Video Gaming for the Gifted
Playing video games is often a big part of the lives of today’s youth. Why not capitalize on this trend from an educational standpoint? Many gifted students will enjoy learning about the history and development of video games, and they may also enjoy learning about potential careers in the field.
Like so many other advances in technology, video games began for pure amusement; but their applications have spilled over into the broad fields of information sharing and education, including in the military and in many corporations.
Some websites that your student may enjoy exploring include:
The Video Game Revolution—This PBS site explores the history of gaming, how a game is made, and the impact of gaming on the world. It also offers personal stories about gaming (both positive and negative), quizzes, and retro games that kids can actually experience. The site contains both audio and video, and is interactive.
, the math and science website sponsored by Johns Hopkins University that I can’t say enough good things about, has some excellent resources on video gaming, including camps and workshops, competitions, and information about careers. Search on a variety of terms, including “careers in video games.”
For older, serious students, there is the annual Game Developers Conference
where attendees can avoid the expensive full access registration by purchasing a pass for just the Game Career Seminar. The Game Career Seminar is a full day program designed for students and individuals interested in learning how to break into the video game industry.
Three Prufrock Press Books Win Prestigious Gifted Education Awards
I'm so proud to announce that three outstanding books published by Prufrock Press have been named winners of the prestigious 2009 Legacy Book Awards, which recognize outstanding books published in the United States that have long-term potential for positively influencing the lives of gifted children. The Legacy Book Awards are sponsored each year by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT), the largest state advocacy group of its kind.
This year, the Legacy Book Awards recognized three outstanding books for educators, parents, and students. Strategies for Differentiating Instruction: Best Practices for the Classroom (2nd ed.), by Julia L. Roberts, Ed.D., and Tracy F. Inman; Raising a Gifted Child: A Parenting Success Book, by Carol Fertig; and Social-Emotional Curriculum With Gifted and Talented Students, edited by Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Ed.D., Tracy L. Cross, Ph.D., and F. Richard Olenchak, Ph.D., are the winners of the 2009 Legacy Book Awards.
For more information, visit our 2009 Legacy Book Award announcement page.
Interactive Opportunities for Gifted Math Students
If you are an advanced math student, teacher, math contest sponsor, homeschooling parent, or math mentor, you may be interested in today’s blog entry.
The Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) website was founded in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. The website offers textbooks, online classes, and other online resources for the top middle and high school math students in the English-speaking world. AoPS is run by highly qualified specialists who have graduate degrees from some of the best schools in and out of country. Included among the website's many student users are winners of major national contests such as MATHCOUNTS, ARML, and the USA Mathematical Olympiad.
The bookstore on the AoPS website has several excellent features. For example, the bookstore offers online pre- and posttests for each of the texts in the AoPS introduction series. This feature helps students evaluate their current skill set, and choose the most appropriate text level as they move through the series. The bookstore also offers many excellent books for math contest preparation. In addition, the bookstore offers recommendations for math materials for children as young as 2 years old.
AoPS online classes are designed for high-performing math students in grades 6-12. In these classes, students learn from instructors who have won national mathematics competitions and who have trained others to do the same. Detailed information about each of the instructors is provided on the site. Online opportunities are also offered for math students who wish to interact with others of their own ability.
Other Online Resources
Additional resources include the following:
An online forum and individual blogs so that students can chat about math and other topics.
Free virtual classrooms called Math Jams that provide improvisational problem-solving sessions, reviews of major math contests, and informational sessions about prominent programs, college admissions, and other topics.
Alcumus, a (currently) free, customized learning experience that adjusts to student performance in order to deliver appropriate problems and lessons. Alcumus includes more than 1,100 problems with solutions, more than 60 video lessons, and detailed progress reports. As a student gets stronger, Alcumus automatically provides more challenging material. Conversely, if the student is having difficulty with a particular topic, Alcumus provides additional practice problems.
For the Win!, an online multiplayer math game, based on thousands of problems from MATHCOUNTS, AMC, and other sources.
A wiki that supports educational content that may be useful to students of mathematics, science, computer science, technology, and other problem-solving subjects.
A resource section that has additional articles, books, and excellent Internet links.
