World Schooling Round 3

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In my World Schooling Round 1  blog, I explained what world schooling is and our adventures in New Zealand.  In Round 2, I discussed Germany.  Well, round 3 was England.  This trip was made jointly with friends that used to live in TX but now live in CT.  Every year we travel together so our boys maintain their friendship as well as its extra fun for us.  This year, we chose England!  And, we were lucky enough to coordinate our flights connecting in Dublin so we could be on the same flights in and out of Bristol, England.  This allowed us to share driving duties during our stay.

My friend and I chose England so that we could really explore historical sites easily with our sons.  Both of us were wanting to see castles, cathedrals, and Stonehenge.  And, traveling with friends allowed it to be extremely fun along with educational for all of us.  In addition, for my son and I it was a great way to experience real fall weather.  We left a hot and steamy TX that broke 100 a week before leaving and enjoyed 50s-60s the whole week in England.  It was also nice that my son had a friend who is only 5 months younger to play with and I had a friend to chat with.  In addition, finding the red telephone booth everywhere was very entertaining because they still worked as well as in my son’s eyes it was finding the real life “Crossy Road” character.

Here is what we experienced during our one week in South Western England:

  • Dublin airport
  • Bristol airport
  • Kingswear
  • Berkeley Castle
  • St. Mary’s Church
  • Thornbury Castle
  • Kent’s Caverns
  • Torquay
  • Meadfoot Beach
  • Cockington Village
  • Cockington Court
  • Cockington Church
  • St. Michael’s Mount
  • Marazion
  • Stonehenge
  • Exeter’s Underground Passages
  • Exeter
  • Exeter Cathedral Church of St. Peter
  • St. Martin Church
  • St. Patrick Church
  • Kingswear Visitor Center
  • Kingswear-Dartmouth Passenger Ferry
  • Dartmouth Castle
  • Dartmouth
  • Bayards Cove Fort
  • Dart Harbor

A perk of traveling to England was that no foreign language was needed.  However, British English does have some different spellings and some different phrases used.  Thanks to my son already enjoying British book series Horrible Science, Horrible Geography, and Murderous Math he was prepared.  And, now after seeing so many historical sites he is looking forward to starting Horrible Histories.  Of course, we got our friend’s son hooked on this series too.

Here are the phrases we learned and used:

  • Bin (in reference to garbage cans
  • Rubbish (trash)
  • Loo or toilets (instead of saying bathroom or restroom)
  • Chips (french fries)
  • Mate (friend, buddy, or pal)
  • Cheers (thanks or thank you)
  • Dodgy (something wrong)
  • Kerfuffle (fight or argument)
  • Car park (parking lot)
  • Fancy (wanting something)
  • Bobby (police)
  • Dodgy (suspicious or dubious)
  • Petrol (gas)
  • Boot (trunk of the car)
  • To let (for rent)
  • Trainers (tennis shoes)
  • Lift (elevator)
  • Motorway (highway or expressway)

Just like New Zealand and Germany, international travel allowed our son to experience some frustrations: long travel times, time change adjustment, international customs at airports,  using different phrases, some different food choices, and driving on the left side of the road.  Although in England, there is prolific wifi and much of it was free compared to our experiences in Germany and New Zealand.  We had our phone on international mode but still had difficulties calling outside of England. Messaging worked great so no big deal!  Travel to England was a great way to physically experience and learn about: hemispheres, time changes, climate, continents, geography, English or British culture, medieval history, WWII history, historical sites, world heritage sites, different signs, accents, customs, passports, rules of international travel, foreign currency, currency exchange, and much more.  

We truly believe travel is a great educational tool.   Remember, travel could be local, regional, your own country, or foreign countries.  If you can not physically leave, please consider traveling via “arm chair” with the use of books, videos, and computers.  Traveling is a great educational experience and exposure to the world is so important for our children.  Now, be inspired and go explore!

