How to vote for Sprite 4

With just one week of voting for the People’ Choice award remaining  in the Sydney Writers’ Centre Best Australian Blogs 2011 competition  Sprite is beginning to wonder what else she can do to attract voters.
She consulted with the Dabrowski dogs and Intellectual undertook an extensive search on campaign strategies. He presented Sprite with so much material that she was not really sure what to with it.
One strategy stood out ( probably because it had a distinctive name) – pork barrelling.
While Sensual sat and scratched his head, Imaginational argued that it did not appear to be a very ethical thing to do and Emotional howled because she did not like to see arguments.
As impulsive as ever, Psycho Motor did not wait to hear the outcome of the discussion; but went to round up some clip art pigs and a barrel.
Sprite was not really sure how the pigs and barrel would help her cause!

But she did want to remind everyone to visit Sprite’s Site blog, have a look around and maybe even record a vote for by  clicking on the People’s Choice voting badge in the top right of the side bar or by going to and voting for Sprite’s Site on the P-Z page.
If you have entered Sprite’s Site by following a link to a specific post you will need to click on the blue Sprite’s Site header first to see the sidebar.

How to attend Gifted Education Conferences in Second Life

Roya Klingner of The Bavarian Center for Gifted and Talented Children, among the many wonderful things that she does, runs monthly meetings on giftedness in Second Life.
These are usually advertised in Mary’s Gifted Contacts on Facebook at  and on Twitter but are also advertised on The Bavarian Center for Gifted and Talented Children website at
To attend one of these meetings, it is important to register with Roya. At present there is no cost to attend.

This is really brilliant and exciting considering the calibre of the international guests Roya
has invited to give presentations.

The next “Global Virtual Meeting for Gifted Education in Second Life”, 28th 2011 at 9 p.m. CEST.
Invited speaker is Margaret Keane (IRELAND).
Topic: “MissionV Pilot: Using virtual world technology for the support of high potential students.”

Margaret Keane (B.A. Communication Studies) is the founder of, the voluntary advocacy and support website for exceptionally able and twice exceptional children in Ireland. The site provides information, resources and a forum for parents and teachers and hosts a free series of webinars, supported by NCTE, through the global educators network Margaret has worked in corporate video production, publishing, ICT skills training and web design. She is a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awardee and is on the Advisory Board 2011 for the Irish Centre for Talented Youth.

Future speakers will be:

– June 25…Prof. Ernst Hany (GERMANY)

– July 30…David W. Deeds (USA/China)

– August 27…Dr. Thomas Leigh Armstrong (USA)

– September 24…Allie Golon (USA)

– October 29…Joy Lawson Davis (USA)
Imagine being able to attend presentations by these leaders in the field of gifted education without cost and without having to travel!

The only thing which prevents some people from attending is that they are anxious about using Second Life.
So Mary St.George has written an excellent tutorial:-

Most of us who have attended these meetings were new to Second Life the first time we attended, and we are happy to help anyone who is also new to this virtual world, so ask for help in the group if you need it. It’s far better than missing out on these excellent opportunities!

Here is what you do:

1. Go to and click “Join Now” to make an account.

2.  Choose an avatar from the 11 displayed.

3.  Choose a username. If you plan on roaming freely in Second Life, don’t choose your real name. You can add it later as a display name if you wish.

4.  You will be prompted for your e-mail address, date of birth, password, etc.

5.  Click the link in the e-mail that is sent to you.

6.  Select Free Account.

7.  Download and install the Second Life Viewer. You have finished with now. Even though you can log in there, you don’t have to. You can do all the rest with the Second Life Viewer that you have just installed.

8. Fetch chocolate, wine, or other comforts of choice. Or contact a friend who has been in Second Life before.
Click on the picture to see an enlargement which is easier to read.

9.  Open your Second Life Viewer, and sign in at the bottom left with the username and password you set up at .

10.  Agree to the Terms of Service.

11.  Wait for your avatar to load. The reason for wine/chocolate/friends is that it may not load in the way you had hoped. Your clothes may load before your body, and you may not like that look. Your body may load before your clothes, and you may like that look even less, but rest assured that your unclothed avatar has no details! Not even as many details as you may have hoped for, particularly if you are male. And you see pixels, not actual skin. One of 11 sets of default starter avatar pixels that are absolutely not personal. Eat the chocolate, take a swig of the wine, or wail to your friend. It will be OK!

12. Your avatar has loaded. Congratulations!

13.Follow the arrows past the 6 numbered screens telling you how to move around in Second Life. Try these instructions out as you go, because you cannot return to this area (although you can always ask us for help). Practise sitting on the seats by screen 4, as you will be sitting in the meeting. In Windows, right-click on the seats and choose Sit Here. On a Mac, Command + Click (or a two-fingered click on a MacBook) will show the Sit Here option. At screen 5, there are other ways to fly if you don’t have Page Up and Page Down keys. E and C keys will also let you fly and land, or the move button at the bottom of your screen gives you visual controls for flying.
Click on the picture to see an enlargement which is easier to read.

14.  When you reach screen 6, you are ready to go to the meeting venue. Click on the link from Roya in your e-mail, then return to the Second Life Viewer and click Teleport to go to SilverDay Productions in Degar, the site where the meetings are held.

