NDAGC Quarterly Newsletter
April 2023, Issue 10
NDAGC Turns Five!
By Ann Duchscher
This August 2023, the North Dakota Association for Gifted Children will celebrate its fifth birthday! The organization has grown over the last five years in many significant ways that help support its mission – to promote the needs of the gifted in North Dakota through advocacy, education, and scientific research. This growth is important because it means that NDAGC is a developed statewide resource available to be there to help support educators, parents, and other interested members of the gifted community.
The NDAGC Board and Officers meet frequently, every 2 to 3 weeks, to plan how we will walk out this mission because we have a deep desire to put teeth to the words of our strategic plan. We have done this since the birth of the organization five years ago because we know that to do so ultimately helps support the needs of gifted students in our state. And that is the entire point.
It feels worthwhile now to highlight some of these outcomes in the next two newsletters leading up to NDAGC’s 5th birthday, August 18th. More formally said, here is what NDAGC aspires to accomplish –
To advocate and promote an awareness of the academic, intellectual, and social-emotional needs of North Dakota’s gifted children including underserved gifted populations in public and private schools, colleges and universities, and other settings;
To stimulate among teachers, parents, public officials, educational administrators and others in the general public a deeper understanding and interest in the needs of the gifted;
To provide a forum for the exchange of information and ideas that foster collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders;
To encourage and stimulate the best possible training and access to resources and information that concern gifted children for all educators;
And here is one place where these formal aspirations are most concentrated -- the area of education. NDAGC knows it is critical to empower stakeholders with an extensive understanding of giftedness. The organization does this by offering webinars, forums, and Ignite sessions for parents and educators on a large variety of topics. NDAGC is intentional about planning for these live but also recorded events to ensure that the gifted community has an opportunity to learn and ask questions in a way that helps empower them in their role, too. Furthermore, NDAGC is intentional about finding expert resources within the state of North Dakota but also across the country to bring the most current research-based best practice to the forefront.
NDAGC offers the events live, providing an opportunity for those who attend to ask questions, but for those who are unable to attend, they are recorded and archived so they can be watched at a later date. Additionally, there is an accompanying newsletter that is connected to each event so that members can access cited information and even contact the presenter for more follow-up. Graduate credit is also available through NDSU to educators who would be interested in viewing a cluster of events to become more well rounded in many topics.
Some NDAGC forums and Ignite sessions are free and available to non-members. Non-members can also choose to register for member events for $10 per event. An annual membership to NDAGC is only $30, however, and is still an excellent value for a year’s worth of learning.
See the upcoming July newsletter for a closer look at how we have grown in the last five years.
For more information, visit our website at ndagc.org.
Saying Goodbye to NDAGC’s Kim Stein
by Andrea Kramer
Kim Stein has stepped down as NDAGC’s Bismarck Regional Representative. Kim served in this role from October 2020-2022. Her experience in the field of education and gifted education made her an excellent addition to our volunteer board. Kim organized the NDAGC 2022 student writing competition, What Gifted Education Means to Me, where 68 students from around the state submitted essays. Her attention to detail and strong organizational skills contributed to the contest’s success. Kim’s thought-filled voice and advocacy for gifted individuals shines through and will be missed on our board.
We thank Kim for her service to NDAGC and wish her the best as she attends the needs of her busy family and to the demands as a gifted education specialist in Bismarck.
Summer Professional Development Opportunity: Gifted Education Essentials
This summer NDAGC will continue its commitment to providing professional development for educators throughout the state. The course Gifted Education Essentials will again be offered through NDSU’s Distance and Continuing Education with NDAGC Secretary Beth Ustanko serving as its instructor. This course is designed to help Classroom Teachers, Gifted Education Specialists, and Administrators gain fundamental understandings about the field of gifted education by viewing and reflecting on webinars of their choice from our NDAGC Webinar Archive. Participants also develop an action plan using new ideas gained from the course.
Feedback from the course includes:
"I HAD BEEN A MEMBER OF NDAGC ALL SCHOOL YEAR, BUT UNTIL THIS COURSE, I HADN'T REALLY WATCHED MANY OF THE WEBINARS. THIS COURSE REQUIRED I DO THAT AND I AM SO GLAD. THERE IS A WEALTH OF INFORMATION ON THE SITE! I ALSO LIKED THE IDEA OF AN ACTION PLAN AT THE END SO I'M PUTTING WHAT I LEARNED TO USE."