When Your Child Exceeds What Schools Offer

The Onion is satire.  I have always loved the Onion, but I am biased because I am from Wisconsin.  So, when the article “Gifted Passionate Student Really Stretching Limits of School’s Resources” from the Onion came up in my feed, I chuckled but also cringed.  I laughed because it is the onion and could only imagine what they would write but I cringed because we have a child who exceeded what schools could offer.  So yes, the article is a joke and funny to a point.  But at a deeper level, it brings out the glaring reality that there really are some gifted kids who exceed what schools can do and need more.  In fact, according to some new research, there is as many as 25% of students at any grade level that have already mastered what they are working on (“Getting Restless at the Head of the Class” by Anya Kamenetz).   Our son was definitely part of that 25%.

In the article “How to Raise a Genius: Lessons from a 45 Year Study of Supersmart Children,” Tom Clynes discusses acceleration with the gifted.  This is a perfect summary: “Many educators and parents continue to believe that acceleration is bad for children—that it will hurt them socially, push them out of childhood or create knowledge gaps. But education researchers generally agree that acceleration benefits the vast majority of gifted children socially and emotionally, as well as academically and professionally. …  Among students with high ability, those who were given a richer density of advanced pre-collegiate educational opportunities in STEM went on to publish more academic papers, earn more patents and pursue higher-level careers than their equally smart peers who didn’t have these opportunities.”  Sadly, many districts still have archaic policies regarding acceleration.  In fact, our zoned district limits students to 1 grade level above their current assigned grade, no single subject acceleration, and only grade skipping for those who know how to jump through the hoops to get it.

Here are the highlights of our personal story of exceeding the resources of schools:

  • While our son was in preschool (age 3 and 4) we were warned by his teachers that he would be bored in kindergarten because he had already mastered what would be covered.
  • We sought private testing when he was 4 and was told our son was highly gifted.  We learned his achievement scores were in the profoundly gifted range.  The examiner advised us to meet with school staff.
  • I attempted to meet with the principal (she  was fired 4 months later) of our zoned campus.  I was denied  and instead was given the guidance counselor over the phone (she retired 3 months later).  She advised us to pursue skipping kindergarten and warned me that there were no gifted services other than occasional pull out due to lack of students at our zoned campus.
  • I called the district gifted coordinator (she left the next school year) to discuss an administrative transfer to an elementary campus with more gifted students and appropriate gifted services.  I was denied and told directly there is no such thing as administrative transfers.  Instead, I was told to seek an interdistrict transfer like other parents (this policy has been changed and even more difficult to do) or grade skip.  We did not get our first 2 choices but did get our 3rd choice.  However, that campus was facing potential closure due to attendance numbers and budget issues.  That principal indicated if the board shut down their campus we would have to reapply for another campus.  In addition, I was told they don’t have gifted services beyond occasional pull out until 3rd grade.  And, I was told there is no such thing as single subject acceleration and children were not allowed to work more than one grade level ahead.  Again, I was told to pursue grade skipping or private school.
  • We sought a local public charter school and won the lottery for kindergarten entrance.  We met with the principal and had a plan.  That principal was moved from that campus 1 month before school started.  The new principal had no information from the previous principal.  We started over with the new principal.  He assured us that the school could work with us.
  • The kindergarten teacher allowed our son to read his own books and higher level readers than his classmates.  He was even allowed to take Accelerated Reader (AR) quizzes.  He was taking quizzes on books in the 1st – 4th-grade range.  However, our son complained daily about being forced to sit through phonics lessons he already knew and wanting to know when they would do something new in math.
  • The kindergarten teacher and school accepted his work from Northwestern University’s Gifted Learning Links (GLL) for science.  This was a program in which we applied for based on our son’s private testing and is specially designed for highly gifted kids.
  • We started the Educational Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) through Stanford University for Math. This was another program in which we applied.  Our son finished K, 1st, and 2nd-grade math in 3 months.  This information was shared with the school and accepted into his file.
  • Gifted services were a weekly program after school and mixed grades.  My son enjoyed the projects they did but felt it was a punishment to be held after school and forced to stay there even longer.
  • We considered grade skipping but the school was shuffling teachers and was moving the 2nd-grade teacher we were wanting if we skipped grades down to 1st grade.  So after conversations with the gifted coordinator, we opted against grade skipping in hopes of having a good teacher from a higher grade level would help our son.  In addition, we knew the staff was being flexible.
  • The first-grade teacher also accepted his work from GLL and EPGY.  She also allowed him complete freedom in the books he read.  He took his AR quizzes on 4th – 6th-grade books.  She also gave him higher level math puzzle worksheets.  She and the GT coordinator advocated for additional online resources.  However, the 3rd through 5th-grade teachers would not let our son be listed on their rosters.  Instead, the technology teacher opened classes for my son under his 1st-grade teacher’s name.  He completed the 5th-grade online science program and the 3rd-grade math program before the end of 1st grade.
  • Sadly, our son was not allowed to participate in spelling bees or science fairs held for the upper-grade levels.  The 3rd-5th-grade teachers told me directly it would be unfair to their students if my son won as a first grader.  We tried to get permission from the principal but we were told the teachers run these and make the decisions.  Thus, denied.
  • During the 1st grade school year, GT services were changed to pull-out during the week.  The GT teacher sought our permission to group our son with the 3rd-5th-grade students during the 1st week of school.  However, after 6 weeks, he was changed to 1:1 because parents complained that it was unfair for my son to be with older kids.
  • The principal encouraged our son to participate in a digital story telling competition during both our son’s kindergarten and first-grade years.  He won both years.  This was run by DISTCO and thus did not involve teachers or parents from the campus.
  • During 1st grade our son wrote notes to his teachers about “1 not equaling all” and continued to complain that school was boring.  After 12 weeks, we had school staff encouraging us to consider homeschooling or multiple grade skips.  We were told directly by the principal and the GT coordinator that a single grade skip was not going to be enough and that realistically there were only 1 to 2 year’s worth of material left on their campus for our son.  The reading specialist and other teachers also told us to homeschool or grade skip knowing he will need another after that year.
  • I called private schools to find alternatives.  Some of them indicated they would not accept our son because he was too young for the grade level he would need.  Some of them told us he would need to be with his age peers and that they do not do any single subject acceleration.  One school told us all kids were gifted and there was no need for differentiation.  Only 2 private schools indicated they had some flexibility for our son.  Both indicated they could do single subject acceleration for math and reading but they could not do anything for science.  They indicated it would be too dangerous to let a 7-year-old into middle school science labs and that their liability insurance would not allow it.  Both cost about $18,000 a year.  

