California Association of Gifted Conference

This afternoon I returned from the 54th Annual California Association of Gifted (CAG) Conference that was held in Palm Springs over the weekend (Feb 26-28) at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center. It was wonderful to meet the Board members and about 1,200 administrators, teachers, and parents who attended the conference. I also met Dr. Sandra Kaplan, who is the Education Committee Chair and Past President of CAG, and is a national expert in the field of gifted education.

Over the three days, I attended several informative sessions:

Friday was the Parents' Pre-Conference Workshop which had sessions on Advocacy, Curriculum and Instruction, and Social and Emotional. The purpose of these workshops was to provide parents with information that would help them parent their gifted children by understanding the common traits of gifted children and by learning practical strategies for parenting. In addition, support was given to parents as advocates in the classroom, school, and district so that they could ensure their children receive appropriate challenges commensurate with their abilities.

Saturday I listened to a panel of district administrators discuss how the new political legislation will be influencing gifted education in their districts in 2016 and beyond. I also attended a couple of sessions that addressed some of the issues and strategies of working with of Twice Exceptional (2E) children who are identified as gifted but also have one or more learning disabilities. This session provided a deeper understanding of how asynchronous development (where one skill or gift develops in an accelerated way, but another skill or gift is underdeveloped) affects gifted students.

Sunday's session brought in guest speaker, Dr. Dana Backman, from NASA who presented "SOFIA," NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. What a fabulous session! I learned so much about new discoveries made by astronomers using SOFIA. Wow! Then, the last session of the day for me was another NASA science presentation by Bob Barboza, STEM Director. His presentation was titled, "NASA Needs Your Help: Inventing, Designing, and Building." The idea is for students to provide "ideas and prototypes for Mars colonies, space suites, rockets, satellites, science and engineering centers, antennas, batteries, space food, ion engines, robots and ideas for Martian soil gardening" (as stated in the CAG conference presentation summary). I saw a new humanoid robot and an incredible new high-tech instrument for producing beautiful music, even if you cannot play an instrument or read music. New technology - WOW! I want to be a part of it.