Eduflections on Back to School Options for Gifted Students – Part 1
Our schooling journey as a family began with homeschooling our three daughters for eleven years. During these years my daughters had the opportunity to advance themselves and develop many of the IB learner profiles. Our oldest daughter had heard about the IB program and wanted to “enroll” in the program. What I did not know at that time was that the IB program was not open to homeschoolers. It was a shock that she could not just buy the curriculum or enroll in the IB program since homeschooling was categorized by TEA as a private school that was not regulated by TEA. My husband and I were familiar with the IB program because we both went to school in Nigeria where the program was prevalent. So, if you are an homeschooling family wanting to pursue the IB program, don’t make the mistake I made: assuming that the curriculum can be bought just like other programs.
This shock to reality as I like to call it began our family IB program journey and schooling outside of the home. Lola began the IB program as a sophomore in high school and her sisters had the opportunity to begin at the middle school level at an IB school. In fact we had to move counties to take advantage of the IB program opportunity. That was in 2004 and looking back now in 2010 it was the best decision for each of our girls. A God thing for us all the way!
The program stretched their thinking and learning capacity as I’d never seen prior to them starting the program. It developed key skills in them that I am very sure has helped the oldest two transition smoothly into college life with the oldest about to graduate college this coming school year. With only the last child left to graduate as an IB student from Trinity High School in Euless, I can say confidently that the IB program works to develop gifted and talented students into well rounded global citizens that are ready to make their “world” a better place. This is a program that requires intensive parental involvement in terms of support and guidance. Parents are stretched too but the results are worth every time spent.
Just like you would any major decision, sit down and plan, strategize and seek advice from other families that have taken this path to get their honest insights. Do your homework well. As a public school instructional leader the IB program is exceptional in developing and maintaining lifelong learning which is one of our focuses in public education. We know that a lifelong learner is “made” and not born. For more information about what the IB program is all about, visit www.ibo.org. If you live in the Fort Worth area, here are the districts that offer the program: Arlington ISD, Denton ISD, HEB ISD and Westlake Academy (the first municipal run charter school in Texas). No matter where you live around the world, you can find out what districts or schools offer the program in your area on the IBO website.
All the best,
August 8, 2010
Eduflections : Is online schooling a good fit for your gifted and talented child?
Online schooling has exploded in the last ten years presenting viable options for students and parents all over the world. There are now online schooling for kindergarten through twelfth grade. I remember when our daughters were elementary age, K12 Inc was just getting off the ground and Johnson and I did not know much then about online schooling.
Fast forward to 2010, considering all we now know about online schooling, would we have chosen this as parents for our children? Not really. Looking at each of our daughters and their unique personalities online schooling might have been a good fit for our oldest daughter but not the other two. As gifted and talented students,they each love to have a hands-on approach to their learning experiences which would have made online schooling a challenge for them. I’m not sure if each one today would have flourished the way they have and still love been a lifelong learner.
However, I know personally, the benefit of online schooling as an adult learner. Online education provided the perfect fit into my busy world to complete my graduate program in Curriculum and Instruction. It required discipline and good time management to stay on track and not miss deadlines or assignments. Reflecting and comparing my online education to my face-to-face undergraduate education, each one stretched me out of my learning comfort zone. However, my online education opened my eyes to the many opportunities and advances in technology that I never had with my face-to-face education. I learned about resources that facilitate learning and improving instruction. Wikis, podcasts, video-conferencing to name a few were some of the things I learned for the first time as an adult online student while completing my graduate degree. As our oldest gets ready to graduate from college this school year, she is looking at her options for graduate school and not ruling out online education if the opportunity present itself.
If online schooling is a good fit for your gifted and talented student, don’t be afraid of the unforeseen challenges. Set your heart and mind as a parent to give it your all and watch as your child flourishes. On the other hand, a fulltime online schooling might not be a good fit for your gifted and talented student but maybe on a part-time basis it could. Your child can take online classes at the local junior college to acquire college credits towards graduation. In taking online classes, check out the services of The Texas Virtual School Network (TxVSN) a supplemental program in which school districts in Texas are course providers. Whatever you do, in all your getting of information, also get understanding. Getting understanding makes a huge difference in what you take and what you throw away.
Happy Searching !
All the best,
August 16, 2010
Competitions and Gifted kids.
