Parent Division of OAGC hosting a GHO

Parents, Educators, and Advocates of Gifted Children

Mark your calendars for an engaging and informative Google Hangout:
“You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Navigating the World of Gifted Education”
See below and the attached flier for more information.

April 21, 2016, 7 p.m.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Navigating the World of Gifted Education
Live Google Hangout Video Q&A
With OAGC Parent Division
Watch Live here: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Navigating the World of Gifted Education


Apps to Keep your Teens Safe

Over the past few days I have been having some conversations with my students about the material they are posting online. Sometimes, they scare me at how open they are at sharing their where abouts, and some of their habitual hangout spots, and with whom.

From some of these conversations, I realized my students may be gifted, but they aren’t thinking things through when it comes to social media. So I decided that I would share with them some tips and information about appropiate online sharing.


I started with the fact that everything they put online can be there forever. They are creating a digital foot print.  According to Webopedia, “On the Internet a digital footprint is the word used to describe the trail, traces or “footprints” that people leave online. This is information transmitted online, such as forum registration, e-mails and attachments, uploading videos or digital images and any other form of transmission of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information about yourself available to others online.”

Their digital foot print can:

  • Affect their image and reputation in the real world, and in online world
  • Affect relationships in the real world, and in online world
  • Affect their chances of getting future employment
  • Affect their chances of getting into the college they dream of

I told my students, they need to watch what they put up on line. I told them to ask themselves a few questions:

  1. Is it appropiate to all to see?
  2. How will this post, picture, or video does it respresent me properly to the online world and in my real world relationship?
  3. It is positive or negitive?

Closing the Excellence Gap

I was reading some of the findings of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and to be honest, I wasn’t surprised by the outcomes of their findings. No State is doing enough for our gifted students. among those students who are not performing enough are gifted students who are minorities and urban low socio-economic students.

For the life of me I don’t understand how we can have such financial support through federal laws that dictates how special education students are identified and serviced, BUT we don’t do the same for those students who are gifted. These students, regardless of socio-economic status, need to have the same right to be financially and lawfully supported in identification and service. I know many people have this idea that if you are gifted then you should be able to learn on your own, or being gifted is an entitlement. That’s not always true. These students need to be challenged, supported, and encouraged just as much as other students regardless of educational ability.

In the field of Gifted Education we some great foundations, organizations, schools, and advocates that help to propel the fight forward. They work tirelessly with legislators, subcommittee, and other advocates to help make laws and shape the funding war. I applaud you. I support you. I also understand you also need help to get us beyond where we are today.

According to Ed Weekly, Among the foundation’s recommendations:

  • Make high-performing students highly visible;
  • Remove barriers to acceleration for advanced students;
  • Ensure access to advanced educational services; and,
  • Hold local education agencies accountable for serving gifted students from all economic backgrounds.

I agree with the Washington Post article that says there are some common issues that many educators and gifted advocates can agree on such as these:

●They want to see stronger talent pipelines so that more low-income and minority students are emerging from middle school ready for advanced high school work.

●They want to have better entrance exams to determine which middle-school students have the potential to excel.

●And they want to build stronger social and emotional supports to help their low-income students in high school and beyond.

According to the Jack Cooke Kent Foundation part of their belief is “ensuring, through grants, that high-achieving, low-income students throughout the country have access to meaningful, high-quality educational experiences.” Our gifted students need to have access to an appropriate education that in the end society can benefit as a whole.

In the era of NCLB we tried to close the achievement gap, but we widened the excellent gap. By this widening we are eliminating or limiting some opportunity for low socio-economic students of future successes.

We, as advocates, parents, foundations, and organizations need to try to get some national movement to get the mandates into law that our gifted children really need to have a real fighting chance to succeed, and to be a future asset to society as a whole. I don’t know exactly how to this, but I know there are tools are there than can be used such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets that can help educate, motivate, and mobilize the gifted education community. Finding those core common beliefs that all can get behind will be an important aspect for success.

The Digital Footprint

I had some conversations with a few of the students here in school about what they do online. Most students are on Facebook and Instagram. Some students have ventured into the Twitterverse, and making and posting their own YouTube videos. Very few students I talked to have blogged or even read a blog. None of this surprises me. I live in and work in an urban school where kids have limited resources when it comes to technology. Most of the students I teach or see in the building have a smart phone of some kind, and for some this is the only thing they have since they don’t have a computer and internet at home. They use them to post pictures, or other things on in their life on the sites I mentioned. Something that has occurred to me is this question: has anyone ever told you that what you post on the internet can be there forever?

I read an article today about 10 things students should know about their digital footprint. I believe this is something we need to have our students read. I know my students could learn a lot from this article. Some of the main points I believe are important to stress from this article are:

College admissions and employers do read your online profiles and they do make decisions based upon information they find out about you online.

Keep private information private. 

Build your own positive image and brand yourself in a great way.