It is quite clear from the highlights above that our son exceeded the school’s resources rather quickly.  Before the end of the first semester of 1st grade, we made the decision we would be homeschooling.  The staff began giving us resources from 4th through 6th grade that they could find.  The GT coordinator gave us online resources.  Thanks to our experience with GLL and EPGY we knew of lots of university gifted programs.  In addition, we were connected with the Texas Parents of Profoundly Gifted and had support for this adventure.  We used the 2nd half of 1st grade to plan and get ready.  The charter school did what they could but it was not enough.  Homeschooling was really our only answer.

Sadly the public school system of Texas is too rigid with its policies as well as has an extremely high staff turnover rate.  The charter school had more flexibility than our zoned campus in terms of policies but it was not enough and it too had a high staff turnover rate.  We are in our 4th year of homeschooling and our son is considered an 8th grader at the age of 10.  He is working on material ranging from 8th grade to high school.  

We know that we are not alone on this adventure of homeschooling a highly gifted student who exceeded what public schools could offer. However, if school districts had more flexibility in their acceleration policies and services for gifted many students would not be leaving.  We also know that there are some gifted students who do not have the luxury of being homeschooled and instead remain stuck in a system that is not helping them succeed.  It is important that parents, the community, and educators understand acceleration and the needs of gifted students so that all students succeed.

Here are some other articles regarding acceleration:

Credits:

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “Acceleration.”  I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.

Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_acceleration_2.htm.

accelerationbloghop

What Community?

Community can be defined so many different ways.  A group of people with common stories, struggles, or experiences.  Sharing a common place or interest. Community could be substituted for tribe, fraternity, fellowship, group, communion, connection, network, social system, etc.  So, how many communities are you part of?  More importantly, does your gifted child fit in your local community?

“If your child marches to a different beat, a different drummer, you might just have to go along with that music.  Help them achieve what’s important to them.” – Sonia Sotomayor

Often, gifted individuals do not always fit.  The description of the square peg and round hole is another analogy comparable to the above-quoted reference to a different drummer.  Sometimes it takes time for us to find our “tribe.”  It is easier for us as adults because we have had more time.  But, for some gifted children they need more support.  Even some gifted adults need support.  And, in some communities parents of gifted need support too.  Have you found gifted support in your community for your child or for you as a parent of a gifted child?  It is important that we support our society’s gifted children for who they are and help them achieve their goals.  