I received several emails from parents about competitions and gifted kids and felt an edufletion on this topic will be helpful to cover most of the questions asked. Gifted and talented students typically love to celebrate their giftedness through competitions. For many of them, competitions provide the opportunity to help them become the best possible person they can be. When our daughters were little, it was easy to get all three of them involved in the same thing. They are loved doing the same thing and learning together. In fact I remember many activities they all shared together from Awana, Girls scouts and track and field events. As they grew older, it became more difficult to have all three of them in the same program. Each of them began growing in their God given callings and talents. Each wanted to celebrate their giftedness through competitions. As they each had the opportunities for different competitions I saw their passions develop with minimal parental input. Many times we had three different competitions in three different cities on the same day. We’ve always had relatives live with us for an extended period of time, so it was easy managing many competitions at the same time. The opportunities they had for various competitions became very valuable during the college application process. Our oldest was able to receive a four year University Scholars awards which made it possible for her to attend the college of her choice. Our second daughter competed in the NASA program and received a four year Distinguished Scholars award which also made it possible for her to attend the college of her choice. College life is more enriching when kids attend the college of their choice. They understand what it cost them to get there and what it will “cost” them to remain there. I cannot underestimate the opportunities competitions provide for students during the college admission process. What a financial freedom for any parent in this day and age. Encourage your students to enter competitions whether you’re a teacher or parent. The benefits are far reaching than the temporary inconvenience you will face as a teacher or parent. Let competitions be more about developing the talents of your student than the center stage that comes with it. Frances Karnes and Tracy Riley have done the major work of finding the different categories of competitions in their book “Competitions for Talented Kids” (Prufrock Press), a book that is a must have in your home library. It would have been great to have this book as a guide ten years ago to make my search and research much easier. Many of my search and research on competitions for gifted kids are listed in the book, one main reason why I want every parent of a gifted child to have this book in their library. It’s a great resource and worth the investment.
All the Best,
August 18, 2010
Grade Skipping and Gifted kids
I had to ask my daughters permission to do this reflection on this topic because I wanted to provide honest answers to some of the questions parents might have about grade skipping. Asking their permission is my way of respecting who they are as young adults.
As you know by now, we homeschooled our daughters for eleven years before they each went to school outside of the home to pursue the International Baccalaureate program. During their home school years, we schooled year round, meaning we were in school over the summer when private and public schools were out for summer break. You might be wondering why in the world would anyone do that. At that time, we traveled a lot as a family for conferences and leisure nationally and internationally. My husband and I always look back at those traveling years as a special gift from God for our family. Due to the type of schedule we had, maintaining year round schooling ensured that they had no gaps that needed to be closed at the end of the day. What this year round schooling did for each of our daughters was that it created in each one a thirst for learning (life long learners) that they completed two grade levels in a year. We had a records keeping program with a well known homeschooling program that made it easy to test them with national standardized tests to ensure they were progressing well in their grades.
Due to the exposure they had traveling, meeting new people, learning new cultures and languages they had the opportunity to interact more with adults than their peers or typical grade levels. The balancing act of it all materialized when they all went back to public school. They were placed by their grade levels and not age level and that translated to two grade skipping for the oldest two and one grade skipping for the youngest one. Because they had been around adults for most of their schooling years growing up that helped them balance socially and emotionally in their advance grades. Had they not had that component, I’m not sure if we would have consented to their grade skipping.
Was all these planned for them to skip grades? Emphatically, no!. It happened along the way as we discovered through trial and error just like any parenting journey their strengths and abilities. To ensure they were been challenged academically, we made sure their “hunger and thirst” academically were adequately taken care of. There were times we “slowed” them down so they would not advance more. We fueled some of that hunger and thirst in extra-curricular activities and engaged them in challenging competitions.
I share this to buttress one point, as a parent allow your gifted child to blossom and develop their God given abilities and talents. Be very flexible to change anything that is not working well. After all, it is all about your gifted child’s development and progress and nothing else.
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. – Galileo Galilei
All the Best,
September 15, 2010
The buzz word in schools, classroom, among teachers is technology. Technology is shaping and re-shaping all aspects of our society. Just today after a meeting with a field representative of an educational software program, I began to think about what our schools and classroom will look like, say in ten years time. It’s an amazing thought.
It’s almost impossible to keep up with technology, it’s changing every day faster than anyone can keep up with. It becomes realistic then that instruction should change to meet this technology challenge in our schools. In my meeting today, my thoughts shifted to educators that have not embraced technology as part of their pedagogy and are still looking for excuses not to incorporate technology into their daily instruction. For such teachers, my heart goes out to them for what must be a daunting task and uncomfortable place. The shift to technology has happened slowly for most school districts and for many it was swift. I remember the first time I used a computer, it was in 1990, twenty years ago typing up a paper on a college campus here in Texas. Up on till this time, I don’t remember ever using a computer while I was in school in Nigeria, Africa. My first reaction was a gripping fear of what to do and how to operate the “machine”. Slowly, I learned what it was all about and conquered the fear of technology. I don’t consider myself a technology pro but I can confidently say I’m not a novice and I’m progressing in my knowledge and use of technology.
Technology is almost second nature to this generation of students. I watch with amazement how my daughters text, find information, use their ipods and other gadgets. Their generation is into technology all the way. How do students that are so connected with technology 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, adjust when they are at school to a “no technology atmosphere “at school or their classroom. They must feel “lost” not being able to use one form of technology during the day at school. For this generation of students, the “big” punishment could well be no use of technology. A friend asked how to approach her daughter’s chemistry teacher who is against use of technology in the classroom. Her daughter was bored and frustrated in her chemistry class. I immediately thought about thousands of students who are in the same situation of disengagement in the classroom. One in every three student across the globe is connected to a social media outlet, be it Facebook, Twitter or MySpace. Students get their “daily news” right from the internet and many don’t know the joy of “reading” the newspaper and for some, they’re not aware newspaper exists.
