Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

01.28

New Beginnings and Heaps of Gratitude

By Deborah Mersino

{Taking a deep breath….slowly exhaling…} Earlier this week, I accepted an offer to become the new Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in Eugene, Oregon. It’s a role of a lifetime for me. Of course, saying good-bye to Ingeniosus and #gtchat makes me tear up…talk about overexcitabilities in overdrive {Shaking my head as I pay homage to Dabrowski}.

Please know I am already working with my Global #gtchat Sponsors to pass the baton, and am truly hopeful #gtchat will continue on without me. Global #gtchat really belongs to all of YOU, who have helped make it what it is today. Your verve, generosity, dedication, creativity, authenticity, and collaborative energy have propelled it forward every chat, every week, every month, and every year.

This has all happened quite suddenly; so, it’s a bit of a whirlwind in the Mersino household right now. We are driving out to Eugene, Oregon this Wednesday with the girls to find a rental home and look at schools. It’s hard to comprehend us moving in about a week and a half {Another deep breath in…exhaling…}!

As such, it may take a bit to flesh out the details of #gtchat amid travel, packing, and general moving chaos. Therefore, I especially appreciate your patience, as I look to lay the groundwork for continued global chats to benefit gifted learners and those who serve them. I will make an announcement about #gtchat just as soon as possible.

Collaborating with all of you these past three years has been such a privilege. I will never look at Fridays the same way again. You have enriched my life, my learning, my understanding, and my appreciation for global connections. With every blog post, response, update, retweet, reply, direct message, and fast-moving chat, you have ignited the power of digital communications for good and given me hope for the future of gifted learners throughout the world.

My passion for gifted education will not lie dormant! As many of you know, though, I am also passionate about 21st Century Learning and am utterly impressed with what ISTE has done and is doing internationally. I have had the good fortune of meeting with the Senior Leadership Council, which I will be joining, and the Marketing and Communications Division team members. The caliber of talent and drive at this organization is beyond inspiring. I feel quite fortunate!

Many of you have sent me kind wishes, notes, emails, and posts recently. My heart overfloweth with gratitude. As I travel down this new road, I will carry all of your goodness with me. {Packing it internally}. This will give me courage and conviction to step into the future.

Thank you all for being such an integral part of my life. Here’s to continuing advocacy, social responsibility, and collaboration ripe with ideation, compassion, and strategic vision to impart all that is good for learners everywhere {Smiling as I think of the continued influence you will all have…}.

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

12.23

And the 2011 Global #gtchat Award Winners Are…

By Deborah Mersino

I’m pleased to announce the recipients of the First Annual Global #gtchat Awards! We celebrated the contributions of these linchpins during our final #gtchat of 2011 at noon (EST) today. Please join me in congratulating our winners and thanking these collaborators for their hard work throughout the year! Without further ado, here are your champions {cue applause}:

  • Global #gtchat Award for Most Devoted Participant: Jo Freitag, @jofrei, who gets up at 3/4:00 a.m. in Australia every week to participate in our noon (EST) chat!
  • Global #gtchat Award for Gifted News Postings: Lisa Conrad, @ljconrad, who is the gifted education news maven. She never fails to post timely, relevant links from around the world!
  • Global #gtchat Award for Passion: Krissy Venosdale, @KTVee, whose infectious energy blankets her blog posts & tweets. She’s a space-loving, White House-visiting tweep who puts students first!
  • Global #gtchat Award for Vision: Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented, @TXGifted, who put Social Networking on the big stage at its Gifted 3.0 Conference and offered free Wi-Fi to all attendees.
  • Global #gtchat Award for International Impact: Tim Dracup, @GiftedPhoenix, who provides us with in-depth profiles of global gifted education centers & policy information regularly.
  • Global #gtchat Award for Levity in Life: Jen Torbeck Merrill, @laughingatchaos, whose authentic, brilliant, no-holds-barred look at life w/2E kids gives us hope.
  • Global #gtchat Award for Technical Prowess: Brian Housand, @brianhousand, who has been leading the way for 21st Century Learning & Gifted Education!
  • Global #gtchat Award for Best Blog: Ian Byrd, @ByrdseedGifted, whose humble, yet potent leadership has created a firestorm of support for gifted learners.
  • Global #gtchat Award for Homeschooling Leadership: Corin Barsily Goodwin, @GiftedHF, who has given homeschooling parents inspiration & resources galore.