It is important that we support our child’s need for community.  And, it is important that we as parents of gifted support our own need for community.  Sadly, many have no clue on where to find that community.  Not every campus has gifted classes or programs or parent support groups.  Not every district has SENG support groups.  Many parents are told their child is gifted but then nothing else.  Some parents find out about their child’s giftedness through private doctors and do not know how to navigate the educational system.  Thus, it is critical that those of us who have found supportive gifted community spread the word.

I admit, as a trained school psychologist, I was not told much about gifted education or gifted support groups.  I learned as a parent and by coincidence.  The assistant principal who was also the gifted coordinator was going through training for gifted certification and happened to use our son as an example in a discussion.  The presenter gave her the name of Texas Parents of Profoundly Gifted (TPPG) and instructed her to have us apply.  That Monday, she gave me a personal note with a name, website, and email address.  I was floored!  The application was completed and sent off within the week.  And, I treasure the support we have received and continue to receive from them.  But, I got lucky.  Some parents aren’t that lucky.

If you can’t find a local support community then you need to turn online.  I admit that in addition to a state level support from TPPG, I have many online gifted support communities.  Hoagies’ Gifted  has an extensive list of gifted online support covering blogs, social networking sites, podcasts, mailing lists and more.  You do not have to be on Facebook to find online support.  There are mailing lists and blogs.  And, there are even gifted camps and retreats.  If you are on Facebook, search the terms gifted or Mensans or poppies and you’ll find groups.  Although many schools do not know of these groups, hopefully, those of us in the gifted community will continue to share our resources for the better of our greater community.

Here are some great places for finding a gifted community:

The organizations listed above are not exhaustive.  However, for a parent who knew of no support or very little, this will hopefully help you find a community for you and your child.  In addition, the above organizations could also be helpful to schools in informing students or parents.  If you are looking for summer gifted programs, then check out the lists given by Hoagies’ and Davidson as they have extensive lists.  I know the school year is now starting, but you can use these lists to help for planning and budgeting for next summer.

Additional reads on Community:

Credits:

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “Community.”  I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.

Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_community.htm .

=bloghopCommunity

Review of Creation Crate

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Earlier this year we learned of a new subscription program that involves Arduino called Creation Crate from a fellow homeschooling mom.  We explored her son’s kit and were impressed.  Thus, we ordered one to try with our son because we wanted something he could independently over the summer. My son loved the first kit so much we did the 3-month subscription.

As a parent, I thought the first kit was too easy to build because my son has lots of electronic building experience.  But my son really did enjoy it and loved that he could do it independently.  He needed no assistance until he had code errors.  It was a perfect exercise in learning about debugging.  He needed just a little assistance from his dad and he was back on his own.  So when the 2nd kit came I loved that it did increase in difficulty in the build.  Still, it had very easy to follow directions.  This time, he had the debugging down and needed no assistance.  The third kit was a favorite of my son’s because it came with incomplete directions.  He loved it.  It was just the right level of challenge he needed.  The 4th kid he received also added another level of difficulty, with fill in the blank codes.  This kit has not been finished yet, but will be soon.  However, thanks to Creation Crate my son has been coming up with more Arduino creation ideas on his own.

Creation Crate is definitely a great beginner Arduino teaching kit.  It is perfect for kids with no knowledge and want to learn as well as those with some experience but want to do it independently.  It starts off easy and then each subsequent kit gets a little harder.  Of course, if your child had difficulties there is a way to get assistance.  It teaches both the hardware and software.  You will need to download the free Arduino software.  But, they send you everything you need: breadboard, wires, components, Arduino, etc.  Thus, for a novice with Arduino and electronics, it is the perfect kit.  Once you are finished you can hack it by modifying the code or the hardware.  At the back of the directions, they do give additional challenges.  Of course, you can also use it for something totally different.

Creation Crate is a great starter kit for learning Arduino.  If you want additional resources for learning about Arduino, please check out an earlier blog I wrote called “Arduino & Raspberry Pi for Beginners.”  Creation Crate and Arduino is a really great learning tool for kids, teens, and adults.  Go have fun, make and create!