So what do we do as educators? Do we throw away the baby with the bath water? How do we address this growing concern among educators? Many questions with very few solutions or answers. This is one thing I know, this generation of students want to use technology in the classroom. As educators we owe it to ourselves to get with the technology craze and look for creative ways to incorporate this “intruder” into the classroom. The wind of technology is here to stay and it’s going no where. With that in mind, let’s think of ways to incorporate the curriculum (whatever you teach at any grade level) to webinars, wikis, podcasts, blogs, video-conferencing, internet, social media, videos, music,computers, laptops, ipods, ipads, etc.
Embrace the technology craze yet with wisdom and balance in the classroom.
All the Best,
October 22, 2010
Waiting on Solutions
The buzz in the educational world is the new documentary “Waiting on Superman.” A documentary movie by filmmaker David Guggenheim. In the movie he reminds us of the statistics in education, failed programs and initiatives and offers no concrete solution. We could call it the massive scolding of public education in America.
Why are so many teachers and educators upset rather than delighted about this documentary that supposedly should have shed some light on the extensive committment educators have for children in our American public schools. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad teachers but the number of the good ones far outweigh the bad ones. Every profession has a bad egg, so why will education be an exception. In fact American educators should be named among the many “missionaries” who have given up everything for something they believe in-which is education for all children. Our public schools are “mission fields” that calls for highly dedicated individuals; it is definitely not for the weak or feeble minded. One major reason educators resent “Waiting for Superman,” is because the movie undermines all the hard work educators put in to make a difference in the life of a child. In the movie, Guggenheim highlights a failed system, bad teachers who are protected by strong unions and bottom line summary: American public school system is a failed entity.
Rather than revisit the sore places in the movie, I want to look at what the movie could actually help us see. Having spoken and interviewed some educators who have not seen the movie, many have vowed not to see the movie at all. For those that have seen the movie, many express great disappointment that a major component that is actually the main component for solution is missing from the movie. I totally agree; parental involvement is crucial for the success of our public school system. Kudos to the many involved parents who have made a commitment to be “present” in their child’s education. These involved parents can help us get the word out to thousands of fellow parents, that it is time for a parental involvement movement in our public schools. The movie did not include parental involvement as part of the storyline of Waiting for Superman.
The answer then is not more charter schools or vouchers but more parental involvement. A child can attend the most prestigious charter school or public school and without the constant encouragement, support, guidance and mentorship of a loving and caring parent, that child will fall through the cracks. Some parents have a hands-off approach to their child’s education; they feel it is the job of the teacher to give their child an education. They view the public school system as a microwave factory that “cooks” their child to completion. They feel their tax dollars is at work in paying teachers’ salaries hence they must earn every bit of it. Contrary to what is viewed that education only happens at school, education is more than academics and does not only happen at school or in a classroom. Education begins and is nurtured constantly by the main defining environment a child belongs to; which is the home.
If there has ever been a time for parents to rise up to the occasion it is now. Our teachers are waiting for solutions; they are looking forward to strong partnerships and not waiting on any superman. For them to dedicate their lives to educating children, they have earned the title of superman and superwoman. Waiting for Superman has helped us all to see we need an urgent solution to the public school dilemma in America- we need Parental Involvement in our public schools.
Advocating for great Teachers,
Back to School Options for Gifted and Talented Students -Part 2: http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m8d2-Back-to-school-options-for-gifted-and-talented-students-Part-2
A Unique Scholars Program for Gifted and Talented Students: http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m8d4-A-unique-scholars-program-for-gifted-and-talented-students
Competitions and Gifted kids: http://www.examiner.com/gifted-education-in-fort-worth/competitions-and-gifted-kids
Equity in Gifted Education : http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m6d30-Equity-in-GiftedTalented-Education
Giving a Gifted child more space : http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d4-Giving-a-gifted-child-more-space
Technology and the Gifted child: http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d5-Technology-and-the-gifted-child
Gifted Bilingual Students: http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d7-Gifted-bilingual-students
Teaching Bilingual Gifted Students: http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d7-Teaching-bilingual-gifted-students
Summer rest is good medicine for gifted children: http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d12-Summer-rest-is-good-medicine-for-gifted-children
Back to School Options for Gifted Students: http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d26-Back-to-School-Options-for-Gifted-Students–Part-1
Follow Up on Back to School Options – Part 1 http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d27-Follow-up-on-back-to-school-options–Part-1
Arlington ISD : http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d28-Arlington-ISD–Back-to-school-options-for-gifted-and-talented-students–Part-1
North Texas TIBS Roundtable : http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d28-Got-IB-2-North-Texas-TIBS-Roundtable
Denton ISD : http://www.examiner.com/x-56523-Fort-Worth-Gifted-Education-Examiner~y2010m7d29-Denton-ISD-Back-to-school-options–Part-1