Gifted Education Specialists and Coordinators’ Role in Remote and Hybrid Learning

Many, if not most, school districts will rely on some type of remote (during COVID outbreaks) or hybrid learning in the coming school year. Gifted education needs to be integrated into any programs offered to GT students. Gifted education specialists and coordinators will be key to advocating for and implementing any program offered during the ongoing pandemic. Less than a generation ago, it would have been unconceivable and mostly unwanted to provide gifted education either remotely or in a hybrid situation. The past 18 months have changed many attitudes to the possibilities it may offer.

Disruption in all areas of education has entered its third year, and early resolutions for identifying GT students for services may no longer apply. Simply delaying the process cannot be the answer. The need for professional development in the area of gifted education has taken on new urgency. Traditional sources for identifying GT students have been put on hold, and concerns about teacher bias have been raised. Gifted education specialists and coordinators can consider identification based on rolling admissions rather than as the result of collection of data at one point in time. Assessments should occur as time becomes available throughout the school year.

Online learning existed long before the pandemic to provide enrichment & accelerated opportunities as well as to meet the needs of rural gifted students. Research-based procedures can be applied to today’s hybrid and remote learning situations. Remote and hybrid learning provide an opportunity for faculty and staff to expand collaboration, reimagine co-teaching, and to extend professional learning to include gifted education. In schools with limited gifted education faculty, involvement with students may need to include coordinators who previously only interacted with staff. Specialists can support classroom teachers to develop differentiated instruction.

What can gifted education specialists do to create authentic independent learning experiences for GT students during remote learning? Authentic learning experiences begin with removing barriers that prevent GT students from realizing their goals. Internet access, culturally responsive teaching, and promoting student voice and choice are important factors. Specialists and coordinators can work closely with classroom teachers to provide opportunities for students to connect with faculty, experts in their areas of interest, and intellectual peers. Online tools can be utilized to provide authentic audiences, capture student voice, and facilitate peer interactions both locally and globally.

Providing online professional learning has become paramount in the era of COVID19. Most PD and educational conferences moved quickly to online platforms. In many ways, it increased the availability of high-quality PD to a wider audience. Gifted education coordinators now have an opportunity to share instructional strategies, guidance on the SEL needs of gifted students, and to increase staff capacity of who are knowledgeable about gifted education in a virtual environment. GT coordinators can facilitate growth through such means as a “systematic, job-embedded book study process that includes the elements of study, select, implement, analyze, & adjust (Fugate & Bower 2019)”.

How can gifted education specialists and coordinators support families during remote learning? Gifted education specialists and coordinators can communicate with families to help them balance the demands uniquely associated with the pandemic – working from home or even job loss, home-schooling, and trauma. They may need to facilitate extraordinary opportunities for GT learners such as flipped learning for students who have added family responsibilities (i.e., caring for younger siblings) during the normal school day.

A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10AM AEST/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gtchatmod

Resources:

Resources for Educators and Parents during COVID-19 | NAGC

Teaching Online: Best Practices, Technology & Tools | NAGC

AIG Remote Learning Resources | North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

NC’s Guidance on Adapting AIG Programming to Remote Learning (pdf)

NCAGT Support for Families of Gifted Students (pdf)

Coping With the Stress of COVID-19: Tips for Families with Gifted Children (YouTube 9:13) | The Amend Group

Virtual Instruction for Gifted Students | NAGC

Profoundly Gifted Students’ Perceptions of Virtual Classrooms | Gifted Child Quarterly

Impact of Internet Connection on Gifted Students’ Perceptions of Course Quality at an Online High School (pdf) | Dissertation Boise State University (2020)

The Perceived Appeal, Challenge, and Learning Choice for Gifted and Talented Students in Advanced Placement Mathematics Courses | Dissertation Pepperdine University (2019)

Analysis of User Satisfaction with Online Education Platforms in China during the COVID-19 Pandemic | Healthcare 2020