Giftedness and Social Issues

Being gifted is not easy.  Giftedness comes with all kinds of challenges like asynchronous development, overexcitabilities, perfectionism, imposter syndrome, and pressure from others.  All of this can lead to a variety of social issues.

Here 10 things to keep in mind when trying to understand the social issues that gifted individuals face:

  1. One does not equal all. Each gifted person is unique, just like all children.  Do not pigeon hole them.
  2. Giftedness does not automatically mean gifted in all areas.  In fact most gifted are not.  And, there are gifted who are 2E meaning they have giftedness along with some other learning difficulty or special needs.  This also can lead to difficulties making friends.
  3. Many times gifted persons doubt their abilities or try to mask them (Imposter Syndrome) due to trouble with self-acceptance as well as an attempt to be accepted by others.
  4. Gifted person often face pressure from parents, teachers, peers, and other adults when asked to “prove themselves” or false expectations that giftedness equates to all A’s.  In addition, they feel pressure to be or act “normal” in order to be accepted by their peers.  Yes, some peers put extreme pressure because they perceive the gifted student as the one ruining the curve or winning all academic contests.
  5. Many gifted have such high levels of perfectionism that they avoid or fear risk-taking.  This leads to frustration for them and others.  And, this can lead to serious anxiety issues.
  6. Asynchronous in giftedness is the fact that their emotional and social development is not matching their academic or intellectual development.  Due to this, gifted persons often do not get their needs met by the same peers but rather need different aged peers or adults for different areas of their development.  It is often hard for a child with the academic skills of a high school student but the social maturity of a 10-year-old to fit in during all situations.  Sadly, this asynchronicity can lead to gifted individuals not having their cognitive or academic needs being met in traditional school settings.  In addition, this leads to frustration for everyone around.
  7. Many gifted individuals have emotional sensitivity or intensity.  Dabrowski’s overexcitabilities are real.  However, some gifted are mislabeled or misdiagnosed due to the misunderstanding of giftedness.  And others, are denied treatment because their problems or difficulties are minimized.  This too can lead to difficulties making or maintaining friendships.
  8. The highly and profoundly gifted often have divergent interests.  Sadly, many adults and peers do not understand these interests or don’t share pleasure in these interests which can lead to social isolation or ostracization.
  9. What works for one gifted person may not work for others.  There is no single recipe for success. Each gifted person will need to learn strategies that work for them for handling the flow of life, social issues, and emotional balance.
  10. Many gifted persons are at risk for being victims of bullying.

It is clear, giftedness poses challenges.  However, they also need to be understood and accepted for the individuals they are.  They might need additional support to help them grow and find their “tribe.”  As parents we all want our child to be accepted and happy. A little more support can go a long way.

Additional Resources:

Credits:

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “Social Issues.”  I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.

Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_social_issues.htm.

BlogHopSocialIssues

Young Eagles Program – kids can fly for free!

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Our son recently completed his Young Eagles Flight while we were on vacation in Wisconsin to visit extended family.  We chose to have him do his flight in Wisconsin at the Oshkosh EAA Museum and Airventure due to the ease of which we had access to this facility and the fact that that is the home to the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association).  We grew up seeing EAA shows and knew that our son should have his first flight there.  He had so much fun that we felt it was important to share about this free and unique experience opportunity.

First, the Young Eagles Program is a free program via the EAA for youth ages 8 to 17.  The Young Eagles Program at EAA Museum  and EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, WI is daily May through September depending on the weather.  There is a find a flight location, so you can find a Young Eagle Flight anywhere in the US.  You just need to contact the nearest local Young Eagle Coordinator in your state if you cannot make it to Oshkosh, WI.  And they have parent information here

After our son completed his flight he was given a certificate, a log book, and an access code so he could become a student member of the EAA  and access Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course for free.  Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course  is free to Young Eagles after they take their flight and register (saves $200).  Sporty’s is a flight course, training, and test prep program online that students must get through 3 levels of before they can take in-person instruction (must be at least age 12 for this part).  After completing the first three levels you will then be eligible for a free in-flight lesson.  After the first free lesson, you pay for the reminder of your child’s instruction and licensing.  Sporty’s lets your child work towards their private, sport, or recreational license.  And, youth who did their Young Eagle flight get access to this program through age 17 for free.  So, your child can take their young eagle flight now and then decide when they are a teen to start the course.

