Monday, December 10, 2012

Gifted Ed. Work Study Presentation

The results from the Gifted Education Vision Committee will be presented at next week's work study to the GPS School Board.  GPS Educational Services will be presenting to the School Board on Tuesday, 12/18 at 6pm at the GPS district office, located at 140 S. Gilbert Rd

GPS Educational Services was tasked by GPS last spring to develop a vision statement to guide GPS gifted education for grades K-12.  The Vision Committee was formed and has worked since August on this collaborative effort.  We invite you to come fill the room to show the school board that Gifted Education is valued in GPS. 

We also invite you to stay for the School Board meeting at 7pm where it is expected that the members of the School Board will vote on the information presented in the work study.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Results of GPS Gifted Vision Committee to be shared

Many of you know that a Gifted Education Vision Committee was tasked by GPS last spring to develop a vision statement to guide GPS gifted education for grades K-12.  The committee has concluded and we want you to know GSG will be the first to hear the committee's results.  At our meeting this Thursday after our guest speaker, and in place of having a Parent Mentor/New Parent breakout session, Patty Rogers, GPS Curriculum Director, will share the Vision Committee's results.  This will be your opportunity to ask any questions. 

The formal work study presentation to the school board will be on December 18th, so please mark your calendars and come to the district office on 12/18. We will announce the time of the work study as soon as we have it.  Also, usually during work study presentations audience questions are not received, though 3 minute comments are permitted. 

We look forward to seeing you this Thursday at Pioneer Elementary, 7pm, and again on 12/18 at the GPS district office conference room.  Please spread the word.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Calendar Items

www.gilbertgifted.orgHelping the gifted to soar!

Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted

Reminder to attend the GSG Guest Lecture 
Thursday, November 15th  
Pam Ingram, gifted educator, will speak on  
Study Skills and the Gifted Learner

Mark Your Calendars for Future Meetings:

  • Thursday, February 21, 2013 – Shari Murphy, gifted educator, will speak about the Twice Exceptional Student (2e), children who are both gifted and learning disabled.
  • Thursday, April 11, 2013 - DeeDee Aboroa, gifted educator, will speak about Underachievement, a common issue for gifted students.

All Meetings will be held at 
the Pioneer Elementary School library in Gilbert  
(1535 N. Greenfield Rd, near the SE corner of Greenfield and Baseline)

Meetings will be 7-8pm, 
with a breakout session at 8:00 for new parents and 
Gifted Parent Mentors.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Meeting

 www.gilbertgifted.orgHelping the gifted to soar!


Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted
Quarterly Meeting

Thursday, November 15th at 7:00 PM
Pioneer Elementary Library
(1535 N. Greenfield Rd, near the SE corner of Greenfield and Baseline)

Pam Ingram

Study Skills and the Gifted Learner
Gifted children approach learning differently than typical students.  What are the study skills that are difficult for gifted learners to develop?  What are ways to help them develop these skills so they are successful in their educational pursuits?  Come learn some ways to meet some of the academic needs of your gifted child.

Pam Ingram coaches teachers of gifted students at Meridian, Playa del Rey, Settlers Point, and Oak Tree elementary schools.  As a counselor in Colorado Springs she coordinated the gifted program at her elementary school. Then as Educational Director she was responsible for the district gifted program.  After moving to Arizona, she has taught in GPS as a Primary ALP teacher and as an ALP Coach for primary grade teachers.

8:00pm breakout session:  New Parents with Gifted Parent Mentors

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Gifted Education: What is it? - Part II

by Katherine Varga 

Accelerated Education vs. Gifted Education:
With the diverse needs of so many students to meet, it is difficult to recognize the needs of small groups within our child population. One classic example is the tendency to assume accelerated education is equivalent to gifted education. Accelerated education is when a student is exposed to curriculum and concepts ahead of their expected grade level.  Examples of accelerated curriculum in our schools include honors classes, Advanced Placement (A.P.) classes, skipping grades and early college entrance.  For intellectually gifted students who find themselves bored and uninspired by their curriculum, research completed by the National Association of the Gifted supports the use of accelerated curriculum as a very beneficial option.  Accelerated education can offer the gifted child much needed new challenges and make more efficient use of the time the child spends at school.

