Volunteerism and Community Service

One of the most important benefits GT students can gain from volunteering is a sense of personal fulfillment from intentionally helping others and making positive changes in their community. Volunteering can benefit students by improving their resumé which in turn can lead to scholarships, greater college acceptance rates at the schools of their choice, and eventual employment opportunities. Additional benefits of volunteering include improved critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills; professional networking; interpersonal skills developed through teamwork; and a sense of empowerment from making a difference.

Giving back to local communities may involve only a few hours a week or a much longer (year+) commitment. It should begin with determining how much time can be committed, personal interests, and how invested one is to the outcome. Ways to give back can include volunteering, deciding between helping a charity or focusing on greater social change, and the extent of one’s participation – local, nationally, or even globally. Some students may even decide to start their own venture. In this case, preparation, perseverance, determination, and extensive commitment must be taken into consideration.

Finding volunteer or community service opportunities are dependent on choice of service, amount of time available, whether to be done locally or beyond, and personal interests. There are specific websites and books dedicated to helping students find opportunities which are included in the resources below. Local service organizations are excellent starting points and can be learned about from school counselors, teachers, family connections, and friends.

Exposure to service learning can be facilitated by schools through school programs, field trips, making online resources available to students, and bringing in local experts in their fields. Many high schools include service learning as a component of graduation requirements. School guidance counselors are great resources in helping students match interests to opportunities. Classroom teachers can incorporate the concept of volunteering and community service into the curriculum beginning at the elementary level. GT teachers can encourage service through the reflection process.

All service learning involves rights and responsibilities which must be observed by student volunteers, but also by the organizations they serve. It’s important that students, mentors, teachers, and parents participating in the process verify the legitimacy of the organization or program being considered. Students should not be treated as just an unpaid employee. Students have the responsibility to be professional, to take their commitment seriously, and be open with any organization about their availability.

Parents play an important role in their child’s decision to volunteer or engage in community service. They should actively participate in vetting any potential opportunity and be open about how they might contribute to making the experience a success. Parents can model the importance of ‘giving back’ by volunteering themselves. They can support their child by providing access to opportunities, scheduling assistance, transportation, and encouragement.

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/10 AM 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 Meta Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community.

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:

Giving Back A Guidebook for Volunteerism and Community Service (pdf) | Davidson Gifted

10 Great Volunteer Ideas for Teens

How to Find Meaningful Volunteer Opportunities

Community Service Scholarships, Grants, and Other Opportunities | Davidson Gifted

The Awesome Foundation

Youth Service America Grants and Awards

Volunteer Match

Volunteering in National Parks

6 Out-of-this-World Nonprofits Masterminded by Kids

20 Ways for Teenagers to Help Other People by Volunteering

Volunteer Links | Hoagies Gifted

Volunteer Opportunities for Teens

Getting Started With Direct Service

7 Volunteer Organizations for Teens

AUS: Community Activities and Volunteering: Pre-teens and Teenagers

73 Community Service Project Ideas

9 Amazing Teenage Volunteer Summer Programs Abroad

Best Volunteer Opportunities For High School Students

Beyond Self: Engaging in Community Service

Teaching for Positive and Transformational Creativity through Service Learning

Speak Up Speak Out Grades 6 to 12 Facilitation Guide

Cybraryman’s Sinnet Magnet School’s Health Careers Program and Foster Grandparent Program Page

Cybraryman’s Community-Based Service Learning Page

Exceptional Sports

Image courtesy of Pixabay   Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Enrichment Programs

Participation in enrichment activities has wide-ranging benefits both academically and socially. Students are given the opportunity to work with intellectual and talented peers not afforded in regular classrooms. Enrichment allows students to explore interests, the arts, and athletics. It can help build friendships, develop talent, improve health, and provide experience working in groups. Enrichment programs provide cross-curricular benefits. Research has shown strong correlation between arts education and core subjects, such as between music and math skills. It also can expand career options for the future.

