You Can Be Anything You Want! Can you?

Many talented and gifted individuals are told, “You can be anything!”  But for some, they really can’t.  Some individuals are truly talented or gifted in many areas.  There are even individuals considered globally gifted because their scores are so high in all academic areas.  This is often called multiply talented or multipotentiality.  And for them, being talented in many areas makes it too difficult to choose one area to specialize in or focus on.  Some people use the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none.”  So, for the individuals with multipotentiality or giftedness in many areas, they could be anything they want but they can’t pick or decide on just one.  But, maybe this is where society is wrong.  Multipotential individuals should not have to pick just one.

Multipotentiality is a huge issue for the educational-vocational counseling of gifted youth.  It is too hard for them to choose what they want to be or do as adults because they are capable of doing well in too many areas.  They have too many choices and a tendency to get bored easily because they are inadequately challenged.  Some have a constant need for something new and challenging.  These youth tend to become adults that jump between interests and passions.  They often are misunderstood and judged as flaky, immature, or indecisive because they have multiple interests and do not focus or specialize in one.  Problems arise if they don’t master at least one of their interests or skills.  And, having so many possibilities to choose from can be a great source of stress.

There are some ways to help gifted youth understand their multipotentiality and cope with it.  They need to be reassured that they do not need to pick just one career choice.  They can have multiple degrees and careers.  I know many people who have both music and engineering degrees.  It is possible to pursue multiple areas at the same time.  Multipotential youth need to be encouraged to develop a hobby or use a leisure activity to continue to work on an ability, interest, or passion that is separate from the career they are pursuing.  It is possible to continue to do art or music or sports while doing an academically focussed career.  They need to see adults doing this and they need to realize they don’t have to stop one activity just because they get a job.  Many inventors tinker at home after their day job.  We have friends who use their musical and artistic talents as their form of stress relief from their day job.

Another aspect to helping multipotential youth is to help them explore broad categories of life satisfaction.  Career counseling and career exploration are great ways to learn more about job pursuits and levels of job happiness.  But, youth also need to learn about other ways of judging life satisfaction such as determining happiness for them, making a difference, helping others, creating, varying personality features, their own family values, and life experiences.  Having other multipotential youth discussing these issues can help them realize that they are not alone with their concerns or worries.  Having a discussion with other adults that are not related to them can also help.

Some will say “it is the generalist that often runs the company versus the specialist.”  Thus, it is important to not minimize the difficulties in career and life planning of multipotential youth.  They need help in finding the positives and in finding a way to balance multiple interests.  They really do not need to specialize in just one area.  More importantly, they need to come to their own terms with a dying or fading interest and understanding that there will always be something new to do or learn.  Multipotential youth can develop into adults with a broad range of transferable skills.  There is no reason to force them to pick one area to specialize.

Additional readings on multipotentiality:

Credits:

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “Multipotentiality.”  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_multipotentiality.htm

bloghopMultipotentiality

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What Are My Choices for Educating My Child?

Having a child that is gifted doesn’t mean that traditional school is going to be easy or that it is the best educational choice.  Sometimes traditional schools can work but many times they do not work unless there are special programs, modifications, or acceleration.  And then, there are some gifted kids that completely exceed the resources of traditional schools and need even more.  However, as parents, we often do not even know where to look for school choices or educational options that are available.  The truth is, there really are tons of school choices if we expand what we consider as “school.”  Here are some of the most common educational options for meeting the needs of gifted children:

 