Reopening Schools after the COVID-19 Lockdown | Journal of Global Health

Learning at Home Resources: Ideas for Teachers and Parents | Lisa Van Gemert

I Hadn’t Thought About It Like That: Finding the Silver Linings in Today’s Situation | TAGT

Gifted Enrichment Online Resources | Kentucky Association for Gifted Education

6 Steps to Prepare for Blended Virtual Learning | Lisa Van Gemert

How to Make Distance Learning Engaging | Lisa Van Gemert

Learning at Home Resources: Ideas for Teachers and Parents | Lisa Van Gemert

Adjusting Identification Services for the 2020-2021 School Year in the Time of COVID | NAGC

Nothing Can Stop Me | Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted

COVID-19 Resources for Parents | Programs for Talented Youth Vanderbilt University

Just in Time – 20 Terrific Free Content Resources | Briand Housand

AP Classroom User Guide for Administrators and Coordinators

Professional Learning | College Board AP Central

Thoughts on Parenting Differently Wired Kids through a Pandemic (Audio 14:22) | Tilt Parenting

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Perspectives on Giftedness

For decades, educators, academics, professionals in the field, parents and even those identified as gifted have tried to define the term ‘gifted’ with few reaching consensus. Today’s chat will explore different perspectives about giftedness. The terms educationally and psychologically gifted are terms used by some to distinguish between individuals with different needs in school. Other terms frequently used include high achievers or profoundly gifted. 2Es or twice exceptional students are labeled ‘gifted’, but also experience learning challenges. It’s important to consider a student’s strengths and address those before deficits.

What does it mean to be ‘more’ regarding gifted children and why does it matter? When the idea of ‘more’ is introduced in discussing gifted children, concerns about behavior are generally the issue. The source or reason for intense behaviors is debatable in academic circles, but rarely for parents. It is important to recognize and address out of the ordinary behaviors of a child who is identified as gifted to ensure their well-being as well as their ability to achieve academically and gain important social skills to be successful in life. In recent years, the importance of SEL or social-emotional learning has gained recognition among educators and parents. For GT kids, the assumption was that they would be fine on their own. This is no longer the case.

What challenges do twice-exceptional students face at school and in life? Initially, recognition of the existence of twice-exceptional students is paramount to providing appropriate educational opportunities. Failure to do so can result in students receiving only remedial services. Twice-exceptional students are often misunderstood both in school and by society at large. Challenging behaviors or academic deficits can result in students being misplaced in special education rather than placement in gifted programs. Inappropriate placement in school can lead to life-long consequences for twice-exceptional students whose most urgent needs are never met. It can have disastrous effects on life and career outcomes.

Pathologizing a gifted child’s behavior – labeling normal behavior as abnormal – is like trying to fix a problem which does not exist. Interventions, inappropriate treatments and even drug therapy can do more harm than good. For parents, in particular, it is extremely important to engage with professionals who have qualified experience working with gifted children. Pathologizing gifted behaviors may result in misdiagnosis which can lead to unmet needs or even more serious problems for their child.

Parents may wonder if they should tell their child they have been identified as gifted. However, its important to explain giftedness before they learn about it from unqualified sources or form their own opinions based on misinformation. Gifted children need to understand that they are more than a label assigned to them in order to receive services at school. That understanding involves realizing they are not better than, but rather better at. Understanding the nature of giftedness will help a gifted child to realize it’s okay to make mistakes or even fail at times; it’s not an excuse for poor behavior; and they may view the world around them differently than their age peers.

