Posts Tagged ‘parents’

12.19

5 Gifts from 2011; 5 Hopes for 2012

As we come to the close of this year, I find it particularly refreshing to look back and reflect on the many blessings, which have been bestowed on this community of impassioned educators, parents, and gifted education advocates. Here are just five of the happenings, which have brought me hope and renewed my belief in our ability to positively alter the future for gifted learners via digital media collaboration, the removal of walls, creative programming, and strategic communications and advocacy.

1. Global #gtchat continues to grow.

Our worldwide chat is now officially two years old! Congratulations to all of you who have helped make #gtchat what it is today. I continue to be overwhelmed by the devotion of participants who have made – or are just starting to make – #gtchat a regular part of their week and learning. Please join us for our last chat of 2011 this Friday, December 23rd at noon (EST), as we reflect as a community on “Progress Made in 2011; Hopes for 2012!” Global #gtchat will then take a holiday hiatus and resume its regular schedule on Friday, January 6th at noon (EST) and 7:00 pm (EST).

2. People throughout the world are recognizing the power of collaboration & digital platforms to benefit education.

This year, participants from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Honduras, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and all throughout the United States demonstrated the power inherent in sharing resources, dialogue, and ideation in real-time to benefit these learners and those who serve them. The Ingeniosus site drew a record 55,000+ unique visitors from 150 countries in 2011 alone for a total of 800,000+ hits to date. <=look what you’ve created!

3. I’ve had a dream come true.

When I participated in a Keynote Panel, moderated by TAGT President Lynette Breedlove, on the power of Social Media at the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented’s Gifted 3.0 Conference, I felt immensely privileged. Addressing 1,000+ educators and parents, I had a ball and was blown away by the amount of interest, enthusiasm, and dedication demonstrated by individuals hungry to tap new professional and personal development opportunities online. Hearing people I’ve never met scream down a hallway, “I just sent my first tweet!” with enthusiasm made my heart sing.

4. I’m honored to be working with three of the finest organizations devoted to gifted learners right now.

For 2011-2012, Global #gtchat Sponsors include The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky and the Gifted Development Center, as well as our new Lead Global #gtchat Sponsor, the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented (TAGT). I also want to tip my hat to the Summer Enrichment Program at the University of Northern Colorado for its support this past year; it was an honor to serve you!

5. I’ve offered Social Media Trainings/Consults to premier organizations in the United States this year.

Being able to debunk myths about the role of Social Media today, evoke an honest understanding of its power and capabilities, cull organizational findings via customized online surveys, and offer strategic communication and organizational recommendations to institutions and businesses serving gifted learners has allowed me to combine my knowledge and professional marketing experience in such a pragmatic way. When I see light bulbs going off and when I challenge organizations to view themselves in today’s environment versus “business as usual” I am able to see linchpins in action, which is satisfying beyond measure. Moreover, the Ingeniosus Authors Program launched in 2011 and has already started to gain momentum!

My five hopes for 2012 include:

1. Kicking Ingeniosus into full gear.

Ingeniosus is just three years old and is finally figuring out what it wants to be when it grows up – a leading global consulting firm dedicated to fostering connections to benefit gifted learners worldwide. In 2012, I plan to raise the ante on advocacy and programming, and also look forward to expanding the Web site, conducting more Social Media Trainings/Consults, securing additional Global #gtchat Sponsors, and growing the Ingeniosus Authors Program.

2. Being a productive rabblerouser.

I’m committed to continuing to ask hard questions and provoke thought, action, and change. Seeing that my CALL TO ACTION: Making Gifted Education Relevant Today and 10 Ways Social Media and the Web Are Moving Gifted Education Forward posts were among the top-read posts of 2011 has further ignited my commitment to stepping out. Even stumbling across this news from the Government of South Australia’s Department for Education and Child Development reminds me of the exponential power of our work. Casting fear aside, I want to be bold enough to foster new paths and enthusiasm for intelligent advocacy today, new forms of professional development (including digital swaps and real-time collaboration), and a blend of traditional PR and sage digital relations.

3. Speaking to 12,000+ individuals in 2012.

Educators, parents, and gifted education advocates are hungry for connection and learning. In 2012, I have a goal of speaking to 12,000+ people throughout the world via a variety of paid speaking engagements (in-person and Skype). Every person, every voice counts. Every parent who feels inspired, every educator who begins to incorporate more 21st Century Learning with his or her gifted students, every advocate who sees an avenue amid the Perfect Storm of gifted education matters. Every professor of gifted education who sees digital media as an opportunity and takes a risk, every gifted organization that asks itself how it needs to evolve to better serve, every parent who interacts more with local school boards, embraces their intense child, and partners more effectively with schools matters! Contact me if you want to help ensure this happens!

