Education Opinion

Great Minds Leading the Way

By Tamara Fisher — September 01, 2010 5 min read
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Mark your calendars! Buy your plane tickets! Pack your bags! The annual National Association for Gifted Children convention is set to take place November 10-14 in Atlanta, Georgia, this year.

Keynote presentations will begin on Thursday with Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman (discoverer of the muon neutrino and the bottom quark) who will join Niescja Turner, associate professor in Physics and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology, for a panel discussion on “Reaching for the Stars: Perspectives on Finding the Next Generation of STEM Innovators.” Saturday’s keynote, titled “Mindsets, Praise, and Gifted Education: How Our Messages Can Help or Hinder the Development of Talent,” will feature Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in the field of motivation and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which explores her research into growth vs. fixed mindsets (which has fascinating implications for multiple fields, from sports & coaching to business to, of course, those of us in education). Sunday’s closing keynote will bring in Ron Clark, founder of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta and the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, who will talk about “Teaching for Adversity: Facing Challenges and Making a Difference.”

Saturday’s E. Paul Torrance Creativity Lecture will feature a panel who will discuss the role of gifted education in the 21st Century. Guiding questions for the panel begin with this thought-provoking list:
•What do we [in gifted education] stand for?
•What is unique about gifted education?
•What are our ideas and responsibilities for remaining true to our mission to targeted students and the preparation of highly specialized teachers of the gifted?
•Do some of our “sacred cows” and misguided national policies need to be reexamined?
•What are our responsibilities for improving general education? And are there policies, programs, and practices of gifted education that can be infused into general education?

Mini keynotes throughout the week will feature panel discussions on these interesting topics: “Best Practices for Working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Gifted Students,” “Creativity, Imagination, and Innovation: The New World Order,” and “Using Technology in the Classroom to Differentiate for Gifted Learners.”

A new conference option this year is the “Gifted Education Essentials” day on Wednesday, a day designed to provide an overview of what quality gifted programs and services for gifted students might look like within the framework of NAGC’s newly revised P-12 Gifted Program Standards. The day opens with a general session by Susan Johnsen of Baylor University (and Chair of NAGC’s Professional Standards Committee) on “Essentials of Gifted Education: Designing and Delivering Excellent Programs for Gifted Learners.” The rest of the day you get to choose one in-depth session to attend, and options include topics such as “Assessment and Identification,” “Instructional Strategies for Differentiation within the Classroom,” “Creating Programs and Services to Meet the Needs of Culturally and Linguistically Different Gifted Students,” “Program Models and Program Design in Gifted Education,” and “Designing and Choosing Effective Curriculum for Gifted Learners: Key Considerations,” among others. Registration deadline for the Gifted Education Essentials day is September 18.

Thursday will feature morning and afternoon sessions on “Expert Perspectives,” topics and issues that leaders in the field identify as timely and crucial. Among this great selection of tempting, in-depth sessions are the following: “Leadership in Gifted Education: How to Remain at the Table and Stay Off the Menu,” “The Pressures Gifted Children Feel: Why Some Underachieve plus Practical Strategies For Reversing Underachievement,” “Challenging Talented Readers,” “Response to Intervention: A Problem-Solving Approach for Gifted and Twice-Exceptional Students,” and “Program Evaluation and Your Gifted Services: Resources, Strategies and Tools You Can Use.” A suggestion: If you’re interested in attending these “Expert Perspectives” sessions, register early! They fill quickly.

Thursday also features “Action Labs,” which are essentially field trips for adults! Some are half-day (which means you could also sign up for a half-day “Expert Perspectives” session) and some are full-day. Action Lab options include “The 20th Century Struggle for Civil Rights in Atlanta” (a guided walking tour), “Chattahoochee Nature Center,” “Living Gifted: The Advanced Academy of Georgia at the University of West Georgia” (a tour of this residential dual enrollment program for gifted high school-aged students), “Equipping Students for the 21st Century at Three Hall County Schools” (which includes three school site-visits), and “Global Visions: Habitat for Humanity Day of Service” (an opportunity to roll up your sleeves! I might have to pack my tool belt this year!) These Thursday sessions also fill quickly, so register early.

Calling all parents! Consider registering for the convention’s “Parent Day,” a whole day of scheduled events designed with the parent of the gifted in mind. Registration fees are very reasonable for Parent Day, and this option allows for parents to have a parent-centered experience at the convention without having to attend the entire convention and take that much time away from home.

Everyone who registers for the convention this year will get full, free access to ALL recorded sessions via NAGC’s Live Learning Center. This is a great idea since it’s always hard to choose between equally fascinating sessions taking place at the same time!

You can once again plan your days at the convention ahead of time by using the Itinerary Planner, a useful tool for those who don’t want to spend time between sessions hurriedly flipping pages in the program trying to decide where to go next. Plan ahead, print it out, and bring your personally-designed conference program with you to Atlanta!

Consider visiting the Exhibit Hall to check out the latest books and products. And spice up an evening by attending the exciting Network events, such as Creativity Night or the Legacy Series live taped interview with Alexinia Baldwin.

This year’s conference will also feature the “Signature Series,” sessions by invited presenters on big picture topics. Keep an eye peeled as you plan your days for these sessions, including “Bullet Proofing Your Gifted Program,” “The Peak in the Middle: Perspectives on Mathematically Promising Middle School Students,” “Malleable Minds: Translating Insights from the Behavioral and Social Sciences to Gifted Education,” and “RtI for Gifted Children: A Goodness of Fit?”

Want to stay connected with the latest updates and newsblasts about the convention? “Like” the NAGC Convention Facebook page!

You can register for this year’s convention online or the old-fashioned way. Head’s up! Early bird registration fees are $25 cheaper if you register by September 17.

I hope to see you there :o)

The opinions expressed in Unwrapping the Gifted are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.