Enrichment comes in many different forms. It can be provided within a classroom, be an elective at the secondary level, be an extracurricular activity, or be a program outside of school that students attend on weekends or during the school breaks. Enrichment can take the form of academic, music, the arts, or athletic competitions provided in and out of school. It should always be based on a student’s interests and their choice to participate in a particular activity. Enrichment in the classroom may include independent studies, tiered assignments, interest centers, extension activities, or cluster grouping. Enrichment, generally, should provide a more in-depth look at a topic and provide an opportunity for curious exploration, talent development, or a basis for lifelong endeavors.

Enrichment should not begin on a whim. It should be thoughtfully considered and reflect student voice and choice. For advanced students, it needs to provide depth and complexity and offer challenge. It’s important that consideration be given to who is providing the enrichment. Are classes taught by experienced and knowledgeable teachers? Are programs well-recognized, have positive feedback from previous participants, and accredited? Enrichment needs to be highly individualized to truly meet the needs of students. Lack of interest or challenge will not provide any real benefits.

Unfortunately, many schools will state they provide enrichment programs to meet particular requirements but are meant to minimize expenditures. This is often the case in pull-out programs at the elementary level. Enrichment is not random assignments determined by the teacher, games (in class or online), or puzzles provided with little connection to a student’s interests or passions. Differentiation alone, skills taught in isolation, or unstructured free time do not constitute enrichment.

Successful enrichment should be well-planned, have specific guidelines, have all necessary materials on-hand, be individualized, and take into consideration a student’s abilities, and provide challenge based on a student’s prior knowledge. It’s important for teachers and enrichment providers to know their student. Working together, topics and interests can be explored, curated, and shared to ensure a successful experience. Students participating in enrichment activities need to understand what is expected of them, find value in what they are doing, be provided an authentic audience when activities are completed, and have support systems in place throughout the program.

Enrichment resources can be found through programs offered at local universities, gifted education publishers, local libraries, experts in the field, and governmental resources such as NASA. Academic competitions include Math Counts, Invention Convention, Odyssey of the Mind, Envirothon, Mock Trial, or science fairs. The arts and athletics may be enriched during summer camps or extracurricular competitions.

A transcript of this chat can be found on our Wakelet page.

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/10 AM 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 Meta Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community.

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:

Enrichment and Gifted Education Pedagogy to Develop Talents, Gifts, and Creative Productivity (pdf) | Education Sciences

Forms of Gifted Education | Education Corner

Enrichment in the Classroom

Enrichment (pdf) | SEVA Council of Gifted Administrators

Enrichment Strategies | JeffCO Public Schools

PA: Gifted Enrichment Programs Staffing Policy

“Developing Capabilities”. Inclusive Extracurricular Enrichment Programs to Improve the Well-Being of Gifted Adolescents | Frontiers in Psychology

Acceleration or Enrichment for Gifted Kids?

Why Do Gifted Children Need Enrichment Programs? | Hofstra

Enrichment Theory, Research, and Practice

Virtual Saturday Enrichment Programs | William & Mary School of Education

District Begins New Student-Enrichment Program

5 Ways Gifted Children Can Benefit from an Enrichment Academy

Enrichment Programs for Gifted Students with Special Needs

Enrichment and Acceleration: Best Practice for the Gifted and Talented | Gifted Education Press Quarterly

Gifted and Talented Programs: What Parents Should Know

A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Enrichment Programs on Gifted Students (pdf) | William and Mary Scholar Works

Enrichment versus Acceleration: Equity and Excellence for Gifted Learners

Enrichment Programs: What And Why

Top 5 Reasons Why Schools need Education Enrichment Programs

NAGC: Enrichment (pdf)

Davidson Institute: Educational Options Enrichment Programs

Image courtesy Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Using Bibliotherapy to Support GT Learners

The idea of using books as a source of strength or inner-healing has been around for hundreds of years. Today it is recognized as a tool for dealing with social-emotional issues and well suited for GT youth. Bibliotherapy is a means for helping a person to recognize and overcome problems when presented with appropriate reading materials specific to their needs. It shouldn’t be thought of as a general reading activity. Bibliotherapy can be clinical when used by mental health professionals or developmental when used by teachers and parents to address a student’s developmental difficulties (Karacan-Özdemir et al., 2019).