It needs to be acknowledged that there are many children who do not qualify as intellectually gifted, but whom could be described as intelligent and hard-working students that deserve a rigorous and high quality education. Every child, regardless of their intellectual capacity, deserves the very best education we can provide for them.  In many cases, accelerated education may be a good option for these high-achieving students. However, the difficulty in our education system arises when we teach hard working and motivated students the same as the intellectually gifted students. When teaching mixed ability classrooms, teachers report it takes several more repetitions of new information before they can move on to new concepts.  Many gifted learners process the world differently from many of their peers, including processing in multiple directions, skipping steps, relentless question asking, and perfectionism. They are often able to engage in higher order analysis and evaluation far earlier than their same age peers. For these reasons, gifted education needs to be geared towards these learning styles in addition to having advanced placement curriculum. Classrooms with homogeneous gifted enrollment move more quickly through material and can engage in more complex learning processes. The Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, once said, “Success consists in being successful, not in having potential for success.  Any wide piece of ground is the potential site of a palace, but there’s no palace till it’s built.” Our intellectually gifted students have an enormous potential to create and contribute to the future of our society. They are our palace builders. We should not hold them back.  

Perhaps there is nothing more important for gifted education than having highly trained, creative and flexible teachers. Researchers spend a lot of time identifying what types of teachers work best for gifted students. In 2006, Carol Fertig, an expert in gifted education, compiled a list of teacher qualities most likely to be encompassed by an excellent teacher for the gifted.  Her lit review was titled, “What are the Characteristics of Effective Teachers of the Gifted.” Some teacher qualities included the following:

~A teacher who is also gifted
~A high level of proficiency in their subject area
~A love of learning which mimics that often found in gifted students
~Level-headedness, emotionally stable
~Sensitivity to students’ individuality
~Strong teaching skills
~Creating a non-threatening learning environment
~Having broad interests
~Preference for teaching gifted students

Teachers who are masters of their content are able to meet the academic needs of their gifted students. Teachers who thirst for knowledge themselves and who have been successful in their own careers provide excellent role models for gifted students. Gifted students often appreciate having teachers who they feel really understand how they see the world and how they learn.

Gifted programs are notorious for providing a rigorous program that in many cases equates to hoards of homework. Some children describe spending endless hours on homework, from the time they get home from school until late hours in the night. We think of lawyers and CEOs who spend 60-80 hours a week at the office as a little imbalanced, so why would we ask our children to spend 60-80 hours a week engaged in heavy studying? World famous violinist Itzhak Pearlman shared, “For every child prodigy that you know about, at least 50 potential ones have burned out before you even heard about them.” Children, from elementary to high school, need opportunities to nurture relationships and explore their own interests. Many gifted children thrive on creating, and creating takes a lot of time and energy. Homework may be necessary, but an excess of it should never be confused with a truly rigorous and intellectually stretching program.

Gifted academies, where a small number of students are completely isolated from their typical peers without the same extra curricular resources, may not be the best choice for our students. Gifted students need exposure to decent sports teams, quality arts programs and a variety of clubs which support creative problem solving, the development of their many diverse talents and provide leadership opportunities. In addition to being very attractive to competitive universities, well-rounded gifted children can find a haven in high quality extra-curriculars, where the demands are lower and they can associate freely with both their gifted and typical peers. In such arenas, children develop and fine-tune social skills, very necessary for their future vocational and emotional success. Teaching our children how to manage a good balance between high quality academics, social opportunities and extra-curriculars will benefit their development for years to come.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September Meeting

www.gilbertgifted.orgHelping the gifted to soar!

