Issue #4 January 2021
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! There is a lot of info packed into this Newsletter...Enjoy!
From the Board - New Year, Same Struggles
Happy New Year to all of you.
What a trying time we have had in our schools, our communities, and our country throughout the last year. For some, the start of a new year can signal new beginnings and new hopes. But for G/T learners, parents, and educators, it is still the same school year with the same struggles, the same brains with so many strengths and so many challenges, the same personalities with so much creativity, joy, passion, potential, and yes, so many struggles.
I can check two of those boxes; a G/T learner and a G/T parent... 3 times over! Growing up, which I would say I am still doing, the emotional and social challenges I faced seemed to accompany every achievement. I see those same challenges finding my children. I feel the drive to be perfect and 1st place in my daughter, and I feel the emotional turmoil when that perfection cannot be attained or maintained. I feel the desire of my son to have a place in school where he fits in and is seen as 'normal'. I feel the struggle as his output doesn't match his potential, and the world around him make it painfully obvious...as if he wasn't aware of the gap. And I feel the uncertainty of my youngest child as she discovers that she exists somewhere in between her older siblings and challenges herself to challenge them.
New Year, same struggles.
Struggle has such a negative connotation. But when taken in the proper perspective, struggles can be beneficial. We can learn so much from the challenges we face. The greatest stories, books, movies, and music have elements of struggles.
In our house, in mid-struggle, my children often hear me say some rendition of "Slow down, work the problem". I grew up hearing these words and they still guide me today. There is so much more to that phrase than those two steps.
1. Slow Down
When we slow down we are able to move our mental processing from emotional to rational. We are able to assess and put the struggle into perspective. The most important thing we can do when we slow down is to focus or sometimes re-focus on the problem in front of us. This Focus is what gives us the ability to move to the next step; Work the Problem.
2. Work the Problem
This involves exactly what it says, Work the problem. Most struggles won't simply vanish. They involve recurring patterns of behavior, limitations, environmental factors, and let's be honest... personality conflicts. With our focus from the first step we can begin to understand the root or cause of the problem and begin to work on a solution. Perhaps the solution is as simple as substituting a bright orange folder for your dark colored homework folder. Or maybe it is more complicated; like an entire revamping of your organizational process or a therapeutic solution. Maybe the immediate problem can be worked by a snack break and fresh approach to that stressful assignment we got two weeks ago but started tonight because it's due tomorrow. Once we Work this immediate problem, we can identify and implement a solution for the ongoing issues that lead to this stressful scenario.
Slow Down and Work, Focus and Solve, Breathe and Lean In.
New Year, Same Struggles... Let's try New Year, New Focus!
Focus on the effort, not the grades.
Focus on the lessons learned, not the pain of the struggle.
Focus on the learner, not the label.
Focus on the communal support, not the feelings of isolation.
Focus on the child, not the diagnosis.
Focus on the solution, not the problem.
When our small group of parents sat in a room for hours at the NISD admin building, we always came back to a central thought; supporting the G/T community. That is the learners and their parents, the educators and the schools. We all have experiences and challenges that we can share. We built this organization to support that community. We built this organization to Slow Down, and Work the Problems facing that community. Challenge yourself to be an active participant in that process. Whether it is asking for help or offering it. We are all the G/T community.
Thank you for all you do!
The "What ____ Means to Me" Contest WINNER!!!!!
They entered a PowerPoint presentation about their Holiday Traditions about giving back. What a great lesson to be learned. Thank you Clifton and McKay for your entry!
Upcoming events of the month
For parents of 8th graders
8th Grade parents and students are invited to attend one of the PSAT 8/9 Zoom sessions, “How to Make Your Scores Work for You.” In this session, you will learn how to connect your PSAT 8/9 scores to Khan Academy for free SAT prep, you will get a preview of some of the SAT and PSAT opportunities coming up, and you will and learn about using AP Potential to help students prepare for high school success. Event date and time:
· January 12 @ 6:30 PM Register Here
· January 13 @ 10:00 AM (repeat session) Register Here
For parents of 10th & 11th graders
10th and 11th-grade parents and students are invited to attend one of the PSAT/NMSQT Zoom sessions, “Do Your 20: Using Your PSAT/NMSQT Scores to Improve Success on the SAT and Scholarship Potential.” In these sessions, you will learn about connecting your SAT scores to Khan Academy and how spending just a little time each week can help your SAT scores improve up to 100 points. We will also talk about AP Potential and Dual Credit opportunities that are available to you. Event date and time:
· January 21 @ 6:30 PM Register Here
· January 26 @ 10:00 AM (repeat session) Register Here
NAGT was proud to host a Zoom panel discussion with GT specialists from our district on October 26, 2020. Thank you to NISD gifted specialists Caitlin Andrews, Kelly Barrett, Kirstie Cooper, Lisa Degnan, Shelly Moses, Stacy Pickett, Marissa Randolph, and Kristy Schluter for sharing their expertise in educating our gifted students. They provided great insight into our kids. If you missed the discussion, the recording will be posted on the NAGT Facebook page. Thank you also to the parents who joined and shared comments and questions!