GT learners may have social-emotional needs stemming from asynchronous development not associated with age-peers which need attention at earlier ages. Bibliotherapy can address these needs both at school and home. Using specially selected books and following up with discussion can help GT learners gain important life skills, improved self-image, and gain a deeper understanding of themselves (McCulliss & Chamberlain, 2013). Because GT learners may experience loneliness, intense emotions, and the effects of perfectionism leading to social-emotional stress but are also often early readers with strong verbal skills; bibliotherapy can be an excellent means for meeting their needs.

What are the benefits of bibliotherapy for diverse and/or #2E gifted students? Diverse gifted students share some or all of the characteristics of all gifted children. However, due to lack of identification or representation in gifted programs may feel a lack of peers (Schroth & Watson-Thompson, 2022). Bibliotherapy can benefit diverse GT learners by providing a rich resource for learning about gifted children like themselves not readily seen in their immediate surroundings. Twice-exceptional children can reap many benefits through guided discussions with teachers and parents through very personalized reading selections. It can improve social and problem-solving skills.

As a process in the classroom, bibliotherapy begins with student preparation, introducing the book, reading, discussion resulting from relevant questions to gain insights from the material, and follow-up (Meier-Jensen, 2001). The key elements of bibliotherapy involve selecting books which are appropriate for the child’s cognitive and emotional age, and for its relatedness to the problem facing the child (Heath et al., 2005). The stages of bibliotherapy include identifying similarities between characters in the book and the reader; experiencing vicariously what the characters feel; gaining insight from what is read; and acknowledging similarities to the characters.

When should parents use bibliotherapy for their child at home? When parents recognize their child is experiencing social or emotional issues, bibliotherapy can be a good way to start conversations in order to effectively deal with their problems. Using bibliotherapy with GT learners is often best approached when parents and teachers team up to identify needs and then select the best individualized books or materials to meet specific needs. Bibliotherapy can also help parents to improve their own parenting skills by understanding how they approach their child’s gifted identification can help or hinder a child’s self-perception.

What questions can be used as bibliotherapeutic after reading a selection? It’s important to ask the right questions to ensure the process benefits the GT learner – What problems did the characters face and how did they solve them? Did the reader face a similar situation or feelings? Further questions might include: Would you have done anything different than what the characters in the book did? How would you have done things differently? (NAGC | PHP, March 2022)

A transcript 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/10 AM 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 Meta Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community.

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:

Benefits of Bibliotherapy for GT Kids

Turning Theory into Practice #5 – What can bibliotherapy look like with gifted children? | NAGC

The Unopened Gift: A Primer in Emotional Literacy (book)

Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers (3rd Edition) (book)

I Want to Read About Me: Engaging and Empowering Gifted Black Girls Using Multicultural Literature and Bibliotherapy

Incorporating Bibliotherapy Into the Classroom: a Handbook for Educators (pdf)

Books for Beginning Bibliotherapy

The Effectiveness of Creative Bibliotherapy for Internalizing, Externalizing, and Prosocial Behaviors in Children: A Systematic Review

Bibliotherapy by the Campfire: Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of Students through Picture Books (pdf) | NAGC

Bibliotherapy: Helping Children Cope with Life’s Challenges

Bibliotherapy: Overview and Implications for Counselors (pdf)

Supporting Gifted Children Through Bibliotherapy

VA: Gifted Bibliotherapy | Washington County Public Schools

Nurturing Social And Emotional Development In Gifted Teenagers Through Young Adult Literature | SENG

Books for Gifted Kids

OH: Books for Gifted Children with Gifted Characters (pdf) | Columbus Public Schools

Books Aren’t Just for Reading (pdf)

Bibliotherapeutic Literature Appropriate for Gifted Children: Examination of Three Books | Turkish Journal of Giftedness and Education

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Planning for a GT Summer

The benefits of summer programs have taken on new significance in light of the last two years where GT students have missed out on special programming and interaction with peers. It can’t be minimized the importance which challenge plays in the progress a GT student can make or conversely, lose. Too many adults have failed to acknowledge that advanced students were at risk for learning loss as much as other students. Summer programs provide GT students opportunities to pursue interests not available during the school year. They can work with intellectual peers, mentors, and experts in the field.

