State & USA Updates

Supporting Emotional Needs for the Gifted Conference Updates

posted Aug 12, 2014, 12:19 PM by MW Rod   [ updated Aug 12, 2014, 12:21 PM ]

If you've ever thought about attending a SENG conference, see what one GT mom has to say about her experience this year.

32nd annual SENG Conference - 18-20 July 2014 - San Jose, CA

My husband and I attended the SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) conference this summer for the first time.  We weren't certain of what to expect, but we were hoping to gain a better understanding of our 8 year old son’s needs.   We were hoping to find ways to help him to succeed in school and life.  It’s become clear to us in recent years that he is different from the norm and we don’t have all the answers, so we thought this might help. 

I highly recommend SENG to anyone who works with GT students or to parents of gifted learners. The conference session topics went much broader and deeper than we expected, and we learned more than we expected, about so many topics relevant to our family’s needs.  We truly regret that we didn't attend a SENG conference sooner!  The perspective we gained was fantastic. We learned some ideas on advocacy, including how to approach the school differently, to have a more effective partnership.  We also learned that there isn't always a simple solution or one ‘right’ way, that there are many different ways to help gifted children succeed, and that needs can change from year to year.

There were so many sessions to choose from in the conference….There were 12 session times between Friday morning and Sunday early afternoon, with 6 or 7 different sessions happening simultaneously in adjacent conference rooms, and lasting about 75 minutes each.  Sessions were in several categories: 2E, parenting/grand-parenting, education, misdiagnosis, gifted adults, over-excitabilities, special topics.  We attended sessions across many categories depending on the topic.  I attended a group on perfectionism.  The discussion lasted about an hour, and I left the discussion group with some practical ideas to guide my son when perfectionism is causing him challenges.  Being with other parents of gifted kids of various ages, provided an environment that was comfortable and encouraging.   I could clearly see the benefits of being in a SENG model parent group on a regular basis.  (There’s information on SENG’s website,, about starting or joining a model parent group, and they even have online groups, and educational webinars for a small fee!)   

There were a few things that kept recurring in the conference, so I’d like to note some of those themes.  First, perfectionism can go hand in hand with procrastination.  Some gifted kids tend to put off doing things because they want them to be perfect…  It sounds strange, but it is very common.  Not starting a task means the child cannot do it wrong.  How to combat this?  With a lot of positive encouragement and praise for the process, and not just the final product or the grade received.  Don’t praise the child for being ‘smart’, praise the effort they’re putting in.  Read together some biographies of great leaders, inventors, etc…  Seeing their previous failures can help a gifted kid realize perfection isn’t attainable or necessary; it’s human to make mistakes and learn from them. 

Another common theme was disengagement and underachievement.  A few definitions may be helpful here…  Disengagement is withdrawal from activity.  Underachievement is a discrepancy between ability and achievement.  Motivational Paralysis can result, which is poor motivational health and is self-sabotaging.  What can we do to prevent all of this?   Early intervention, individualized approaches to learning (self-paced, independent learning in areas of interest), and a change in attitudes and perceptions of giftedness can help. Kids often don’t see the point of what they are doing in school – if they see some purpose to their work, they are more likely to be engaged.  Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom, by Susan Winebrenner, was referenced for its helpful information on how to provide individualized learning options. A cookie cutter approach cannot meet needs of all. What might be a great program or school for one gifted child might not work for another… there is truly a need for individualized learning for gifted learners.

Another topic that kept recurring was the question of how to find the ‘right fit’ for a gifted student.  Four models were given: traditional school, home school, distance/virtual school, and a hybrid/blended program that could include 2 or 3 of these.  To create a right fit, first identify specific areas that need improvement in the child’s current program.  Then create a list of alternatives for each area, with cost versus benefits of each.  Determine which options best achieve the goals.  Include the child in the process, and don’t forget about their physical needs, including play and stress relief.  One thing to keep in mind; gifted kids need to spend part of everyday learning and interacting with children of similar ability.

