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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 June 2005

Publishing for Gifted Children

Thursday, June 23, 2005 - by CFertig - Category: Reading-Writing-L.A.
Do you have students who would like to see their writing published? Publishing student writing encourages the reluctant writer, strengthens kids' self-confidence, and rewards interest. Here are some resources that you will find helpful.
Publish in Magazines and Books
The nation's largest magazine by and for kids
This site is created by Vangar, a publisher of books by children
A magazine by young writers and artists
Publish on the Internet
Numerous opportunities for student publishing on the Internet.
43,000 stories written by and for children
Links to sites that publish student writing
Suggestions for Students Who Want to Get Their Writing Published
The only resource for teen writers from the viewpoint of two successful, nationally published teen writers
Suggestions for Teachers Who Want to Publish Student Writing
Teachers help students to gain an understanding of good content and style by having them edit of their own web pages
Practical information teachers need to find authentic audiences for their students' writing and advice for making their students feel successful as writers
Opportunities for teachers to get student works published

Gifted Children and the Value of Persistence

Friday, June 17, 2005 - by CFertig - Category: Parents and Educators
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Calvin Coolidge (1872 - 1933)
While it is wonderful to have ability, it does little good if it is not applied. Teachers blame parents for not instilling persistence in their children. Parents blame teachers for not encouraging their child’s intellect with challenging work. The question remains: is persistence a characteristic with which one is born, or is it a trait that is taught or encouraged?
In this age of instant gratification, it can be agonizing for individuals to develop persistence. Shortly after being given a task, even very capable students may approach an adult saying “I can’t do this,” or “It’s too hard.” Students often jump to conclusions. The teacher asks a difficult question and hands are immediately raised. The students respond with the first answers that pop into their minds without being truly thoughtful with their replies. Being first and being right frequently take precedence over the consideration of different approaches to the posed problem.
In his article, Persistence, Daniel Greenberg cites examples of students who successfully developed strong interests and then devoted themselves to those interests. The results of these efforts are impressive. Some of the students pursued musical instruments, one followed his interest in physics, and one studied to become a mortician. (If you’re curious about that one, make certain that you read the article.)
Persistence is a key factor in the success not only of students, but of adults. Think of the long hours and effort that is required to be a successful entrepreneur or a great leader or an inventor. This attribute of perseverance often begins in childhood.
Even students who come from privileged backgrounds need to be persistent to be successful. Unfortunately, some students are not so lucky and come from difficult backgrounds where it is this sheer persistence that enables them to succeed against the odds. It is this ability to persevere that helps lift a person out of a difficult socio-economic condition, a dysfunctional family, an inadequate educational experience, or a personal tragedy.
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seems to be no hope at all.
Dale Carnegie
Things to consider when evaluating the persistence level of a student
  • Does persistence appear to be natural in this student?
  • How does this person respond when something becomes difficult?
  • Are all attempts stopped at the first stumbling block?
  • Is the student constantly asking for help rather than working on a task or problem alone?
  • Does he not do part or all of homework assignments because he doesn’t understand a problem at first glance?
  • Is it difficult for the student to stay focused for more than a few minutes?
Ways to encourage persistence
  • Model persistence both through one’s own actions and by sharing stories about others who are persistent.
  • Help the student develop ways to analyze a problem. When presented with a problem, how does one begin? What steps need to be taken? What information needs to be generated or collected?
  • Help the student create a series of strategies for solving problems. If one doesn’t work, move to another. It is more helpful to learn three ways to solve one problem than one way to solve three problems.

Energy and persistence conquer all things.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