What does giftedness look like in adulthood? Gifted adults may or may not recognize their own giftedness based on their individual life experiences. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to only view eminent or high achieving adults as ever being gifted. Psychologists’ offices are filled with gifted adults experiencing anxiety, intense emotions, perfectionism, an acute sense of loneliness due to an inability to connect with others, existential depression, and so much ‘more’.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10AM AEST/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

The Columbus Group Conference | Gifted Parenting Support

Gifted Myths: An Easy-to-Read Guide to Myths on the Gifted and Twice-Exceptional (book)

Educating Your Gifted Child: How One Public School Teacher Embraced Homeschooling

If This is a Gift, Can I Send it Back?: Surviving in the Land of the Gifted and Twice Exceptional

Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth

Behavioral Profiles of Clinically Referred Children with Intellectual Giftedness | BioMed Research International

Homeschooling Gifted Students: Considerations for Research and Practice (pdf) | IGI Global

Dwelling on the Right Side of the Curve: An Exploration of the Psychological Wellbeing of Parents of Gifted Children (pdf)

New Brain Mapping Technique Highlights Relationship Between Connectivity and IQ | Neuroscience News

“Choosing our Histories” by Kevin Gover, Baccalaureate Address 2016 | Brown University

The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star (book)

Bright Adults: Uniqueness and Belonging across the Lifespan (book)

Comparison of Cognitive, Psychosocial, and Adaptive Behavior Profiles among Gifted Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Gifted … You Know What That Means, Right?

When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers: How to Meet Their Social and Emotional Needs (book)

Serving Highly & Profoundly Gifted Learners (pdf)

Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth | Vanderbilt University

Behavioral Profiles of Clinically Referred Children with Intellectual Giftedness | Biomed Research International

Images courtesy of GHF Learners, Celi Trepanier, Dr. Gail Post, Stacie Brown McCullough, and Paula Prober.

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Challenging GT High School Students

What does ‘challenge’ look like in a high school classroom for GT students? Challenge takes on a new role at the high school level for GT students depending on levels of challenge offered in earlier years for the student and availability of services at the secondary level. Foundational skills – organizational skills, study skills, etc. – are a pre-requisite to meeting necessary challenges to insure forward and upward progress. Individualized academic plans beyond participation in AP/IB are a must. Challenge in high school is manifested in a student through the ability to face failure, learn from it and move on; a healthy amount of struggle; an insatiable appetite to learn more and go far beyond what’s required.

Secondary advanced classrooms are those with a higher concentration of G.T students than found in a regular general ed classroom, i.e., AP or IB classes in most high schools. This situation requires a high degree of differentiation. Strategies may include pre-assessment throughout the course with tailored instruction based on data derived from those assessments as new concepts/content are introduced or timed, performance-based tasks with options for immediate feedback (Brown, THP, August 2021) Further strategies include specific, individual feedback to encourage improvement; targeted, intentional homework with difficult concepts confronted in class; and extensive review and test practice near the end of the course (Brown, THP, August 2021).

Curiosity and creativity should be a primary goal of secondary gifted education. It can begin with providing opportunities for exploration; a four-year plan which integrates scope and sequence; and motivational strategies that inspire further exploration. Nurturing curiosity and creativity involves providing outlets for student to investigate their own creative thoughts which may begin with Socratic seminars or personal time to pursue individual interests. They can be enhanced through long-term (year-long or even multi-year) projects based on student choice. These can encourage students to ask inspiring questions; not just seek answers.

What strategies can teachers use to inspire confidence and independence in GT students? Inspiring confidence and independence in our GT students is a lofty goal for educators. It starts with passionate and compassionate teaching, high expectations, and explicit teaching of self-advocacy. Teachers can be instrumental in developing confidence and independence in GT students by relinquishing an authoritarian mindset and encouraging student voice and choice. Engaging stu dents in independent study is a great place to start. Specific strategies include instructional grouping with intellectual peers and modified grading which emphasizes self-evaluation and reflection.