Gilbert Supporters of the Gifted
Quarterly Meeting

Thursday, September 27 at 7:00 PM
Pioneer Elementary Library
(located on Greenfield near SE corner of Greenfield and Baseline)

Joy Arnett

Social/Emotional Needs of Gifted Children

Highly gifted children mature differently than many other children.  With their unique development comes unique strengths and difficulties.  Come learn new ways to meet the social and emotional needs of your gifted child.

Joy Arnett coaches teachers of gifted students at Augusta Ranch, Boulder Creek, Greenfield, Islands, Mesquite, Oak Tree, Pioneer, Spectrum, and Superstition Springs elementary schools.  Joy has taught for twenty years, the last ten working with gifted students.  She has five children and sixteen grandchildren.  She loves kids!

 8:00PM GSG Breakout sessions: 

1) Parent Mentors 

2) New Members

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gifted Olympians

by Stephanie Newitt

It is Olympic season and my family and I enjoy seeing the Olympic athletes being celebrated for overcoming odds, rising above obstacles and facing challenges.  The Olympians have credited their families and coaches for intense support and expertise training.  I was most intrigued with US swimmer Rebecca Soni, two-time Olympic gold champion in the 200M breaststroke, who broke the world record - again.(1) 
Soni is not the typical breaststroke swimmer.  In her interview with NBC, she commented – “I think that each person needs to have individual strokes.  My ideal stroke is smooth and flowing, instead of being like a strength thing.  I’m not as strong as some of my competitors.  I know my kick is not so big and my pull is a little bit different.  My whole focus is on getting the rhythm.

“I’ve been really lucky that I’ve had coaches that are willing to think outside the box and do what works best for my body.”

Her coach Dave Salo stated, “She only has one speed.  We’ve tried in the past to kind of slow things down or lengthen things out a little bit.  She can’t do that.  She starts to sink too much.  She’s got one speed and she picks it up a little bit from there to finish off her race.”(2)

Why did Soni catch my attention?  Because the same things that helped make her an Olympic champion are what helps intellectually gifted students also reach their potential.  Soni had an expert coach who was willing and able to approach her training in an individualized, “out-of-the-box” way.  It made a difference in her growth, in her successfully reaching her potential of being a twice world record holder, a twice gold medalist.

Would Soni have made it as far as she has without her coach?  Would gifted children be able to achieve their potential without someone to mentor them?  It is actually a common misconception in society that gifted students will do fine on their own because they somehow know how to train their own intellect and intense emotions.  If we would never send a star athlete to the Olympics without a coach, why would we not provide our intellectually gifted students with “well-trained teachers who challenge and support them in order to fully develop their abilities?” (3)  

Olympic athlete Gabby Douglas, during her years of training, begged her mother to send her to Iowa to train under Coach Chow.  “My coaches aren’t teaching me anything new,” she said. “I need a higher degree of difficulty.  I need better coaching.  I need to make this dream become real.” (4) 

Gabby’s mother supported her in her choice to train with Coach Chow.  Today we know Gabby Douglas as the “Flying Squirrel,” the 2012 gold medal winner of the women’s gymnastics individual all-around competition.

Gifted children – whether physically or intellectually gifted – need expert mentors and coaches who will treat them as individuals, teach them from an “out-of-the-box” perspective, and guide them into and through the difficult levels that lie ahead.  The gifted need these types of coaches, not just at the beginning of their path, but throughout their journey.   

May there be those in society who are willing and able to support gifted students, to find, teach and nurture the intellectual Olympians that are among us.  To you coaches of the gifted, though you are few, we raise our torches of gratitude to you for recognizing and nurturing the potential in our gifted children.  May there be more who follow your light and who choose to also become mentors to the gifted students in our community.  

Addendum: Resources for the "Coaches" of the Intellectually Gifted -

  1.  NBC Olympic sports website:
  2. NBC television interview with Rebecca Soni and Dave Salo, air date Thursday, August 2, 2012.
  3. Common Gifted Education Myths from the National Association for Gifted Children:
  4.  Raising an Olympian – Gabby Douglas by Proctor & Gamble:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gifted Education: What is it? - Part I

By Katherine Varga

Many people assume gifted education is simply providing accelerated or additional school work. Unfortunately, this philosophy often produces developmentally inappropriate gifted education, overworking children with unnecessary and destructive workloads. This type of gifted education focuses intensely on “academics” while neglecting the all around needs of the child such as providing for adequate music, sports and social opportunities. This philosophy also assumes gifted children learn best independently without the advantage of mentors to actively guide their learning progress.