Again, all of this is free.  The Young Eagle Flights are great for children to get a chance to fly 1-on-1 with a pilot.  They get to ask the pilots any question and they get a very, unique experience.  Flying in a tiny 2-seater is completely different than flying on commercial airlines.  If you are in WI or within driving distance to Oshkosh, WI we highly recommended doing the Young Eagle Flight there and enjoying the museum.  If you are outside of WI, use the find a flight (link up above) to find the nearest pilot.  This is a great opportunity for your child to experience a special flight for free!

Summer of STEAM

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For those of you who have not heard of STEAM, it means Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics.  STEAM is adding art to STEM in terms of educational thinking.  In fact, both STEM and STEAM are important.  Check out these articles for more information:

Since we homeschool, we know our son is getting a great STEAM education.  In fact, we know our son does a lot more STEAM than most. I wrote a blog, “Summer Science Homeschool Style,”  that covers the science kits we used as well as lots of free resources.  However, science is just one part of STEAM.  And, there are lots of ways to have children experience more STEAM activities.

The following list is not exhaustive but rather a way to give you ideas.  Here are some great ways to help your children or students get more STEAM experiences:

You do not have to have a kit to create STEAM experiences.  In fact, the best STEM/STEAM kits are the ones that are open-ended or one that is easy to add-on.  Sometimes it takes a little creativity to “hack” a kit or mix kits to expand on the experience.  Our son is notorious for hacking almost every single kit or gift he receives.  In addition, you can combine any science kit with books and additional materials to go more in depth. Remember, museums also offer great STEAM experiences.  Whether you choose to use kits or the DIY method, the point is to go explore via playing, creating, taking apart, or hacking.  Hands-on STEAM experiences are all around us.

Credits:

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “All Things Science.”  I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.

Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_all_things_science.htm.

bloghopscience.

Review of Hydrodynamic Building Set

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My son first saw the Hydrodynamic Building Set by Bridge Street Toys at a museum five years ago.  He has always enjoyed plumbing, piping, and pool pumps.  Thus, this was an immediate hit.  We found a set online via amazon and put it on his wish list in 2012.  His grandparents got it when it was on sale.  It was truly the perfect find!

I have to admit, this set is extremely hard to find.  In addition, it is expensive for a building set.  Our son is lucky his grandparents got it when they did 4 years ago!  It appears to only be available from Bridge Street Toys now.

That being said, it is a very unique building set.  It is the only building set that I have seen that lets children learn about hydraulic engineering.  It comes with a submersible pump and tubing along with lots of building materials to construct a variety of tanks, funnels, and chambers.  The guide is extremely basic in that it does not give step-by-step building directions but rather pictures of projects such as a toothpaste factory, paint pilot plant, vinegar production facility, distillation tower, ice cream factory, etc.  However, the kit is extremely easy to free-build any type of water distribution creation.  In addition, the guide does give an explanation of the components and how they would be used in real-life.

Here is a neat video of the set done by a dad and his two boys.  In their video, they used the kit outdoors.  We have been using ours indoors, but with lots of towels around.  It is fun but will get water everywhere depending on the creation or fiddling while operating by your child.  It is definitely a great outdoor water toy, but with towels on hand, it can be inside.

The recommended age is for 10+ but that is solely because of some of the small parts and construction is not the easiest.  My son is 9 and when he first got this kit years ago he needed lots of adult assistance.  Now he only needs a little help but is mostly independent.  In addition, the lack of step-by-step directions will frustrate younger children.  However, if an adult or older sibling is willing to help, the kit would be perfect for younger elementary age students.  The kit is not only fun but has great educational potential.

If you can find one of these sets, it is definitely a lot of fun!

Mysteries of Giftedness: One does not equal all.