Of course, students may need a break from academic pursuits who have experienced challenge throughout the regular school year. However, summertime does not need to be steeped in academics. One of the best alternatives for GT students in the summer is camps which bring together gifted kids for the purpose of socialization and provide social-emotional learning. Many organizations offer both virtual and in-person options now. Parents should always follow the lead of their child; discuss with them how they want to spend their summers. Do they feel comfortable being away from home for an extended time? How do family finances affect opportunities?

Most students have recently spent a significant amount of time learning online. Many may prefer in-person options during their summer break. Yet, options involving VR still provide very enticing opportunities. A GT student’s interests may also dictate the delivery options from which they may choose. Many STEM options are available or preferable online. And many programs are still available only online. In-person learning opportunities provide GT students to meet and make friends with others who share their passions and understand them. This is especially true for students in rural areas who may have little to no contact with other GT kids.

Summer academic programs are available from a number of different sources. In school districts with good financial resources, many opportunities are available at the local level. Many US states offer Governor’s Schools at no cost to top students. Some of the best opportunities for GT students are offered by colleges and universities for both high school students, incoming students, and as a way to recruit potential top students. Many provide online and in-person options. There are also some excellent summer opportunities from private or non-profit organizations who specialize in advanced academics year-round. As with all programs, family finances play a role; but many offer scholarships as well.

What programs are available for PD for GT educators? Summer is an excellent time for educators to avail themselves of PD opportunities. States who mandate gifted education often require specific certifications or number of PD hours. It can also benefit career advancement. Excellent resources are available through national and state gifted organizations who often partner with universities to offer college and professional credit. Universities, as well, generally also often summer PD opportunities for educators both in-person and online. University courses offered internationally can provide economically advantageous and unique opportunities.

When should parents begin to search for summer opportunities? Many parents do not realize how early in the year they need to seek out opportunities with the best programs often ending registration as early as March. This is especially true of in-person options. Researching programs can grow into a year-round search once students enter high school. Students themselves can also search out programs of interest but need to coordinate with parents about costs, location, and academic requirements.

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/10 AM 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 Meta Page provides information on the chat and news and information regarding the gifted community.

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:

Gifted and Talented Resources Directory | NAGC

Enrichment Program Listing | TAGT

IEA Academy | IEA

Karnes Kaleidoscope | Frances A. Karnes Center for Gifted Studies

GA: Summer Programs | Gifted Atlanta

CA: Youth Camps and Enrichment Programs | UC San Diego

TX: Sea Camp and Outreach | Texas A&M Galveston

VA: Loudoun County Public Schools Gifted and Talented Education Summer 22

Great Books Summer Program

TX: Summer Wonders | Ace Academy

TX: 2022 Aquatic Science Adventure Camps | Texas State University

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Summer Programs 2022

The Center for Gifted Studies Summer 2022 | WKU

Renzulli Center Professional Development Online | UConn Neag

Digital Promise | NAGC

TAGT On Demand | TAGT

Professional Development: Best Practices Guide (pdf) | TAGT

Boston University Summer Challenge

Cooke Young Scholars Program

College for Kids Summer Enrichment Program | Penn State

Summer Enrichment Programs to Consider before College

Harvard Summer Programs for High School Students

Disney Imagination Campus

UCONN Confratute  

North Carolina Governor’s School

Pennsylvania Governor’s Schools

VA: Governor’s School Programs

National Conference of Governor’s Schools

GHF Choices: DIY Education Summer – Curriculum and Other Resources

Online G3 Summer Classes 2022

Cybraryman’s Summer Learning Page

Cybraryman’s Summer Fun and Learning Page

Best Summer Camps for Gifted Students 2022

Band Together for Banned Books

AUS: Gifted Students and Parents | UNSW Sidney

Summer Discovery | UT Austin

UTeach Outreach Summer Camps | UT

Ohio Leadership Training Conference

Image courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

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