was always a random stranger saying hello and helping me as much as they could when I looked very confused. Each weekend in Taiwan was a different adventure, we went to night markets, amusement parks, we climbed mountains, saw the second tallest building in the world, and many other things, too. Most of all, it was an opportunity for something both intellectual and personal that not all gifted young people get to do.

One day while I was walking to the university to start my full day of work, I realized how much I have changed as a person. I was living thousands of miles away from home and I wasn’t scared. I really grew up on the trip and I realized that if I could live on my own at the age of sixteen, then I was going to be just fine when I actually go to college or move away from my family. I have never felt so good about myself and my future then how I did that day. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support and the guidance of the Academy as well as legislators, educators, and other leaders who believed in the Academy and gave it a chance to exist, grow, and thrive. I hope you realize how much you—and all advocated for young people who are gifted and talented–have changed the lives of students. From me and all the other Academy students, we thank you for changing our lives by making this and other wonderful opportunities possible.

For more information on the Gatton Academy, click here. To see the Gatton Academy’s 2010-2011 School Profile, click here.