According to Cybersmart you can manage your digital footprint by:

Keeping your personal details private. Use a nickname instead of your real name and always ask your parents before giving out your name, address or phone number online.

Not sharing your username or password with anyone.

Thinking before you post. Once posted, it can be difficult to remove.

Not posting things that you don’t want others to know about or that you wouldn’t say to their face.

Being respectful of other people’s content that you post or share. For example, a photo that your friend took is their property, not yours. You should post it online only if you have their permission.

I don’t think we teach our children these ideas as often as we should. We need to teach our children what it means to have a digital citizenship at a young age.  I do know that after the conversations I had I need to teach my students this, or at least remind them. I would hate to have them post something that could potentially ruin their future.

What do you do to teach your students about their digital footprint?

The Naked Truth teen infographic PDF-page-0




The Tears of a Teacher

Last week I wrote about some characteristics of Gifted children. I shared the Neihart and Betts information.  One aspect of that is starting to become more and more evident in one of my classes. That aspect is this: The Underground.

Type 3: The Underground 

These students hide their giftedness. Most of the time, in middle school these students are females. By high school some males fall into this category because of the pressure to pursue sports. By in large this group is female who hide their gifts and talents to fit in with the non-gifted crowd. These girls are anxious and insecure. They begin this change in middle school, and pushing these students can make them abandon their talents and gifts even more.

What makes these students so complicated is the fact they have gifts and talents, and they purposely choose to ignore those just to fit in. They change who they are to be something they are not.

My Gifted Girl

I have a class that mainly made of up of girls. They are a vibrant, creative, and a talkative group.  This group works well together, and  at times goes they go through their own struggles like all students do. What makes me sad about this group is that it is getting smaller. It started out with a mixed group of students around 10 in number. It has shrunk to a small group of four girls. As we were talking this morning, my students were telling me they missed the few other girls that have left the Enrichment class. They left class for a variety of reasons, but for the most part they left because they want to fit in with their other friends.

What makes me sad is the fact that our school district has brilliant, gifted, and motivated girls who would fore go the development of their gifts and talents and settle in to mundane school life just to fit in. I wish I could bring these girls to the realization that it isn’t others who bring you self-worth or identity. It is themselves. It pains me to think about these girls and the decisions they are making when it comes to choosing socializing than to ultimate success not only in school, but in the future. My heart is truly broken.

My Gifted Girl2

One of the most frustrating aspects of this pain that I have for these girls is the fact I don’t know how to change it. As a teacher I talk to them and encourage them, but I don’t think it goes anywhere. I wish that I could show them the mistake they are making like the ghosts show Ebenezer Scrooge his life in the past, present, and future. I am not saying that being in my class is the answer. What I am saying is these girls need to shown that they are a huge asset to their family, school, and community. They have so much potential to do some amazing things in the future, and they are throwing it away. Even as I write this I get that heavy lump in my throat. I want them to see themselves like other teachers along with myself see them.

What do you do to reach these girls who hide themselves to fit in?  I saw the quote above from a really good Facebook Page called My Gifted Girl. It is a wonderful place to go to read about what gifted girls are doing. I have suggested this website to my girls in hope that they understand that they shouldn’t give up on their gifts and talents.

What do you suggest how to reach these talented girls?

Building Student Independence

As the school year is coming closer to the end, I look at preparing for the last few projects of the year. My students have probably two more projects for this school year. I look forward to this time of the school year, because the last project my students do they are responsible for creating. It’s their choice of what they will do. I wait to do this type of project until the end of the year because I feel it is important for my students to have some critical skills under their belt before they start on their own.

Some of the skills I feel they have to know before the have their own independent project is:

How to form a central question to answer: When starting out on an independent project it is important to have that central question to answer. That question is what the whole project is based on. Forming that question is what can make or break a really good independent project. Through out the year I show my students the central question that they are to answer. We break it down in to parts, and I walk them through the steps of their projects. As the year goes on, I give them more and more independence.

How to research effectively: Once my students have their question broke down into parts, they begin to research. I have found if they break down the large parts of the project into smaller parts students don’t become encumbered so much. Those smaller parts help students to begin to weed out the unnecessary information that will at times take them off task. I encourage them to find some information that will ultimately lead them back to the central question.

How to organize material into usable set of information: Some of my students’ weaknesses is organization. I walk my students through a plan on how to organize their research into topics, sort of like a mind map. I give them a few ways on how to organize the materials they find, using file cards, charts, graphs, Google Docs, pictures and videos, and website or blog creation.

One aspect of all the projects that we do in my program is the fact that I incorperate as much technology as I can that will help them. Technology isn’t going away. They need to have technology skills for their future careers. They also need to know how to adapt from one kind of technology to another.

