Four Flourish, Let them Fidget! and Self Actualization

 

Did you see in the news yesterday that Ohio had a family of quadruplet brothers all accepted to ivy-league universities?  According to a local ABC station, “Aaron, Nick, Nigel and Zachary haven’t made their decisions, though Aaron likes Stanford University and his three brothers are leaning toward Yale.”

My favorite quote from their interview was when they were asked what their accomplishment demonstrates and the responded,”We feel like getting into these schools show who the people around us are,” Nigel (one of the quadruplets) said.

Zachary (another of the brothers) added that they have always gotten encouragement that “the sky’s the limit” with their hard work.” (Even gave a nod to GRIT!)

How awesome are these four Ohio seniors who are gifted?  I can see many of my current students following in their footsteps someday!

Quadruplet brothers in Ohio have all been accepted at some of the nations top universities, including each of them to both Yale and Harvard.
(Greg Lynch/The Journal-News via AP)

 

For more info on these guys 

A few more articles that I found of interest this week include the following from MindShift KQED news which suggests that the fidgeting that some of us worry about in ourselves or our children may actually be a sign that we are focusing more deeply! I have provided some of my heavy fidgeters with “fidgets,” toys that can be played with while concentrating on the lesson or activity at hand. The fidgets I typically share with your students include a marble in a tube, a pencil gadget with wings, nuts, and bolts to adjust, and sometimes a band for their chairs, so they can kick their feet without distracting others.

Due to the very common experience of overexcitability in many children who are gifted, this is a very usual practice within my experience. Also to note, many children who are gifted are often misdiagnosed as ADHD, so be sure to mention your child’s giftedness to your pediatrician if you have any attention concerns. See this article for more information concerning giftedness and ADD/ADHD

Let Kids Fidget in Class: Why It Can Be Good For Those with ADHD

Finally, this article is a long one, but a good one. Written by a psychotherapist and a well-known leader of advocates for gifted education. The solutions they suggest are somewhat different than those that I would suggest, but the gist of the article is ringing true to my experience as a parent and teacher. I have seen many students who have felt alienated by the social construct of what is expected at school, and once they have found their niche, have flourished. May we look for all the ways our children excel and support them holistically!

Destination Success: Raising a Self-Actualized Adult not a Straight “A” Student

 

Conversations with Kids

My son can’t wait for this text to arrive each week. He asks if I have it, and it has transformed our dinner conversations. I subscribed to this weekly text message from Parents Together, called Q4KIDS last year when I was driving our children home from pre-school and I was having trouble getting my older son to talk to me. The text message has an open-ended question for each day of the week. Tonight we discussed a playground made out of a material of each person’s choice. Josiah, my oldest son, decided he would create his playground out of marshmallows. He explained how he could throw them at people and no one would get hurt, and when he was hungry, he could just chew on his playground. I don’t know a lot about the Parents Together organization, but so far the questions have proved to be engaging, non-controversial, and able to get my five-year-old, my husband, and my parents to have some both wacky and meaningful conversations.

The text messages have been a great guide for facilitating imaginative and creative conversation as well as leading us to discuss big things in life like friendship, kindness, the environment, government, and many other ideas.  As a side note, Parents Together website states that they are “a national non-profit organization that provides resources, connections, and community that help all kids and parents thrive. As we unite parents together, we are creating a force for change on issues affecting kids and families.”

One thing I’ve noticed since I started teaching gifted students is that everything tends to take a bit longer because the student conversations are always so good! How can a teacher interrupt students who are having outstanding, rigorous conversations? We can’t! So we often fall a bit behind schedule.

My co-teachers often ask me, “Why does everything take so much longer in my gifted section?”  I honestly think it is because of the fantastic dialogue the students in these classes have with one another, their thoughtful interaction with the text, and their inquisitive nature. It is my hope that by sharing this resource, you will have another way to engage your thinkers in conversation. I am sure for many of them, these prompts are unnecessary, but could prove to be fun as you drive to sports, horseback riding lessons, or over dinner.

As noted on the Parents Together Q4KIDZ webpage, “subscribing to the text messages and providing your mobile number, you are agreeing to receive text messages from Parents Together Foundation and Parents Together Action with Q4KIDZ  questions and info on important issues affecting families.  Message and data rates may apply. Text STOP to end and HELP for help. U.S. only.” I encourage you to give the weekly questions a try!

 

 

Gifted and Talented Programs, and Self-Advocacy

I apologize for the tardiness of this post! Some sort of virus got my family sick this week and I have been out for two days! I miss the kiddos, but am glad that we are getting our colds out of the way before the bustle of the Holiday!

In our Book Club Meeting for Gifted Students:

This week in the 5th grade Gifted program we read chapter 4 of “The Survival Guide for Gifted Kids” and discussed our gifted program, other gifted programs out there and how to ADVOCATE for what we need in our education.   We discussed what we see that we appreciate in our current program and talked about how to advocate for ourselves in the current program and in the future when we have needs in the academic setting.

We also looked at the qualifying criteria to get into the gifted program in South-Western City Schools, which can be found here on the district’s website.  While I personally believe that there is merit in providing gifted services to students with high IQ (Intelligence Quotient), I don’t support providing students with their own IQ score as I feel that it is a limited test and the number serves as a ceiling, and providing the number to a child can do more harm than good, since IQ is such a small part of a person’s true intelligence, potential, and work ethic.