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“One does not equal all.”  My son wrote this phrase many times his last year in public school.  He wrote it with words and in mathematic symbols as a formula (1 ≠  ∞).  He wrote his phrase in response to group discipline being used at his school and hearing many staff members say, “One is all.”  I found the note written on tiny scraps of paper at least 20 different times.  He had a huge pile in his desk by the end of the school year.  I know he said the phrase to many school personnel in private conversations as well.  And, I know he left notes for his teacher too.  He was only 6 years old and he hated the fact that the whole class was punished for the misbehavior of just a couple students.  Sadly, it was the same students repeatedly causing trouble.  Group discipline was not changing their behavior.  Instead, it was creating anger in my son as well as some of the other children.  And, it was creating feelings of resentment.  He continues to have a strong justice sensitivity even today.

Little did my son realize at the time, his phrase was right on so many levels.  Many adults would tell him he was correct and try to explain to him why the teachers had no other choice.  It did not change the fact, he was right, “one does not equal all.”  One does not equal all is true of group discipline, gifted education, gifted identification, and age grouping of children at school.  He does know now how correct he was.  As a homeschooler, he appreciates that one does not equal all on many levels.  Gone is grouping by age but instead, he is taught at the grade level he needs.  He finally gets to take middle school level science classes and algebra.  There is no longer group discipline being utilized.  And, he meets other gifted homeschoolers in which they all have their own educational needs.

I heard from some teachers and some school administrators, “we’ve had kids like your son before, we know what to do.”  I also heard people tell us, “oh he is gifted, he should be fine in school.”  I should have used my son’s phrase with those folks because working with one gifted child does not mean you know how to work with all gifted.  In addition, just because a child is gifted does not equate to school being “fine.”  One gifted child is not representative of all. From our own experiences, the school was completely inadequate in meeting our son’s educational needs.  In fact, most of the school personnel told us to homeschool.  By the end of first grade, we were encouraged to either home school or do grade acceleration because the current school system structure was not working for our son.  We were lucky, the school was honest with us and they knew my son was right, one does not equal all as well as what works for one does not work for all.

One does not equal all applies to both gifted identification and gifted education too.  Each district and each gifted teacher has their own terminology and their own perceptions.  The  word gifted is a mystery to those not living or not working with a child who is gifted, but it needs to be understood.  Depending on what state or country one lives, different terms are used: gifted, gifted and talented, profoundly gifted, highly gifted, moderately gifted, mildly gifted, twice exceptional, etc.  This just adds to the mystery or confusion of giftedness.  Hoagies’ has an extensive list of acronyms and definitions used within gifted education that should help clear up some of the confusion.  

Once knowing the terms and what they mean it becomes even more obvious that one does not equal all in the realm of giftedness or education.  Grouping solely by age or solely by IQ (yes there is a private gifted school that does that) does not help the students.  In addition, the gifted identification practice of a student having to be gifted in all areas also does not help the students.  As an educator, the question should be, “What can I do to help my student(s) who already knows what I am teaching?” It should never be, “you can only do this grade level of work even if you already mastered it.”  The “one is all” kind of programming or identification does not work.  My son is right, one does not equal all.  

Additional readings for understanding “one does not equal all” are as follows:

Credits:

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “The Mysteries: The Wierd Stuff.”  I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.

Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:

http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_mysteries_of_the_brain.htm

JuneBlogHopPicture 

Heart Attack at 40?

On Wed. I heard some words I never thought I would hear, “heart attack.”  First, I am not the typical age nor the typical profile.  Second, my medical history is with GI issues and not with the heart.  Third, I had gone to an urgent care facility earlier in the day.  But that night changed everything.

My symptoms started more than a week ago with a minor GI issue.  The next day the doctor cleared me.  I have a history of a gall bladder issue and pancreatitis due to being in the minor percentages with such a pregnancy complication.  In addition, I have an even longer history with Celiac.  So I was not happy when a week later I had odd back pain that would radiate down my left arm to my wrist and fingers.  I thought I must have pulled something.  Two days after that GI issues returned along with extreme tiredness and more back pain.  This time, I headed for urgent care suspecting flu and GI issues returning.  I tested negative for the flu and the doctor explained that my back pain was not the typical flu but could be either heart-related although unlikely due to my age and health.  Thus, he truly thought it was radiating pain from GI issues. He admitted that the urgent care was not set up to do the necessary lab work to look at all the possible GI conditions.  Instead, I was given very simple orders: “go to ER if pain worsens or pain moves to chest and get into a gastroenterologist within the next two days.”  We could not get into my gastro until the end of June so we found one closer who could squeeze us in on Friday.  We took that appointment but within 4 hours we were driving to the ER.  The pain got worse and steady, it hurt if I tried to take deep breaths or yawn, and I only felt good if I was sitting on my knees with my head on the ground.  We knew there was a problem, but had no idea what the night had in store.