How can schools implement a 4-year scaffolded experience for GT students? A vertically-aligned 4-year scaffolded program resembles those used at the college level. The first year strives to build basic skills upon which to build the remaining 3 years emphasis on executive functioning and addressing social-emotional learning. During the next 2 years, students engage with mentors and advisors, explore interests and passions, begin consideration of areas of research, and continue social-emotional learning. Finally, in their senior year, GT students create a capstone project involving research, production of a final product, and presentation of findings. (McClintock, 2021)

By the time students reach high school, parents often have the unenviable decision of how best to educate their child. Unfortunately, their choice may be dictated by financial considerations or simple geography. Parents today do have a myriad of choices: public charter, magnet, or residential schools; micro-schools; homeschooling or unschooling; cyber/online learning; dual-enrollment or early college; or private schools.

A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10AM AEST/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Nurturing Excellence: A Case Study of High School Learning Environments for the Gifted

Nurturing Excellence: Maximizing the Agency, Curiosity, and Confidence of Gifted Secondary Learners (pdf) | McClintock WCGTC World Conference 2021  

What Works With Secondary Gifted Learners: A Qualitative Case Study of the Curriculum and Instructional Approaches of the North Carolina Governor’s School (pdf)

The Future of Secondary Gifted Education

Enriching Students Pays Off: Evidence from an Individualized Gifted and Talented Program in Secondary Education (pdf)

The Handbook of Secondary Gifted Education

A 21st-Century Model for Identifying Students for Gifted and Talented Programs in Light of National Conditions (pdf) | Gifted Child Today

Designing Services and Programs for High-Ability Learners: A Guidebook for Gifted Education (book)

Gifted Secondary School Students: The Perceived Relationship Between Enrichment and Achievement Orientation (pdf)

Modern Curriculum for Gifted and Advanced Academic Students 1st Edition (book)

Fundamentals of Gifted Education: Considering Multiple Perspectives 2nd Edition (book)

“Just Challenge Those High-Ability Learners and They’ll Be All Right!”. The Impact of Social Context and Challenging Instruction on the Affective Development of High-Ability Students | Journal of Advanced Academics

In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School (book)

Gifted Students’ Adjustment and Underachievement in University: An Exploration from the Self-determination Theory Perspective (pdf) | Gifted Child Quarterly

Paradigms of Gifted Education: A Guide for Theory-Based, Practice-Focused Research 1st Edition (book)

Honors Students’ Perceptions of Their High School Experiences: The Influence of Teachers on Student Motivation

How Students Conceptualize Grade-Based Acceleration in Inclusive Settings

A Study of Gifted High, Moderate, and Low Achievers in their Personal Characteristics and Attitudes toward School and Teachers

High Abilities/Giftedness: Social Skills Intervention with Students, Parents/Guardians and Teachers

Gifted Classroom Environments and the Creative Process: A Systematic Review | Journal for the Education of the Gifted

Content-Based Curriculum for High-Ability Learners 3rd Edition (book)

Advanced Placement Programs and Gifted Students (book)

Serving Gifted Students in General Ed Classrooms | Edutopia

ASCD: Six Strategies for Challenging Gifted Learners

Challenging Your Gifted Student

Photo courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Teaching the GT Middle Schooler

How important is gifted education teacher certification at the middle school level? Once GT students reach middle school, it’s important that their teachers have a greater understanding of gifted education, are certified in content areas, and are knowledgeable about appropriate teaching strategies. GT specialists begin to transition to a facilitator role in the middle school years which may require an entirely different mindset about education. Certification can enhance their skill sets. Many middle schools may not offer a gifted education program. Teachers who are certified in gifted education often make the best advocates for continuing gifted services when they are most needed.

School administrators at the middle school level can play a pivotal role in advancing gifted education opportunities for GT students beginning with ensuring that identification is appropriate and ongoing. Providing for a continuum of services addressed in Individual Education Plans or Advanced Learning Plans, encouraging teacher and staff collaboration to provide services, and counseling services can all be facilitated by administrators. School administrators can also provide high quality professional development in the areas of differentiation, acceleration, and other appropriate learning opportunities as well as regularly evaluating program effectiveness.