While I personally believe that there is merit in providing gifted services to students with high IQ (Intelligence Quotient), I don’t support providing students with their own IQ score as I feel that it is a limited test and the number serves as a ceiling, and providing the number to a child can do more harm than good, since IQ is such a small part of a person’s true intelligence, potential, and work ethic.

If you are interested, there is a high IQ society, MENSA, that many of the students in our program meet the qualifications for membership. To learn more, visit their site: Mensa USA. Please note that I, nor SWCSD is endorsing MENSA, I am simply providing a resource.  While I was browsing their site, I found that they have brain games that some of the students I serve might enjoy. From subject-verb agreement to demolition

While I was browsing the Mensa website, I found that they have brain games that some of the students I serve might enjoy. From subject-verb agreement to demolition division, there are many mind-growing games available on their site for free play.

In Language Arts Gifted Cluster Class

In your student’s language arts class this week, their respective teacher and I are challenging them to write their Holiday Essay’s (Hayes) or their Native American Collaborative Essays (Franklin Woods) to meet the standards outlined on the 6th grade rubric of Informational Text (page 9), if they have shown the ability to complete the tasks outlined on the 5th-grade rubric. This rubric is from our district’s adoption of the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Program, also known as the Lucy Calkins writing curriculum.

We are also in our 5th week of the Caesar’s English Greek & Latin stems program and students are showing high mastery of the vocabulary and stems that we have studied. I continue to be impressed with each student’s determination to master the new word study concepts by studying regularly, many studying daily! Great job, scholars (and parents, too!)

Humility of Spirit AND Giftedness

I have been attempting to help our students to understand the unique challenges of being gifted. In addition to reading the “Gifted Survival Guide for Kids” we have been working to walk a fine line of being incredibly proud of who we are as a gifted community AND how to operate with humility of spirit, which I define as having a modest view of one’s importance, and in our gifted children’s case, a modest view of one’s intelligence and  abilities. As a teacher and parent, I want to help our students be incredibly proud of who they are and at the same time be able to have humility in their giftings. I take comfort in this quote that I read from the from the SENG website: (SENG is Supporting Emotional Needs for the Gifted) in their article about the Do’s and Dont’s of parenting a gifted child. It read,

“Don’t worry that helping your gifted child know himself (or herself) better will lead to a “big head,” a know-it-all attitude, or undo vanity. True giftedness that is understood by the possessor leads to a more open understanding and acceptance of others (if it has been explained well). The more intellectually gifted a person is, the more likely the person will know how much he doesn’t know yet. That alone should lead to a sense of humility! Don’t worry that the child will feel superior to you; children need to look up to their parents and you are better equipped than you may realize. You are the right parents for your children.”

One of the ways I am finding that our kiddos sometimes get a bad rap with their peers, teachers, and siblings is because it is REALLY hard to walk the fine line between being proud of being gifted and having high intellect without crossing the line into bragging or becoming known as a “know it all.”

In order to bring this issue to light, this week we are playing a game called “Hot Seat” to help build empathy for friends, peers, and siblings who might struggle when they are not included in the GT (Gifted and Talented) programming. It also builds empathy for our teachers who may feel challenged when students question their instruction publically and regularly (which sometimes some gifted students happen to do.) To play Hot Seat, each student received a card of a person who has not (yet) been identified as gifted and answers questions from their assigned perspective about what it is like to not get to participate in GT. They also have to consider what it is like to really struggle to master material that they find comes easily. For many who have participated in this activity, they have agreed that this has been eye opening. Their consideration and management of their gifted identification with true humility will help them for years to come.

To play Hot Seat, each student received a card with a description of a person who has not been identified as gifted and is on the “Hot Seat” to answers questions from their assigned perspective. They are asked about what it is like to not get to participate in GT. They also have to consider what it is like to really struggle to master the material at grade level, a concept that is foreign to most.

For many who have participated in this activity, they have agreed that it has been eye-opening experience. Their consideration and management of their gifted identification with true humility will help them for years to come.

For more on this topic, I found a great article from “All Pro Dad” about teaching your children about humility of spirit.

Strong Smarts- Calling Out Each Other’s Multiple Intelligences in Gifted Cluster

“I didn’t realize how well my classmates knew me!” – Olivia, 5th grade

On a recent “Feel Good Fri-YAY!” I gave my students a few sticky notes, enough for each student to write the names of each of their classmates. We had recently taken the “Whiz Quiz” found in The Survival Guide for Gifted Kids by Judy Galbraith (2013) through a Google Form and the students had answered questions about their interests and read Galbraith’s modified descriptions of  Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence. While the research is out (and in fact, Gardner never intended his theory to be used as a teaching framework) as to whether or not teaching to the different intelligences can be directly causal (versus correlational), it is still fascinating to think about our strengths and work with and in them.

In addition, it feels INCREDIBLE to have others explain what they have noticed in you! That is exactly what we did this past “Feel Good Fri-YAY!”- Each student, using Galbraith’s identified smarts including; music-smarts, picture-smarts, people-smarts, body-smarts, self-smarts, nature-smarts, word-smarts, and number-smarts; we wrote down what they saw in their classmates.stand up and every person shared what they thought the standing student had in terms of smarts. Students were giggly, all smiles, and many mentioned that they didn’t realize how well their classmates knew them, and how they felt so good knowing that others had noticed their strengths.

Each child stood up and every other person shared what they thought the standing student had in terms of smarts. Students were giggly, all smiles, and many mentioned that they didn’t realize how well their classmates knew them, and how they felt so good knowing that others had noticed their strengths.