May 2016 Newsletter

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President's Corner

OAGCT Members,

What an exciting year it’s been for our organization! This will be my last newsletter article as your President, but I look forward to serving as Treasurer next. It was lovely seeing many of you at our conference. Being a gifted educator can be a lonely occupation, so I always enjoy being around those who understand the unique group of students we work with. Thank you to those of you who presented breakout sessions; it was nice to see a variety of topics covered! Thanks, also, to Cathryn McCarthy and Dr. Rittner for your tireless efforts in planning the conference and for adding new facets to it this year. Our next conference will be February 10th, 2017, at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Brian Housand ( will be our keynote speaker, and he is a dynamic personality who focuses on how he can help teachers improve their skills with gifted students. We also realize that money is a big issue for districts this year, so we are seeing how we can decrease registration costs this year.

There have been some other exciting happenings in our organization this year. For the first time in many years, we have every position filled on the board, which shows that more people are wanting to get involved. We welcomed the amazing Rebecca McLaughlin this year as our new Gifted/AP Director at OSDE. OAGCT gave two Nicholas Green awards this year. There were a record number of 90 Beverly Riggs Summer Camp scholarship applications, and our board approved an increase in our budget to $4,000 to be awarded for them. We supported the GO Foundation with $4,000 in scholarship money for educators to take classes in gifted education. Also, a scholarship was given for the Cheryl Kennedy award and Cathryn McCarthy and Dr. Linnea Van Eman were honored with Outstanding Service and Advocacy awards, respectively.

In the world of social media, OAGCT is working to improve its presence. We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, thanks to our new Publicity chair, Chris Snyder. Thank you to those of you who posted pictures and positive comments at the conference! Keep posting...we welcome anything you want to share or ask. Improving our use of functional technology, we tried to streamline registrations this year by going to Google Forms. OAGCT switched to a more user-friendly website platform, and we continue to explore other areas where we can improve our functionality.

Continue to stay involved, even with budget crunches continuing next year. Remember that the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) states that gifted education must be a part of the professional development plan in your district and that Title I money may be used for enrichment as well as remediation. Please continue advocating and serving your gifted students.

It has been a privilege to serve as your President, and I look forward to seeing this organization continue to grow and improve! Have a great summer!

With Warm Regards,

Nicolette Hall

Typical Characteristics of Gifted Hispanic Children

Bernal and Reyna (1974) identified several characteristics as typical among gifted Hispanic American children. The term “Hispanic” is used to describe people with origins in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Cuba, Latin America or Spain. We must recognize that there exists no single, distinct model of the Hispanic family. Some general traits that help to identify G/T Hispanic students are listed below (Bernal, 1979; Meeker & Meeker, 1972):

• English language skills are rapidly acquired by children once they have been exposed to the language and given an opportunity to use it expressively.

• Leadership ability is exhibited with strong interpersonal skills although often in an open or modest manner.

• Children tend to have older playmates and can easily engage adults in lively conversation.

• Children enjoy intelligent and (or effective) risk–taking behavior, often accompanied by a sense of drama.

• Children tend to keep themselves entertained or busy, especially with imaginative games and ingenious applications, such as getting the most out of a few simple toys and objects.

• These children accept responsibilities at home normally reserved for older children, such as the supervision of younger siblings or helping others to do their homework.

• Many are “street-wise” and are recognized by others as children who have the ability to "make it" in the Anglo-dominated society.

• Possession of strong figural abilities and memories.


Bernal, E. M., & Reyna, J. (1974). Analysis of giftedness in Mexican American children and design of a prototype identification instrument. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. (ED 090 743)

2017 OAGCT Conference

Friday, Feb. 10th 2017 at 8am-4:30pm

100 North University Drive

Edmond, OK

Keynote Speaker: Brian Housand (

Stay tuned for more details at

Just an Idea: Use Ted to Create Socratic Seminars

By OSDE Director of Gifted Ed, Rebecca McLaughlin

We’ve all viewed TED talks, right? They’re great. We have even watched them during our lunch break at work. They can also be very beneficial for students in a discussion setting. There are only four essential components to this discussion process: the facilitator, the text (in this case, a TED talk), questions, and participants.

But how do you decide which talk to use with your gifted students? Besides fitting your curriculum goals, ask yourself these questions about the talk you are considering:

  • Is the curriculum worth the student’s time?
  • Is it interdisciplinary?
  • Can it transfer?
  • Is it transformational?
  • Beneficial?
  • Exciting and engaging?