  • Traditional School – Traditional school is the everyday public school that most people think of when they hear the word school.  Each state has their own curriculum guidelines and policies for identifying and serving gifted students.  If your school does not have a gifted program, they may have pull-out services during the school day or they may do differentiation within the classroom.  The National Association for Gifted Children has a list of each state’s’ association.  Many gifted students are in traditional schools but the level of services varies greatly and many parents find themselves being advocates for additional differentiation, acceleration, or modifications.  In addition, many parents of the gifted have to find resources for after school or during their summer to better meet their child’s educational needs.
  • Gifted and Talented  Programming in Traditional School (GT or GATE or TAG) –  There is no federal mandate (explained here) and funding for the grant program keeps getting reduced and is on the slate for elimination.  Gifted education is in need of a federal mandate similar to that of special education.  Due to the lack of a federal mandate, states vary to such extremes on what they offer, when they offer, and who qualifies.   Not all states have gifted mandates and not all states have gifted funding which makes it hard for parents to even know about GT programs.  The Davidson Institute has a listing of where states fall.  Gifted programming and services completely vary by state and the districts within those states.  Some places offer GT services starting in pre-K while other places wait until 3rd or 4th grade or even later until middle school.  Some places offer a self-contained GT class while others offer only pull-out or after school services and others offer nothing.  Some places offer single subject acceleration while others require a whole grade.  Some places have restrictions on how far ahead a student may work within any given subject while others let the child soar.  There is no cookie cutter GT services in the US.  In fact, it even varies within the same school district.
  • Acceleration or Grade Skipping – Although, acceleration seems to be a controversial issue, the research has consistently documented the benefits and that it is more damaging to hold a child back in a grade they have already mastered.  In addition, acceleration should be viewed as two possibilities: single subject and whole grade.  One type of whole grade acceleration is early enrollment.  This is when children younger than kindergarten age test in and are allowed to start their formal schooling early.  Another type of early enrollment will be discussed later and has to deal with early college entrance.  Acceleration or grade skipping be beneficial to many gifted students but also to some high achievers who may not have met the formal GT eligibility.  In addition, acceleration is an affordable GT service in areas where there are not enough GT students to have self-contained programs or pull-out programs.  Single subject acceleration is the best way to meet the needs of asynchronous gifted students who have certain areas that are extremely far ahead of their peers.  For some profoundly gifted students, one grade acceleration is not enough.  For our son a double grade acceleration still would not have been enough for his math and science.  We opted to homeschool and leave the public school system.  However, acceleration has lots of supportive research  for meeting the needs of gifted students.  The Acceleration Institute has lots of research and resources that can help you pursue this for your child if that is a choice that may work for your student.
  • Afterschooling – Afterschooling is a term used to describe how parents meet their gifted child’s needs since they cannot homeschool.  The enrichment occurs after public school hours and at the parent’s expense.  Afterschooling is basically the enrolling of your student in a multitude of specialty programs that match your student’s interest or online gifted classes that occur at night or are self-paced (EPGY from Stanford University, CTY from John Hopkins, GLL from Northwestern University, etc.).  In some cities there are speciality enrichment programs that focus on learning a foreign language, extra science, robotics, programming, music, theater, and arts.  In addition, there are lots of online classes available.  We were doing afterschooling for 2 years before we switched to homeschooling.
  • Homeschooling – Homeschooling is a broad term to cover many types of educational styles that occur outside of a traditional school setting.  Some consider homeschooling education occurring in the home.  In fact, homeschooling covers a wide spectrum ranging from unschooling, coops, secular homeschooling, religious homeschooling, classical conversations, eclectic homeschooling, roadschooling, world schooling, radical unschooling, radical homeschooling, play groups, etc.  Homeschooling can be completely free to whatever dollar amount you choose to spend.  There are lots of resources online for homeschooling for free.  It takes a little more work to find secular resources, but there is a growing number of secular homeschoolers.  In addition, the public libraries have a wealth of books, textbooks, and curriculum aides. There are tons of online programs that are both free or for cost.  We are lucky to be in Houston as there are 100s of homeschooling resources from all the museums and theaters.  With the help of the internet (FB, google, Pinterest, etc.) you can find all kinds of educational resources to help.  There are also infinite numbers of homeschooling groups on FB, meetup, yahoo groups, and Bing so you can find support in your area.  In addition, there are also many groups specifically for homeschooling gifted students and homeschooling Mensans.