Many gifted learners process information differently from their typical peers. Statistically speaking, with I.Q.s around 130 and above, gifted students are as far away from average students (I.Q.s around 100) as children who qualify as mentally challenged in typical special education programs (I.Q.s around 70 and below). Likewise, research suggests it is just as important to have alternative teaching methods for gifted students as it is to have alternative methods for special education students (“Tips for Teachers,” 2012). Some teaching methods used for typical students may stunt the academic development of gifted students. Without appropriate gifted education, we are educating our gifted children to be average and are losing out on some of their great potential.  

How do gifted students learn differently?
While no two gifted children are exactly alike, research has identified some commonalities in learning style shared by many gifted students. Some points will be expounded on at another time, but here are a few examples:

Gifted children tend to be global learners instead of serial learners (Munro, 2008). Serial learners tend to read through details without seeing the overlapping main concepts. Global learners look for patterns and scan information rather than over focusing on details.  This ability to see the big picture helps them to comprehend ideas more thoroughly and understand a broader depth of implications. Education focusing on the development of higher order thinking skills and practical applications are more appropriate for gifted learners long before many of their peers are ready for this type of thinking.

Serial learners attack problem solving by methodically going step by step through a process modeled by a teacher (Munro, 2008). In contrast, gifted students prefer finding solutions on their own and often rebel or feel uncomfortable with very rigid methods of instruction. Gifted students tend to answer quickly, often unaware of how they come to answers.  Unchecked, this fast thinking can become a weakness. When encountered with a very taxing problem, gifted students, used to instinctively knowing the answer, have difficulty taking themselves through a methodical process needed to find an answer. They make small errors resulting in incorrect responses. This tendency can be especially evident when gifted students reach high school and concepts increase in difficulty.  Without having a lifetime of practice learning how to systematically problem solve, not having learned study skills, students find themselves frustrated with their performance on difficult tasks. Going from the top of their classes to average can be emotionally confusing and destructive to their self-concept and result in apathetic behavior towards academics.  In addition, perfectionistic expectations brought to upper grades, reinforced by an academic history of relatively easy success, keeps some from fully engaging in school when risks are required (Roewell, 1984). Failure, a new personal concept for many gifted children, becomes a stumbling block many typical students have long since learned to overcome. Gifted children see their failures as faults intrinsic to who they are rather than due to the difficulty of the task or other external factors. Gifted education should be challenging enough that gifted students encounter difficulties much earlier in their academic journey than high school or later. Appropriate gifted education would allow students to problem solve where possible, teach them how to break whole solutions into smaller parts, and foster an environment where failures are seen as part of a learning process rather than the end of the world.

Typical students come to new lessons with some limited information on a topic, whereas gifted students often connect new information to a wide web of information they already know (Munro, 2008).  Sometimes the connections made by gifted students seem irrelevant to the topic because they tend to think in many directions at once. Gifted children can be criticized for their creative thought when its true origin is not understood or appreciated by the teacher. A well-intentioned, but na├»ve, teacher can teach students the multi-dimensional way in which their brains connect ideas is inappropriate and unacceptable. Typical children often answer questions in the classroom, whereas gifted children tend to ask questions (Munro, 2008). Teachers who are not expecting many questions or who do not have the academic knowledge required to answer these questions adequately can inadvertently discourage gifted children from asking questions and seeking more information. Gifted education requires teachers who are truly masters in their subject area (VanTassel-Baska, 2005). Pieces of paper that indicate endorsement in one area or another are likely not sufficient to effectively measure the level of mastery achieved by a potential teacher of the gifted.  Likewise, a curriculum with flexibility is also necessary to accommodate questions and various directions for study (VanTassel-Baska, 2005). 

