Category Archives: Advocacy

Let’s Talk Advocacy

gtchat 09272018 Advocacy

GT advocacy is a long and winding road. For parents, it feels like it begins shortly after the birth of their child and continues to the point where their child takes over and self-advocates. It is the realization that it is a requisite for all those responsible for the education and care of a child who is identified as GT.

This week, our guest at #gtchat was Heather Vaughn. She is the K-12 Educational Outreach Coordinator at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas in Austin. Heather has been recognized by the National Association for Gifted Children and the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented for her contributions in creating and championing services for gifted students as well as serving on the #gtchat Advisory Board. She holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction and Gifted and Talented from the University of Mississippi, and an Ed.S. in Educational Psychology from the University of Georgia.

Educators advocating for the needs of GT students should take the time to seek out professional development involving gifted education. A knowledgeable advocate will always be a good advocate. Parents advocating for the needs of their GT child can be a best advocate by listening to their child and using their concerns to direct any and all advocacy efforts. Advocacy will be for naught if the child isn’t a full partner in the process.

“Knowledge is power. Sharing your GT experiences with administrators, district staff and elected officials gives current and future decisions a face, a personal story. Share through social media, letters, emails, phone calls and in face to face meetings.” ~ Heather Vaughn

Self-advocacy goes hand in hand with maturity and understanding of one’s own desire to grow and learn. GT students gain self-confidence when allowed to speak on their own behalf; an authentic outcome of self-awareness. It brings with it respect and that encourages a well measured response to the student’s needs by those adults tasked with providing gifted interventions for & necessary challenge to the student.

Students should be encouraged to become active participants in their communities and to investigate issues of personal interest facing their community. One possibility is to identify a cause and start an advocacy campaign. Starting an advocacy campaign requires the support of the student’s teacher and parents. Educators provide students with the time and resources to study potential causes and support the development of an action plan centering on finding and implementing solutions. Parents can serve as role models by taking an active role in civic duties and encouraging their children to become involved as well.

On identifying a cause and starting an advocacy campaign: “Ask students to write out their action plan. Guide them through primary and secondary research to learn more about the problem and see who they need to contact to instigate change. Encourage partnerships with community leaders and groups. Encourage students to look at communities around them (classroom, school, club, neighborhood) and brainstorm in groups. What are some problems? What are potential solutions? Guide respectful discussion to select the most plausible solution.” ~ Speak Up! Speak Out

Check out the links below to find resources that aid gifted students in taking action and find a transcript of this chat 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/1 AM 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.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  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:

Effective Advocates (pdf)

Advocating for Gifted Programs in Your Local Schools

Administrator Toolbox

Fearless Advocacy: A Day in the Life of a Gifted Child’s Parent

TEMPO: Advocating for Appropriate Education for Your Child

Advocating for Exceptionally Gifted Young People A Guidebook (pdf – updated 2018)

Tips for Parents: Advocacy – Working with Your Child’s School

Individual Instruction Plan Menu for the Gifted Child

Communicating Effectively with Your Gifted Child’s School

7 Ways to Advocate for Your Gifted Child

Are You an Advocate for the Gifted?

How to Make a Civics Education Stick

From the Community: Meeting of the Minds

Teenagers Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo Wrote a Textbook to Help Students Develop Racial Literacy

Digital Civics Toolkit

Houston’s Student Congress Launches New Civic Fellowship

Fort River Sixth-Graders Engage Local Officials in Civics

Teaching Channel:  Preparing Youth for Civics & Politics in the Digital Age – Creating Digital Stories (Video 10:04)

Elevating AP for Gifted Learners (pdf)

Action Civics (pdf)

Legacy Book Awards 2018 Nominee: The Power of Self-Advocacy for Gifted Learners Teaching the 4 Essential Steps to Success (Free Spirit Publishing)

The Power of Self-Advocacy for Gifted Learners

Nurturing Self-Advocacy

Gifted Advocacy: What’s the Point?

Communicating with the Community

Understanding the Media

Speak Up! Speak Out!

Cybraryman’s Gifted Advocacy Page

Sprite’s Site: Advocacy – Just Ask Sprite and Co.

Sprite’s Site: Asking for Help – A Guest Expert Panel Q&A Session

Hoagies’ Blog Hop October 2014: Advocacy

65 Ways Students Can Share Student Voice

Graphic courtesy of Heather Vaughn.