  • Self-contained Schools for the Gifted – Some public schools offer self-contained gifted schools.  In our zoned district, they only have self-contained gifted program at the middle school level.  There is nothing like it for the other grade levels.  A neighboring district has self-contained schools for gifted children starting in 1st grade and uses dual enrollment at the community college starting in 9th grade.  The Davidson Academy is the only self-contained public school for the profoundly gifted.  This is great for those who live in or near Reno, NV.  They have recently started an online high school.  Many major cities across the US have private schools for the gifted and the quality of their programs vary.  Sadly, self-contained public gifted schools are rare.
  • Private Schools – There are many types of private schools ranging from religious, secular, international, to specific schools for various types of disabilities.  The kind of private schools available really varies on the city and state.  In addition, prices vary widely.  For us in Houston, secular and international private schools ranged from $13,000 to $25,000 per year not including fundraising requirements and uniforms.  Other parts of the country have more affordable private schools.  Some parents of gifted children have found private schools to be more flexible for their gifted child as well as offering more challenges in classroom settings with smaller class size numbers.
  • Hybrid Schools – Hybrid schools is a subtype of a private school that blends private school and homeschooling.  In many of these schools, students attend a campus for 2 to 3 days a week while homeschooling the other days and having group field trips.  The hybrid school is really a more flexible scheduling of school for some gifted students and families who full-time homeschooling is not an option.  Around here, hybrid schools cost between $3,000 and $10,000.  In our area, most of the hybrid schools are religious but in some parts of the country there are secular ones too.
  • Online Schools – There are two types of online schools, public and private.  The public online schools are free just like public school and they follow the traditional school’s curriculum but it is done at home and online.  If you choose to do your state’s online public school your child will still have to do the state testing.  There are also private online schools which are significantly cheaper than physical private schools.  The private online schools may not follow your state’s curriculum guidelines but may follow a different or be completely different.  For some gifted families, this is what they use to homeschool so they do not have to locate any curriculums or programs.  The online schools provide everything for you.  Some online programs even provide computers and printers.
  • Charter or Magnet Schools – In most cases charter or magnet schools are alternatively run public schools that have admissions based on a lottery system or application system.  Some are schools within a school physically on the campus of a traditional school.  There are some private charters in some states.  However, not every city has charter schools or magnet schools.  Some gifted students benefit from them if the schools theme or emphasis matches the student’s area of interest and talent.
  • Dual Enrollment – Dual enrollment is the concurrent enrollment in high school and college.  Some public high schools have established dual enrollment programs with their local community college or university.  Others do not, but if you contact the nearest community college the option may still exist. If not, you may want to contact the nearest 4 year university or look online.  There are several universities that have online programs that any student can enroll in.  In the Houston area, many of the community colleges extend their dual enrollment program to homeschoolers and private school students.  In some dual enrollment programs, students graduate with an associate degree at the same time as they receive their high school diploma.  For some dual enrollment programs, the classes are actually offered at the high school.  For others it is either offered online or at the college campus.  Dual enrollment programs are different at each community college or 4-year university.  Their admissions department should be of assistance.
  • Early College Entrance – Early college entrance is different than dual enrollment because it entails a student at any age younger than 16 enrolling full time as a college student.  Dual enrollment programs have a cap on the number of college classes taken at a time.  Early college entrance is full time student enrollment at a college or university.  There have been several articles on students as young as young as 10 entering a university program. We know a student who is 14 and working on her PHD.  It can be done, but it is rare.  Another type of early college entrance are the specialized college high school programs that begin when a student is a junior and as young as 14.  These students then attend college full time, finishing high school requirements while at college.  Hoagies’ has a list of early college programs that are in various universities across the country.  If you have a profoundly gifted student ready for full time college under the age of 16 you need to set up a special meeting with admissions to go over their early entrance requirements.  For some it will be passing the standard college entrance exams, taking their placement exam, and interviews with your child.  I have heard of some universities wanting to see the IQ and achievement testing of applicants under the age of 12.  In addition, many universities have policies requiring parents being on campus or even in the class depending on how young the student is.  And, most universities will not let young students live on campus.  This is a tough choice and only fits a small percentage of gifted students.