Acceleration (by moving up in grade or working in a higher grade for a subject) was mentioned in a few different sessions.   One presenter mentioned that acceleration is a poor substitute for gifted education.  However, if there is not a program that is appropriate for the child, accelerating by moving up to a higher grade level may be a better fit.  It is likely that the pace and depth may still not be enough after the student settles in to the higher level.   If you are not certain if acceleration is the right choice for your child, the Iowa Acceleration Scale can help in the decision.  It is important to present the Iowa Acceleration Scale in a team meeting at school, and discuss the results together, ensuring the school knows acceleration will not overburden them.  A contingency plan to have the child meet with the school counselor to handle any adjustment to the new grade, and having parents arrange a tutor to cover any curriculum gaps that might arise, can help.  It is also wise to have a trial period, where you are willing to reverse the grade-skip if needed.

One of the most entertaining sessions I experienced was on the final day.  It was about gifted adults and communication.  One thing SENG has taught me is that many of us adults grew up as gifted kids, and our needs don’t disappear after we become adults.  SENG has some great support for adults in dealing with challenges we may face.  I was reluctant to attend a session to focus on me, instead of my child… but I was so glad I went to this.  Dr. Dale Stuart was the presenter, and she kept the session funny and light and the packed room was having a great time.  The entire session was one big ‘aha’ moment. She discussed cognitive biases we all have.  They include that we tend to think everyone thinks and feels like we do, that we know what others are thinking, and they know what we are thinking.  We also think we see reality objectively.  These biases can be problematic, because we tend to think our way is the best way.  We also have memory ‘blind spots’, recording memories that are the most useful to us, and our memories become altered every time we recall them (this explains how eyewitnesses can view the same events completely differently).  How do we escape the traps we fall into?  Accept that we act irrationally more often than we believe.  Accept we may be biased, so we need to ASK and LISTEN.  Step outside yourself and observe your own behavior, and consider how your actions affect your partner or others. 

There is so much more, but I hope this gives a little insight into what the SENG conference is about.  It was a fantastic experience, and while it’s a bit pricey, it was really worth it.  There’s even a kids portion if you want to have your child attend and meet other gifted kids for the weekend… and this year there was a scholarship opportunity available through SENG, as well as a discounted rate for Gifted Homeschoolers Forum members to attend the full-day Saturday events (when the most sessions were held).  So, there may be ways to make it more economical if you want to attend.  It may be worth planning a family vacation to Colorado this coming July… I don’t think you’ll regret it!  


posted Aug 14, 2013, 11:58 AM by MW Rod

Guest Blogger - Angie with Although this wonderful teacher teaches out of Louisiana, her insights into GT education can be translated to our needs as well.

I believe that we should be doing more to inform and support the parents of our newly identified students. I came to this realization during a recent encounter at, of all places, a car repair shop. I was passing the time waiting for my car to get serviced by playing a game on my iPad when a mother and her two elementary aged daughters walked in. It didn’t take long for the oldest girl to casually take a peek at my game. I noted that she was intensely interested in her surroundings and, like most children, she was seeking out mental stimulation in a boring place. I mentioned to the mom that I was a teacher and shared one of the interactive books that I had downloaded onto my iPad. Soon, mom and I were in a discussion where she shared that her little girl had been recently identified as a gifted second grader.

What happened next formed the inspiration for this post. Within minutes of telling the mother that I was a teacher of the gifted, the questions came pouring out. “My second grader was just identified at the end of last school year, what should I be doing now?” “Should I have known she was gifted before she was identified?” “Was there something that I wrote that might have hindered or helped my child during the process because I felt like I was being tested, too.”

These questions indicated to me that this parent 1) was probably not given any information other than her child’s test scores 2) doubted her own parenting skills since she didn’t know that her child was gifted before testing 3) and she wasn’t informed of her role in the identification process. I believe that all these questions symbolize the lack of information and support that should have been provided by the school staff or private testing service to the parent before, during and after the identification process. This interaction led me to reflect on what I do to inform and support the parent of a newly identified gifted child.

