NDAGC Quarterly Newsletter

July 2021, Issue 3

Farewell from the President

August 2021 marks the end of my tenure as the President of the North Dakota Association for Gifted Children (NDAGC). During the last three wonderful years, we reconstituted NDAGC into an affiliate of NAGC and created a strong, stable base of officers and board members from across the state. Thank you to Alicia Schroeder-Schock, Andrea Edstrom, Ann Duchscher, Beth Ustanko, Jackie Owen, Julie Jaeger, Kim Stein, Ligia Carina de Drago, and Mikayla Cramer. We showcase the expertise of the group of dedicated professionals in our webinar series. I am very proud of the monthly webinar newsletters that recap their content and the quarterly newsletters that summarize all that NDAGC does. Most exciting was contributing to NDDPI’s new guidelines for gifted programming called ND Best Practices in Gifted Education that was just released. Thank you to Mikayla Cramer for diligently writing the monthly webinar newsletters and to Allison Anderson for creating order out of our chaos by coordinating our quarterly newsletters. Thank you, Beth Ustanko, for your commitment to teachers’ professional development by teaching our summer professional development webinar course. I am also delighted that Jackie Owen created a local GT endorsement through Valley City State University, a much-needed service for our state. Finally, many thanks to Ann Duchscher, who created and maintains a beautiful new website for us that showcases the hard work NDAGC does every day. What an amazing team of volunteers!

Helping to create and lead this non-profit organization has been a privilege. In 2010, when I attended my first NAGC Conference, I noticed a clear lack of North Dakota representation. The idea of forming an NAGC affiliated organization did not cross my mind until my student Edwin Edpalina—a 2017 NAGC Javits-Frasier Scholar—suggested we create one (click picture). Now, three years later, NDAGC participates in the NAGC affiliate meetings and presents at their conferences. This year Alicia Schroeder-Schock will present her work at the 68th Annual Convention in Denver.

I cannot begin to count how many new tasks, opportunities, and challenges I faced in my role as President. The strong support of my fellow officers and directors made it possible to successfully overcome so many roadblocks. Whatever the challenges, NDAGC must continue advocating for students. As a discipline without a federal mandate in a state that equally does not mandate its protection, gifted education in North Dakota needs NDAGC. As NDAGC embarks on its next creative adventure, I offer a few words of reflection. Remember and model key principles of gifted education used to support student success. Embrace risk-taking and vulnerability as necessary components of growth.

With gratitude,

Yee Han Chu Ph.D. MSSW

A Webinar: “They’re All Going to Find Out I’m a Fraud!” Combatting Impostor Syndrome in the Gifted Brain

NDAGC is partnering with Dr. Matthew Zakreski - a psychologist, gifted specialist, and international speaker. Read below to learn more about the webinar he will be presenting in August and visit drmattzakreski.com to learn more about Dr. Matt and his services.
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New Website Feature

NDAGC has added resource pages for both educators and students. We believe these resources to be high quality and in line with best practices in gifted education. Each resource is linked to its publisher. If you have questions for NDAGC about the resource, please email us. Additionally, since these resource pages are a work in progress, if you have a resource that you feel belongs here, let us know that too.

NDAGC Board Member and Officer Positions

On August 17, 2021, there will be the NDAGC annual meeting of the board of directors. At that meeting, the board will elect 3 members to serve on the board and 3 members to serve as officers that include President, Secretary, and Treasurer. If you are interested in being considered for any of these positions, please complete and return the nomination form linked below no later than August 6, 2021:


National Updates

NAGC 68th Annual Convention

The National Association for Gifted Children will be holding its 68th Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado. The convention will take place November 11-14, 2021.


One of our very own officers, Alicia Schroeder-Schock, will present at the Annual Convention alongside Dr. Brian Housand, coordinator of the Academically or Intellectually Gifted program at University of North Carolina Wilmington. Read below to learn more about the topic of their session.

Session Name: How Did You Think Today? Putting Students and Their Thinking in the Driver's Seat

Teachers of gifted students are often tasked with bringing their students deeper into the general curriculum and elevating thinking to higher levels while assisting regular classroom teachers in the process. In this arrangement, the onus of the thinking is on the gifted teacher while gifted students and classroom teachers often remain unaware of the thinking processes involved.

What if we re-engineered this and empowered gifted students to focus not only on the content and questions presented but also on how they are thinking?

This session will model lessons that deeply engage curiosity and critical thinking. Together we will identify and analyze the thinking processes being activated while emphasizing that it is not the quantity but the quality of questions asked in classrooms that get students engaged in specific thinking processes.

