Posts Tagged ‘children’

11.17

Are You a Visual-Spatial Learner?

picture in mind

By Deborah Mersino

I remember vividly the day my daughter at age 4 said spontaneously, “You know Mom, when you want to remember something important, you just need to take a picture of it with your mind. Then, you can keep it forever and go back to it whenever you want.”

At the time, I had never heard of the term visual-spatial learner (VSL), nor did I understand the essential implications for supporting students who think in images at school and at home.

In her book, Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner, Linda Kreger Silverman, PhD, writes about this learning style in detail. Silverman, a licensed psychologist who directs the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development and its subsidiary, the Gifted Development Center in Denver, Colorado, explains that “…the way VSLs learn is upside-down: easy material is often hard for them and the hard subjects are easy.”

In describing how society views these individuals, she says, “…right-hemispheric giftedness turns all of our preconceived notions of “smart” upside down. Visual spatial-learners usually don’t conform to the typical notions we have about bright people. We rarely think of them as gifted children. Yet, in adult life, it is visual-spatial reasoning that leads to true genius: scientific and technological breakthroughs, innovative forms of art, inventions, new perspectives in every field, and visionary leadership. Sounds like something we should know about, right?

Silverman’s colleague Betty Maxwell summarized it this way:

  • There appear to be two major ways of learning: auditory-sequential (more left-hemispheric) and visual-spatial (more right-hemispheric). Auditory-sequential learners are good listeners, learn well in a step-by-step process, tend to be rapid processors of information, and are generally able to express themselves verbally. They are often able to compartmentalize their reasoning from their emotions.
  • In contrast, visual-spatial learners are excellent observers, comprehend holistically – may have a sudden “Aha!” understanding that leaps over steps – appear to think in images, may need translation time to put their ideas into words, and sometimes have word retrieval problems. Their thinking and emotions are very intertwined.

So, why then should we learn more about visual-spatial learners? Neither learning style is better than the other. According to Silverman, “Some of my highly gifted, complex friends find this dichotomy too simplistic. Maybe it is. I certainly don’t mean to imply that people are completely one or the other. I see each pair of the characteristics as a continuum, and I believe we are all a mixture of both.

“More teachers need to be able to spot visual-spatial learners, so that their special talents can be developed,” says Silverman. “Validation studies we conducted with middle schoolers suggest that approximately one-third of the school population are probably visual-spatial learners! Their numbers are growing and we simply can’t afford to ignore them any longer.”

Do you think in images? Are you a visual-spatial learner?

Are you ready to discern whether your student is a VSL? Whether you’re a VSL? Click here for the Visual-Spatial/Auditory-Sequential Identifier.

Then, to learn more, visit http://visualspatial.com/. This site, which will be redesigned soon, is chock full of useful information for teachers, parents, psychologists, and administrators. I also highly recommend the book, “Upside-Down Brilliance.” It’s now available for purchase via the Australian Gifted Support Centre. Click here for the order form (it’s a bit tricky to open; you’ll need to right-click and save).

Upside-Down Brilliance

It’s worth it though. This book provides specifics on all things visual-spatial, including assessment, twice-exceptional students, the inner world of introverts, the challenges of parenting a visual-spatial learner, teaching techniques that work, and what it means to be a visual-spatial adult. I could not put it down.

When I saw one of the cartoons in the book, with a teacher asking a student this question, “You mean to tell me that you can do this complex math problem, but you can’t tell me what day follows Tuesday?” I smiled and thought of my daughter. She makes more sense to me now. And isn’t that what the best books do? Expand our knowledge and understanding?

Here’s to visual-spatial learners everywhere; after all, you do make the world click!

09.12

Take Five: Spotlight on Resources for Gifted Learners

By Deborah Mersino

On 09.02.11, our #gtchat session focused on five resources and sites resplendent with information and opportunities for educators, parents, and gifted education advocates. As promised, I am recapping the resources here. Please share these five finds with classroom educators, gifted specialists, administrators, friends, parents, students, and tech lovers. The links are live, so simply scroll over them to access.