4. Launching the Ingeniosus “Your Move” Awards Program.

This may prove to be one of the most challenging, yet inspirational endeavors yet; however, I’m determined to find a way to birth the Ingeniosus “Your Move” Program into being and provoke young minds to tap digital tools for social good this year. I’m currently working to secure judges and sponsors for this program. Stay tuned for what I hope will be a powerful illustration of the potency of young minds utilizing today’s technology for good while supporting passion and learning with global connections.

5. Remembering always that each person is a part of the harmonious whole.

My life and work has been transformed because of you – yes you. If you’re reading this, if you have started to delve into the world of digital collaboration, and/or if you’re an advocate – young or old, then you have given my life immense purpose and supported my passion. Here’s hoping in 2012, I serve you – and those in your care — with fortitude as I do my part to honor the harmonious whole.

With gratitude,

Deborah Mersino

11.17

How Texas Has Won Me Over

Texas

By Deborah Mersino

Some of you recently read about how the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT) has signed on as the Lead Global #gtchat Sponsor for 2011-2012. Well that’s not the only reason I’m feeling fond of Texas right now.

Here’s 5 more ways this visionary state is capturing my interest pertinent to gifted and talented learners and why other states and national associations, administrators, educators, psychologists, and parents from throughout the world would be wise to keep an eye on TAGT’s Gifted 3.0 Conference:

  1. Free Wi-Fi at their upcoming Professional Development Conference, entitled, “Gifted 3.0” in Austin from November 30 to December 2. Free. <=#current #relevant #technology
  2. TAGT will have a special “Social Connections” area in the Austin Convention Center, where participants will be able to make IRL (in-real-life) connections with all of those people they’ve been collaborating with on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
  3. We’ll be hosting a LIVE #gtchat session from the conference on Friday. You are ALL personally invited to participate, whether you’re planning to come to Austin or not. On December 2, we’ll have just one #gtchat session at noon/EST; no 7pm/EST #gtchat. I would like the noon/EST #gtchat to be our biggest chat to date, as we’ll be highlighting tweets on a big screen in the Austin Convention Center and exposing lots of new educators, administrators, and parents to the wonders of Twitter collaboration. Mark your calendars now for this must-attend #gtchat session! #exciting
  4. Ian Byrd, one of my favorite gifted educators and creator of www.byrdseed.com will not only be involved in a Half-Day Symposium, but he will also be on a panel with TAGT President-Elect Dr. Lynette Breedlove, Joel McIntosh, and me. #delighted
  5. TAGT will be offering a full strand on Testing the Gifted in the 21st Century. This specialized event is designed for psychologists and experienced gifted administrators and will focus on the assessment and identification of gifted youth. This training is approved for CE credit from the APA. #relevant #needed

I could go on and on, but what I’m seeing, this organization is casting a huge vision. I’m honored to be a part of it.

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!

10.20

An Invitation to Austin: Guest Post by TAGT President Michelle Swain

Michelle Swain

By Michelle Swain, 2011 TAGT Executive Board President

As President of the Executive Board for the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented, I would like to invite all of you to my home town of Austin for our 34th Annual Professional Development Conference. The TAGT staff and Local Arrangements Committee have done an amazing job putting together another wonderful conference with some of the best presenters and exhibitors in the nation!

We are so excited for you to experience the many presentations, activities, and events all focused on gifted and talented children, and to take advantage of the opportunities to learn, network, and re-connect with friends. We encourage you to come enjoy the Austin lifestyle and experience the many restaurants and live music venues during your evenings. We hope the Annual Conference is one of the highlights of your year and that each of you will take your new knowledge and insight home to share with students, teachers, parents, and colleagues.

Austin

Our conference theme this year, Gifted 3.0, has multiple meanings. This is a time of new frontiers for education. Schools will be implementing new state assessments under new financially-influenced conditions and new accountability systems. Educators, parents, and students continue to explore new technology and applications which influence how we teach and learn. The gifted community is also exploring new and better ways to identify and serve gifted students, using what we know from the Texas GT Equity initiative and research from the field to expand opportunities to traditionally under-represented populations. All of these meanings converge in the theme and are reflected in the presentations you will enjoy during your time in Austin.

This year’s conference promises to be an outstanding experience, with the return of many valuable activities and events and a few new changes. We begin the conference on Wednesday with conference institutes, in-depth study of topics of interest over three to six hours with experts in the field. Wednesday evening we host the open house for parents, allowing the opportunity to access the exhibit hall and free mini-sessions of interest.

Thursday morning, Dr. Bertie Kingore, TAGT 2011 President’s Award recipient, will enrich us with her wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of gifted education in our opening general session. Friday morning, we will engage in a panel discussion on social media technology with Deborah Mersino, Ian Byrd, Joel McIntosh, and TAGT President-Elect Dr. Lynette Breedlove, followed by a live session of the international Twitter sensation – #gtchat! Friday afternoon we are hosting the Curriculum Potpourri. What an exciting way to bring the conference to a close!

