Posts Tagged ‘teacher’

08.20

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!

07.19

Waiting for the Jeff Fesslers of the World

By Deborah Mersino

One of my favorite aspects of social media today is the real-time dialogue taking place between educators, parents, advocates, and influencers of education. Over the course of the past 24 hours, a conversation thread on my personal Facebook page blew me away. What started out as a debate about whether or not Waiting for Superman deserved a place on this “Must-Read Books on Education” list quickly morphed into a detailed and impassioned discussion about the state of public schools in the United States.

The Facebook entry most recently posted by Jeff Fessler*, a public school educator and teacher of the year in the 10th largest district in the country, prompted me to write this Ingeniosus Blog post. Fessler, who is nationally board certified and has trained hundreds of teachers in schools across the country, offered his portrayal of the current state of public education. *Full disclosure: Jeff Fessler is my cousin; however, given his credentials, I would have likely responded with a post like this regardless. His testimony is well worth reading:

It’s impossible to find solutions to our educational challenges by demonizing public schools, championing their privatization, or leaving the voice of educators out of the dialogue–all of which has happened through movies like Waiting for Superman, and through the reprehensible actions of our politicians.

I’ve worked in more than 100 schools across the country either as a trainer or teacher, and I can honestly say that the teachers are NOT the root of the problem. Sure, there were weak teachers (just like there are weak doctors, lawyers, and police officers) but they were certainly in the minority. The root of the problem was, and still is, the NCLB effect (so beautifully described in Kelly Gallagher’s book “Readicide”): (1) Measure student progress levels on high stakes tests every year supposedly to ensure proficiency (2) Rather than test for depth, the high-stakes test value narrow thinking, using multiple choice questions (3) Since an educators’ worth is determined by these tests, teachers are forced to narrow the curriculum to raise scores, usually with intense pressure from administrators and their school district (4) Subjects that aren’t tested disappear (social studies, foreign languages, the arts), worksheets replace novels, lectures replace meaningful projects and field trips, and test prep dominates the schedule (5) struggling students are overwhelmed and unmotivated, average students have no reason to rise above, and high achieving students are bored. Students begin to hate school. (6) Students take the test. Low performing students do poorly. Most average and high achieving students pass, although they’ve missed out on a rich, deep curriculum–like the ones used by countries such as Finland (7) Schools with mostly high income students and without minorities generally do well, schools with mostly low income students or minority students generally receive low test results, are threatened with sanctions, and may be given money…for test prep. These schools are under the gun to produce higher results, so more focus is put on test prep and a narrow curriculum. They basically intensify the failed approach they used the first time, expecting better results.

This is the world we live in as educators. And yet it’s public school teachers who take the blame for the ills of education. Do you realize that for me to use the out-of-the-box approaches I used in my classroom, I had to do so covertly? My research-based approach–arts integrated instruction, service learning, cooperative learning, using novels–was directly at odds with what my district and administrators required! I took a huge risk doing what my educational background and training told me was best for my students. Even more telling: I polled the other 60 teacher of the year winners from the other Florida school districts, and 75% said they also defied their district and administrators’ requirements. Isn’t it ironic that the teachers selected as the very best from their district didn’t follow district protocol? Not many teachers are willing to take that risk, and I can’t blame them. It’s what our legislators have forced us to do, and we are trapped.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that many politicians and corporations use NCLB in an attempt to weaken public schools and bolster their case for privatization. Much money is made by the companies who operate charter schools and private schools, and much more money can still be made. NCLB has also given rise to a whole new industry that creates and scores tests, provides test prep materials and training, and so on.

So instead of focusing on the real problems, we get smoke and mirrors…blame lazy teachers, tenure, the unions, teacher benefits, blah, blah, blah. The so-called governor of my own state recently passed legislation that eliminated tenure, ties teacher pay and evaluation to the state test, and deducts money for retirement from my salary (which has not seen a raise in 5 years, mind you)…all without consulting a single educator. His education transformation team included just 1 real educator (I don’t count Michelle Rhee since her 5 weeks of Teach for America training hardly qualifies her as an educator). His current state school board, which guides education policy for the entire state, currently includes not one educator.

Unfortunately this has all taken a toll on my desire to remain an educator in the U.S. I’m currently securing a position at an international school where I can teach with passion and without hiding what I do. A cop-out? Maybe, but my mental health is important to me!

So, if the Jeff Fesslers of this world are leaving their beloved profession here in search of overseas opportunities, what does that say about our country’s educational future? How long will we wait? Until it’s too late? As always, I welcome your comments, perspectives, and input.


12.22

Looking Back and Ahead with Gratitude

2010 has proven to be a year of growth, learning and global collaboration. I wanted to pause for a moment and share my appreciation for the following highlights. None of these milestones would have been possible without your support, input and inspiration:

  • Building a growing, active and generous tribe filled with linchpins!
  • Attracting more than 12,500 unique visitors from 62 countries to the Ingeniosus Web site in just 9 months and receiving more than 230,000 hits to the site since March.
  • Writing and publishing the following articles:
    • “Seven Guidelines for Parents of Gifted: How to Advocate Intelligently in a Tough Economy” in Understanding Our Gifted, Spring 2010. Thank you, Carol Fertig!
    • “Twitter and Gifted Education: How Social Networking Can Propel Advocacy and Learning” in Parenting High Potential, March 2010.
    • “Twitter and Gifted Education: Part II” in Parenting High Potential, June 2010. Thank you, Jennifer Jolly!

So, thank you all. Your support, participation, questioning, ideas and passion have ignited new life into the advocacy movement on behalf of these bright and creative students. And I feel so very fortunate to be on this journey with you.

Beginning in January, I hope to help take our digital movement even further, as I hone in on those areas which I feel can make the most impact. I look forward to watching you all lead in your strength areas. You motivate me daily.

In the year ahead, Ingeniosus will be offering companies, schools, individuals and non-profit organizations serving gifted and talented communities the following menu of options to increase their influence and impact:

  • Linchpin Business Reviews (LBR)
  • Strategic Marketing Consulting Services
  • Social Media Trainings
  • Global #gtchat Sponsorships/Advertising

I will also be working to ensure #gtchat continues to evolve, so that parents, educators and advocates from throughout the world can share information and resources in real-time, enjoy a sense of kinship, break down barriers and influence outcomes that benefit students.

Join me in celebrating all that we have accomplished together in such a short time. Well done! I raise my glass to you and look forward to an incredible 2011!

Warmest regards,

Deborah Mersino

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.

03.01

02.26.10 Global #gtchat Transcripts Now Available; New Twtpoll Up

“Every Child Deserves to Learn Something New Every Day.” NAGC Past President Del Siegle / UConn

This past Friday’s global #gtchat session on “Finding Age-appropriate Literature for #Gifted Kids” inspired me greatly. Not only did I feel fortunate to have such lively comrades participating in our global #gtchat, like Carolyn K., gifted advocate extraordinaire and founder of Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page (@HoagiesGifted) and Erik, a family consultant and program specialist at the Davidson Institute (@DavidsonGifted), but I also realized how easily and quickly critical information can be shared via this medium. In addition, we welcomed a lot of new tweeps from all over the world during both chats.

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