The text – or talk - has to have good ideas and values, a degree of challenge, not too lengthy, ambiguity, curricular and have personal relevance. If you need to narrow your search, just Google “TED talks for students” for lists of “top” talks for students.

TED has an interactive transcript; you can download talks and use clips of them if you don’t need the whole segment. Write engaging questions ahead of time; make them clear, open-ended, searching for a BIG IDEA, and thoughtful.

Just an idea…

Please complete the form linked below if you have requests for changes or additions to the OAGCT and/or OSDE Gifted websites.

UCO Gifted Course Update

By Dr. Linda Rittner, UCO University Representative

As of Sept 1, 2016, UCO will have all six courses for OGES certification available in a new format! In addition to regularly schedule traditional online courses, five courses leading to certification are available as self-paced online courses (SPOC) that can be completed in just eight-weeks.

The practicum experience, also online, is tailored to your school and your location. For more information contact Dr. Rittner at

Gifted Education Course Sequence

University of Central Oklahoma


The Gifted Education course sequence provides the six basic courses needed to prepare for certification as an Oklahoma Gifted Education Specialist. Courses provide practical application and experience within the theoretical and knowledge framework of the Oklahoma Gifted Education Standards and Competencies.


• ESFR 5413 Foundations of Gifted Education

• ESFR 5423 Social Emotional Needs of Gifted Learners (SENG)

• ESFR 5433 Program Development for the Gifted Education

• ESFR 5443 Identification and Assessment in the Gifted Education

• ESFR 5453 Leadership and Communication for Gifted Education

• PTE 5900 Practicum in Teacher Education - Gifted Talented and Creative

***ALL courses are offered online


Let me place naked praise at the way UCO has their gifted certification structured. Before you learn programming for gifted kids, or ID & assessment, or Gifted Ed leadership, students are offered two classes – foundations of gifted education and the social emotional needs of gifted children. This structure builds a foundation for understanding the appropriate role for gifted education both currently and historically; as well as teaching you to be cautious with gifted students before you go blazing into gifted education with the best intentions.


Linda Rittner, Ph.D

Associate Professor, Gifted Education Liaison

University of Central Oklahoma

100 North University Drive, Box 206 Edmond, OK 73034

Office: CTL 223



The Inconvenience of Being Gifted

A Review by Timmy Higgins

As a theory of giftedness, Persson’s theory of “The Unwanted Gifted and Talented” strikes out against traditional held beliefs that society values the contributions of gifted individuals. As practitioners of gifted education, we must decide if Persson’s theory is compatible and advances gifted education theory. If not, then must all of his theory be rejected or are there parts that should be confirmed and added to the foundation of gifted education theory? One might, at first glance, dismiss Persson’s theory, as his thesis is one of challenging the status quo and not an accepted practice. However, his is not the first work to explore this theme. His review of literature finds like-minded theorists such as Fiedler who warned that academic gifts were both a blessing and a curse.

If you accept and exercise Persson’s theory, then before you engage gifted and talented students you must steel yourself for situations where you will be challenged by your students. Furthermore, you must look to guard your students’ social and emotional well-being against their peers who may ignore or outright reject them. Finally, you must reflect on whether your student is challenging your authority or challenging the material. Persson’s theory holds that as educators we must be prepared to throw out our knowledge of a subject if a gifted student comes along and builds upon or transforms the canon of accepted knowledge.

Under reflective scrutiny, Persson’s theory is found to be lacking. His evidence presented to support his theory is in the form of one-sided biographies, anecdotal evidence, and quotes. This evidence is used mainly to narrow or support his definitions. Persson’s theory of the unwanted gifted when looked at deliberately, reads more as a powerful, persuasive essay as he identifies three types gifted individuals: nerd, hero, and martyr.

Persson uses the term ‘nerd’ to describe gifted individuals society needs. Persson describes the nerd as a gifted individual who does the maintenance functions that society needs such as computer programmers. The nerds are valued only in that we depend on them for their expertise in advanced technology. Where many gifted researchers use the term talents; Persson uses the term ‘hero’ to describe gifted individuals who excel in music, arts, and sports. These individuals are the ones we see on television and are held up as heroes in today’s paparazzi culture. They are held up as role models due to their talents. However, Persson feels his final category—the unwanted martyrs—form the true gifted role models. Martyrs are the gifted individuals who have the unique aptitude to advance society. However, they are often viewed as a threat to those in power and either stigmatized or marginalized. Taking his argument one step further, Persson illustrates that society will even go so far as to murder gifted individuals that pose a threat to the stability of society such as Martin Luther King Jr.