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The Highly Distracted Gifted Child

gtchat 09202018 Distracted

Understanding the nature of giftedness when complicated by distractibility is a complex issue and the discussions between participants at this week’s #gtchat were no exception. We were fortunate to have several psychologists well-versed in working with gifted individuals as well as education professionals to sort it out.

How do you know if distractibility is  just a characteristic of giftedness or ADD/ADHD? You may not know! ADD/ADHD must be diagnosed by a professional. If you are concerned about a child’s behavior, seek professional help. Both giftedness and ADD/ADHD share characteristics, but it’s important to avoid misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis. Gifted students may have ADD/ADHD but be able to compensate for it.

According to Dr. Gail Post, “ADHD causes more global problem with distraction and concentration, not just related to boredom, intensities, overexcitabilities. ADHD kids have little control over their distraction/poor concentration – not situation specific. They really suffer from it.” Dr. Scott Roseman explained, “Formal assessment of giftedness and ADHD differ in significant ways.  While assessment of giftedness focuses mainly on determination of higher level reasoning abilities, assessment of ADHD examines issues related to distractibility, impulsivity, and processing skills. While the gifted child may exhibit some of these qualities, as a function of their giftedness, it’s often when those qualities get in the way of learning & growth that further assessment should be considered to assess a dual diagnosis of Giftedness and ADHD.”

In response to a child’s distractibility, the response of  ‘over’ organizing by a concerned adult may prove to make matters worse. Over organization … such as separate folders for each subject … may overwhelm the distracted child causing even more issues or anxiety. Parents (and teachers) should try to find the ‘middle ground’ when attempting to organize a distracted child. Folders can be used but for more generalized subjects; such as, a completed homework folder, to do folder, and parent/teacher communications.

“The main disadvantage of “over” organization I see is when it is put in place by the parent and not the child. The child or adolescent has no “ownership” in the process and may grow too reliant on parental intervention and not develop effective organizational tools on their own.” ~ Scott Roseman, Ph.D.

Executive Functioning can play as intricate role in the life of a distracted yet gifted child. The lack of recognition by responsible adults that a GT child can have executive function deficits often exacerbates the situation. These are smart kids who struggle with behavior regulation and exercising cognitive flexibility. Although identified as GT, they may have trouble beginning tasks, maintaining attention, completing assignments, and unable to assess the feedback on their own behavior. Frustration levels can go through the roof. As the child progresses through school, academic requirements increase at the same time as social interactions take on greater significance. EF difficulties may not resolve themselves until the child reaches their mid-twenties.

What strategies can a teacher use to get a gifted student back on track? Teachers should consider authentic assessments to chart progress/regression through an ongoing process which takes into account the student’s abilities as well as challenges. Developing positive relationships is a good 1st step. They must ensure that the student is being sufficiently stimulated intellectually either within the classroom with differentiated instruction or through accelerative measures outlined in resources such as A Nation Empowered.

“I think you have to do lots of trial and error with strategies…visual prompts to get back on task or having a reward after a significant start to an assignment or discussing what the feedback means.” ~ Heather Vaughn, EdS, 

Once it is determined that the student is off track, any plan to bring them back on course must involve student input. Dr. Roseman suggested, “I suggest that the teacher start by asking the gifted student, in grade 3 and above to come up with their own plan to stay on task and then work together with them, examining the parts of the plan that work and the parts that don’t seem to work for them and revise. I believe that it helps the child to gain a better understanding of their  own dynamics and figure out strategies that work for them and those that don’t. The teacher can certainly suggest some strategies, but it is critical for the student to have input.”

“With my kids, what has worked is a combination of doing it for them if was really necessary until they could do it; letting them fail a little when stakes are low, and coaching them about the things not being organized has negative impact on.” ~ Kate Arms

Parents can help their highly distracted child get organized at home, too. They can make sure that the home environment limits distractions when their child is doing school work. This includes having a quiet workspace free from access to video games or television. If possible, provide study/work space solely for each child; not in a highly active part of the home such as the dining room table or shared spaces with siblings.  Parents need to model behavior which provides examples of how to stay organized in daily life.

“Pick your battles… But get them involved in devising a plan and incentives, prioritize, small goals to start with, make it fun!” ~ Gail Post, Ph.D.