In the qualification letter that I send home to the parent I include links to my district’s resources and my own online website. This assumes that the parent has time to look at these resources. I am hoping that they do because there is an incredible amount of resources online which was not available 20 years ago when my own children were identified. I also ask the parents to tap into my News Flashes to keep abreast of the next parent support group meeting or seminar offered in the area. I had four successful parent support group meetings last year and a local college hosted a parent’s seminar partnering with TxGifted. We discussed things like perfectionism, making friends, academic achievement (or lack of academic achievement) and opportunities outside of school hours. I hope to continue offer these discussions again this coming year. But is this enough?

I tried to assure the mom at the car repair shop that she may not have known that her daughter was gifted before she was identified. Parents know their child very well but may not know how they compare intellectually to other children. It’s likely they see some characteristics about their child that are different but ‘chalk it up’ to individual preferences, not giftedness. I look back at my own experiences with my son and daughter and I recall some characteristics that might have indicated giftedness. Maybe I will spot them in my grandchildren but I’m guessing that I won’t. Many times, it’s not until the child is placed in an environment such as a classroom where their characteristics and behaviors become evident. This is where the professional educator comes in. We have to rely on testing and observations by a professional who is trained to identify the gifted learner to confirm that we are dealing with a gifted learner.

This brings me back to the setting that inspired this piece. The guys who service my car are professionals who are trained to determine whether my car is functioning at its peak performance. I have to trust that they are qualified to do their job and that they are reliably informing me what needs to be done to meet this goal. It’s the same with the job of the professional educator. Educators are professionally trained to determine and should be meeting the needs of each child whether they be special needs, on-level or above level.

The mom at the service station was concerned that something she wrote about her child during the identification process could have hindered her child from getting “accepted into the gifted program.” She felt like she was the one being tested. I first heard a similar comment during one of the parent support group meetings that I held last school year. I remember being asked to write about my children during their identification process over 20 years ago. I was just happy to let someone else know all about the wonderful things my children were doing at home. What parent wouldn’t want to do this? I didn’t even think about how it affected his or her acceptance into a program. I know that today’s parents need and want more information so they can “do” the right thing for their child.

I decided to ask one of my parents what she needed but was not provided during those first few weeks of finding out that her child had been identified as a gifted learner. I appreciated her honesty and perspective and found her suggestions very enlightening. Her first comment was that “both her and her husband are college educated and she has a teaching degree” and yet she didn’t truly know what the test scores meant and what should she be doing now for her child. Sound familiar? I loved it when she wrote, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Some of her other suggestions included an initial conference to explain the results of the testing, a book list of recommended reading and a mentor-like seasoned gifted parent for exchanging parenting stories. These are all things that I can implement easily next school year.

My encounter with the mom at the repair shop in a way parallels my experience as an educator of gifted children. I understand that those who know how cars work are better equipped to service and maintain them. They give me advice on how to make my car function at its best. Likewise, parents of gifted children would greatly benefit from understanding the identification process and how to support their gifted children throughout their school years. As ‘mechanics’ of a sort, gifted educators are a vital part of equipping the parents of identified gifted children to service and maintain their little gifted engines so they obtain peak performance in the classroom and throughout their educational careers.


