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Free seminars assist parents of gifted middle-schoolers


June 29, 2010

Parents of intellectually and academically talented middle school children can gain insight into a variety of issues associated with gifted education during a series of free seminars at ASU's West campus. The seminars are conducted by ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“We are pleased to share the knowledge of experts from ASU and the community with Valley parents regarding the exceptional needs of their gifted children,” said Dina Brulles, a Teachers College faculty member who planned the series with colleague Kimberly Lansdowne. “Each seminar will focus on different aspects of giftedness, so that parents can better understand what the gifted identification means in order to help guide and plan for their children’s education.” Download Full Image

Among the presenters is Sanford Cohn, a Teachers College professor who is a nationally recognized expert on academically talented youth and gifted education programs. Cohn will present two of the 10 scheduled seminars.

“For gifted learners, the undifferentiated curriculum during the middle school years has been described as ‘a period of treading academic water’ awaiting their classmates’ ability to engage in abstract reasoning,” Cohn said. “Parents of gifted students need to pay close attention to attitudes their children are voicing during this critical period of academic development, in order to arrange appropriate and meaningful learning experiences for them and nurture their love of learning.”

The schedule of seminars is:

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., June 30,
“Smart Boys” by Sanford Cohn

How are smart boys faring in the 21st century? The prime objective in schools has been to bring the performance of students having trouble learning up to average. Smart boys often are ignored, as they already are doing above-average work. In the absence of appropriate learning opportunities, these boys find avenues for learning outside of school; most often, they retreat to their computers. Video games and exploring the Internet offer them far more ways to experience novelty and complexity (the two most significant aspects of education for gifted learners). In this session, Cohn describes some of the problems gifted boys face in school and how we might improve schooling for them.

Sanford Cohn is a professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. He has co-authored with Barbara A. Kerr, “Smart Boys: Talent, Manhood, and the Search for Meaning;” co-edited with William C. George and Julian C. Stanley, “Educating the Gifted: Acceleration and Enrichment;” and published numerous articles on assessment and identification of academically talented youth, program evaluation, and studies focusing on both the nature and nurture of intellectual talent.  Cohn is a psychologist in Arizona with a small clinical practice devoted to highly able youths and their families.

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., July 15
“Understanding the Results of Intellectual Testing” by Paul Beljan

Intelligence tests are key measures in making the designation of giftedness. However, parents and educational professionals may not understand exactly what the tests measure. This seminar explains how gifted intelligence is represented on the ‘normal bell curve’, what the subtests of intelligence tests measure, and how to interpret the relationship between subtests. Parents will gain a deeper understanding of the range of gifted intelligence.  This information is important for parents to have, as they are often the educational advocates for their children.

Paul Beljan is a pediatric neuropsychologist who is in private practice in Scottsdale. Beljan Psychological Services focuses on the population of gifted children to help them become more understood and to understand themselves.  Beljan is the past president of the American Board of Pediatric Neuropsychology. He co-wrote “Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults.”

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 10
“Smart Girls” by Robyn McKay

For smart girls to flourish, they need more than just their intellect. Creativity, emotional intelligence, mentors and allies each have a unique place in a bright girl’s life. Join creativity researcher and ASU counselor Robyn McKay for a special conversation about the milestones and danger zones that smart girls encounter. Find out what parents can do to uplift, support, defend and applaud their gifted and talented daughters.

Robyn McKay has a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Kansas, where she studied positive psychology and optimal human development. She is the co-founder of CLEOS, a creativity and talent development research laboratory at KU. McKay is on the staff of ASU’s Student Counseling Services and on the faculty of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, where she teaches Child & Adolescent Development. She is the founder of WISE – Women in Science and Engineering at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Aug. 25
“Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children” by Paul Beljan

Gifted children often express behavior that is easily misdiagnosed as abnormal. However, many of these behaviors are normal for gifted children and their expression is likely due to asynchronous development. Regardless of these behaviors being "normal" for gifted children, they often cause peer alienation, teacher frustration, and may lead to actual diagnostic disorders if they are not managed. These behaviors emerge from how the gifted child’s brain processes information and, therefore, require a behavioral intervention that is neurologically based.

Paul Beljan is a pediatric neuropsychologist who is in private practice in Scottsdale. Beljan Psychological Services focuses on the population of gifted children to help them become more understood and to understand themselves. Beljan is the past president of the American Board of Pediatric Neuropsychology.  He co-wrote “Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children and Adults.”

9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Sept. 11
“Parenting Gifted Adolescents” by James Webb

In today's society, it is more difficult to successfully parent tweens and teens. Success is more than simple academic, vocational or professional achievement. Resiliency, self-esteem, self-motivation and self-discipline are keys. Although relationships are of paramount importance, the pace of modern life and technological innovations often create barriers to relationships. This seminar describes practical parenting strategies to promote relationships that can help an adolescent find his or her passion in life. Webb will provide specific approaches and techniques designed to help parents raise successful adolescents. Learn how to help your gifted adolescents instill values, develop the ability to set priorities and the persistence to follow through on them, and achieve a sense of personal balance.

