Language Immersion Programs for the Gifted
I was at a wedding reception this last week, talking to one of the guests and asking how her kids were enjoying the summer.
“Our son had the most incredible experience this summer,” she told me. He’s a bright kid, but hadn’t done well in his French class the last year. “We decided to enroll him at a language immersion camp at Concordia College in MN. The entire time he was there, nothing was spoken except French. All possible ways of communicating in any other fashion were taken away, including cell phones and computers.” She said he absolutely loved the experience.
The Concordia Language Villages
are located in Moorhead, Minnesota. They teach 14 languages (including Chinese, Finnish, Arabic, Korean, and Russian) and have sessions ranging from one weekend to 4 weeks for students 7-18 years of age. All levels from beginner through advanced are welcome.
Day camps are available at several locations for children 4-8 years of age to learn languages such as Norwegian, German, and Spanish.
Concordia also has an immersion program for children from countries around the world who want to learn English.
Scholarships and financial aid are available. Nearly 15% of the villagers receive scholarships.
I found out they also have immersion programs for adults and am going to look into that for myself. Wouldn’t it be fun to learn a different language every year?
Using Search Tools on Prufrock’s Gifted Child Information Blog
You may have noticed that the format of this blog changed a bit recently, and I want to make certain readers understand the search possibilities available. This is the 120th weekly blog that has been posted in more than 2 years, so there is a lot of information here. There are two ways to search.
· Categories—In the left column of the web page, you will find a section titled Categories. Within that section, you will see a list of more than a dozen subjects. If you click on any of these, all the articles that fit into that grouping will appear.
· Search—You can also search for words, phrases, or topics you do not see listed under Categories. With the new format of the blog, you will need to sign in to use the search function. There is a section on the upper right where you can register. Your user name and password are case sensitive.
Example—You might want to search on “underachievement.” To do this, click on the word Search either at the bottom of the Categories list or near the top of the page. Once you do this, a number of boxes will appear and you can fill in the appropriate information. (You do not need to fill in all the boxes.) Click on Search, and all of the articles will come up that meet the criteria you entered.
These are great tools, so make sure you take advantage of them.
Free Advanced Math for Gifted Children
Looking to challenge a gifted children with activities focused on statistics and probability?
Recently, I received an e-mail from the The Actuarial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes "education and research programs that serve the public by harnessing the talents of actuaries." The foundation coordinator asked me to let my readers know about two free books developed by the foundation that support math education. The books can be downloaded from the foundation's web site.
The first is called The Math Academy, Are You Game? – Explorations in Probability and is for students in grades 3-6. This book includes hands-on activities for grades 3-6 that you can use to enhance your math instruction while staying true to the academic rigor required by state standards.
The second one is Shake, Rattle, & Roll. Using a variety of mathematical skills common to the actuarial field, lessons are designed to teach sixth to eighth grade students how to use scatterplots for data analysis and histograms to analyze the frequency of events, probability, and other functions as they are applied in determining the financial impact of randomly occurring events like flood and earthquakes and the calculation of property loss.
WebQuests as a Differentiation Tool for the Gifted
As teachers, we need a bag of “educational tools” from which to draw. No one teaching method should be used when working with students: instead, we need a repertoire of techniques from which we can pick and choose according to the individual and circumstance. The use of WebQuests
is one such tool that can be used for differentiation in the classroom either with a small group or for a student to use as an independent study. WebQuests contain a list of teacher-screened Web sites that can be used to do research and complete specific tasks within a defined structure. When using these with gifted students, the tasks should be more complex than with the regular population. WebQuests are most often used with children in upper elementary and middle schools.
There are three different ways that teachers can apply WebQuests:
1. Use a WebQuest that has already been created and is available on the Internet.
2. Take a WebQuest that has been created and modify it to meet the needs of your students.
3. Create your own WebQuest.
For sources of WebQuests that are already created, take a look at
For sources to modify existing WebQuests, see
For help in creating your own WebQuests, check out
Perhaps we should stop trying to put square pegs in round holes. Both parents and teachers feel very frustrated by intelligent students who do not perform in school. They assume that the kids are just plain lazy or that the school personnel are not trying hard enough. We label these students gifted underachievers. Instead of everyone casting blame, perhaps we should look at this dilemma in a different way.
I recently ran into the former teacher of one such student. Ms. Dignan said that Thomas was obviously very smart and a nice boy, but was not a producer.
Thomas is now in his early 30s, very much a producer, and very successful at his job. Ms. Dignan was right—Thomas was and still is very smart. But I don’t think he had problems because he was lazy or because school personnel were not trying. I think it was because he has a style of learning that cannot be readily taught. He was, and still is, extremely visual-spatial and learns through experimentation. (I tried to find a good link to explain visual-spatial learners, but every Web site I found placed people in neat little boxes again. I find that neat little boxes are only useful in theory and close off our minds too much.)
I had a conversation with Thomas last week. He said that the way he learns is so visually oriented that he is not able to explain to others how his mind works. Though he is a happy and content person now, it is obvious that this used to trouble him, and he has given all of this a great deal of thought over the years. In fact, that’s one of his real strengths. He is able to analyze situations very thoroughly (both at work and in his personal life) and problem solve more effectively than most.
Rather than beat our heads against the wall trying to fit this type of student into a system that we feel is necessary for life, we should consider alternatives. What is the young person interested in, academic or nonacademic? There are many valuable careers that do not use traditionally academic subjects. As a young person, Thomas’s interests were in computers, film (both watching and making), and individual sports. He loved it when his parents read to him, but he did not enjoy reading himself unless it was fantasy. He learned to play the guitar and did quite well with it. He seemed to be born knowing how to draw well and combined this with a well-developed sense of humor to create cartoons. He enjoyed being with peers who were deep thinkers, often because they admired his strong creativity.
Foster and value the interests of the young person even if you can’t see down what productive path these may lead. Explore together career possibilities that might use these strengths.
Thomas was a disaster in school. He rebelled strongly against authority and resented people trying to fit him into the traditional mold. His parents feared that he would never finish high school. However, he did finish and also spent a few years in and out of college. He wandered around in jobs trying to find something that would fit his interests. Finally, in his mid-20s, he landed on just that. He got back into computers in a way that could use his very developed visual-spatial sense and excellent problem solving ability. He presently works for a small company that builds and maintains computer systems. He has a great deal of responsibility, and loves being in charge. He thrives on complex problems much as a lawyer would welcome the challenge of a court scene. He makes a good salary, has lots of friends, and is a very caring person.
In “the real world” (a term I really dislike), Thomas is hardly an underachiever. In fact, he has achieved far more than many of his classmates who were excellent students. But Thomas is pretty much self-taught. In fact, looking back on the situation, there is probably no way that anyone could have taught him. His mind does just not respond to traditional school. He used to be a square peg who everyone was trying to fit into a round hole. If the adults in his life had just allowed him to be the square peg, life may have been a little easier as he was growing up.