posted Aug 13, 2013, 9:15 AM by MW Rod

Guest Blogger - Reprinted with permission of Stacia Taylor at

I often find myself listening to conversations about talent development for gifted children. Now, I actually believe altruistic talent development is a
great thing for kids: take their areas of strength and help them grow. What’s not to love, right? As with any altruistic notion, implementation and the need to pay for said altruism often takes away from the vision. What troubles me most is a sense of entitlement society seems to feel toward a child’s brilliance and how this entitlement infects the idea of talent development and twists it. I don’t mean holding high expectations of meeting your potential. I have high expectations for my girls but I don’t have expectations of what meeting their potential looks like or how they will “owe me” for supporting and helping them develop. I mean the notion that society feels ownership toward an individual’s intellectual gifts. For instance, it makes me pretty crazed when people tell my eldest daughter, ”Don’t be a philosopher. You are so smart, you should be a doctor and cure cancer.” As her parent, my first thought is, ”Have you ever seen her artwork or listened to her music? My goodness, I wish she would quit taking art off the table of viable career paths.” My second thought runs along the lines of, ”You don’t own her intellect. Why are you telling her what to do? You
don’t even know her well.” This is followed closely with the thought, ”She has never been on the path to be a doctor and has shown no interest in medical research. Is she smart enough to pass the courses? Sure. Does she have the passion for medicine? No.” These “well-meaning” adults don’t realize the damaging message they have just given her: “What you want to do is meaningless. You owe us a cure for cancer because you are wicked smart. Any other path is a waste.” Now, if this had only happened once, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. It has happened a countless and depressing number of times. This brings me to my worry about the movement toward talent development with gifted children. If I felt like we wanted to develop talent because supporting and encouraging our children is beneficial for society then I would be the first passenger on the ship. That isn’t what the conversation has been, in the United States. The conversation is, ”If we develop the talents of academically gifted children, imagine what they can produce for our society.” It is subtle but the message is, ”In return for developing your talent, you owe us.” Our society has also begun to send a second message, ”Artists and philosophers are not as important to society as scientists and mathematicians.” I beg to differ. There is balance in all things. The great minds of science and mathematics were often also philosophers and artists. We can’t separate out talents like we are separating the wheat from the chaff because art and philosophy are not chaff. They are wheat just like science and mathematics.

Here is my opinion: We should develop talent because it is the best practice for growing well-rounded children. It is the fertilizer for the seeds. We should be ecstatic for the wheat we receive but not become angry with the seed if it didn’t produce enough wheat or maybe wasn’t the variety we thought we wanted. We enjoy the wheat we have and are grateful. The same holds true for talented children. They don’t owe society their gifts and we should be grateful when they share their great gifts with us in whichever form those gifts take. My daughters don’t owe society another *Sputnik moment. Society owes my daughters the support needed for their growth with no expectation of what that result will be. When support is freely given, people feel more inclined to give back. When support is given with demands, people feel protective of their gifts.

Think about it. Won’t our society be better for creating happy, supported children over creating the next Sputnik moment?

 *This post is somewhat in response to Paula Olszewski-Kubilius’ opinion piece in The Hill on May 13, 2012 but it is mostly an aggregate of things I have pondered over the years. The article can be found here:

World Council for Gifted & Talented Children

posted Jul 21, 2013, 5:18 PM by MW Rod

The WCGTC World Conference is coming up August 10-11, 2013. So if you are going to be in the Kentucky area make sure and look it up!

Individual Value Added Scores

posted Jun 28, 2013, 9:14 AM by MW Rod

At the start of next year, teachers will be given individual value added scores for your child. These scores are intended to help teachers figure out where your child is starting out at and where they should end up at academically. Teachers will use this data along with standards and assessments to set learning targets for the coming year. To request your student's individual value added score contact your district's point person.