{Drum roll, please….}

#1 – www.brianhousand.com

After you take a moment to appreciate the clever logo, dive into this site, designed by  Brian Housand, an Assistant Professor at East Carolina University in the department of Curriculum and Instruction. You’ll be happy you did. Many of you may know Brian from his novel presentations at NAGC, Confratuate, and Edufest (among others). This forward-thinking educator never tires of “exploring ways in which technology can enhance the learning environment” and “striving to define what it means to be creatively productive in a digital age.”

If you click on 2011, 2010, and/or 2009 on www.brianhousand.com, you will see just how busy this digital guru has been. Be sure to click on the “60 in 60” presentation in 2011, where Brian introduces “60 Sites in 60 Minutes.” And although you won’t hear Brian’s riveting dialogue, you will see some of the most current apps and sites worth exploring. You’ll also get a true sense of what the future of education could look like.

#2 – www.byrdseed.com

Perhaps one of the finest gifted education blogs available today, Ian Byrd crafts regular posts to stretch our thinking – and benefit the minds and spirits of gifted learners. Ian has taught in a gifted classroom since 2007 and was a GATE student himself from first through sixth grade. He’s quickly becoming one of the most sought-after speakers for professional development in gifted education. To me, it makes perfect sense. This humble, yet wickedly creative soul has tenaciously devoted himself to making education come alive for gifted learners via sound gifted education practices mixed with relevant life and digital applications. More than 3,400 educators have already signed up to receive his free PDF entitled, “Improve Your Gifted Classroom: 7 Ways in 7 Days.” Whether you’re looking for lesson plans, resources, and/or fresh ideas, Ian’s blog and site will inspire.

#3 – www.everydayintensity.com

During our #gtchat session, I actually shared a different resource in this #3 spot, only to later realize the site had grown cobwebs {gasp} from being poorly managed. In its place, I’m pleased to highlight one of my favorite new streams, the Everyday Intensity blog, which I personally have delivered via email because it’s.that.good. Lisa Rivero has been a strong force for good via social media platforms this past year. She not only serves on the Board of SENG, but also teaches, writes books, and now pens a Creative Synthesis blog for Psychology Today.

In Everyday Intensity, Lisa asks,

  • Do you want to know how to live with more intensity?
  • Are you interested in finding and sharing resources that pertain to intense learners (children and adults), giftedness, creativity, and personal growth?
  • Are you looking for ways to learn about and discuss giftedness that move away from the gifted label?

If you’re looking for wisdom and grounded insights, this site will open your eyes and evoke a sense of community and wonder. You’ll find yourself nodding your head in agreement and shifting your thinking regularly. After all, isn’t that what the best blogs do?

#4 – www.activehistory.co.uk

Russel Tar (@RusselTarr) was one of the first educators I started following on Twitter back in 2009, and he’s still one of the best. Currently working as the Head of History at the International School of Toulouse, Russel has created the ActiveHistory site for teachers and students of World History, and he regularly offers up some of the best history resources on the planet. His site is chock-full of interactive simulations, decision-making games, self-marking quizzes, worksheets, and lesson plans designed to make education captivating.

ActiveHistory has received acclaim throughout the world. The New York Times, The Guardian and other major news outlets have praised the apps on the site, including his Head2Head Interviews, where students can have virtual conversations with historical figures like Hitler or King Henry VIII. Whether you want your students to compare and contrast the rise of power of Mao to Stalin, interview William the Conqueror or pass sentences on criminals living in the 19th Century, this site is for you. Even if you want to devise a new IB Study Unit on Pinochet, he’s got you covered.

Unlike all the other sites listed in this recap, ActiveHistory costs, but it is reasonable. While you can often get free resources from @RusselTarr on Twitter, he does require a small fee to access the full content of the site. Fees for a whole school run $150.00 US/$125 Euros. Single teacher access runs $60 US/$50 Euros. Please let me know if and when you start utilizing this site; I will gladly share your experiences – and those of your students – with others. Personally, I can’t wait to create an online book club in seconds…just one of the many activities available.