As you can see, there are many educational options for our gifted children.  Some parts of the US and other countries may not have all of these choices available.  Each choice is going to have its own pros and cons that are different for each child.  There is no one solution or option that works best for all gifted children.  Just like all other children, there is no one size fits all.  We as parents have to choose the best option that works for our family.  For us that is homeschooling, but we have friends doing early college, dual enrollment, traditional public school GT programs, private, or self-contained schools for the gifted.  You will need to find the school choice that works for your child and fits with your family.  

Additional readings:

Credits:

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “Educational Options.”  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_education_options.htm

educationaloptionsbloghop

World Schooling Round 4

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.  In Round 3, I discussed England.  Well, Round 4 is Hawaii and specifically the island of Maui.  I know that Hawaii is not technically an international trip. However, due to the cultural uniqueness from the mainland US, it is 3,814 miles from our house, and it has a foreign language (Hawaiian), I am counting it as world schooling.

Hawaii is far from home but we have the privilege of having family living there.  My husband’s Aunt lives on the island of Maui on the side of Haleakala.  She has been living in the Hawaiian islands for almost 50 years.  Thus, we make a point to go and visit periodically.  We would love to visit more often.  This was our son’s second time visiting.  So for us, Maui is a great cultural experience and a time to be with family.  My husband’s parents joined us for part of our stay too.  Thus, my son gets time with his grandparents and his great Aunt.

Besides lots of beaches, here is what we experienced during this trip to Maui:

  • Kula
  • Malolo Protea Farms
  • Ali’i Kula Lavender
  • Polipoli Spring State Recreation Area
  • Emmanuel Lutheran Church
  • The Road to Hana (64 miles of winding roads with one lane bridges and one lane road sections)
  • Waikamoi Ridge
  • Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park
  • Pua’a Ka’a Falls
  • Hanawai Falls
  • Hana Lava Tube
  • Wai’anapanapa State Park
  • Fagan’s Cross
  • Hana Bay
  • Entabeni Cottage & Gardens
  • Koki Beach Park
  • Wailua Falls
  • Kipahulu of Haleakala National Park which holds ‘Ohe’o Gulch, Pipiwai Trail, and Waimoku Falls
  • Palapala Ho’omau Church and Charles Lindbergh’s grave
  • St. Joseph’s Church
  • Kaupo
  • Summit Visitor Center and Crater of Haleakala National Park
  • Sugar Museum
  • Kula Botanical Garden
  • Maui Brewing Company Tour
  • Pacific Whale Foundation whale watching tour
  • Wa’alaea Harbor

A fun part of visiting Hawaii is that although English is the language you will hear and see Hawaiian phrases.  The native language has influenced many of the names of the people, streets, and towns too.  Thanks to my son’s great Aunt, our son has been exposed to the Hawaiian language through many books she has sent us as well as through some Hawaiian music.  The Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters: a, e, i, o, u, h, k, l ,m, n, p, w(v) and the ‘okina or glottal stop.  Thus, we find it a fun language when we are there.

Here are a few of the phrases we know:

  • Aloha – hello and goodbye
  • Honu – turtle
  • Humuhumunukunukuapua’a – the state fish, a type of triggerfish (just fun to say)
  • Kane – male, men and seen on boys bathroom signs
  • Wahine – female, women and seen on girls bathroom signs
  • Kapu – forbidden, keep off, no trespassing
  • Keiki – child, children
  • Lei – necklaces of flowers, leaves, nuts, or shells
  • Mahalo – thank you
  • Malama ‘Aina – respect the plant and animals (from the junior ranger program)
  • Haleakala – house of the sun (name of the volcano)
  • Haole – foreigner or Pidgin slang for white person
  • Mele Kalikimaka – Merry Christmas
  • Pau – finished, all done
  • Pono – proper, fair

Here are some of the Hawaiian Books that our son has read:

  • The Three Little Hawaiian Pigs and the Magic Shark
  • Winter is for Whales: A Book of Hawaiian Seasons
  • Mo’o’s Colors
  • Limu the Blue Turtle and His Hawaiian Garden
  • Goodnight Hawaiian Moon
  • This is my Piko
  • Too Many Mangoes: A Story About Sharing
  • Old Makana Had a Taro Farm
  • Tick-Tock Sharks

Just like international trips, even domestic trips allow our son to experience some frustrations: long travel times, flight delays, time change adjustment, Hawaiian agriculture inspections, and lack of free wifi everywhere.  Travel to Hawaii was a great way to physically experience and learn about: time changes, climate, continents, geography, Hawaiian culture, WWII history, the life of volcanoes, geology, waves, trade winds, landslides, solar power, accents, customs, 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!