Nine Research-Supported Facts About Gifted Education
In 2008, Dr. Sally M. Reis (University of Connecticut) prepared a National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) position paper listing facts that we know to be true about gifted education.
She limited this list to include only conclusive statements that can be supported by many years of research findings about gifted education. Certainly, she could have included others; however, the idea behind this list was to collect those statements that had so much solid support, they could be considered established facts.
As I read over Dr. Reis' list, I found it frustrating that what we do in schools diverges so radically from what we know is best for gifted kids. How many gifted children attend schools where most, if not all, of the facts listed below are ignored? How many parents have heard a school administrator reject acceleration as an option for gifted kids? How many untrained general education teachers "differentiate" for gifted students by just giving them more work? How many schools ignore high-ability learners in order to myopically focus exclusively on teaching minimum skills to struggling learners?
The NAGC position paper is helpful for gifted child advocates because it explicitly establishes what we know to be true about gifted education. Let me share the information included in Dr. Reis' report:
- The needs of gifted students are generally not met in American classrooms where the focus is most often on struggling learners and where most classroom teachers have not had the training necessary to meet the needs of gifted students.
- Grouping gifted students together for instruction increases achievement for gifted students, and in some cases, also increases achievement for students who are achieving at average and below average levels.
- The use of acceleration results in higher achievement for gifted and talented learners.
- The use of enrichment and curriculum enhancement results in higher achievement for gifted and talented learners, as well as other students.
- Classroom teachers can learn to differentiate curriculum and instruction in their regular classroom situations and to extend gifted education strategies and pedagogy to all content areas.
- Gifted education programs and strategies are effective at serving gifted and high-ability students in a variety of educational settings and from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic populations. Gifted education pedagogy can also reverse underachievement in these students.
- The curriculum and pedagogy of gifted programs can be extended to a variety of content areas resulting in higher achievement for both gifted and average students. Some enrichment pedagogy can benefit struggling and special needs students when implemented in a wide variety of settings.
- Some gifted students with learning disabilities who are not identified experience emotional difficulties and seek counseling. High percentages of gifted students do underachieve, but this underachievement can be reversed. Some gifted students do drop out of high school.
- Gifted education programs and strategies benefit gifted and talented students longitudinally, helping students increase aspirations for college and careers, determine postsecondary and career plans, develop creativity and motivation that they can apply to later work, and obtain more advanced degrees.
Read the entire NAGC position paper, "Research That Supports the Need for and Benefits of Gifted Education." The position paper includes references to the research studies that support each of the conclusions listed above.
Educate Yourself about Gifted Education by Attending a Conference
One of the best ways to learn about gifted education is to attend a conference dedicated to the subject. These conferences offer sessions of interest for parents, teachers, beginners, and experts alike. They are also great places to meet like-minded people with similar interests.
Every month of the year, a gifted education conference is held somewhere in the United States. However, the size and nature of these conferences tend to vary widely. Some of the smaller conferences cater to strictly regional or state-specific interests, while many of the larger conferences cater to national, or even international, audiences. Some conferences simply cover the general subject of gifted education, while others cover very specific topics such as curriculum, advocacy, science, math, or social-emotional issues.
No matter how big the conference may be, however, you can almost always count on finding a vendor area full of books, magazines, and journals dedicated to gifted education, as well as educational games, toys, and kid-friendly computer programs. In addition, you can often find a plethora of information about programs, classes, and camps for gifted kids.
There are several ways to find out where and when to attend a gifted education conference. Probably the two most comprehensive lists can be found at:
So treat yourself to the experience of learning along with others who share your interest in gifted education. Plan to attend a conference this year and/or plan in advance to attend one next year. Better yet, make it a goal to attend at least one conference every year. You will walk away feeling stimulated and full of fresh, new ideas.
Is the Overscheduled Gifted Child Just a Myth?
For years, parents have been warned about the dangers of overscheduling their kids. Critics of overscheduling say that it leads to stress and burnout. But is that true for all young people?
Laura Vanderkam's recent op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, The Myth of the Overscheduled Child, argues that many kids like being challenged and busy. And, often, it's quite good for them. Like many of us, students are happiest when they throw themselves into meaningful projects such as practicing with a sports team to improve their game, or performing independent computer science research. They enjoy making progress toward their goals.