Participants will experience an introduction to a comprehensive, synthesized crosswalk of critical thinking and inquiry-based learning frameworks commonly used in gifted education which includes but is not limited to Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity, Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, Project Zero’s Thinking Routines, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, the Curry/Samara Model, Paul’s Elements of Reasoning, and the Cambridge Assessment Taxonomy of Critical Thinking.

Information shared will have direct implications for K-12 gifted programming related to making thinking processes purposeful by focusing on suggestions for integration into the regular classroom to push student thinking higher and deeper. Participants will leave with a collection of lesson resources, ready-to-use strategies and increased confidence in putting their students’ thinking into the driver’s seat of the learning environment.

State Updates

The New “North Dakota Best Practices for Gifted Education”

During the last year, a group of stakeholders across the state of North Dakota with expertise in gifted education came together to create a guiding document for implementing gifted programming. North Dakota Best Practices for Gifted Education is intended to serve as a guide for districts moving forward with equitable assessment and services for those students identified as gifted. The document addresses the dynamic and ongoing process of identifying student gifts and talents, challenging students to become aware of their best potentials, and providing opportunities and services throughout the school program. This is the first time guidance from the state with regards to Gifted Programming has been updated since 1992! Several NDAGC members served on the task force: Yee Han Chu, Ann Duchscher, Edwin Edpalina, Andrea Edstrom, Julie Jaeger, Meaghan Kirsch, Beth Ustanko, and Anna Wuitschick.

These Best Practices are not intended to comprise a comprehensive textbook on gifted education. They will not take the place of careful study of the literature, nor are they intended to eliminate the need for the services of trained professionals at the local level.

This document is also published and available through the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.


Regional Updates

Closing Excellence and Opportunity Gaps for Students from Traditionally Underserved Populations in Gifted Education: Early Parallel Programming to Identify and Accelerate Underserved Talent in Fargo Public Schools

Fargo Public Schools (FPS) values academic achievement and growth for its students. Our District’s strategic initiatives make this goal a commitment -- first, that all students, regardless of background, deserve academic growth and second, that all students deserve rigorous, effective, and relevant instruction from highly qualified teachers. Gifted students are part of this commitment. They are no different when considering their continued growth and achievement. Many gifted students are already manifesting performance and achievement that is beyond their grade level. In step with the District, growth and challenge have been the ultimate goals of the District’s Gifted Services program, as well. The challenge for Gifted Services, and by extension the District, is how to address the problem of gifted students who aren’t manifesting achievement because they aren’t being identified.

FPS Gifted Services has historically relied on achievement and student performance data to identify and serve gifted students within the District. These assessments depend on the acquisition of formal learning in school or home and measure the degree to which a student can show what they have learned. In essence, these assessments are measures of manifest talent. However, children from households with less educational and social capital have few opportunities to turn gifted potential into manifest giftedness. These students are at a disadvantage in the identification process. They are underidentified and, as a result, underserved. During the varied learning models used during the Covid-19 pandemic, these disparities were amplified and these same students lost further ground for the same reasons.

In the spring of 2021, FPS Gifted Services applied for a small portion of the ESSER dollars given to school districts by the federal government to provide emergency relief funds to address the impact that Covid has had and continues to have on learning. The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) dollars granted to the program will, as the title states, strive to close excellence and opportunity gaps for students from traditionally underserved populations in our gifted education model.

The ultimate goals of this project are to:

  • Provide equitable identification and services across all elementary schools. All FPS gifted students, regardless of their building, could demonstrate high levels of performance and show academic growth that is commensurate with their potential.
  • Provide early parallel programming. This would find underrepresented and underserved gifted students and accelerate their strengths to regular programming.

This would be accomplished by:

- Implementing early parallel gifted programming. This programming would use alternative identification measures to find giftedness in underrepresented populations including:

  • Using building norms on assessments (over district or national norms);
  • Teaching whole classroom enrichment and small group lessons to teach and assess thinking skills in the primary grades.
  • Adopting a method of universal screening.

- Providing equitable services across all elementary schools. This includes equitable FTEs and equitable service time for students.

- Providing pull-out services that accelerate student strengths through targeted instruction with differentiated, rigorous, and accelerated curriculum designed for gifted learners.

Indeed, the goals feel enormous, but we believe that they are achievable so long as we keep research-based best practices at the center of our work, and continually use data to inform the path we are creating.