Another new feature this year is a special conference-within-a-conference for psychologists, counselors, and others interested in the identification and assessment of gifted youth. Titled Testing the Gifted in the 21st Century: Looking Forward, this event features many leaders in the field, including Dr. Linda Silverman, Dr. David Lohman, Dr. Susan Johnsen, Dr. John Wasserman, Dr. Jack Naglieri, Dr. Joyce Juntune, Dr. Paul Beljan, and Dr. James Webb. Over the three days, it will be possible to earn as much as 15 hours of professional development credit. This training is co-sponsored by Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), an approved provider of continuing education for psychologists by the American Psychological Association.

We hope you are able to attend TAGT’s 34th Annual Professional Development Conference and we know the time you spend here will enrich both your personal and professional life. We sincerely appreciate your support of both TAGT and gifted children.

10.18

Q&A with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, author of Bright, Talented, & Black

by Deborah Mersino

On October 7, 2011, Dr. Joy Lawson Davis, author of Bright, Talented, & Black: A Guide for Families of African American Learners, served as a Guest Expert on Global #gtchat. What transpired during that hour moved me immensely and also touched those participating in the chat.

Our discussion about identifying and serving gifted learners from Argentina to Somoa highlighted the fact that many of the challenges pertinent to African American gifted learners today mimic the issues faced by gifted and talented individuals of other races worldwide. We were extremely fortunate to have Dr. Davis with us, as she shared her perspectives on how educators, parents, caregivers, and advocates of Black gifted learners can foster more support for this critical population.

Whether you are a parent or grandparent looking to support your gifted learner or an educator or administrator who wants to better understand the specific needs of Black gifted learners, you will find this book and Dr. Davis’ Web site to be an essential guide chock full of relevant, timely information and resources.

It’s been a privilege getting to know Dr. Davis these past few months; I highly respect her work. Later this month, I will share a follow-up post, which will include a sampling of the online resources she shares in her book and a poignant poem by her daughter, entitled “I Am.” For now, though, please enjoy this Q&A with a true game changer, who is working tirelessly to ensure we support all gifted and talented learners worldwide.

1. What inspired you to write this book?

As a gifted education coordinator in local school districts and later as state department director I was in contact w/ many parents & educators who were concerned, as I was, that schools were not appropriately identifying and serving all gifted learners. Too many Black students, low income, and other diverse populations were attending schools wherein their strengths were going unrecognized and thus, the children were unchallenged and their gifts and talents wasted. I also realized after my interactions w/ so many parents over the years, that one of the reasons that more white students were being served was because of strong advocacy on the part of their parents. I knew that whenever I had a chance to write a book it would be for Black parents who needed to know more about gifted education so they too could become strong advocates and ‘push’ schools to do more for their high potential and gifted learners. The black community & educators also needed to know more about challenges these students face and how conditions could be improved in schools for the benefit of more students.

2. What are some of the most common challenges Black gifted learners face today?

There are three that always come to mind when this question is asked: 1) The first challenge is low expectations that many educators have for African American and other diverse populations simply because of their discriminatory behaviors/biases and lack of knowledge about the black culture. 2) The second challenge is related- teachers with minimal or no training about cultural diversity and how culture impacts the way students learn, how teachers lack understanding or experience with other groups and the strengths that culturally diverse populations can express in a culturally sensitive environment. 3) The third challenge is retention in gifted and advanced learner programs once identified and placed. Identifying students is a challenge, but without the right set of affective supports- many students will lose interest, feel out of place, and simply withdraw from services designed to prepare them for more challenging learning environments in high school and beyond. Supportive peer or cohort groupings of gifted learners from similar cultural groups have a strong impact on the retention of students in gifted and advanced learner programs. Engagement of parents & families also has a positive impact on student success and retention in gifted programs.

Bright Talented Black Book Cover

3. What do you hope parents will take away from reading “Bright, Talented, and Black: A Guide for Families of African American Gifted Learners”?

I hope that this book empowers parents to become Advocates and Champions for their children and others like them. When we do see a population of black students identified for gifted programs, these students are still under-represented as compared to the general population. Nationwide, while black students represent 17-18% of the general school-aged population, they still only represent 8% of the identified gifted population. When parents are empowered to speak up for their own children, my hope is that they will do the same for others. Far too many students are languishing in classrooms everyday because their teachers don’t recognize their gifts or refuse to and that parents don’t have the information they need to make good decisions about how to get schools to address their child’s strengths and provide the right services for them.

4. What can parents, educators, and community members of all races do to better ensure support for this critical population?