Organization is a must-need skill and one that parents focus on much to the dismay of their distracted child. Involve the child in the organizing process. Be flexible; not all organizing tools or tips work for every child. Parents and teachers working together to implement strategies that take place at home and at school can be highly beneficial to the student in an effort to reduce distractions and get the student back on track. For more tips about organizing the highly distracted gifted child, check out the transcript of this week’s chat 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/1 AM 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.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  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 Highly Distracted Gifted Child: You Can Help

Gifted Students & Disorganization (Reg. required)

This Child is a Classic ‘Absent-Minded Professor’

How to Raise a Gifted Child without Losing Your Ever-Loving Mind

Organization Skills

Executive Functioning in Gifted Students (pdf)

Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary “Executive Skills” Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential (bn ebook)

4 Smartphone Solutions to Keep Your Teen Organized

7 Ways to Teach Your Grade-Schooler Organization Skills

Exercise Is Surprisingly Effective At Boosting Executive Function

On Rainbows and Mantis Shrimp: A Layperson’s Perspective on ADHD & the Misdiagnosis of Gifted Brains

How to Help the Impulsive Disorganized Child

The Impulsive, Disorganized Child: Solutions for Parenting Kids with Executive Functioning Difficulties

Organizing the Gifted Learner

Organizing Einstein: Enhancing the Abilities of the Gifted Learner Part 1

Becoming a Self-Regulated Learner: An Overview (pdf)

Cybraryman’s Study Skills/Organization Page

Cybraryman’s ADHD/ADD Page

Sprite’s Site: Delta Dog

Sprite’s Site: Sprite on the Subject of Homework

Interruptions at Work Are Killing Your Productivity

ADDitude Magazine

Tips for Parents: Executive Functioning at Home and School

Are you ADD — or just gifted?

Image courtesy of Pixabay  CC0 Creative Commons

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

Improving GT Parent-Teacher Communications

gtchat 08022018 Communications

Unique challenges exist in relationships between GT parents and teachers, and this week on #gtchat we discussed ways to improve how parents and teachers of gifted students communicate with each other. In many situations, gifted-identified students have an education plan which places certain requirements and responsibilities on all parties involved in the agreement. GT students often receive accommodations or interventions which place additional stressors and constraints on the teacher/student/parent relationship.

In a perfect world, good parent-teacher relations most often benefit the student. Depending on their age, a student can explore their potential with the help of a supportive teacher/mentor. Good parent-teacher relationships don’t just happen. They need to be cultivated and maintained in the spirit of mutual respect. A good start is to make sure all stakeholders have a firm grasp of the need for gifted education.

Today there exists a wide range of tech tools and apps to facilitate open communication between parents and teachers. Schools have long acknowledged that open lines of communication can avoid misunderstandings between parents and teachers. Educators and schools, however, must be cognizant of a family’s ability to access technology and take steps to provide access when it doesn’t exist or provide other means of communication.

Face-to-face activities can improve parent-teacher relations. This relationship can be enhanced through participation in extracurricular activities, breakfast/coffee with a teacher/admin opportunity, and even pre-scheduled after school meetings.

What best practices can parents use to improve their child’s education? Parents need to learn the ‘lingo’ used by educators; they will earn the respect of those who are  responsible for making decisions affecting their child. Best practices for parents advocating for their gifted child include researching state and local education laws and diligent planning concerning their child’s educational needs prior to meeting with school personnel.

Parents and teachers many never see eye-to-eye regarding a child’s education plan, but remaining calm, professional and open-minded will serve everyone’s best interests.  When researching a child’s particular school, always be aware of the ‘chain of command’ and follow it precisely. Know who the teacher reports to, but start with the teacher first. Most schools recognize this chain of comment: teacher >>> administrator >>> principal >>> superintendent >>> school board. To learn more about improving parent-teacher communications, you can check out the resources below and read a copy of the transcript from this chat 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/1 AM 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.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  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:

Starting the School Year on a Positive Note: Five Key Suggestions for Parents

Tips for Talking with Your Gifted Child’s Teacher

Communicating Effectively with Your Gifted Child’s School

Dear Teacher, My Gifted Child is in Your Class

How Do I Work with My Child’s School? (pdf)

Tips for Your Gifted Kid’s Parent-Teacher Conference

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Communicate with Teachers about Meeting Your Gifted Child’s Needs

Six Tips for Communicating with Your Gifted Child’s Teacher

50 Tips, Tricks and Ideas for Teaching Gifted Students

What Parents Should Expect for the Gifted Child: How to Make It Happen

Why School’s Not Fair to Gifted Kids

Sprite’s Site: The Meeting

Sprite’s Site: Advocacy

Cybraryman’s Parent Teacher Conferences and Communication Page

Cybraryman’s Parents and Teachers Page

Cybraryman’s Parents and Teachers Event Open House and Orientation Page 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.

