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Joel McIntosh

Joel McIntosh
I'm the publisher at Prufrock Press. I've been involved with education for more than 20 years and hold a masters degree in gifted education. I've been a classroom teacher and a parent (still am that). In addition to this blog, you can follow me on Twitter. Feel free to contact me by e-mail if you have any questions about this blog or Prufrock Press.

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Articles from December 2009

Summer Programs for the Gifted: Time to Start Planning

Gifted students enroll in summer programs for a wide variety of reasons. They may choose to enroll in a summer program in order to:
  • spend valuable time with others who are at a similar intellectual level,
  • concentrate on a specific area of interest or ability,
  • enhance their academic study with additional enrichment opportunities,
  • burnish their credentials so that they have a better chance of gaining entrance to an elite college,
  • "try out” an academic area of interest, or
  • earn early college credit.
Cogito is an online community for gifted youth that is sponsored by Johns Hopkins University. As of today, the website has listed more than 430 summer programs in all academic areas. These programs are located all over the United States, as well as the world. Most of the programs listed are designed for middle school and high school students, but some programs are designed for elementary school students, as well. Some programs are residential and some are commuter. Opportunities can be sorted by title or by organization. There is also a search engine built into the website that allows you to sort by grade level, acceptance requirements, and location. You also may want to check out Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page: Summer and Saturday Programs for more summer enrichment ideas.
Selecting an appropriate summer program for your student can seem like a daunting task. NAGC (National Association for Gifted Children) has several articles that you may find helpful as you sort through your list of choices.

Remember that many of these programs have strict deadlines for admission. Whatever your reason for enrolling your student in a summer program, be sure to start the process now before it is too late.

Paper Art for the Gifted


Do you have a budding young artist at home or at school? Or do you know one that you would like to inspire? Try paper art. Students can easily experiment with this medium at home or at school, using inexpensive, easy-to-find materials to create fanciful pieces of art.

Depending on the project, the process of working with paper art may include copying another artist's previous designs or techniques. There’s nothing wrong with learning paper techniques by copying. The creative part comes when individuals take those copied techniques and use them in different ways to generate fresh interpretations.

Here are some great places to look for inspiration and ideas, whether your student is copying another artist's techniques or creating her own:

  • YouTube—Search for “Paper Art,” or “Origami,” or “Paper Folding,” to name just a few, and you will find all kinds of videos showing how to create paper art.
  • Magazine Mosaic—Create an original mosaic using a paper plate and cut up magazine pieces.
  • 100 Extraordinary Examples of Paper Art—I promise that you will love this website. Here, 13 artists showcase their amazing pieces of paper art. Some of the artists featured here use simple materials, while others resort to the unexpected to create stunning work.
  • WebUrbanist—Here, more artists showcase their paper art. There are some repeats from the preceding website, but this website is still worth viewing.
  • Jen Stark's Paper Art—Here is a video showing how one artist uses very inexpensive materials to create wonderful examples of paper art.

Our Shameful National Commitment to Gifted and Talented Children

Monday, December 14, 2009 - by JMcIntosh - Category: Gifted and Talented Children, Gifted Education

The National Association for Gifted Children recently released its "State of the Nation in Gifted Education" report. The report offers a frustrating picture of this nation's commitment to providing a quality education to our most talented students.

The report concludes. . .

  • Gifted programs are embarrassingly underfunded--Gifted education is without support at the federal level, and states do a poor job of funding programs. Thirteen states have no gifted education funding at all, and most other states provide only token support.
  • Teachers are untrained and underprepared--Training in gifted education identification and teaching methods is seldom a requirement for teachers, even teachers working in specialized programs for gifted students.
  • Services offered to gifted students are haphazard and piecemeal--Gifted students often can expect fragmented and uncoordinated services and opportunities.
  • Gifted education has no accountability--Absent any reporting or accountability measures to ensure that services are delivered equitably, there is no way that local districts or states can monitor and improve gifted education services.

The report's "Executive Summary" concludes that:

Our nation needs a comprehensive, national gifted education policy in which federal, state, and local leaders work together to ensure that all gifted and talented students are identified and served by well-trained teachers using challenging curriculum to meet their advanced learning needs. Supporting teacher training and professional development, designing and sharing model identification and service programs, and eliminating policies that obstruct students from receiving appropriate instruction are core elements of a national strategy to support our most advanced learners. A greater investment in these children is a greater investment in our nation's future. (p. 4)

"Amen," I say. But I have little optimism that this problem will find its solution on the national level. My experience with gifted education over the last 20 years leads me to believe that there is little will at the national level to tackle this problem. Politicians and special interest groups discount gifted education as elitist and unnecessary, regardless of the realities that gifted kids are facing in our schools.

On the other hand, at the local level, parents of gifted children hear such nonsense and call it ridiculous. These parents have real kids who are gifted and need quality services. They push schools and administrators to implement programs at the local level. As a result, we have a patchwork of quality programs and wide disparities in gifted education from one school district (or even one school) to the next.

I wish I had more optimism about gifted education leadership and funding at the national level. However, over and over, it seems that truly effective advocacy is wielded by parents at a grassroots level. Unfortunately, this fact will continue to cause wide disparities in gifted education until we find the national will to face this country's shoddy approach to educating gifted children.

Revisiting Bloom’s Taxonomy for the Gifted


Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy was widely used (and often misused) in classrooms. It was misused when educators assumed that if they taught the highest levels on the taxonomy, then all of the needs of the gifted would be addressed. It was also misused when educators assumed that they could jump right to the highest levels, negating the importance of the lower levels. For example, an educator might ask a student to read a book and evaluate the character's actions, but not ask the student to support his or her conclusions with evidence from the book.

Bloom’s Taxonomy was eventually updated, or revised, in 2001.Whether you apply the original version or the revised version, Bloom’s Taxonomy is still a good tool when used appropriately because it encourages higher level thinking skills. Some websites that are helpful when trying to understand and use Bloom’s Taxonomy include:

What Does It Mean to Be Gifted?

I am often asked the question, "What does it mean to be gifted?" and my standard answer usually is, "I have no idea." I realize that is a rather strange response from a gifted and talented specialist, but it is an honest answer. I will then expand my reply by stating that although there isn't a universal definition of giftedness, I still consider myself an advocate for students who have strong interests and/or strong abilities in one or more areas.
I am not alone in realizing that there is not a universal definition of giftedness. Even the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) acknowledges this.
For a broad discussion of the many definitions of giftedness, you can consult previous blog entries on this website, including:
As you can expect in the evolving world of technology, a few of the links in these blog entries are no longer valid. Nevertheless, you will find a rich exploration of the various theories of giftedness.
We shouldn't get too hung up on the definition of gifted. No one is denying that students need educational paths that suit their strengths and interests (and some of these needs are quite high). However, we also shouldn't let the definition of a word cause stumbling blocks that hinder the process of those needs being met.
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