Middle school years are emotionally intense for all students. GT students are no exception and their desire to ‘fit in’ can have an impact on their academics. Self-confidence may decline or the opposite may also hinder social development. GT middle school students can be highly influenced by their concern for fairness and social justice, intense questioning of authority, comparison to intellectual peers, and ability to understand adult concerns. Middle school GT students can benefit emotionally from increased association and collaboration with intellectual peers to support social and academic needs.

What are some options available to customize gifted IEPs in middle school? Individual Education Plans have long been a staple in special education but can highly benefit GT students as well. At the middle school level, they need to assess and address unique academic ability. It is important to also consider what options can be reliably offered to the student; what programs are available and in the scope of the school’s ability to provide on a consistent basis. It may be a time to advocate for additional services. Specific options for gifted IEPs can include remote access to mentors and experts in a field of interest, distance learning, credit for high school courses, and dual enrollment at the college level.

There are many specific strategies educators can use in middle school. These include pre-testing to determine ability level; refraining from teaching to the test; Socratic seminars; and maintaining appropriately high standards. Middle school GT teachers can differentiate for advanced learners by going beyond standard rubrics; removing academic ceilings for top students; & make content intellectually compelling (Schroor, Lee-Ack, & Woon WCGTC 2021), A new school pedagogy should student autonomy, student choice, and teach problem-solving skills. Students should be recognized for prior knowledge, a concern for justice and fairness, & learning abilities (Schroor, Lee-Ack, & Woon WCGTC 2021).

Parents have an extraordinary role to help improve educational outcomes for their middle school children. At a time of great emotional changes, parents can encourage independence, expose their child to successful role models. Middle schoolers benefit from compatible peers, being taught organizational skills, understanding that you can learn from failure, it’s okay to ask for help, & a warm and friendly family environment (Robinson, 2006).

A transcript of this chat may be found at Wakelet.

Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented  is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Thursdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Fridays at Noon NZST/10AM AEST/1AM UK  to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Wakelet. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.

About the authorLisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime  advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: gtchatmod@gmail.com

Resources:

Educating Gifted Students in Middle School: A Practical Guide 3rd Edition (book)

Helping Your Gifted Child Adjust to Middle School | Davidson Gifted

Serving Middle School Gifted Learners (pdf)  

Meeting the Needs of High Ability and High Potential Learners in the Middle Grades (pdf) | NAGC

Inspire the Next Generation of Scientific Thinkers

What You can Do with Code with Google | Google Education

10 Ways to Challenge Gifted Students in the Classroom | Kendall Hunt

Unmasking Gifted Behaviors

Demystifying Differentiation In Middle School (book)

Socratic Seminars in Middle School Texts and Films That Engage Students in Reflective Thinking and Close Reading (book)

Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner Standards-Based Activities and Extensions for Middle School (Grades 6-8) (book)

Integrating SEL into Your ELA Curriculum Practical Lesson Plans for Grades 6-8 (book)

Differentiation Advice: Teacher to Teacher

Why You Should Not Use Gifted Students as Tutors

Teachers’ Impact on GT Students’ Academic Success

Differentiated Instruction Strategies: Tiered Assignments

Gifted Lesson Plans: A List of Resources | Davidson Gifted

Inspiring Middle School Minds: Gifted, Creative, & Challenging (book)

Effects of Summer Academic Programs in Middle School on High school Test Scores, Course Taking, and College Major (Abstract) | Journal of Advanced Academics

Gifted Ninth Graders’ Notions of Proof: Investigating Parallels in Approaches of Mathematically Gifted Students and Professional Mathematicians (pdf) | Journal for the Education of the Gifted

Gifted Individualized Education Plan Sample (Google DOC)

Simple Annotated Gifted Individualized Education Plan (pdf)

Extended Annotated Gifted Individualized Education Plan (pdf)

Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students: Helping Kids Cope With Explosive Feelings 2nd Edition (book)

101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids: Advice, Quizzes, and Activities for Dealing With Stress, Expectations, Friendships, and More (book)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay   Pixabay License

Graphic by Lisa Conrad

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