In USA Today's College All-Stars Gifted in Class and Beyond
, plenty of examples are provided of gifted college students who excel not only in academics, but also in outside interests. The college students profiled in the article keep busy with hobbies, sports, and community service, and they all juggle these activities efficiently.
Perhaps the success of a highly scheduled child is at least partially due to his or her ability to self-regulate. Laura Vanderkam notes in her USA Today
op-ed, The Secret of School Success
, that self-regulation is the ability to stop, think, make a plan, and control one’s impulses. These skills are necessary for success in school and in life. They can also help a young person manage a busy existence. After all, the ability to control one’s impulses is critical for choosing constructive projects over nonconstructive activities. The capacity to problem solve is also essential to productively organizing those activities.
However, certain widespread practices of modern parenting don't help older children learn to master themselves. We hate to see children make mistakes or, worse, fail, and so rather than challenge children and teens to self-regulate, parents often choose to make decisions themselves and “rescue” young people from their mistakes. Parents will often "help" their kids with science fair projects, and check their homework before it's turned in. Rather than allow kids to plan their own course of study, they will mark kids' tests on their calendars. When a child forgets her homework at home, well-meaning moms and dads will race to school with the forgotten assignments, rather than take the opportunity to coach the child to solve her own problems. All of these common actions have positive immediate outcomes, but they undermine kids' self-regulation skills.
Perhaps by improving self-regulation in children, we will not need to worry about their overscheduled lives. Instead, we can allow young people to fit a variety of challenging academic, community, and personal interests into tight schedules, and feel confident that our kids understand how to do this in a positive, satisfying manner.
NAGC Virtual Convention Delivers Captivating Speakers Live at Home
Can't attend gifted education's largest convention? Not a problem! Now you can watch the National Association for Gifted Children's most captivating convention speakers at home on your computer.
This year, for the first time, NAGC is offering a convenient and inexpensive "Virtual Convention." As a virtual conference participant, you will be able to hear and see important presentations during the conference from any computer that has Internet access.
In fact, I am so excited by this concept that I contacted NAGC and offered for Prufrock Press to sponsor the Virtual Convention this year.
Don't let shrinking budgets and travel restrictions keep you from being a part of the largest and most informative national conference devoted to classroom innovation, gifted education, and high-ability learners. Register for the NAGC Virtual Convention and experience a full-day of content-rich sessions on Saturday, November 7. Attendees will have access to 17 live convention sessions. NAGC is offering three different convention strands: practical ideas for teachers, support for parents, or a focus on critical issues.
Those who register to participate virtually will also be given access to an online portal in which they can discuss topics, post documents, etc. in order to reach out to fellow attendees in advance of the live webinars.
Update [10/15/09]: NAGC Virtual Convention attendees can receive one university continuing education unit (CEU) throught the University of California at Irvine. This CEU may be used to document professional development hours and can be submitted to your district to meet requirements for salary advancement.
Visit NAGC's Virtual Convention home page for more information or to register.
Legacy Book Awards for Gifted
I’m pleased to let you know that my book, Raising a Gifted Child: A Parenting Success Handbook
, has received a 2009 Legacy Book Award
in the category of Parents/Family. The award honors “outstanding books published in the United States that have long-term potential for positively influencing the lives of gifted children and/or youth and contribute to the understanding, well-being, education, and success of students with gifts and/or talents.”
Raising a Gifted Child is a compilation of the first 3 ½ years of this blog, woven together with real stories about real kids and parents. It is packed with resources that are useful for not only students and parents, but also for teachers. The book takes a positive approach to education, empowering those who are interested in helping kids with strong abilities and strong interests. As one reviewer stated, “Chapter Seven, ‘Specific Subjects’ is full of many suggestions and links for parents and children to explore. Various programs, competitions, print resources and clubs are mentioned, and all are categorized by subject and described by the author. This section in itself is a good reason to buy this book.”
Prufrock Press is to be congratulated for its dedication to gifted education through the many excellent books and periodicals that it publishes and the resources that it offers on its website.