Archive for January, 2014

Georgia Tech summer camp schedule posted

January 31, 2014 Leave a comment

PEAKS_logoGeorgia Tech CEISMC has posted its summer program schedule for 2014, with registration scheduled to open in mid-February.

The PEAKS summer program offers a series of one-week camps for kids as young as rising 4th graders, although most of the courses are for middle- and high-school students. For middle schoolers, camp topics include game/app development, architecture and LEGO robotics. High school students have those choices, plus finance, industrial engineering and roller coaster physics.

CEISMC, the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing, is a Georgia Tech program to give children enrichment opportunities in math, science, technology and engineering. In addition to its summer programs, CEISMC offers classes during the school year through its Saturday K.I.D.S. Club sessions.

Categories: Summer programs

Avanced online math class discount available until Friday

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

The Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (IMACS) offers new students a 25 percent discount on its online series of math courses for highly talented students — but only through this Friday, Jan. 31, 2014.

The discount applies when you purchase the five-course set: Operational Systems; The Integers; Sets, Subsets & Set Operations; Ordered n-Tuples; and the newly released Mappings course, which looks at relationships between the elements of sets.

IMACS is intended for middle-school students whose high intellect enables them to learn foundational concepts of math, which are then applied to topics in the standard high-school math curriculum. Completing the Elements of Mathematics: Foundations coursework in middle-school will enable these kids to take IMACS’ college-level math courses during high school.

Categories: Enrichment

UGA Summer Academy 2014 registration opens Feb. 10

January 28, 2014 Leave a comment

UGAThere may be snow in the air, but it’s time to start planning your child’s summer.

Registration opens Feb. 10 for the 2014 Summer Academy program at the University of Georgia. These camps, for kids ages 11 to 17, run the gamut from creative writing and 3-D animation to robotics and the always popular Mini-Medical School.

Most camps will let you choose to attend as a day camper, going home each night, or as a residential camper, living in a campus residence hall.

Categories: Summer programs

Gifted kids: Different brains, different needs

January 17, 2014 2 comments

I maintain this blog and web site to help make gifted children’s lives better. I can only guess you’re here because you care about that, too.

But who are these “gifted” kids? What does that label mean?

Some think a gifted child is one who has met the official requirements to enroll in special classes at school. Nothing more.

But being gifted means a lot more. It means a child’s brain works differently – it’s wired to absorb, master, and synthesize information more efficiently and effectively than an average person’s.

In an article worth reading (see link below), gifted advocate Suki Wessling says gifted children could more accurately be called “non-neurotypical.” In fact, Wessling argues we might be more successful winning support for our kids if we stopped calling them “gifted” – a word that implies advantage and elitism – and chose another term that would emphasize these children’s neurological differences.

By accentuating the neurological variation, perhaps we could convince educators and policy makers that gifted kids need a different educational approach. They learn differently, and must be taught differently. Gifted programs aren’t just a nice extra, but a necessity. More important, a suitable gifted education can’t consist solely of a couple of hours of enrichment each week. Gifted education has to extend to every classroom.

Whether they’re learning the alphabet or astrophysics, gifted children pick up new ideas with considerably less repetition than average kids. They not only take in new information quickly, but also are adept at integrating new knowledge with what they already know. They ask more questions, and yearn to explore with more depth, unsatisfied by the limited information in the textbook. No wonder they get bored and frustrated when they’re subjected to the slow pace of the general classroom, with constant review both during the school day and in the homework they are assigned.

Some schools try to address the needs of the gifted by grouping them in classes with high achievers. That provides a marginal improvement. But high-achieving students and gifted children are not the same, and their educational needs are not the same.

Put simply, a high achiever is a student who performs well in school, gets good grades, and scores well on standardized tests. Smart kids who work hard are your typical high achievers. Some high achievers are gifted, but not all. Likewise, not all gifted kids are high achievers. Some of them don’t adapt well to the structure of school, and therefore don’t attain academic success. Thomas Edison wouldn’t have been considered a high achiever in school, but I dare you to deny his giftedness.

The National Association for Gifted Children muddied these waters when it changed its definition of gifted individuals to “those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude or competence” [emphasis added]. That’s a disappointing move from our leading advocacy organization. To say that competence is the same as aptitude – that high achievement is the same as giftedness – is to measure the end point without looking at the path taken to get there. And it’s in the path that we see the distinction.

Imagine two middle-school boys, Henry and Gabe, who both play the piano. Henry, who dreams of attending Julliard, practices two hours a day with intense focus. Gabe is a prodigy who sight reads new pieces and practices just one hour a week, his practice sessions a mix of playing the assigned music and venturing off into his own spontaneous compositions. Both play beautifully. Go to their recital, and you might not be able to distinguish one from the other, but there’s no denying they learn differently.