While working on their projects, I encourage my students to talk over social media. At the beginning of the year I set up an Edmodo account for them to talk. Many of my students are on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram with each other, and so they already talk and share anyways. So why not take a few minutes and check in with each other? They can use Instagram to take pictures of their research they found or want to share. I also encourage them to share emails with each other. Just as a back up to using social media.

Why do independent projects? I believe there are many reasons for this.

1. They get the chance to complete a project with little intervention by adults. This gives them the freedom to take their project wherever they want to.

2.  Gifted students have no problem in grasping main points. By doing an independent project they will have the chance to find the main points themselves, and have the chance to research those points as deeply as they want to.

3. Students get the chance to learn how to take notes that fits their style of learning. Which leads to organizing the way their strengths leads them to.

4. Most of my students work in groups. So sharing responsibility is important. It teaches them they need to trust others to do their fair share. It also makes them to put into places rules and consequences to control their group so the work is shared.

5. Finally, I think doing independent projects helps to build  personal strengths and helps students to become confident. I have seen students who are unsure of themselves at the start of the project to become more confident as projects come to a conclusion. Sometimes it takes something hard like a project for students see their strengths, and to see their confidence go up.

I don’t know how you feel about independent projects. I don’t know if you see what I see when students are working on projects, but I do know my students benefit from doing them. Its’ one of those things my students look forward to. It’s one of those things I can hear them brainstorming about throughout the whole year.

The overall goal of doing independent projects is get students to become more independent. When they become more independent they are taking more of an ownership in their learning.

What do you think? What’s your take on independent projects?

Being a Blowhorn

My students tell me I talk to much. That’s fine. I love to teach. I love connecting with students, and getting to know them. I do this, because I want to know them. I have several of them on my Instagram and Twitter. Several of them follow our Classroom Facebook page. I believe that knowing students in and out of the classroom is important. I learn a lot about them from their Instagram, and what they talk about on twitter. The other aspect of that is they get to know me in and out of the classroom.

Many ask why I focus on making meaningful connections with my students. The answer to that is easy. Its easier to stand up and be a voice, a blow horn, or an advocate when you are invested in someone. If you are invested, then those you stand up for are more than numbers or blank faces they are close people. They are connected to you. You feel obligated to do your best for them. That’s how I feel about my students. They are my children.

Being an advocate is like being a blow horn. You are trying to get noticed, to give instruction, or give warnings. I call my self a blow horn. When you are a blow horn, you are rallying to troops around. In my case, I am trying to make sure that my students are getting what they need in their regular classes, and parents are getting information that will beefit their children. I am making sure parents and students  have someone they can talk to when they want to have some experiences like summer camps, internships, or starting a parent group. They can count on me to help them as much as I can.

Being an advocate isn’t always easy. You have to be tactful, calculating, and sometimes cunning. Sometimes I hear my students complaining about a situation in a class they are in, and they are bored, under-challenged, or not engaged. I will try to meet that teacher, and suggest things to do with my students. It has to be done it tactfully. No teacher wants to be told they aren’t meeting the needs of their students. So informing others that their gifted students need to be pushed and stretched has to be done in a way that helps the teacher and students.

What I love about being an advocate is the fact that I get to share my passion, knowledge, and experience about and for gifted children. I try to be an open door for my colleagues to come in and talk about what I can do to help them, or to collaborate with them. I can I share my point of view. I don’t always get to meet with other teachers because of my teaching schedule, but when I do they will hear my views.

Advocacy takes several shapes. They don’t always have to be direct connection between students and teacher. Sometimes it with the public. Advocating is like a form of persuasion. You have to influence someone to get what you need. Sometimes advocacy is writing letters to the editor of your paper, or testifying in a state committee hearing, or going on a local morning show to plead your case.

Advocacy is also helping. Forming parent groups though SENG, or at your local school is one way that parents and schools can work together for the betterment of gifted students. Letting parents know what the gifted program is like, and why it exists is important. It also a good way for parents to find out what their school is offering gifted students like early college classes in high school, to post secondary education options from the local high school. It’s always good to have parents, teachers, and administrators making the suggestions for rules about acceleration of students for whole grade or subject.

Finally, advocacy is being informed. Letting parents, teachers, and administrators about some of the resources on the internet, classes or seminars / webinars, or blogs,books and magazines is an important aspect of advocacy. Parents and GISs need to stay aware of what is going on in the area of Gifted Education so they can share it with others and with administrators.  Joining a gifted association like Ohio Association for Gifted Children, or your state Gifted Association is a great place to start. You could also join the National Association for Gifted Children as well to see what is going on nationally in Gifted Education. Joining a tweetchat on twitter or a gifted related Facebook page, or following several bloggers who write about gifted issues is a great place to start collecting resources to be an informed advocate.

How are you being an advocate for your gifted children? What have you done that has worked? What have you done that didn’t work? PLease share your experiences in the comment section below, or better yet, join the #gtbloghop and post your blog on Twitter using the #gtbloghop hashtag.