#5 – Nicholas Green Distinguished Student Awards

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) offers many vital opportunities for educators; however, not everyone may know about this laudable awards program for gifted students in grades 3 through 6.

Please note that the deadline for this year’s awards program has passed. I’m sharing this because I hope you will keep students in mind for next year!

Here’s what the NAGC site says about the awards:

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) is pleased to announce the NAGC – Nicholas Green Distinguished Student Awards program for the 2010-2011 school year. Originally funded by the Nicholas Green Foundation and NAGC, this awards program is designed to recognize distinguished achievement in academics, leadership, or the arts, in children grades 3 through 6. NAGC believes that the Nicholas Green Distinguished Student Awards inspire children to achieve to their fullest potential, highlight high-ability students, and draw attention to the educational needs of our nation’s gifted and talented students.

The Nicholas Green Foundation was established by Maggie and Reg Green to honor the memory of their seven-year-old son Nicholas who was killed in a drive-by shooting while visiting Italy in 1994. The Greens paired with NAGC to start the Distinguished Student Awards because they wanted to recognize young people who are: 1.) working hard to make the most of their lives to develop their unique gifts and talents and 2.) around the age of Nicholas at the time of his death.

One child in each state may be named a Nicholas Green Distinguished Student. Each winner receives a $500 U.S. savings bond and an NAGC Certificate of Excellence. Eligible students may be nominated by parents, teachers, students, or community/civic groups.
Thank you to NAGC and Maggie and Reg Green for this program.

So go to the NAGC site, print out the application information, and put it on your bulletin board as an encouraging reminder to think about possible student nominees for next year. During our #gtchat, educator Krissy Venosdale (@KTVee) made this worthy suggestion!

That’s it for this recap; I appreciate you stopping by. My hope is that you will not only check out these resources regularly, but also will gladly share them with others. As always, I welcome your comments.

07.19

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!

09.20

For the Jean Louis Bullfinches of the World…

I recently enjoyed reading again about the illustrious and industrious Jean Louis Bullfinch (a.k.a. Scout) in To Kill a Mockingbird by Pulitzer Prize Winner Harper Lee and thought some of you would find the following exchange between Scout and her teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher, poignant:

“…as I read the alphabet, a faint line appeared between her eyebrows, and after making me read most of My First Reader and the stock-market quotations from The Mobile Register aloud, she discovered that I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distaste. Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, as it would interfere with my reading…

“Teach me?” I said in surprise. “He hasn’t taught me anything, Miss Caroline. Atticus ain’t got time to teach me…”

“…I mumbled that I was sorry and retired meditating upon my crime. I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers…”

Here’s to all the Scouts out there…and all the talented and thoughtful teachers who smile upon them, engage them and support them to fly.

07.10

Role Models: Finding the Best Biographies for Gifted Students

Thank you to everyone for your continued support of #gtchat. Our real-time learning platform for collaboration and advocacy on behalf of gifted students (and those who serve them) keeps growing because of you! In these past few weeks, we’ve seen so many new faces from across the globe. I continue to be inspired by the sheer volume of links and dialogue taking place.

I’m hoping to get ”Best of #gtchat” resource lists up sooner. Please join me in applauding @ljconrad, who graciously compiled our list from our 07.09 7:00 p.m./EST chat entitled, “Role Models: Finding the Best Biographies for Gifted Students.” If you missed the transcript, you can find it here {scroll to 10:30 for start of links}. Otherwise, feel free to utilize the live links below:

I’ve tried to keep our list simple and straightforward; the credit goes to everyone who shared! I should have the Math Mania links up soon as well. Thanks again to @ljconrad – and all of you — who continue to make #gtchat a potent platform for learning.

In other news, I’ve heard from several of you regarding Global #gtchat Sponsorships. I look forward to updating you all soon, as we welcome these visionary sponsors!

Warmest regards,

Deborah Mersino @DeborahMersino