Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Evolving Definition of Giftedness

Back in October there was a lot of discussion about the nature and terminology of giftedness. It remains a term that many people misunderstand, and construe as somehow bragging, or elitist. Those who work or live with gifted children (or gifted adults), know that it is a condition of extreme intellectual ability, often complicated in various ways by asynchronous development or co-existing issues, some of which are endemic to giftedness and some not. If giftedness is ignored or mishandled in a young person, it can cause extreme distress, frustration, and anger. These in turn can lead to disconnection, depression, and other problems.

There is an on-line text chat on theories of giftedness and its definition tomorrow at 4 p.m. It sounds interesting. I believe it focuses on definitions of giftedness that are specified by test results. Details and the link to the chat are copied below. It is open to all.

The Evolving Definition of Giftedness
When: Wednesday, November 19, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time
Where: http://www.edweek-chat.org
You can submit questions in advance.

For years, giftedness was considered to be a static category, with children either possessing the trait or not. But developmental theory has now led to more nuanced view of what makes some people gifted. Instead of being innate and immutable, giftedness can be nurtured and even taught—and if ignored, it can also be lost. Please join our guests, the three editors of the upcoming book The Development of Giftedness and Talent Across the Life Span, who will talk about what researchers currently believe about giftedness, and its implication for classroom practice.

About the guests:
Frances Degen Horowitz is a university professor and president emerita at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Rena F. Subotnik is the director of the Center for Gifted Education Policy at the American Psychological Association.
Dona J. Matthews is currently a visiting professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, engaged in several writing projects, and working with families and schools on issues relating to gifted education. From 2003 to 2007, she was the director of the Center for Gifted Studies and Education at Hunter College, the City University of New York.

For background, read "'Gifted' Label Said to Miss Dynamic Nature of Talent," Education Week, Oct. 15, 2008.

No special equipment other than Internet access is needed to participate in this text-based chat. A transcript will be posted shortly after the completion of the chat.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Results: Walk to Cure Diabetes

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has published its results for the Walk to Cure Diabetes that took place in September. The walk raised an amazing total of over 1.7 million dollars for diabetes research. Zara Zangana's family and friends, walking in honor of Ava Zangana as 'Ava's All-Stars', raised $3,463! Thank you to everyone for helping us support Ava, the Zangana family, and diabetes sufferers and their families everywhere. If you would like to find out more, you can visit the JDRF web site at http://www.jdrf.org - and put October 4th, 2009 on your calendar to join us for the next Walk to Cure Diabetes!

Thanks again to everyone for your support, love, and positive energy. You are a wonderful community, and it is a privilege to work with you.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Food Allergy Support

There are a number of on-line discussion groups for parents, and I just now became aware that there are two in particular which deal with food issues. Since we have many families who have an interest in managing allergies of various kinds, I thought I would share the links with you here. They are easy to join. The first is for people who want to trade thoughts about being gluten-free:

And here's the one for parents of children with food allergies:

Maybe this will provide interesting, useful, supportive information to some of you. Wishing you all healthy, nutritious eating!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reactions to the Election

There was a lot of excitement in school after the election. Children came in eager to talk about the results, and to share their enthusiasms or disappointments. It really seemed, however, that they were trying to be mindful of each other's sensibilities despite the strength of their feelings. I was very impressed by a particular McCain supporter who entered generously into the spirit of his friends' jubilant energy.

I shared a small part of Barack Obama's acceptance speech with Susan Carpenter's class, because the message behind it - that everyone is important, whatever race, whatever age, gender, orientation or political affiliation, everyone is part of the whole and we must work together - was one that I felt has particular significance for the children. Susan talked about John McCain's gracious speech in which he also stressed the importance of working together for the common good. Feelings have run high amongst the children in the lead-up to this election, and when children like these engage their passions, they do so with intensity. It's a perfect opportunity to help them practice using the strength of their experiences to connect with each other. How can they use their own experience to understand someone else who has a similar emotional response but comes from a different direction? How can they learn to listen to other points of view, and understand that 'different' does not mean 'wrong'? How can they use that knowledge to understand each other better? The political leaders whom they have supported so eagerly are both advocating a move into the future with tolerance and cooperation. Let's harness the children's support for their political heroes to this idea of mutual support. How can we all work together to make this a better country and a better world? What do the children think?