Category Archives: Professional Development

Challenges from Within


Each person will summarize the last 2 components (Social & Emotional Issues and Profiles of the Gifted) of today’s training in three sentences or less. Each person will need to share their summary with the rest of the group. It’s okay to refine your summary after getting input from others. Now that everyone at the table has shared, synthesize everyone’s thinking to come up with one 3-sentence summary. Add a fourth sentence, “This is important because . . .” Blog Splash the group summary in the comment section of this post.


The 8 Great Gripes


This Quick Write is all about the 8 great gripes.  You can write about one particular gripe, or a combination of gripes.  You may have a personal connection, whether it’s with yourself, a family member, or a student.  Remember, the goal of a Quick Write is not to worry about spelling and grammar (although it should be readable).  Rather the goal is to write your initial honest reactions to the prompt.  When the timer goes off, you will have one minute to wrap up your thoughts.

Now that you’ve watched the four movies (Great Gripes Movie #1Great Gripes Movie #2Great Gripes Movie #3Great Gripes Movie #4) that highlight the 8 greatest gripes of gifted kids, it’s time to reflect on those challenges and respond.  Here are the 8 great gripes:

  1. No one explains what being gifted is all about – it’s kept a big secret
  2. School is too easy and too boring.
  3. Parents, teachers, and friends expect us to be perfect all the time.
  4. Friends who really understand us are few and far between.
  5. Kids often tease us about being smart.
  6. We feel overwhelmed by the number of things we can do in life.
  7. We feel different and alienated.
  8. We worry about world problems and feel helpless to do anything about them.

A Couple of Bluebonnets


Walls with WallsWalls within Walls by Maureen Sherry is on the Texas Bluebonnet list for 2013-2014.  It’s the story of a family who has moved from Brooklyn to the Upper East Side of Manhattan because of dad’s new job.  The Smithfork kids have trouble adjusting to their new life, but soon find themselves knee-deep in a decades old mystery.  The mystery stems from the wishes of previous building owner.  A wealthy businessman from the 1930s, Mr. Post was a lover of poetry and puzzles.  His will was never found when he died in 1937, and his vast fortune remained hidden until Brid, CJ, and Patrick move in and begin to piece clues together.

If you’ve read the Chasing Vermeer series from Blue Balliet or the The Mysterious Benedict Society books by Trenton Lee Stewart,  I think you’ll like Walls within Walls.  The story is about a group of kids, in this case siblings, finding themselves in a situation and taking the initiative to find answers.  And like the Chasing Vermeer booksthe author did a great job of weaving poetry, history, and architecture into the story line.  I can definitely see where some kids would read this book and become highly interested in any of the details Sherry used to build the plot.  And while the action focuses on solving the mystery, the subplot is about a family adjusting to a recent move to a new neighborhood.


Looking at LincolnAnother Bluebonnet I read this week is Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman.  This biography of Lincoln is told from the perspective of a young girl who comes to the realization that Lincoln’s likeness is all around us.  One she realizes this, she progresses through a simple timeline of his life.  Obviously, Kalman focuses on the major milestones, but she also interjects fun facts such as Lincoln’s love of apples and vanilla cake.  One feature I really liked about this book is the author’s use of fonts.  The biography, which is told in third person, is written with a typical typewriter font.  But when the young girl starts to share her thoughts and ask questions,  the font changes to one that resembles a handwritten font.  The illustrations were fabulous as well. I’m always intrigued by artwork that shows so much detail, yet at first glance seems really broad and general.  I’m not really sure if my words make sense, but take a peek at the book and I think you’ll see what I mean.



38 Great Academic Language BuildersJefferson's SonsIt’s not a Bluebonnet, but currently I’m listening to Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  I just started it, but I’m pretty hooked already.  The audiobook is about 10 hours long, so hopefully in another week or so I’ll be able to share my thoughts with you.

I also just started 38 Great Academic Language Builders by John Seidlitz and Kathleen Kenfield. I have about 10 professional books I want to read this summer and I thought this was a good one to start with.  I’m hoping to find great strategies I can incorporate into my professional development sessions I’m offering over the next couple of months.




The Rights of Gifted Learners When Life-Long Learning is the Goal


Last Thursday, Dr. Bertie Kingore was the keynote speaker at TAGT.  As always, Dr. Kingore was a very motivating and inspirational speaker.  Her topic?  The Rights of Gifted Learners When Life-Long Learning is the Goal.  A topic, that as educators and advocates of the gifted, we can never hear or spread too much.  Because it’s such a vital issue, I thought it was  important that I share Dr. Kingore’s words.

Right #1: Continuous learning

Gifted learners have the right to experience continuous learning.  Preassessment is a strategy that allows us to eliminate redundancy in learning, just one of many ways we can continue to motivate gifted learners to achieve their potential.  Other strategies that allow for continuous learning?  Acceleration, curriculum compacting, and cluster grouping are all cornerstones of gifted education.  Dr. Kingore says that when making instructional decisions, there are some key questions that must be asked:

  1. Is this an appropriate learning experiences?
  2. Can all kids do this?
  3. Should all kids do this?
  4. Does it promote critical thinking, as well as depth and complexity, beyond grade level?
  5. Is the pace of instruction appropriate?

Right #2: Uniqueness

Gifted learners have a right to their uniqueness.  And the culture in a gifted classroom should respect that uniqueness and the ideas that come from gifted learners.  Dr. Kingore posed the following question the group:  What is the worst thing you can do for gifted learners?  The answer?  Nothing.  Think about that for a minute.  Feel free to reply to this blog with your thoughts.

Right #3: Unconditional Encouragement

Gifted learners need to be reminded that it’s struggle that pays off in the end, so instead of recognizing the finished product all the time, let’s take the time to discuss a student’s effort, including any mistakes made in the process.  Take note when a student selects a difficult task or utilizes various strategies and discuss the value in learning and inquiry.  Model how to reflect and assess, and expect students to do the same.  Encourage GB, XL, and 4Me.  That’s going beyond, extending the learning challenge, and what will help me learn more.

The key to success is a teacher who likes gifted kids and is quite accomplished at differentiating instruction.  Definitely a tall order, but one that can be obtained with committment. 

Right #4: In-depth Study and Long-Term Learning

Gifted learners deserve the right to be experts before their time (or before the timeline dictated by state-mandated standards).  In fact, Dr. Kingore shared a quote from Nodding (2009), which I think warrants further conversation:  “Over-promoting teaching to standards and tests reduces content to Cliffs Notes for everything and forecloses learning to think.”  Anyone care to comment? 

 With the focus on state standards and testing, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find time for students to particpate in in-depth study.  But there are a host of strategies that allow for continuous learning that support in-depth study as well.  In addition to the strategies mentioned above, Expert Quest (student-developed learning stations) permits students to read, write, research and create about topics that interest them.  Consider using replacement tasks in your classroom.  If a student is already proficient at something, why torture him or her by making him/her do the activity anyway?  Replace the activity with something more appropriate, rewarding, and challenging.  A possible resource that would further a student’s learning?  Any one of the thousands of instructional videos found at the Khan Academy.

While I’m not nearly as eloquent as Bertie Kingore, I hope I have gotten her point across.  Our goal, as gifted educators, is three-fold: 1) be an advocate, 2) make a difference, and 3) maximize potential.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some work to do. Read the rest of this entry