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NAGC 2007 Convention Highlights

January 11, 2009

Every year, the National Association for Gifted Children puts on a superb conference for teachers and parents.   Following are Barbara Geller’s notes on key things she learned at the 2007 conference.

“Motivating Gifted and Talented Students for Success:  What Parents Can Do”

Bronwyn MacFarlane, College of William and Mary

Students need a sense of control over their achievement.

  • Tell them the smarter they are, the harder they’ll work and, inversely, the harder they work, the smarter they’ll be.
  • Praise the achievement or the effort.
  • Call them “hard workers”, “good thinkers”.
  • Call attention to their perseverance, their love of challenge, their hard work ethic.
  • Emphasize mastery and learning rather than grades.

Actual achievement develops confidence.  (Rimm, 2006)   Self esteem does not generate confidence, so stop worrying about building self esteem.  Focus on competence.

The number one indicator/predictor of a child’s future occupation is the amount of exposure they have had to that field during childhood, so tap local museums and find pen pals or mentors for kids in their fields of interest.  (The New Tech High @ Coppell approach!)

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“A New Approach to Gifted Identification”

Robert Sternberg, Tufts University

Schools value only analytical skills, yet intelligence and/or success in life requires:

  • Creative skills to generate novel ideas
  • Analytical skills to ascertain whether they are good ideas
  • Practical skills to execute and persuade others of the value of your ideas
  • Wisdom to ensure your ideas help achieve a common good

Some colleges are now assessing creative and practical skills as part of their entrance criteria and finding that they help predict college success (GPA).

What are we doing to foster our kids’ creativity and practical skills?

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“Rigor: Beginning the Conversation”

Mona Lisa SmileShawn Colleary, Cherry Creek Schools, CO

What does rigor look like?  The movie, Mona Lisa’s Smile, has great examples of a class taught with and without rigor.

Rigorous content is complex, ambiguous, provocative, engaging, and personally or emotionally challenging. .

Rigor is not:

  • hard,
  • skill and drill,
  • an addition to the regular classroom work,
  • about quantity of work,
  • providing all the answers,
  • unguided process,
  • quiet.

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“Identifying the Gifted Using Personality”

Carol A. Carman, University of Houston Clear Lake

Three personality questions correctly identified 72% of gifted kids:

  1. It takes me longer than other people to get jokes (negatively correlated)
  2. I stay away from crowds.
  3. I find activities to perform in front of others (dance, music, etc.)

So, if you’re trying to guess if a very young child is gifted, pay attention to his reaction to jokes.

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“Action Research: Connecting Theory to Practice”

Jacqueline M. Palka, East Baton Rouge School System

Holly James, Lynnann Danjean & Kelli Bubee, SE LA University

Forty percent of students in the top 5% of their graduating classes do not complete college.  Why?

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