James T. Webb has been recognized as one of the 25 most influential psychologists nationally on gifted education. He consults with schools, programs and individuals about social and emotional needs of gifted and talented children. In 1981, Webb established SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of Gifted Children, Inc.), a national nonprofit organization that provides information, training, conferences and workshops, and he remains as Chair of SENG’s Professional Advisory Committee.

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sept. 22,
“Parent Partnerships in Gifted Education” by Rebecca Baker

Families of highly gifted students have unique social, emotional and educational needs. The lack of programs for highly gifted students across the country leaves parents always searching: searching for the right school, the right program, the right teacher and the one friend who might change their lives. This seminar focuses on understanding the needs of the whole child and how this affects the entire family. The presenter will describe the successful practices involved in building a comprehensive program for highly gifted students, the success of which involves equal participation and commitment from parents, students and educators.

Rebecca Baker is a counselor specializing in working with families of highly gifted children. She has more than 25 years teaching experience in the Scottsdale School District and was instrumental in developing the district’s self-contained gifted program for highly gifted students. Baker works as a consultant for school districts in Arizona in developing and supporting services for gifted students.

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4,
“A Positive Psychology of Creativity and Talent” by Robyn McKay

Learn how the field of positive psychology can help parents and students navigate the challenges of adolescence. Find out about CLEOS – a creativity laboratory dedicated to finding, gathering, guiding, understanding and healing creative people. Discover new findings about creative adolescents’ personalities, interests and flow. Learn the importance of exploration, enrichment and attunement in the career development process.

Robyn McKay has a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Kansas, where she studied positive psychology and optimal human development. She is the co-founder of CLEOS, a creativity and talent development research laboratory at KU. Currently McKay is on the staff of ASU’s Student Counseling Services and on the faculty of ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, where she teaches Child & Adolescent Development. She is the founder of WISE – Women in Science and Engineering at ASU’s Polytechnic campus.

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Oct. 27
“Technology for Parents: Student safety & netiquette” by Kimberly Elms

Parenting the Net Generation: Keeping our kids connected and protected. In this seminar we take a look at the statistics of Gen Y and their application, appreciation and approach to technology while exploring ways for parents to support their plugged-in kid while keeping them safe.

Kimberly Elms is a curriculum and instruction designer specializing in technology-rich learning experiences. She has written both online and hybrid curriculum for school districts and developed the curricula and instructional frameworks for digital learning centers. Kimberly is the current President of Arizona Association for the Gifted & Talented (AAGT) and a doctoral student at ASU. She is the mother of two plugged-in boys, a self-proclaimed gadget geek and lover of all things digital.

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Nov. 17
“Equity for Gifted Learners: The Optimal Match Strategy” by Sanford Cohn

Why “equity” for gifted learners? Isn’t “equality” good enough? An illustration might serve best to respond to these questions. If equality means that everyone gets a pair of shoes, equity means that everyone gets a pair of shoes that fit. It is the goodness of fit that is important here, as it is in schooling America’s young people. How can we guarantee the possibility of best fit? The Optimal Match Strategy (OMS) offers teachers and students a meaningful pathway to educational equity for gifted learners. The OMS centers on creating the best educational fit possible by examining the characteristics of the learner to match them with significant aspects of the learning environment. Cohn will elaborate upon how we can discern these learner characteristics and then engage in a quest for optimal learning environments.

Sanford Cohn is a professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. He has co-authored with Barbara A. Kerr, “Smart Boys: Talent, Manhood, and the Search for Meaning;” co-edited with William C. George and Julian C. Stanley, “Educating the Gifted: Acceleration and Enrichment,” and published numerous articles on assessment and identification of academically talented youth, program evaluation, and studies focusing on both the nature and nurture of intellectual talent. Cohn is a psychologist in Arizona with a small clinical practice devoted to highly able youths and their families.

6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Dec. 6
“Maximizing the Talents and Potential of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Gifted Students” by Jaime Castellano

Gifted students who are culturally and/or linguistically diverse often have to traverse through a system that has historically left them behind. As parents, how can we help our most precious resource maximize their talents and potential? How do we understand, encourage and nurture their interests, intelligence and gifts? This seminar is designed for parents who have pondered these questions about their own children. Strategies and resources will be presented; an open forum for interactive discussion will be offered; and examples for stretching the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of our children will be modeled.

Jaime A. Castellano is one of our nation’s leading experts in the field of gifted education in identifying, educating and developing talent and potential in culturally, linguistically and socio-economically diverse learners, with particular expertise working with gifted Hispanic students and gifted English language learners. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on gifted education, instructional leadership, multicultural education and diversity in schools issues.

Seminars will take place in room 299 of the CLCC Building on ASU’s West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. The events are free and open to the public; there is a charge for visitor parking on campus.

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