My husband and 9-year-old son take me to the ER.  I tell them my symptoms and they immediately take me away for an EKG.  I have had other ER visits whether me, my husband or my son and had never been taken so quickly like this.  The nurse and ER doctor immediately moves me to a room, explains that I will not be leaving and that there is a possible problem with my heart.  My family sees me and hears what tests they are doing, that a cardiologist is being called for a consult, and that they were perplexed by the EKG combined with the array of symptoms but not the usual age or health profile.  My family then goes home so my son can go to bed, also we were thinking it would be some time before results would be in and I’d be moved to a room upstairs.  We’ve done this kind of visit before.  Sadly, 40 minutes after they leave a team of doctors comes in explaining my blood work says I am having a “heart attack.”  They explained that I must have an immediate heart catheterization in order to determine what exactly is going on and if surgery is needed.  Not only in pain but now in shock, I cried and asked them to call my husband.

I do not know what exactly my family was all told on the phone or who made the call.  I can only imagine the thoughts they were having.  I do know that my husband and son quickly arrived into the chaos of medical staff prepping me for moving to the “Cath Lab” and the cardiologist explaining what has to to be done.  We are stunned by those words again, possible “heart attack.”  Although at this time we start hearing another word as a possibility, “pericarditis.”  My family follows and is lead to a different waiting room in the cardiac area while I enter the “cath lab.”

During the heart catheterization, I can see everything.  My mind is spinning, partly due to pain meds and partly due to thoughts running through my head.  But I hear everything and see lots.  It is becoming clear to me, it is not a “real” heart attack.  I hear the doctor excitedly say, there is absolutely no blockage.  The blood work must be pericarditis but there is something else here.  It is tiny, but this area is not right and it is takotsubo cardiomyopathy.  The cardiologist explains everything to my husband and son and I’m taken upstairs to ICU.  Now I have a name but no known cause and not at all what we expected when we entered the ER 3 hours earlier.

Due to the procedure and heart issues, I am taken to ICU.  I am transferred to a bed and had it explained the monitoring would be frequent as well as I had to remain flat on my back until 5 am.  That was my longest night.  I got very little sleep.  There are so many machines and noises even with lights off.  But, they come and take readings every 15 to 20 minutes and administer medicine.  I have an IV port on my left arm, blood pressure cough monitoring machine and blood oxygen machine on my right, and 10 leads to my chest.  In addition, I still have so many thoughts going through my head: “I am 40 and had a copycat heart attack thanks to 2 weird named heart conditions I had never heard of.”  

This was all so unreal.  By the end of Thursday, we had learned way more about Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy (here , here, and here) and Pericarditis (here, here , and here).  These diseases are not real heart attacks but mimic one.  Pericarditis is a disease of the outer lining of the heart while Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a contracting problem of the left ventricle .  Both present symptoms that look like a heart attack but they are different.  We also learned that nothing was wrong with either my pancreas or gallbladder but slight numbers off on my kidney and high numbers on infection.  As my cardiologist said, “if you are ever going to have a heart condition, these are the ones because they often self-correct.”  

By the end of Friday the echocardiogram revealed heart functioning had increased, and signs of infection were improving.  By Sat. morning numbers were normal for everything and finally low enough on the infection that the internal medicine doctor agreed to discharge with the cardiologist.  We do not know a cause and the hypothesis is a virus or GI Infection and Upper UTI/kidney infection causing a chain reaction.  We will likely never know the cause.  I see my cardiologist this week for follow-up.  I am on the road to recovery and my heart will heal.

I am alive and I am home!  And, I have a serious warning for all of you:  If you have odd back pain and odd arm pain call a doctor.  My ER caught everything early enough before a full-on heart attack did occur or any other complications.  Do not take chest pain or difficulty breathing lightly.  I am proof, this can happen at any age.  I am still learning about my heart condition but thankful my cardiologist and hospital staff caught this early.