Posts Tagged ‘training’

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.


06.05

Registration Now Open: Ingeniosus Social Media Symposium, July 25, 2011

By Deborah Mersino

I’m delighted to share with you the details of the Ingeniosus Social Media Symposium, which will be held on Monday, July 25, 2011 at the Aloft Denver International Airport in Colorado.

The Ingeniosus Social Media Symposium has been developed especially for leaders who serve gifted and talented communities. Designed for national, state, and provincial nonprofit organizations, private gifted schools, summer camp programs, distance learning institutions, publishers, authors, and psychologists serving gifted, talented and creative learners and their families, the symposium is crafted to cover all aspects of social media today and is appropriate for executive directors, marketing executives, heads of schools, writers, educators, and counselors within the field.

Click here for a PDF file of the Ingeniosus Social Media Symposium – Brochure.

Remember, social media is not a fad, nor is it simply an item to check off your to-do list or have an intern focus on for a few hours each week. It’s a completely critical aspect of marketing communications today. It’s also one of the most cost-effective ways for individuals and organizations to engage constituents and ignite interest in their mission, products and/or services.

Join me in July for what’s sure to be a powerful educational gathering. Space will be limited, so don’t delay.

11.10

Atlanta News | Tweetup on Friday at NAGC!

I’m delighted to be in Atlanta for NAGC’s 57th Annual Conference! It’s sure to be a phenomenal week of learning and collaborating. A few updates:

  • Global #gtchat: We will be having one #gtchat session at 7:00 p.m. (EST) on Friday, November 13th. Our topic will be “Drive: Motivation and the Gifted Child.” Join us! If you’re new to Twitter and want more information on #gtchat, click here.
  • Meet f2f (face-to-face) in Atlanta: I’m helping to orchestrate an #NAGC #Tweetup! Whether you are active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social networking sites – or simply interested in learning more – be sure to mark your calendars. We will be gathering Friday night (after #gtchat) at 8:30 p.m. in the Lobby Bar on the 5th floor of the Westin Peachtree Plaza. Follow @DeborahMersino on Twitter and/or “like” the Ingeniosus Facebook Page and stay tuned for details. And plan to keep Friday night open; our #NAGC #Tweetup will be informal and fun! (Note: everyone will pay for their own beverages). If you know for sure that you’re coming, let me know!
  • Get the Latest News: I will be posting live updates from NAGC via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, so feel free to connect and enjoy. I’ll be using the #NAGC hashtag on Twitter (and know others, like @PrufrockPress, will be as well). How exciting!
  • Learn More About the Power of Social Networking: I’m honored to be a part of a timely and informative panel discussion with Joel McIntosh, publisher of Prufrock Press, Carolyn K. of Hoagies Gifted Education Page and Ian Byrd of Byrdseed.com, being offered at NAGC on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. We would love to see you. Click here for more information on this session!
  • Get Your Questions Answered: Have a question about social networking and/or wonder how your school district, summer program, counseling center and/or business might benefit? Feel free to send me an email. I will be happy to answer your questions and/or set up a time to chat.

For those who can’t be in Atlanta, you might want to check out the NAGC 2010 Virtual Conference.

To our friends in Texas, here’s wishing you all a successful TAGT conference! And to everyone near and far, here’s to you! Just consider how social networking has exploded in 2010. So many of you are helping to ignite this potent collaboration on behalf of gifted learners worldwide. Just think of what can be done in 2011 and beyond!

Warmest regards,

Deborah Mersino

06.03

An Official Thank You to All #gtchat Participants: A Follow-up Post Regarding Vision

I felt prompted today to write you all a follow-up blog post. I wanted to offer a bit more explanation of why I decided to begin offering Twitter Training Sessions, Parental Impact Presentations and Global #gtchat Sponsorships.

When I started #gtchat, I strongly believed in its power to support gifted students throughout the world. What I didn’t expect was the intensity and excitement of orchestrating and participating in the chats week in and week out. It’s been an utter privilege, and I now find myself wanting to devote even more time and energy to this fruitful endeavor.

I have a large vision for #gtchat and want to do everything I can to ensure its sanctity as an open forum devoted to finding solutions for gifted learners worldwide. Global #gtchat ultimately belongs to us all (not just me). It can’t exist in a vacuum. After all, we birthed it via collaboration!

Having said that, I do want to do more research, invite topic experts to specific chats, create “#gtchat learning links” based on each week’s chat, introduce tweeps with similar interests to each other, teach others about the new social media technology (especially parents who might feel intimidated), create customized transcripts with live links, assist new #gifted and #gtchat followers, and ultimately continue to help alter the way we think and learn about gifted issues.

I believe we’re at the very, very beginning of something quite extraordinary that has the potential to challenge our perceptions and knowledge about collaboration, culture, advocacy and peer-to-peer support in the global gifted education realm. I know this because I’ve been the beneficiary of your wisdom, your input, your enthusiasm and support! Read the rest of this entry »