Early Learning Interventions for Gifted Kids

gtchat 04192018 Early Interventions

Is it possible to provide early intervention for gifted children without formal identification? Very young children have difficulty paying attention during testing and easily distracted. A young gifted child’s performance on tests can be highly variable and thus deemed not as reliable as for older children. That said, not only is it possible to provide early intervention without formal identification; it is often necessary.

There is strong support for early intervention for gifted children based on developmentally appropriate practice; taking both age and individual appropriateness into account (Bredekamp,1987; Bredekamp & Rosegrant, 1992). Informal identification should be based on teacher and caregivers’ observation across domains – cognitive, aesthetic, social-emotional, motor, language – taking into consideration expected behaviors for the age of the child.

“Early intervention is critical to support students’ cognitive and affective growth. Enriched and engaging environments during early childhood years can lead to enhanced educational success. Early enrichment as a form of intervention is even more critical for bright learners who come from poverty or traditionally underrepresented populations.” (Keri M. Guilbault, Ed.D.) “Early educational experiences of many young gifted children provide limited challenge and hinder their cognitive growth rather than exposing learners to an expansive, engaging learning environment.” (NAGC)

Characteristics ‘usually’ associated with early giftedness include excellent memory beyond expectation for a specific age; mature thinking on complicated tasks; or precocious development of a specific skill. Early giftedness may be expressed by self-management of personal learning; seeking new and novel experiences; early reading; delight in problem solving. Young gifted children may seek older playmates; engage in imaginative play; display an advanced vocabulary; demonstrate asynchronous development.

Special activities and/or accommodations provided in the early childhood classroom or child care environment  may include providing opportunities to interact with mental peers; opportunities to think both divergently and convergently – experiences with more than on answer. Very young gifted children need exposure to social situations which respect the contributions of less-able children and foster recognition of the worth of all abilities. Young gifted children are individuals with different needs. They shouldn’t be expected to take on additional tasks or those beyond development capabilities. Consider exposure to a variety of experiences.

What can parents do to make sure their child receives needed interventions during early childhood? They can create a portfolio of their child’s work to serve as a basis for consideration in later identification. They can keep a diary of milestones and skills attainment. Parents should take care not to place unnecessary expectations on their child. They can provide opportunities for exploration of interests with trips to the library, visits to museums and cultural events, and nature experiences. A transcript 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/1 AM 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.

Head Shot 2014-07-14  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

Links:

Gifted Children Have Special Needs, Too

AUS: Identify Gifted Children

AUS: Gifted and Talented Education – Identification (pdf)

The Gifted and Talented Child: Best Practices for Identifying Gifted Students (pdf)

NZ: E-Portfolios as a Tool for Supporting Gifted Children in New Zealand Early Childhood Education Centres A Critical Appraisal

Early Enrichment for Young Gifted Children

Psycho-Pedagogical and Educational Aspects of Gifted Students, Starting from the Preschool Age; How Can Their Needs Be Best Met?

Small Poppies: Highly Gifted Children in the Early Years

Practical Recommendations and Interventions: Gifted Students (pdf)

A Different Perspective to the Early Intervention Applications during Preschool Period: Early Enrichment for Gifted Children

Serving Twice-Exceptional Preschoolers: Blending Gifted Education and Early Childhood Special Education Practices in Assessment and Program Planning (pdf)

Appropriate Practices for Screening, Identifying and Serving Potentially Gifted Preschoolers (pdf)

Growing Up Gifted: Developing the Potential of Children at School and at Home (8th Edition) (Amazon)

Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum: Best Practices in Early Childhood Education (Amazon)

Cybraryman’s Early Intervention Page

Image courtesy of Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad

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