These are just a few ways in which gifted education needs to be significantly different from the education models currently offered. The purpose of gifted education is not to create an elite group who look down on their peers, but rather to recognize gifted students do indeed learn differently and would greatly benefit from instruction targeting their unique learning styles. “Busy work,” easily resented by gifted students who can see the lack of practical purpose, will never replace an appropriate and thoughtful education geared towards the development of an intelligent, independent-thinking, problem-solving, balanced and happy child.


Munro, J.. (2008). Understanding How Gifted and Talented Students Learn. In Melbourne Graduate School of Education: Studies in Exceptional Learning and Gifted Education. Retrieved July 18, 2012, from

Roedell, W.. (1984). Vulnerabilities of Highly Gifted Children. In Reoper Review, Vol 6, No. 3. 127-130.

Tips for Teachers: Successful Strategies for Teaching Gifted Learners. (July 25, 2012). In Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Retrieved July 25, 2012, from

VanTassel-Baska, J. & Stambaugh, Tamra. (2005). Challenges and Possibilities for Serving Gifted Learners in the Regular Classroom. In Theory Into Practice, 44. 211-217.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What is giftedness?

 by Stephanie Newitt               

                I wish to introduce you to one of my favorite authors – Dr. James R. Delisle, Ph.D. (pronounced (/deh-LYLE/).  When, many years ago, my concerns over my gifted and highly gifted children drove me to the brink – the educational isle of my local bookstore – I felt drawn to his book, Parenting Gifted Kids.  It isn’t a book filled with lists of things to do or strategies to try; rather, it is filled with perspective and insight and it raised me from the brick wall against which I was pounding my head, such that I could begin to view the clear blue sky.  Upon reading it, I literally felt my soul and heart peacefully expand.  I could breath.  I could laugh.  I better understood my children, myself and the gifted family we are.  I was home.
                What does it mean to be gifted?  The state mandates will say something about gifted children being in the 97th percentile or above on accepted tests, but what does that mean to a family?  Annemarie Roeper, a forerunner in gifted education, is quoted by Dr. Delisle, “Giftedness is a greater awareness, a greater sensitivity, and a greater ability to understand and transform perceptions into intellectual and emotional experiences” (2006, p. 6).  Dr. Delisle goes on to say, “Gifted people come to our attention first and foremost because of the sophisticated ways they perceive the world around them … It is their overall awareness of and sensitivity to the people and surroundings that inhabit their lives that distinguish them from their age peers.” (2006, p. 6).  As I have heard my children making their “out-of-the-box” comments, sharing odd-angled observations, highly sensitive reactions, or seen them cracking their witty jokes with each other, I find myself with a peaceful smile. “This is part of the world of giftedness,” I tell myself.  “I get it.  I love it.  It is mine to enjoy.  I will not pound my square-pegged children into the round holes society would carve out for them.  My children are not typical children and that is O.K.” 
                My children have commented, “I feel like an alien at school.”  They have asked, “Am I normal?”  I tell my children that they are not typical and that being gifted means that their thinking process approaches life from uncommon angles.  This atypical approach to processing life’s experiences impacts not only intellectual development, but social and emotional development as well.  We talk about what their hopes and dreams are and what they think it will take to develop their gifts into talents.  We talk about the few special teachers that have truly understood them, even inspired them – feeding their passion for learning.  We talk about our supportive extended family members.  We are truly grateful for these individuals as they add sanity and understanding to our lives.  
                It is intense, hard work raising gifted kids.  It is not easy, but seeing the results of them discovering and finding their path in life is worth it.  It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child.  When raising a gifted child, or highly gifted child, this saying is also true, but it is often hard to identify the members of the village who are supportive since those special teachers and school administrators who truly understand the gifted are few and far between.  Frequently for families it feels like a lonely road.  Wherever my children's paths take them, I want them to believe in themselves, to believe that they can fly high and touch their dreams, even if their path feels lonely at times, even if their angle of approach is atypical in society’s view.