Becoming informed is the first step, the next is forming community-school task force groups to look into why schools and school districts are continuing to overlook or under-serve these students. Community-school task force groups can be VERY effective if they hold consistent meetings, with deliberate agendas to probe the school district and use information from Bright Talented & Black and other resources to inform their goals and objectives.

5. If a parent is concerned about their child or teen potentially underachieving, what can they do?

Underachievement is often difficult to spot. It is more than your seeing a ‘dip’ in school performance. Underachievement can have many causes, student-teacher relationship, school environment, the student’s own internal motivation, peer relationships and home issues are just some of the triggers. What is a bit tricky, however, is that some students may be getting ‘good grades’ and still underachieving, because the coursework lacks challenge and is too easy. Thus, those students may also be underachieving because of low level expectations and coursework.

When a parent realizes that a student who was once very satisfied and motivated by the school experience loses that motivation and satisfaction…the first step is to talk with your child. As a matter of fact, in research studies, high achieving Black students report that at home they talk frequently about school related matters, values, traditions and that their open honest conversations assist in keeping them focused in school. Accusations of the teacher, school, and student are not beneficial. But, a frank honest conversation about what is happening at school will usually reveal some clues. A meeting with the teacher(s) or counselor is also helpful. There are a number of excellent books to assist parents with tackling underachievement. I list many of those books in the Appendix of Bright, Talented & Black. Other resources can be found at the Social-Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) organization’s website.

6. How have your own experiences influenced your insights and advice?

My experiences as a student, parent, and educator taken together have enabled me to look at the issue of under-representation of Black students in gifted programs from many viewpoints. While my schooling took place many years ago, I was accelerated and grade-skipped during elementary school and for the most part, challenged across content areas. Later, in high school, I was bored and unchallenged- It was through the arts and leadership experiences that I had opportunities to stretch and have a more enriched experience. As a parent, I went into parenting then as a strong advocate, but not only for my children, but for others as well. I took advantage of numerous opportunities to initiate new programs that would serve more students and provide enrichment as well as acceleration for them. Working at the state department and seeing gifted education from a broader perspective did the most to inform my insights. It was through my work at the state level that I came to understand more fully what disadvantages some children had simply because of their ethnicity, their geography/location, or their income. Clearly, more work had to be done and I committed myself to devote my career to opening access and opportunities for students whose needs were not being met in schools in varied settings.

7. Although the title says it’s a guide for families, “Bright, Talented, & Black” is highly relevant for educators as well. What do hope educators will take a away from this book?

I do hope that educators will use this book as a resource guide to help them become more familiar with the intellectual and affective needs of African American gifted learners. I also hope that the book will provide resources, strategies and programs they might utilize locally in developing improved services options for these children and others whose needs are currently not met in gifted programs. I believe that Bright, Talented & Black while written with the African American community in mind can serve to enhance understandings of the nature and needs of all gifted children. With that in mind- I think that educators will find this a useful tool that they want to be sure to have on their bookshelf and one that they will gladly refer to others.

8. Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would just like to say in another generation, I do hope that we can ERADICATE the whole notion of under-representation from our educational jargon. Identifying the gifts of learners from all ethnic groups is critical to our survival as a nation and as individuals. We can no longer afford to waste anyone’s gifts and talents. The cure to cancer, AIDS, the nation’s economic dilemma, development of an educational model that is efficient, effective & equitable, and the end to the energy and ecological crisis lie in the mind, heart and soul of a gifted learner somewhere right now. No one knows who that gifted learner may be, what neighborhood they may come from or what hue their skin may be, or how much money their family may have. But it is our shared obligation to seek them out, nurture them and provide options for the development of their ideas.

About Joy Lawson Davis, Ed.D.

Dr. Davis is an assistant Professor of Education at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she teaches undergraduate & graduate courses in Diversity Education & Gifted Education, respectively. She began her career in gifted education as a local coordinator in Virginia and eventually served for five years as State Specialist for Gifted Programs, K-12 for the Commonwealth of VA. As a sought-out expert in the area of Diversity in Gifted Education, Dr. Davis has provided services to districts across the country, in the Caribbean and South Africa. She holds two degrees (Masters and Doctorate) in gifted education from The College of William & Mary in Virginia, and is currently serving Co- Chair of the National Association for Gifted Children’s Diversity & Equity Committee. Dr. Davis also writes a column for Teaching for High Potential, a publication of the NAGC and is co-editor of MOSAIC, the Special Populations Network newsletter for NAGC. Most recently, Dr. Davis was named to the Advisory Board of Gifted Child Today, a practitioner-oriented peer reviewed journal with the largest subscription base of any gifted education journal in the nation. Dr. Davis is married, has three adult children, and shares four grandchildren with her husband.