And, last, but certainly not least…

  • Global #gtchat Award for Lifetime Inspiration & Impact: Carolyn K., @HoagiesGifted, who has paved the way for us all to collaborate. She’s the mother of connection! Her contributions for the past 13/14 years have provided the foundation for connectivity and hope. I admire her greatly!

Choosing was particularly difficult in several categories; however, I hope to honor additional worthy individuals in the years ahead! Congratulations again to this year’s winners. Thank you also to our Global #gtchat Sponsors, including @GattonAcademy, @GiftedDevCenter, and @TXGifted, and all the participants who have helped make #gtchat what it is today. Whether you are new to #gtchat or have been around since the first chat in January 2010, you matter!

Here’s to a powerful and impactful 2012!

12.03

Texas Leads the Way with #TAGT2011

By Deborah Mersino

What a conference! For those of you who had the privilege of attending the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented Professional Development Conference, Gifted 3.0, I am hoping your time in Austin proved fruitful and inspiring. I certainly feel energized from the buzz created by the impassioned educators, administrators, psychologists, and parents who took part in this forward-thinking conference orchestrated by linchpin leaders, like TAGT’s Past President Michelle Swain, newly installed President Lynette Breedlove, Executive Director JJ Colburn, Associate Director Tracy Weinberg, Marketing & Communications Coordinator David Estlund, the Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers!

Whether or not you attended this year, you will want to mark your calendars now for TAGT’s 35th Annual Professional Development Conference in Dallas, scheduled for November 28-30, 2012! It’s sure to be THE conference for visionary learning designed to serve and positively impact GT educators, administrators, parents, advocates, policy makers, psychologists, and students.

For those of you who are becoming cognizant of the rich Professional Development (PD) opportunities inherent in Social Networking year round, I encourage you to “dip that digital toe” (thank you Dr. Lynette Breedlove) into the water and begin exploring Twitter to create your own Personal Learning Network (PLN). If you didn’t attend a session on how to get connected, here is a written How to Tweet Primer, which will help get you started, so you can begin engaging with educators from across the world and even learn how to participate in #gtchat, the weekly chat on Twitter devoted solely to issues of giftedness.

Joel McIntosh, publisher of Prufrock Press, graciously put together a brief Guide to Twitter video prior to the conference. Wherever you live, it is worth checking out too.

I encourage you to continue utilizing the #gtchat hashtag when you are posting resources, questions, and/or thoughts about gifted education in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Additionally, I suggest using TweetChat to search for the LIVE #gtchat stream throughout the week and on Fridays, rather than simply searching for #gtchat in the Twitter Search Box. You can also try HootSuite and/or TweetDeck. See what you like best and determine what feels the most comfortable to you!

The LIVE Twitter feed in the Social Connections area right before #gtchat!

Remember, #gtchat takes place at noon (EST) and 7pm (EST) every Friday, which is 11am (CST) and 6pm (CST). Feel free to lurk and/or participate. Here’s a picture of the swanky Social Connections area at this year’s #TAGT2011, which was made possible by Adventures in Learning. It was packed during the LIVE #gtchat session!

If you have questions (big or small) in the days ahead, feel free to send me an email at deborah@ingeniosus.net. I will do my best to answer your question/s and/or find someone who might be able to assist. I do get hundreds of requests, so please be patient. There’s nothing I enjoy more, though, than helping gifted education advocates connect!

TAGT, the 2010-2011 Lead Global #gtchat Sponsor, and other sponsors, including The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, the Gifted Development Center in Denver, and the University of Northern Colorado’s Summer Enrichment Program, truly make #gtchat possible. Their support allows me to serve as a connector year round; I cannot thank them enough!

For those of you who signed up to get updates following the conference, I will be sending out the next #gtchat NEWS in the next few weeks. This next issue will include links to gifted education blogs from around the world, links to suggested resources, and more! If you didn’t sign one of my sheets at the conference, feel free to subscribe to #gtchat NEWS by clicking here and looking for the “Subscribe to #gtchat NEWS” section on the lower, right-hand side of the page.

If you have reflections on the conference, favorite 21st Century Learning tools you may have discovered, and/or new inspiration from #TAGT2011, I encourage you to “Leave a Reply” below and/or post to Twitter using #gtchat and #TAGT2011. The learning from this year’s powerful conference can continue, as we all work to serve this critical population with zeal!

Lastly, I want to say again how honored I feel to be among such talented and creative individuals, who care so deeply about the needs of gifted learners. I was touched by the hospitality of Texans and also appreciate those of you from around the world who went out of their way to make new tweeps feel welcome on #gtchat. You’re helping to change the world for gifted learners one tweet at a time!

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.

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.