Teaching Media & News Literacy

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There clearly is a misunderstanding of what media and news literacy actually is.  Media literacy is not the bashing of the media but rather involves the teaching of critical thinking skills, understanding arguments, and learning how to analyze all forms of the media.  Teaching kids media literacy is more than just looking for political agendas and stereotypes, but that is a part of it.  Instead, we need to teach students fully about the media, all aspects of it, including the various types and the systems making them.  We need to teach students how to make arguments and how to understand logical fallacies.  True media literacy is the ability to examine claims from multiple positions and viewpoints.  It involves teaching the ability to use and watch media carefully while thinking critically.  Sadly most students and many adults do not have this skill.  This should be a huge concern for our society given how much time children and adults spend on social media and/or in front of a screen (TV, computer, or device).

Having skepticism is okay, especially in our times of high reliance on social media.  Scientists don’t believe everything people say as truth but rather make sure there is proof or evidence.  Everyone should have this same attitude.  We need to be open to new ideas but we also need to be able to examine claims and find evidence or proof.  We need to teach our children how to analyze the media they are exposed to.  We need to teach our children how to do research and analyze evidence.  Our children need to be critical thinkers.  Our children should be asking for evidence to support the claims they hear or see just as us adults do.  Thus, you will find lots of teaching resources in this post.

Here is some additional reading on the issue of news and media literacy:

Here are lessons or curriculum resources for teaching media literacy, in the home or in the classroom:

Here is a list of books to help teach children about media literacy (many of these are for students to read):

  • “Arthur’s TV Trouble” by Marc Brown
  • “The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Commercials” by Jan Berenstain
  • “The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV” by Stan & Jan Berenstain
  • “Let’s Find Ads on TV” by Mari Schuh
  • “Learning About Ads” by Martha E. H. Rustad
  • “Hey Kidz! Buy This Book: A Radical Primer on corporate and Governmental and Artistic Activism for Short People” by Anne Elizabeth Moore
  • “Identify and Evaluate Advertising” by Valerie Bodden
  • “Let’s Think About the Power of Advertising” by Elizabeth Raum
  • “Does Advertising Tell the Truth?” by Aubrey Hicks
  • “Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know” by Shari Graydon and Michelle Lamoreaux
  • “The Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning Skills” by Nathaniel Bluedorn
  • “The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning” by Nathaniel Bluedorn & Hans Bluedorn
  • “The Influencing Machine” by Brooke Gladstone and Josh Neufeld
  • “Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom” by Frank W. Baker
  • “Media Literacy” by Melissa Hart

Chemistry Homeschool Style

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In many of the traditional schools around us, Chemistry is no longer as hands on as it used to be.  Instead, they do dry labs, teacher demonstrations, and videos.  We wanted Chemistry for our son to be different than that.  We wanted it to be very hands on.  Thus, we played with several different kits or programs before coming up with our game plan. Due to several of my homeschooling mom friends asking us what we are doing for high school level chemistry, I wrote this blog.  This blog highlights our plan and resources so others can see that it is completely possible to teach high school chemistry at home.  One huge benefit of homeschooling is covering appropriate level material for our son regardless of his age.  In addition, we are going at a more in-depth and slower pace than traditional schools.  We started it this summer and plan on taking more than one school year to complete.  We are using a combination of books, videos, online resources, model building, and experimentation.   

