Accelerated Academics' Students Tour San Diego Central Public Library

By Dr. Jenelle S. Miller

 Isabel, Fabienne, and Ethan Sparks touring the Central Branch of the San Diego Public Library

Isabel, Fabienne, and Ethan Sparks touring the Central Branch of the San Diego Public Library

Yesterday (Wednesday, September 21, 2017), two of my students from Accelerated Academics and their father/teacher accompanied me to the Central Branch of the San Diego Public Library in Downtown San Diego. The purpose of our visit was for a National History Day (NHD) Orientation, which included a tour with docent David Brands as well as a topic brainstorming session with the Jayne Henn, the manager of the Denny Sanford Children’s Library. My students, Fabienne and Isabel, are gearing up to participate in this year’s NHD competition and wanted to learn how to best utilize the library for their research projects.

The tour of this brand new and very large library by the docent was fascinating and highly beneficial. In addition to learning about the history of the planning and construction of the library, we visited the special collections area, technology rooms, and the teen room; saw where we could utilize group meeting rooms; and met several skilled individuals who will be available to provide us with expert help regarding our research. We also learned that we may use the library’s multi-media technology and 3-D printers for our own projects and that we can access technology experts who are there to assist us when we need help. All of these things and more make this library one to which we definitely plan to return and utilize over the coming days, weeks, months, and years.

When talking to the girls and their father about their experience during the tour, Fabienne exclaimed, “I want to live here!” and Isabel and her father are looking forward to their next opportunity to return and conduct some research. Our docent/tour guide and the children’s librarian have definitely succeeded in inspiring my students to dive in to their research projects with passion.

There are so many purposes to use the resources at the Central Branch of the San Diego Public Library - National History Day is only one of them. We plan to utilize this great resource to its fullest extent. It has everything we could possibly need for an abundance of great educational experiences.

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.

Securing an Appropriate Education for your 2E Student

I found a great article today that I would like to share with you. The article was written by Mark Woodsmall, Esq. to assist 2E families in pursuing and obtaining an appropriate education for your children. Please follow the link below:

Source: http://www.woodsmalllawgroup.com/securing-...

Homeschooling: A Beneficial Option for Gifted and Talented Students

Parents typically desire that their children receive an appropriate education that leads to a successful life. Parents of high-ability or profoundly gifted children or children who are twice-exceptional (gifted with disabilities) often struggle with school and district personnel as they advocate for a suitable differentiated education that will meet their students’ academic and socio-emotional needs. Diminished funding resources for gifted programs and the lack of teacher/administrator training and professional development are some of the major issues that negatively affect the public school experience for gifted learners and their parents.

An educational environment undertaken primarily at home for gifted students can provide an unlimited atmosphere for learning, so long as the parent is committed to the process of providing engaging and challenging learning opportunities. Parents of high-ability learners usually understand that their students have a variety of different needs, interests, and strengths. In a homeschool setting some gifted students may prefer to work one-on-one with a parent or mentor, others may thrive with independently accessed accelerated on-line courses or self-directed problem-based learning. Furthermore, the daily homeschool program can be customized to fit the needs of the learner who is highly talented in areas where they need flexible schedules to practice and compete in physical activities (i.e. dance, gymnastics, equestrian, ice skating, tennis, golf, skateboarding, etc.).

Parents who desire to take on the role of homeschooling often feel daunted by the unknown circumstances of where to begin; and they may worry that they are not qualified to teach their children. These noble parents would benefit from the support and guidance of a professional educator who is trained in gifted education and who oversees a private school satellite program (PSP) for homeschool families. This professional could help parents understand how to effectively personalize and individualize the educational experiences of their gifted children. Additionally, opportunities for parents to gain confidence by learning a variety of teaching strategies from this educator and for networking with other homeschool parents within the PSP could play a major role in the success of the overall homeschool experience.

References:

"Homeschooling the Gifted Learner." Position Papers. California Association for the Gifted, 21 Nov. 2004. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. <https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/cagifted.site-ym.com/resource/resmgr/docs/position09hg.pdf>.