This is not to say Gabe is a better musician, just that he learns and experiences music differently, in an atypical way. High achievers deserve great respect for their work habits, passion, and dedication, and certainly hard work can surpass raw talent. But the gifted child and the non-gifted high achiever do not have the same educational needs. Would you put Gabe and Henry in a piano class together? Of course not. Gabe would be stifled, or Henry would be overwhelmed, or both. Both these young pianists may be high achievers, but we can’t educate both with the same approach.

Likewise, we can’t adequately serve gifted children by lumping them in with high-achieving students. Advanced classes may teach material that’s ahead of the standard curriculum, but the demographics being what they are, the high achievers will tend to outnumber the gifted kids, even in an advanced class. So, these classes are often taught with the pacing, limited scope, and higher level of repetition meant for a non-gifted student. A high achiever class – or even a high achiever magnet program – does not necessarily meet a gifted learner’s needs.

In an ideal world, a gifted child would be afforded the same level of attention given to other “special needs” kids, with an individualized education program (IEP) and supplementary classroom resources. After all, some of our brightest learners are as far off the IQ bell curve as kids diagnosed as developmentally disabled – just in the opposite direction. Furthermore, giftedness doesn’t affect just intellect. It includes a whole slate of social and emotional characteristics that can affect the child’s overall well-being.

But ours is not an ideal world. It’s a world where plenty of people still think the whole concept of giftedness is a ploy by privileged snobs to get special benefits for their coddled kids. (See the comments written in response to a column I wrote in 2013 for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.)

This bias against giftedness makes it harder for all of us to get our kids’ needs met, but those who are hurt the most by these accusations of privilege, ironically, are the gifted kids who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. They are every bit as different from the norm as gifted kids from wealthier families, yet they have little or no access to the kind of enrichment opportunities listed on this website. They have only their local schools to meet their educational needs. That’s why it’s essential that we offer specialized gifted education in school.

The more we advocate for the gifted, the more we get others to understand that these children have legitimate neurological differences that create special learning needs, the more we stand up and insist that those needs be met, the greater our hope that all gifted kids – not just our own – will flourish.

They are our best chance for a better future. These kids, these different thinkers with their atypical brains, are the ones who will solve the world’s big problems.

We need them. And they need us.


For further reading:

“Divorcing the G-Word: A Parent’s Suggestion for Defining Giftedness,” by Suki Wessling, published in the summer 2013 issue of Gifted Education Press Quarterly (Wessling’s article is on page four)

“The bright child vs. the gifted learner: What’s the difference?” from the Gifted-Ed Guru blog of Psychology Today magazine

“High Achievers and Gifted Learners: Can They Mix?” (PDF), by Rosemary Cathcart, published by the George Parkyn National Centre for Gifted Education

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Free admission to Atlanta History Center on MLK Day

January 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Atl History CenterLooking for something to do on Monday when school’s out? How about a free visit to the Atlanta History Center?

The museum is waiving its admission fee for the day. Exhibitions feature the Civil War, folk art, the Centennial Olympic Games, civil rights, and Native American history. You can also visit the the museum’s historic houses: the 1860 Smith Family Farm and the 1928 Swan House. (If you aren’t sure your kids will want to tour a century-old mansion, perhaps you can entice them with the fact that the Swan House was one of the locations where “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” was filmed.)


Categories: Enrichment

South side open mic sessions for teen writers, songwriters and poets

January 15, 2014 Leave a comment

VerbalEyze, a group committed to fostering creative expression among young writers, presents two open mic sessions this Saturday, January 18, 2014:

  • 1:00 p.m. at the Clayton County main library, 865 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro
  • 3:00 p.m. at Community Grounds Coffee Shop, 1297 Jonesboro Road, Atlanta

The events are open to the public.



Categories: Enrichment

DeKalb school choice application period is near

January 3, 2014 Leave a comment

DeKalbOpen enrollment for school choice in DeKalb County will take place from Jan. 8 to Jan. 28, 2014. This includes enrollment for the county’s high achiever magnet schools.

If you’re thinking of applying for a school outside your attendance zone, this week is a good time to get ready. Two big things to do now to prepare are:

1) Check out the school choice catalog to learn about the options and the enrollment process. (Note: This is the 2013-14 catalog, but the information about the available schools should still be valid.)

2) Create your “e-portal” account so you will have access to the system to apply for enrollment at the school of your choice.

Visit the district’s school choice page to learn more.

Categories: DeKalb, In the schools