Here is our plan for a year-long Chemistry study (Realistically, it will be more than 1 calendar year.):

The Thames & Kosmos Chem C3000 Experiment Kit was chosen because it not only contains 333 experiments, it comes with 95% of the materials and chemicals needed.  It was not hard to obtain the missing ones.  In addition, it has a more advanced manual than I have seen in any other science kit.  This kit alone will far exceed the number of experiments students in traditional schools in our area get to perform or observe.  We also played with other Chemistry kits and found them too easy or overly simplified.  One other set out there that was intriguing was MEL Chemistry but it is a monthly subscription program that was more expensive with less experiments than the C3000.  

I selected some traditional textbooks to make sure we covered all areas as well as to give us even more experiment suggestions.  But, I also used lots of other books too.  I wanted Chemistry books that  were interesting and appealing to my son.  The books we are using for this year-long study are:

  • “Molecules: The Elements and the Architecture of Everything” by Theodore Gray (The book has stunning photographs, is well written, and is very fascinating to our son.)
  • “Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom” in the Universe by Theodore Gray (It compliments Molecules and really should be read together.)
  • “Chemistry for Every Kid: 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work” by Janice VanCleave (It is older but lots of experiments with materials most people have or are easy to get.)
  • “The Periodic Table of Elements Coloring Book” by Teresa Bondora (I loved the idea of learning the periodic table of elements via coloring.  The book goes in the order of elements and is a great complement to Theodore Gray’s Elements book.)
  • “Chemistry: The Molecular Nature of Matter & Change” by Silberger (This is a traditional chemistry textbook.)
  • “Chemistry: The Central Science” by Brown, LeMay, & Bursten (This is a traditional chemistry textbook but also has a student’s guide.)

For videos we used the following  DVD’s (all from our public library) prior to what our son is now watching on Khan Academy:

  • Great Discoveries with Bill Nye: Chemistry by Bill Nye & Discovery Education (well done)
  • Chemistry by the Standard Deviants Core Curriculum (only okay)
  • Bill Nye the science guy: Chemical reactions by Bill Nye (good)
  • Chemical reactions & electricity by Schlessinger Media (good but simple)
  • The Periodic Table for students: Using the Periodic Table by Schlessinger Media (good)

The final component of our plan is centered on molecular model building.  We are using a combination of Zometool, The Prentice Hall Molecular Model Set for Organic Chemistry, Legos, and Happy Atoms.  Aquarium of the Pacific has a 5th grade lesson plan for using Legos to build molecules.  It would be easy to modify this up to make harder molecules or have more in-depth conversations.  Zometool has a lesson guide for covering Chemistry in addition to other subjects beyond just math.  You can find all kinds of molecular building ideas online.  Happy Atoms is a unique digital and physical building set but it is not as unlimited in molecular construction as Legos and Zometool. Happy Atoms is brand new but all other sets mentioned can be found pretty cheap online, especially used sets.

Here are some chemistry related apps my son has on his device:

  • Molecules
  • Particle Zoo
  • Nova Elements
  • Chemist’s Virtual Lab
  • Nuclear
  • Elemental
  • goREACT
  • Periodic Table

Here are some other chemistry books that our son had previously read (We purchased Horrible Science series, but all others were from our public library.):

  • “Chemistry: Getting a Reaction” by Simon Basher & Dan Green
  • “Basher Science: The Complete Periodic Table: All the Elements with Style!” by Adrian Dingle, Simon Basher, & Dan Green
  • “Chemical Chaos” by Nick Arnold (This is part of the Horrible Science series and there really are lots of other titles that my son has read that would also be great for Chemistry and science understanding.)
  • “The cartoon guide to chemistry” by Larry Gonick

Other great resources that we use:

For those with children or teens who like board or card games (sadly our son does not), here are Chemistry themed games:

  • Compounded
  • Molecules: A Chemistry Card Game
  • Chemistry: An Atom Building Card Game
  • Meltdown: A Nuclear Board Game
  • Periodic Quest
  • Covalence: A Molecule Building Game
  • Periodic Table Playing Cards
  • Elementeo
  • Element Quest Game
  • Periodyx (we won this and my son thinks it is okay)
  • Ion: A Compound Building Game (we have this and my son thinks it is okay)
  • Periodic Table Illustrated Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Nefarious The Mad Scientist Game
  • Science Ninjas

Now go enjoy the Periodic Table Song! It is updated to 118 elements.