Academic Environments for Gifted Children

Friday, June 10, 2005 - by CFertig - Category: Parents and Educators
What makes a good academic environment for gifted kids? Parents want to know if their neighborhood schools provide the best for their children. Should students remain where they are or should different schools be considered?
I was reading in this morning’s paper about the frustration of school officials because they cannot seem to raise the state test scores in certain schools. They have invested a great deal of money and tried new programs that promise results, but to no avail. I personally think that they are looking in the wrong places for answers. A program is not going to fix things. The entire culture needs to be changed to support academic learning.
I have worked in a wide variety of schools and districts across five different states. These schools have been in rural areas, small towns, and large urban areas. Some schools have been in very poor communities and some have been in very wealthy communities. Some of the schools have been “top notch” and some have been far from it. What I have to offer is my own subjective opinion about good academic environments, based on my personal experiences.
Most importantly, I think that an appropriate academic setting for a very bright child is determined not just by the school, but by the child’s total environment. I worked at one school where a parent was upset with her child’s classroom teacher. I understood the parent’s frustration as the teacher could have been doing much more to enrich and advance the child’s learning. Because I lacked authority to change the classroom situation, I suggested some things that the parent might do at home to help. The mother’s response was, “The education of my child is not my job. That’s the school’s job. It is my job to love my child and have fun with her—not to educate her.” I was really appalled by this answer. Yes, it is the school’s job to educate each child, but it is also the parents’ responsibility.
From my observations, a good academic environment is one where there is a culture of high expectations with lots of support in place. The academic needs of bright students most often must be met in the regular classroom. To accomplish this, support needs to come from the administration, the teachers, the parents, and the students. Here are some of the ways that support is necessary.
Both district and school administrators must believe that it is their obligation to provide the best possible education for all students, including those who are capable of learning beyond the expectations of their grade level. The administration helps to create a culture of high expectations by
  • maintaining a focus of what’s best academically for kids
  • hiring highly competent teachers
  • providing teachers with opportunities to further their education in meeting the needs of all populations
  • encouraging and offering incentives for teachers to attend gifted conferences
  • including evidence of differentiation for gifted students in teacher evaluations
Teachers must believe that it is their obligation to provide for all students, including gifted students. Teachers demonstrate their support by
  • having high expectations for themselves, for students, and for parents
  • continuously acquiring education in the field of gifted education and in ways to differentiate education
  • continuously assessing students (formally and informally) and analyzing ways to meet the changing needs of students
  • collaborating with colleagues to problem-solve educational strategies
  • supporting the positive steps that are taken by administrators, other teachers, parents, and students, even if they are different from one’s own methods
Parents must offer continuity and support from the time their children are born through adulthood. This includes the culture of learning and its importance. Parents demonstrate their support by
  • providing a home environment where kids feel safe and loved
  • guiding children to have strong character and values
  • exposing children to a wide variety of experiences so that they may “taste” the possibilities of life
  • showing excitement about the things they, as parents, learn and experience and the things their children learn and experience
  • reflecting on the things they, as parents, read and sharing those reflections with children
  • reading to children, even when the children get older
  • respecting and valuing the thoughts and abilities of each member of the family
  • encouraging respectful family discussions where everyone does not need to agree
  • leading children to find their own importance in the “rules of society” and a lifetime philosophy rather than dictating everything
  • showing support for the schools by attending conferences and school meetings, helping in the classroom, fundraising, and serving on committees
  • being respectful of teachers, administrators, and parents when speaking to children
  • expecting that children will pay attention in school, hand in assignments on time, go beyond what is expected, be considerate of others, etc.
Yes, the attitude of students plays a major role. Students must understand the value of education and feel a personal responsibility for it. Without that, it is difficult to make good use of opportunities that are provided by educators or parents. Students will support themselves in their own education by
  • knowing that both the adults around them and their fellow students value learning
  • realizing that they have a great deal of control over their learning if they choose to take it
  • going beyond what is expected of them in school
It is certainly rare to have all these things come together. I did, however, see this take place in one school where I worked and it was quite remarkable. Even if it is unrealistic in most situations to expect all of this academic support, there are elements that you can control in a very positive way. Every little bit will help to set that culture of high expectations.

Samples of Gifted Education Classroom Activities

Wednesday, June 08, 2005 - by JMcIntosh - Category: Free Activities and Lessons
When I'm shopping for classroom materials, I get so frustrated by online catalog descriptions. Every product is "exciting," "challenging," and "guaranteed to regrow lost hair." Oh wait ... that last one was from another site I was ... um ... researching ... for a friend.

This kind of thing happens because most education marketers love their products. I write most of the advertising copy at Prufrock. I'm also the final say on what we publish, so if we publish a product, you can bet that I think it's great. That shows through in our advertising copy. However, you may think differently. Every teacher has varied expectations for what a product should accomplish and how it will fit within a curriculum.

Download free samples of Prufrock Press' gifted education books.

I want our customers to feel that the products they are buying from Prufrock are exactly right for them. For this reason, we've been working hard to allow you to download free sample pages from our products. Just visit our online catalog of resources for advanced and gifted learners and click on a product that you find of interest. At the bottom of our product description pages you'll find links to downloadable sample pages.

You can download sample pages from any books published by Prufrock Press. Later this summer, we will include sample pages from books published by other publishers.

Go ahead, download a few pages! You can even print them from your browser and try them out with your students.

Parents of Gifted Children Have the Power

Friday, June 03, 2005 - by CFertig - Category: Parents and Educators

Parents have more power than they realize, but it may come in different forms than they expect.
I hear so often from parents who are frustrated because neighborhood schools do not meet the needs of their gifted kids. Parents need to know that they have options—but one option that is not acceptable is to continue to complain without acting positively. Here is a list of possibilities for action.
First and Foremost, Educate Yourself
School-Related Possibilities
  • Continue to work with your school and district in a positive, helpful manner. Be assertive, but not aggressive. Assertive parents present positive, educated alternatives and suggestions that build bridges. Aggressive parents cause educators to build walls of defense.
  • Offer to help in the school and classroom. Don't be surprised if you are never called if you offer general help; instead, come in with a specific need and suggestion. For instance, “It must be very difficult for you to work with all of your math students. I would love to help you by working with a small group of students on enrichment. What would be a good time for me to come in each week to help you?” Once you offer to do something like this, though, be there every week and on time. Be professional in honoring the confidentiality of students. Teachers need to be able to depend on you.
Think about any specific skills, interests, or hobbies that you may have. Is there a way you might use this knowledge to work with an individual child, a small group of students, or an entire class?
  • Sponsor a before or after-school club such as Chess Club or Math Club or Junior Great Books.
  • If you are still unhappy and your district/state allows it, transfer your child to another school that you feel is more academically suited to your child’s needs.
Outside of School Enrichment
  • Enroll your child in music lessons.
  • Consider children’s classes that are offered by private agencies, museums, and junior colleges.
  • Expose your child to enriching experiences such as travel, plays, and live music.
  • Encourage your child’s hobbies and other outside interests.
Outside of School Academic Experiences
  • Consider homeschooling your child.
  • Enroll your child in online classes.
  • Find a mentor for your child.
  • Hire a tutor who can work on enrichment and acceleration with your son or daughter.
Please share with us the positive experiences that you have had helping your gifted child. What has worked for you? I’m sure that many of you have ideas other than those that I have presented here. Even if you have suggestions that you haven’t used, we would love to hear from you. All you have to do is click on the icon below that says “Add Comment.”
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