The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War
This year ushered in the start of a four-year commemoration of the Civil War’s 150th anniversary. Among some groups, there is still a controversy about whether the war was started because of slavery or state’s rights. This might be a good issue to broach with gifted students. There are some excellent websites to help you when studying the Civil War.
The Civil War: 150 Years
(Part of the National Park Service website)—Includes upcoming events, information on more than 70 parks in the National Park System that have resources related to the history of the Civil War, a database of those who served in the war, news stories from the time, and the history of African Americans in the war.
Civil War 150
(from The History Channel)—Offers an interactive experience that provides interesting information about who fought in the Civil War, weapons that were used, how people died, the five deadliest battles, paying for the war, West Point warriors, and other topics too numerous to list.
Pictures of the Civil War
(from the National Archives)—Photographs of civilians and civilian activities; military personnel, equipment, and activities; and the locations and aftermaths of battles. Because wet-plate collodion negatives required from 5 to 20 seconds exposure, there are no action photographs of the war.
Selected Civil War Photographs
(from the Library of Congress)—1,118 photographs of military personnel, preparations for battle, and battle after-effects.
When Does a Parent Know His or Her Child Is Gifted?
So often I’m asked, “When does a parent know if his or her child is gifted?” I think they are surprised when I respond by saying, “I don’t know. What does it mean to be gifted?”
After all, I am supposed to be the expert. I am expected to have the answers. But I can’t provided any definitive reply.
First of all, what does it mean to be gifted? There are many definitions and many ways of assessing a child’s ability. Is one more correct than another? Who should make that determination? You may want to look at some of the previous posts on this blog about this subject, including
Even if there is some consensus about the definition of giftedness, I think most people would agree that students fall somewhere on an extended continuum. There are children who have strong interests or abilities in just one area, which may or may not be a traditional academic subject. There are students who are more globally endowed and may finish high school before they are teenagers and receive graduate degrees by the time others finish high school. Some young people who are very bright have learning disabilities or physical disabilities or emotional problems. Some fit into a traditional school environment and some could care less about school.
So what’s a parent to do if she thinks her child fits into the gifted category? There are no quick and simple answers; however, if you read my book, Raising a Gifted Child
(also available on Amazon and in book stores) and search through this blog, you will find many options and combinations of options for schooling children. You will also find many excellent subject-specific resources. Consider me your personal research assistant. Through both Raising a Gifted Child
and more than six years of weekly blog postings, I’ve tried to anticipate questions that you might have about giftedness and find the answers for you. I receive emails from people all over the world who read this blog and ask even more questions. I “listen” to these, answer them personally, and use those questions to post still more entries. You can use the search feature (upper part of the right-hand column) at this site to find the information you need on all things gifted.
In the end, I want parents to know that there are many ways to help very bright children to develop not only academically, but socially and emotionally. The choices you make must be flexible—if one doesn’t work, try another. Mix and match what works for your family and understand that your contributions to the educational process are at least as important as any formal education your young people may receive.
Alternatives for Gifted High School Students
Some high school students are ready to move on academically long before their peers. As stated in High School Alternatives for Gifted Teens
, “It’s easy to find stories of 13-year-olds going off to college, but many gifted kids just aren’t ready to leave the nest early.” At the same time, they may have already finished or tested out of the regular high school curriculum. Author Suki Wessling suggests that students in this situation investigate
Also, check out the Open Courseware Consortium
, which is a collaboration of higher education institutions and associated organizations from around the world creating open educational content that is free to the public.
A student who finishes high school early might also take a year or two to pursue her passions in a very focused manner, furthering her studies in music, theatre, art, dance, language, cultures, science, etc.
Remember that sometimes the best solution is a combination of possibilities.
The Importance of the Arts in Our Schools
Years of research show that [the arts is] closely linked to almost everything that we as a nation say we want for our children and demand from our schools: academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.
This is from a recent article in Edutopia, titled Why Arts Education Is Crucial, and Who's Doing It Best. Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in many areas, including academic development and positive character traits. Over the last few decades, arts in the schools have been eroded, but there is hope. Some school districts are now revitalizing the arts, many prompted by new findings in brain research and cognitive development. In this article, you will find examples of school districts that are reinvigorating their curricula with the arts. Edutopia has a whole series of articles on the importance of arts education, including
Take some time to read these articles and encourage the arts in your child’s school. Incorporate art into your family activities. Development of the arts is at the very basis of highly civilized societies.
Using Primary Sources with Gifted Students
In school, most students study history using only secondary sources—articles, reference books, and textbooks—all written at some point after the actual event. Secondary sources tend to interpret or analyze historical events.
Primary sources, on the other hand, were created during the time period being studied. They reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Primary sources include autobiographies, diaries, e-mails, interviews, letters, minutes, news film footage, official records, photographs, raw research data, speeches, art, drama, music, novels, poetry, buildings, clothing, DNA, furniture, jewelry, pottery, etc. These sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period.
Today, the Internet provides access to a wealth of primary resources. In earlier years, one would have had to travel great distances to various libraries and museums to gain access to this information.
The American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association has posted an article titled Using Primary Sources on the Web
, which can be used as an exercise in critical thinking
. It provides information on
Finding primary sources
Evaluating primary sources (including, among other things, understanding the purpose of the website and the credentials of the person who created the website)
Citing websites appropriately
Repositories of Primary Resources
contains links to Internet sites for primary sources all over the world. Want to find a digitized photo of a street scene in Colorado in the mid-late 1800s? Do you want to find crime reports for the United States in 1935? Do you want to see an original score written by Beethoven? Do enough searching on this site and you will find this information.
The Library of Congress
is in the process of digitizing many of the important documents in American history. As of the writing of this blog entry, they have posted documents from 1763-1877.
These are just some of the many sources for primary resources on the Internet. For a particular topic of interest to you or your students, do an Internet search using the subject of your search (e.g., Civil War women) plus the words “primary source.”