Feds Coming to Texas to Listen to Parents, Advocates About Special Ed

Feds Coming to Texas to Listen to Parents, Advocates About Special Ed

They want to hear from parents, advocates and others about how students with disabilities are identified and evaluated for services.

Texas set a benchmark for special education at 8.5 percent for school districts.

Federal authorities are headed to Texas to take a closer look at special education in the state’s public schools.

The U.S. Department of Education will hold a series of “listening sessions” on special ed later the week of Dec. 12.

They want to hear from parents, advocates, school personnel and others about how students with disabilities are identified and evaluated for services.

The feds raised concerns about Texas meeting federal law on special ed in October after a major Houston Chronicle investigation. It found that Texas set a 8.5 percent benchmark for how many children could receive special ed and that cap may have prevented thousands of children from receiving needed services.

The Texas Education Agency has told authorities that no child has been denied services, but they plan to make changes.

The new hearings will be held across the state, including Austin, Houston, North Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. The schedule is below:

Dallas, Dec.12 from 6-8 p.m.
Region 10 – Richardson
400 E. Spring Valley Rd.
Richardson, Texas 75081-5101
(972) 348-1536

Houston, Dec.12 from 6-8 p.m.
McKinney Conference Center, Room 100 A-F
7200 Northwest 100 Dr.
Houston, Texas 77092
(713) 462-7708

El Paso, Dec. 13 from 6-8 p.m.
Region 19 – El Paso
6611 Boeing Dr.
El Paso, Texas 79925
(915) 780-6570

Edinburg, Dec.13 from 6-8 p.m.
Region 1 – Edinburg
1900 West Schunior
Edinburg, Texas 78541-2234
(956) 984-6180

Austin, Dec.15 from 6-8 p.m.
Region 13 – Austin
5701 Springdale Rd.
Austin, Texas 78723-3675
(512) 919-5313

Learning via Theater Arts

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A huge perk of homeschooling in Houston is the access to theaters.  We have taken advantage of the educational or school performances at the various theaters.  Homeschoolers are given the same discount and access to the same shows as public and private schools.  And, these shows have been an amazing experience.  Some of the theaters offer “talk backs” after the performance so the students can ask questions to either the actors or the stage crew (costume, lighting, sound, stage, etc.).  Some of the theaters offer open set changes during intermission so the students can see what is going on behind the curtains.  Some even have a cast member narrating this and offer explanations.  The traditional shows are great, but it is such a learning opportunity at the educational shows.  Most of the theaters have curriculum guides filled with resources, suggested readings, and additional activities to help tie the performance to other learning areas.  In addition, the educational shows are affordable.  We would never be able to see this many performances if we could only go to their traditional shows.

Here is the list of shows and theaters we are seeing this fall:

Midsummer Night’s Dream at Alley Theatre

Elixir of Love at Houston Grand Opera

A Christmas Carol at Alley Theatre

Scrooge at Theatre Under The Stars

Nutcracker at the Houston Ballet

Panto Wonderful Wizard at Stages Repertory Theatre

In addition to the above shows, my son has taken a two-hour theater lighting class at Techland .  We have made additional trips to talk with their employees and pick colored gel filters so we can do our own light effects at home.  Every theater trip for us is a chance for him to analyze their lighting and sound design as well as stage effects.  He loves the shows, especially musicals.  Theatre is a great way to incorporate music, arts, and literature into learning.

In a previous blog, Houston Has More To Offer Than You Know , I discussed all the theater options and more as well as information about group pricing and educational shows.  Houston is one of 5 cities in the US that have permanent theater companies and performances year round.  Houston is also recognized globally and is listed as a top theater city that is not London or New York .  If you are in Houston, I encourage you to check out our theaters!  If you are not in Houston, come visit or do some research for theaters near you.

Here are some other readings on the benefits of theater:

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