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Education Opinion

NAGC 2010 Day 2

By Tamara Fisher — November 11, 2010 5 min read
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Greetings from Day 2 of the 2010 National Assocation for Gifted Children convention!

Thursday’s program, as you might recall, consists of half-day, in-depth sessions presented by leaders in the field as well as half or full day Action Labs (i.e. field trips for grown ups!) The day is then capped off with the opening keynote and the opening of the exhibit hall.

The first Expert Perspectives session I was scheduled into today was “Unleashing Your Own Leadership Style.” The overall focus of the session was on strategies for Consultation, Communication, and Collaboration, and the session presenters guided us in deep analysis of specific sub-topics under each skill set. Among the MANY leadership-related skills, topics, strategies, and ideas discussed and debated were the following snippets:
* The value of sharing humbling experiences
* Helping others find their own best way
* “Why do I ask the questions I ask?”
* “Why am I silent when I’m silent?”
* The value of being a connector to others (how we in GT can reach out to other education groups and offer to show how what we do and what we know connects to their area in education... Since they don’t always come to us, how about we go to them?)
* “The fool persuades me with his reasons; the wise man persuades me with my own.” (Aristotle)
* Developing expecations
* Surveying stakeholders
* It all boils down to being genuine

My afternoon session, “Professional Development 2.0,” was presented by members of NAGC’s Professional Development Network. We spent the whole afternoon diving into and exploring a huge variety of new (mostly technology-based) tools available for presenters to use in professional development sessions. And honestly, many of them would work great in the classroom, too! The session’s presenters have linked up everything in a single handy location. Check it out! In particular, click on their link on the left side that says “Tech Toolbox” where you can explore each of their many recommendations. The items are arranged into categories by how the tool might be used. A few highlights of tech tools I learned about that I’m excited to try using are the following:
* VoiceThread, where people can respond to a posted item (video, picture, link, etc.), and they can respond in multiple formats (video, recorded voice message, text, etc.) Go to this “browse” page and click on the second item, “Weather Art and Poetry by Mrs. Mattson’s Third Grade Class” to see how one teacher has used VoiceThread with her students.
* PollEverywhere, a feature where session participants (or students in a class) can text their responses to a survey question and the results show up live on a webpage in the presenter’s PowerPoint (or on the teacher’s SmartBoard).
* TokBox, a video-conferencing tool that allows groups up to 20 for free (and more for a reasonable fee). Given that I live in a state where snowstorms can be unexpected and brutal, TokBox could prove to be a valuable Plan B when it comes to having meetings with others who live hundreds of miles away and travel is limited due to weather. DimDim is another good option for video-conferencing, too.
* Jing, a tool whereby one can capture screen shots and/or create a video that incorporates your voice talking while capturing a moving look at your computer screen as you demonstrate something. This tool could be great for creating tutorials for (or by!) students!
* Doodle, a tool for finding out when everyone will be available to meet and collaborate on a project. As an example, I have created a hypothetical sample that y’all can go see and click options on. I didn’t even have to create an account to do this and it was free. After you’ve checked your (hypothetical) availability, click the “return to poll” link to see how the results show everyone’s availability for the meeting time options.
* BackNoise and TodaysMeet are both “back channel” features that allow online conversation during and after a presentation. It could be means for a presenter (or teacher) to gather feedback from the audience/students - particularly from the shy ones who aren’t as likely to be raising their hands. At BackNoise, you can create a conversation or view one by topic (type your topic, such as “gifted,” into the search bar in the top right corner and it will show you any conversations that have used that word. I’ve created an Unwrapping the Gifted “back channel” at TodaysMeet for all of you to visit to see how it works. (It will close in one week, but have fun testing it out and chatting in the meantime! It reads bottom-up.) TodaysMeet has a 140 character limit. BackNoise doesn’t have a limit (that I know of).
* For those of you who do a lot of professional development for teachers K-12, you might want to check out NAGC’s National Gifted Education Standards for PreK-12 Professional Development. You might also be interested in Learning Forward.

This afternoon’s keynote consisted of a panel discussion with three exceptional examples of STEM talent: Kathryn Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space and also a member of the crew that deployed the Hubble telescope; Niescja Turner, Dept. of Physics and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology; and Joseph Stunzi, a Biochemistry and Science Communications major at the University of Georgia. Panel moderator Camilla Benbow asked what the early experiences were that contributed to their success in STEM, and the panelists responded with the following:
* Being part of a culture (in family, in school) of curiosity and building knowledge
* Teachers and mentors
* Having a safe place to be who they were
* Family influence
* Love of learning
* Adversity and opposition in school and learning how to persist despite it
* Teachers who were willing to go that extra step to challenge them
* The influence of a teacher’s passion for the topic
* Being treated like a peer learner by a teacher
* Adopting coping strategies for survival in environments that weren’t always supportive

When asked their advice for young innovators, the panelists responded with the following gems:
* Keep exploring
* Find like-minded people
* Read biographies
* Learn to block out the peanut gallery
* Look for a mentor and approach that person with a question that indicates you want to learn how their world works
* PLAY every day
* Do it for YOU
* Blaze your own trail, find/create your own way
* Have an outlet outside of your passion area

The exhibit hall opened tonight and I made a wonderful discovery. One of my classmates from our Masters program at UConn has created a SmartPAL guide for middle school math through the EAI Education company. I rather enjoyed seeing his name in print! Way to go, Kevin :o) [SmartPAL guides are available in math for other grade levels, too, as well as in other subject areas. The SmartPAL guides allow for a “write and wipe-off” format and include a lot of handy tools for the students as they explore the given topic.]

The city of Atlanta is very alive tonight as the Falcons play next door to my hotel. The glowing blob in this picture is the blimp.

Check back tomorrow for a report on Day 3!

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.