LEA Name Compass Contact Name Compass Contact Email VAM Available Date
Acadia Ellan Kay Baggett June 27th
Allen Diane Marcantel June 27th
Ascension Gwen Price June 27th
Assumption Tootie Hock June 27th
Avoyelles Thelma Prater June 27th
Baker David Grisby July 2nd
Beauregard James Herrington June 27th
Bienville Bill L. Davis, Jr. July 2nd
Bogalusa April Nobles June 27th
Bossier  Janiene Batchelor June 27th
Caddo Charles Lowder June 27th
Calcasieu Johna Rion June 28th
Caldwell Robin Nelson June 27th
Cameron Robert Kimball July 22nd
Catahoula Gwile Paul Freeman June 27th
Central Community School System Gavin Vitter July 3rd
Claiborne Dr. Janice Williams June 27th
Concordia  Ann Sandidge June 27th
DeSoto Kathy Noel July 1st
East Baton Rouge  Beanka Brumfield-Williams July 3rd
East Carroll Jo Ann Thompson July 1st
East Feliciana  Knight Roddy July 1st
Evangeline Michael Lombas July 1st
Franklin Lanny Johnson July 1st
Grant Paula Crawford; Becky Reeder, June 27th
Iberia Suzanne Whitaker July 1st
Iberville Brandie Blanchard June 27th
Jackson (Option 1) Sam Strozier June 27th
Jefferson  Katie Coburn June 27th
Jefferson Davis Brian M. LeJeune June 27th
Lafayette Karen Williams July 1st
Lafourche Bernita Deville June 27th
LaSalle Parish Tish Budemer June 27th
Lincoln Paula Pardue June 27th
Livingston Dawn Rush June 27th
Madison Clara Durr July 15th
Monroe Teresa Foreman June 27th
Morehouse Prince Ella Williams July 15th
Natchitoches Parish Linda Page June 27th
Orleans Dominique Wilson June 27th
Ouachita Don Coker July 3rd
Plaquemines Alberta Cousson June 27th
Pointe Coupee Lisa D'Aquila June 27th
Rapides Emily Weatherford June 27th
Red River Parish Alison N Hughes June 27th
Richland Harold Gallman June 27th
Sabine Melissa Lee July 1st
St. Bernard Charles Raviotta June 27th
St. Charles Frederick Treuting June 28th
St. Helena Parish Sonia Fields-Guiterrez July 22nd
St. James Carol Webre July 22nd
St. John the Baptist Dr. Leigh Ann Beard June 27th
St. Landry Matthew Scruggins July 15th
St. Martin Kellie H. LeBlanc June 27th
St. Mary Ricky Armelin June 27th
St. Tammany  Teacher's local leader   June 27th
Tangipahoa Ron Genco July 19th
Tensas Bobby Blount July 15th
Terrebonne  Carol Davis June 27th
Union Cynthia Gatson July 16th
Vermilion Mr. Jerome Puyau June 27th
Vernon Parish Mike Kay June 27th
Washington Trisha Smith July 1st
Webster Charlotte Dean June 28th
West Baton Rouge  Annette Mire July 15th
West Carroll Parish Mark Bowman June 27th
West Feliciana Steven Comfort July 1st
Winn Parish Al Simmons June 27th
Zachary Community Schools Yolanda Williams July 1st

High School Courses for Elementary and Middle School Students

posted May 19, 2013, 7:31 AM by MW Rod

Does your child come home most days complaining that he/she is bored in school? A high school course may be a great options to keep your child interested and motivated to learn. Many distance education programs do not discriminate based on age and would let your child start their course within days. Some of you may wonder whether or not your parish would allow your child to obtain actual high school credit for this class or not. While this is not likely within their normal operations is can be done and is absolutely within your rights to ask for. If your child is ready to learn something then the school's job is to help them learn NOT to hold them back.

Be sure to check with your local school system for the procedure to allow your child to take a high school course for actual credit. Follow the procedure and if you still get a 'NO' as an answer, you may consider talking with an educational advocate. Elementary & Middle school students are taking and getting credit for high school courses in our state so if your child is ready go for it!

See below for a few options I know students have used that do not discriminate based on age:

Course Choice Means More Choices for Gifted Students in Louisiana

posted Aug 13, 2012, 3:00 PM by MW Rod

My recent attendance at a community meeting for Course Choice brought great hope for education in Louisiana. This new program set to roll out in the 2013-2014 school year is designed to offer more choices to ALL students in our state. Although not specifically set up for G/T students, this new program holds great promise for G/T education.