"THE WEBINARS, REFLECTIONS AND FEEDBACK WERE SO VERY HELPFUL AND I LEARNED MORE THAN I THOUGHT I WOULD. I WILL DEFINITELY BE ABLE TO APPLY WHAT I LEARNED. GAINING ACCESS TO THE NDAGC.ORG IS AN ONGOING RESOURCE THAT I AM GRATEFUL FOR."
"I GAINED VALUABLE POINTS INSIGHT ON HOW EFFECTIVELY MEET THE NEEDS OF SOME OF THE MOST LEFT-BEHIND KIDS IN OUR SCHOOLS - THE GIFTED AND TALENTED. SO MANY IDEAS WERE SHARED BY A WIDE VARIETY OF TEACHERS WITH VARYING DEGREES OF EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE. I'VE ALREADY STARTED IMPLEMENTING SOME OF THEIR STRATEGIES IN MY CLASSROOM."
"WE HAVE ALL SORTS OF SERVICES IN PLACE FOR OUR NEEDIEST KIDS, BUT THROW OUR HANDS UP IN THE AIR WHEN WE HAVE KIDS WHO NEED A BIGGER/DIFFERENT CHALLENGE. TEACHERS NEED TO BE MORE PREPARED TO MAKE SURE EVERY CHILD LEARNS SOMETHING NEW IN THEIR CLASSROOM EVERY DAY."
If you are looking for professional development this summer please consider this learning opportunity, and if you are a past participant NDAGC welcomes your recommendation to your fellow educators.
For more information about Gifted Education Essentials and to register for the course please visit the course listing on NDSU’s website: Gifted Education Essentials
The ABC’s of a National Scholarship Champion: A Scholarship Advisor’s Musings on Sydney Menne
by Yee Han Chu
I sent an email to Sydney Menne, the University of North Dakota (UND)’s 2023 Marshall Scholar, about a sailing club at the University of Southampton in England, where Sydney will study in Fall 2023. The club offers free lessons to students interested in learning how to sail. Southampton’s waterfront campus offers the largest university sailing club in England. Excited to demonstrate my tourism skills, I relayed this information to Sydney, who quickly responded, “No way, this looks awesome!! I'm going to email them, thanks for finding this and sending!!” At the core of Sydney Menne is an amazing enthusiasm to learn.
In Gifted Education, we talk often about breaking the mythology that gifted students are good at everything with high IQ and EQ scores in spades. Sydney is the stereotypical student who has these multiple talents. National Scholarship Champions are a unique group of gifted students. To be a winner, Sydney demonstrated skills across the continuum. On Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Grade Report, Sydney would earn all A’s: Showing smartness about nature, logic, words, music, people, herself, images, and physical movement. Sydney’s abilities and the supportive environment at UND helped her earn a 2021 DAAD Rise Scholarship, a 2022 Brooke Owens Fellowship and Goldwater Scholarship, and a 2023 Marshall Scholarship, Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship, NSF-GRFP Grant, and Finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship. Sydney is perhaps the most decorated undergraduate at UND and maybe within all of North
National Scholarship Champions are an elite (not elitist) group of gifted students who arrive at university with a maturity well above their grade level, i.e. freshman functioning much like juniors. They bring a readiness to pursue their academic and professional vision with amazing enthusiasm and knowledge.
While a hunger to learn is central to becoming an elite student, national scholarship champions need something extra. Let me share some ABC’s of Sydney’s traits that drive her achievements:
- Adventurous-As a freshman, Sydney enrolled in an upper division course, PHY 429 Introduction to Quantum Computing, and excelled.
- Brilliant-Sydney completed 10 AP courses prior to starting her UND studies scoring 5’s on most of them. Her academic advisor described Sydney as “among the top 1% of STEM majors in US colleges.”
- Competitive-One of Sydney’s most challenging moments occurred in high school. After learning how to ski, Sydney vowed to race in the State ski tournament her senior year. She trained for three years in preparation for that race. While racing, Sydney could see someone was about to take the last State qualifying place from her with five kilometers left. She “dug deeper, pushed harder, and challenged myself more than ever to the point of collapsing across the finish line.” Sydney was the first on her team in 14 years to qualify for State.
- Dedicated-Sydney taught many students how to ski and while at UND organized annual ski trips, fundraised ski events and races throughout the year, and worked with local golf course directors to design new ski trails.