Teaching any of the nerds, heroes, or martyrs, provides its own unique challenges. The dialectical mode offers the reflective system to look deeply at the warnings associated with teaching the unwanted gifted students. Other researchers have warned of the danger gifted students face from suicide (Hébert, 2011), but Persson provides historical examples of individuals being killed due to their societal changing gifts. Persson’s essay goes beyond exposing society’s inconsistent treatment of gifted and talented individuals, to being a warning cry for teachers to identify, value, and most importantly protect gifted students. It is worth reading examine one’s personal paradigms.


Hébert, T. P. (2011). Understanding the social and emotional lives of gifted students.

Waco, TX: Prufrock Press Inc.

Persson, R.S. (2009). The unwanted gifted and talented: A sociobiological perspective of the societal functions of giftedness. In L. Shavinina (Ed.) International Handbook on Giftedness (pp. 913-924). Dordrecht: Springer Science.

Persson, R.S. (2009). The talent of being inconvenient: On the societal functions of giftedness. Paper presented at the 18th World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children, 3-7 August, 2009, Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. Permanent link to this version:

The Oklahoma State Department of Education’s education summer conference, EngageOK, will soon be in a city near you! EngageOK will take place in July at regional sites around the state.

July 18-19: Tulsa area, Broken Arrow High School

July 20: Sallisaw Middle School

July 21 : Durant High School

July 25-26: OKC area, Edmond Santa Fe High School

July 27: Woodward High School

July 28: Lawton High School

We are excited for thousands of educators to attend this free annual training event, which will offer professional development and important updates on federal and state education law. By offering mini-conferences in various locations, we hope to minimize travel and accommodations for teachers and districts while still offering the professional development they need. This new change will also save the agency funding that can be passed along to schools.

Sessions will be announced soon, so look for more details and registration at

As always, feel free to contact me if I can assist you in any way.

Rebecca McLaughlin

Director, Gifted Education and Advanced Placement

Finding Peace in a Chaotic World

By Elizabeth Anne Albright

This past semester I have had the opportunity to attend a course entitled Curriculum of Nonviolence. We read several books related to peace education, and completed projects. All of this, of course, is similar to other courses I have attended. One particular text was by David W. Jardine (2012) called Pedagogy Left in Peace: Cultivating Free Spaces in Teaching and Learning. (This is an intense book to read, so while I highly recommend it, I do suggest one chapter at a time, or even one section of a chapter at a time.)The final chapter in this book concludes with two final concepts. First, to “understand what is right in front of us in an ecologically sane, integrated way.” The second is to remember that teaching is “ground level, tough, pleasurable work.”

It is important that what we teach our students is connected beyond the classroom. Knowledge is not meaningful unless it is connected with life. If we focus on connecting the knowledge we bring to the classroom with what is going on beyond the school building, then our students will begin to understand that what they do in life is a part of a greater whole. We affect the world, we connect with the world. We connect with patterns, repetitions, familiarities and things that belong together. For example, the introduction of Arabic numbers into Europe enabled us to be able to learn algebra.

As teachers, it is easy to panic, to feel overwhelmed at the fact that we have not taught enough, that we haven’t focused on or covered as much content as necessary, that our students might fail their state tests, that we don’t have enough money to fund our schools. The list could go on. We have students whose families do not have enough money for them to have decent meals, to have heat in the winter, or adequate jackets and shoes. However, Jardine reminds us “you do not need to hold the world aloft by your own wanting and doing.”

Our job is to open the world of knowledge to our students. We introduce them to math, to language, to research, to an appreciation for others, even if we do not agree. After all, we did not become teachers because we wanted to have students who have excellent test scores. We became teachers because we have a love for knowledge and a love for sharing that knowledge with others. We became teachers to help others experience the joy of learning to read, or the excitement when difficult concepts are mastered. Remember that “knowledge will be there” “despite troubled surroundings.” You cannot force learning, “even if all the ‘if only’s’ are met.” If we have opened the door, we have given out students the knowledge to find their way.

In our own lives, we can practice peace by taking time to rest. I know, we’re all very busy at the end of the school year. However, if we do not rest, we will not have the strength or energy to continue on with what we do. Remember that you are not isolated from everything and everyone else. Just as the content we teach is connected to the world, we teachers are connected to the community around us and taking time to experience that connection helps to rebuild our spirits. Take some time to think deeply and interpretatively about life. Cultivate wisdom and inward stillness.