What exactly is Course Choice?
This program is an innovative means of offering a variety of course to ANY school age student in Louisiana. For example your gifted student may want to take a more advanced Social Studies level and your school doesn't provide it. Through Course Choice you can sign your child up for this course which would likely be taken as a distance learning or computer course. Obviously, you will want to be sure you have the agreement of the IEP team at your school and put this on your child's IEP. Currently they are taking vendor applications with places like Duke and BYU expected to be on the Course Choice list coming out in January.

How much does it cost? If your child is in a school with a ranking of C,D, or F then you are eligible to sign up for courses at no cost to you. As of now, this includes all courses whether or not they are offered at your child's school or not. So theoretically if you weren't happy with the education your child was getting at your F ranked school you could sign up for Course Choice for all subjects except one. Our understanding is that at least one subject must be taken at your child's home school. For students going to A or B ranked schools the wording says that funding "may" be provided. So please check with your school counselor before signing your child up so you don't get any surprises!

While this is not going to solve all of the scheduling and funding issues involved with Gifted and Talented education, it will provide one more option for those looking to for a more appropriate education for there child. For more information and updates please click here.

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted

posted May 2, 2012, 9:45 AM by MW Rod

Often times parents wonder if their gifted children are being challenged academically. We research, we argue for a more challenging environment for our children in IEP's, and we supplement our children education ourselves. We pursue a Free and Appropriate Public Education with a passion only other gifted parents understand. Sometimes in the mist all of this pursuit for an appropriate education we forget to also look at their emotional needs. There is a place to turn to for support in figuring out how to meet our gifted children's emotional needs. SENG (Supporting Needs of the Gifted) is an oganization who's mission is to help gifted families in this quest. You can reach Louisiana's one registered Model Parent Group at or you can start your own. Visit SENG for more information on how you can better meet your gifted child's emotional needs.

Live! Learn! Louisiana!

posted Feb 8, 2012, 1:17 PM by MW Rod

Saturday programming for gifted and talented students is now available at LSU! Register early to reserve your spot. Register Here

Saturday, February 25, 2012 -- Germ Fighters: A look into the world of viruses and bacteria. 

Have you ever thought about how germs are spread? Or why when one person in your family gets sick, everyone else does too? Now you, too, can learn about viruses and bacteria and how they are spread from one person to the next. You will learn about good and bad bacteria and what can be done to stop the spread of bad bacteria from one person to the next.  Join the Germ Fighters at LSU as we investigate the basic mechanisms of microbial infection and prevention! Who will become the Best Infectious Agent?

Saturday, March 24, 2012 -- Plant Pathology:  The Science behind plant disease

Plants get sick too! Learn about what happens to plants when they get sick, what causes diseases in plants, and do a little investigative work into learning how we identify the causes of diseases in plants. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of healthy and diseased plants, you are on your way to becoming a Jr. Plant Pathologist.

Saturday, April 21, 2012 -- Robotics 2.0: Build your own robot!

The Woodlawn Robotics Team will be back with their 10-foot-tall robot, Dunker, for another exciting robotics workshop.  Not only will you get a chance to drive Dunker, but you’ll also get to see the team’s newest robot and build a mini-robot of your own. 




So You Want to Get Your Child in a Talented Program?

posted Jan 22, 2012, 8:14 AM by MW Rod

The comments I hear about our Talent programs in Louisiana are varied. Some parents are enthusiastic about the prospect of getting their children into a talented program while others don't see the value in music, art or drama education. Some schools point out that in elementary grades arts/music education is included in the regular classroom minutes. While this is true, the general education teacher does not hold a specialty in either subject and most teachers with a specialty in art/music/drama would question the quality of such instruction. So where does that leave a parent that is looking for a quality education for their child? Our talented programs offer a wonderful way to bridge the gap in these areas and help to equalize our state's education as compared with others. As a parent, don't you want your child to have the same educational opportunities as children in other states?

Now that you've decided to get your child into a talented program, your child will need to pass the screening before their program can begin. Taking some private classes prior to getting the talented screening is likely in order. Your local arts council is always a good place to start when looking for these types of programs. Below are a few of the many places you might want to call in order to get started. Remember, just begin!

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