- Empathetic- Sydney worked with off-track thoroughbred horses that would otherwise be sent to slaughter. She trained them to jump, giving them a new life.
- Focused- Sydney worked for days and sometimes overnight with her UND rocketry club members to create a rocket they launched at the annual NASA Student Launch competition. See Sydney’s Interview about the club: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLuCndLABTY (4:14:20)
- Gifted-Sydney does not remember participating in formal gifted education in her early years. Not until high school did she name school helpers who introduced her to challenging AP courses. However, what is clear, Sydney had the support and guidance of her family, esp. her father, a pilot, who taught her early skills to persevere and focus in the context of becoming a pilot. Yes, Sydney is also a pilot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyCtEXKaDek
Advising Sydney Menne on her scholarship applications has been one of the most rewarding and greatest honors in my professional career. She helps me truly see the breadth and depth of human potential that is the North Star of gifted education.
Sneak Peak at the 2023-2024 NDAGC Webinar Series
Join us as we dig into the basics of beginning the school year --
Setting your room up for success with leveled stations and resources to make them work.
Designing pre-assessments to help identify high potential learners and ways to advocate in big and small districts.
Take a deeper dive into flexible grouping and designing tiered assignments to differentiate for our high potential learners.
Fall Ignite Session will feature more "Just in Time" activities and resources you can use the next day with your students.
Watch your email or our website for full descriptions and registration for each event. We hope you can join us!
Balancing Summer Fun with Learning
Finding the right balance between summer fun and learning is a concern for many parents. They want to ensure their children have an enjoyable break while maintaining educational progress attained during the school year. According to experts, that balance is personal to each individual child and learning opportunities should focus on the child’s interests. Summer learning should be optional, attractive, and interest driven.
Summer is a time to play, to enjoy nature, and connect with others. Learning can take on many forms. Skills that may not have been taught during the school year can be developed. With that in mind, children should spend the majority of their time playing, just being a kid, and having fun. Free play is where children can practice their social skills with friends, use their imaginations, and develop creativity.
Enrichment opportunities can offer a wonderful mix of learning and fun. Summertime is when students can focus on their interests through day camps and other experiences. Camps should incorporate learning through fun activities and play. If camps aren’t your thing, travel or trips to museums, zoos, or the library offer opportunities for children to pursue their interests and learn at the same time. Spending time together at a local park or in the backyard offers many prospects for learning and cultivating interests.
Summer is the time to foster a love of reading for pleasure. Choose books based on your child’s interests without worrying about reading levels. Starting a book club with your child can be a fun way to mix pleasure reading with learning. You and your child can both savor the time spent together discussing a good book.
Board games, outdoor games, and card games offer fun ways to practice math skills and develop problem solving strategies and critical thinking. Having your child assist in the kitchen with cooking develops and practices following directions, fractions, and measurement. Young children can learn how to tell time on an analog clock by setting the table. For example, “Use the spoon and fork to show 4:00 on this plate, 5:30 on this plate…” If you plan to take a trip, have your child help keep track of expenses and maintain a budget.
Screen time should remain limited. It’s easy to fall into the habit of watching too much television or playing too many video games. Avoid those traps by encouraging your child to play outside.
Now that you have some ideas of WHAT might combine summer learning with fun, here’s HOW you can get started:
Before summer begins, talk to your child about what they would like to learn or experience during the break. Share summer plans you’ve already made for the family and encourage your child to research any trip destinations and the like. Create an interest driven book list. Find some fun recipes to prepare together throughout the summer. Talk about daily play time and how that might look. Keep in mind, children should spend the majority of their time each day playing, so creating learning opportunities during that play time is important.
Overall, prepare your child for a fun-filled summer which encompasses their interests, some learning goals, and unstructured play.
Tufts University - https://now.tufts.edu/2019/06/27/do-parents-need-worry-about-summer-slide-their-kids-academics
Lisa Van Gemert - https://www.giftedguru.com/
National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment - https://childcareta.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/new-occ/resource/files/ncase_summer_tipsheet_parents_508c.pdf
Summer Learning Opportunities
With the snowpack melting across the state comes the realization that summer will soon be here! North Dakotans are fortunate that there are a number of quality summer learning opportunities available across the state. Whether your child is interested in STEM or the arts, there is something to appeal to every learner. Experiences can be found for learners as young as 2 up through 12th grade.
Visit the NDAGC website for a full listing at: https://ndagc.org/summer-learning