We kicked off our fall virtual book study on October 5, 2020. The book we selected is "When Gifted Kids Don't Have All the Answers" by Judy Galbraith, M.A. and Jim Delisle, Ph.D. We had a great conversation and discussed the first chapter of the book at the kick off. We discussed chapters 2-4 of the book on November 4. During the discussion, we talked about identifying gifted kids and the emotional side of giftedness. Our third book discussion of the season on November 16 covered chapters 5-7 of the book. Our last discussion was on December 7 when the last chapter of the book was discussed. If you missed the discussion and would like to hear our discussion, you can watch our recording. You can also purchase the book on Amazon via NAGT website so that NAGT can get a little money back to invest in projects that benefit our GATES community.
We also held our Halloween Drawing & Writing contest in late October and sent out
12 Days of Gifted Guides, a fun and helpful email series featuring fun activities, gift ideas and resources, in December.
TAGT recently lauched TEMPO+, a dynamic content site, where members of NAGT have access to gifted education articles, templates, checklists, lesson plans, video presentations, archived TEMPO articles from the past 40 years, and new content created/designed by gifted education experts, educators and students.
The website allows members and eSubscribers to search keywords and categories, download materials, and stay up to date on the latest research and information in gifted education.
You are also more than welcome to be a contributor to TEMPO+, if you feel like.
I hope that TEMPO+ brings you more insights on teaching and/or raising gifted children and gives you another reason to join NAGT!
Welcome to TAGT's #whyGT
With the 87th Texas Legislature gaveling into session next week, TAGT welcomes you to the #whyGT Legislative Newsletter. Published every Thursday this spring, the newsletter will provide advocacy information, tools, and a legislative update from the TAGT policy team. TAGT is committed to continuing to advocate for gifted students across Texas and empowering your grassroots advocacy. Visit our advocacy homepage and be sure to share your story of #whyGT matters to you!
Gifted to Gifted
Topic of the Month:
What are GT students' all time favorite books?
Ah the gifted reader, a great joy to have and to teach, but also one of the greatest challenges for parents and teachers in so many ways. Some of these challenges include that they read voraciously to the point that it is difficult to keep them supplied; they become reluctant readers because they cannot comprehend the material written about their interests; their vocabulary and comprehension levels are too high for their maturity leading to a desire to read material that is not age-appropriate; they find age-appropriate literature inane and boring. So, how do we find what works best for our bright bibliophiles? Networking with parents of other gifted readers, asking experts, and being voracious readers ourselves!
While I am far from an expert, here are some ideas, observations, and resources I've gathered along the way as a Gifted and Talented Specialist and parent of two gifted readers.
1. Gifted learners are often inspired by moral dilemmas. Providing them with stories that provide a moral or multiple morals for young readers, morals that are debatable for pre-teen and teen readers, and morals that motivate conflicting means for older readers are especially good. Consider Aesop's fables and other cultural fables found in Junior Great Books for the elementary to early middle schoolers. Much of current good literature for teens presents these opportunities, but the classics just can't be beat here!
2. Rabbit holes are a good thing! Biographies, historical fiction and some science fiction that lead to other questions and searches for more information are great learning opportunities and can fuel academic passions. In current literature, Percy Jackson and the other series from "Rick Riordan Presents" can inspire learning mythology from multiple cultures.
3. Plays on words and high-level vocabulary stimulate the verbally gifted leading to a desire to read books with puns, riddles, advanced vocabulary, varied syntax (sentences that have different structures, not just dialogue that runs, "He said, ... She said, ..."), and foreign or invented language. A word of warning on invented language: for some readers if it is nonsensical or not based on a known language system, this can be frustrating. The language J.R.R. Tolkein invented for The Lord of the Rings exemplifies the exception to this.
4. Metaphors and symbolism lead to deeper thinking and making connections as readers and writers, which appeals to the gifted learner craving complexity. The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and Animal Farm (an allegory) are some examples. For older readers, The Book Thief also provides rich symbolism.
5. The logical, problem-solving, puzzle-hunting gifted reader always enjoys a good mystery (and hates a bad one)! My mystery lovers look for stories with few to no holes, loose ends only if they will be tied up in subsequent books, and clues that lead them to solve the mystery just before the protagonist does. I have had many students that enjoyed Nancy Drew, 39 Clues, and Among the Hidden for these reasons. For younger readers (or older ones that love puzzles), The Eleventh Hour is as artistically beautiful as it is mentally challenging.
I highly recommend Some of My Best Friends Are Books by Judith Wynn Halsted (Great Potential Press) as an excellent resource for anyone who is interested in learning more about this topic. Happy reading!!
Joanna Espinoza, GT Specialist, Kay Granger Elementary School
Student Book Recommendations:
Elise, 3rd grade, Hughes
- Critter Club
- The Chronicles of Narnia
Zoe, 5th grade, Samuel Beck
- Warriors series
- Wings of Fire series
- A Wolf Called Wander
Asher, 6th grade, Tidwell Middle School
- Cave Boy Dave
- Legend series
- The Fourth Stall
- Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry
Kaden, 7th grade, Tidwell Middle School
- Percy Jackson series
For even more book recommendations click here to visit our NAGT Facebook group.
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