15.  If you have figured out how to fly, you can fly to the roof of the building, as this is where the meetings are held. Alternatively, you can walk into the building, turn right, and look for a circle on the floor. This is a teleport to the roof. Right-click it (or Command+Click, or two-fingered click) and choose Teleport. You should find yourself on the roof.

16.  Sit on a seat and use the View button at the bottom of your screen to adjust your view of the presentation screen. The arrows on the circle tilt your view, while the arrows in the square slide your view sideways or up and down without changing the angle.

17.   Turn your speakers on, as there will be sound with the presentation.

Everything else, like changing your appearance or making a display name, is optional. If you close your Second Life Viewer while you are in Degar, you will be back in Degar when you log in again, all ready for the next meeting.
Click on the picture to see an enlargement which is easier to read.

On Roya’s website there are links to videos of all the excellent  previous events she has hosted.

#gtstoogies return to the teen lounge

The #gtstoogies will be returning to the teen lounge this week as author Lisa Rivero will be the guest expert.
A few things have changed since the gtstoogies last visited the teen lounge – eg the books displayed on the bookshelf and Sprite’s campaign poster and voting instructions and the newspaper article about our time on Survivor –Gifted Island. But, to the consternation of Emotional Dabrowski, the room does not appear to be any tidier than last time!

As well as the excellent Creative Home Schooling for Gifted Children: a resource guide Lisa Rivero has also written books for intense and creative students and their parents.

A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Teens: Living with Intense and Creative Adolescents
(Great Potential Press, 2010)

You can read an excerpt from the book at

The Smart Teen’s Guide to Living with Intensity: How to Get More Out of Life and Learning
(Great Potential Press, 2010)

You can read an excerpt from the book at

I am really looking forward to the #gtchat discussions and to sharing pizza, hamburgers, potato chips, chocolate and milk shakes with the #gtstoogies and the teens afterwards.

Reading up on home education

  Recently I have been reading up on home education. As well as all the excellent websites and online resources relating to home schooling I have been rereading some of my favourite books on the subject.
Many years before I even considered home schooling for our family I read The Children on the Hill: the story of an extraordinary family by Michael Deakin and loved it.

First published in Great Britain by Andre Deutsch in 1972, it is the story of ‘Maria’ and ‘Martin’ bringing up their four exceptional children in a cottage in a remote corner of Wales and teaching them at home by ‘the process’ based largely on the philosophy and methods of Maria Montessori. 
Maria and Martin provided the necessary materials and complete undivided attention to the children which created the loving environment in which their talents and passions could flourish. This meant that Maria would complete her household chores at night while the children were asleep in order to be completely available to the children all day; so that no moment of readiness to learn a new concept would be missed. The learning was lead by the children and the children’s toys and learning materials were regarded in the same way.  They ‘played maths’ as happily as any other game.
The children all excelled in different areas. Christian, aged12, had already passed A Levels in science and mathematics. Adam, aged 9, had won a national piano competition for children under 18 years. Ruth, aged 7, painted brilliant pictures and Paul, aged 5, wrote his sums in the computer language FORTRAN.
When I first read the book it fascinated me and seemed somewhat extreme; but rereading it now it seems such a natural and beautiful way of living and learning.

The other book I am enjoying again is Creative Home Schooling for Gifted Children: a resource guide by Lisa Rivero.

Published by Great Potential Press in 2002, this book is a comprehensive guide to home based education of gifted and talented children which covers information such as

  • Getting started  with home  education
  • Different approaches and philosophies in home education
  • Traits of giftedness
  • Social and emotional needs
  • Intellectual needs and learning styles
  • Curriculum
  • Record keeping /college planning/legal aspects
  • Advice and experiences from home schooling parents
  • A huge collection of resources such as web sites,  books, publishers, manufacturers and suppliers and support groups

 This book is an essential how- to manual for parents who are homeschooling their gifted children or are contemplating embarking on the journey of home education.

Information about Lisa’s books and her thoughts about writing can be found on her website
and her Everyday Intensity blog

Lisa Rivero will be the guest expert on #gtchat this week.
For full details about how to participate in #gtchat see Deborah Mersino’s Ingeniosus website


Easter – Read all about it!

Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
Read all about it in The Holy Bible
Matthew Chapters 27-28
Mark Chapters 15-16
Luke Chapters 23-24
John Chapters 19-21

If you want to read the Bible online offering numerous versions,  passage lookup, keyword search, topical index and links to additional resources see Bible Gateway at

Happy Easter!

#gtstoogies 22 April

This week the #gtstoogies hold a surprise Birthday party for  Deborah Mersino,  founder and principal of Ingeniosus website and #gtchat and also an Easter egg hunt. For some parts of the world this week’s #gtchat session will be on Good Friday and in other parts (including Australia) it will be on Saturday morning.
Every year on Good Friday the people of Victoria conduct the Good Friday Appeal for the Royal Childrens’ Hospital in Melbourne.

Buttercup Mersino is an honoured guest of the Dabrowski dogs and is playing Pass the Bone with them (except Psycho Motor who is already trying to break the pinata and Imaginational who is contemplating Easter).
The New Twitter Bird Band is in fine form. A special fireworks display has been arranged for the occasion.
And Sprite has managed to sneak in her Best Australian Blogs campaign poster and Peoples’ Choice voting instructions.

The Twitter Birds are ready with wheelbarrow loads of Easter eggs for distribution to various websites and blogs for the Easter egg hunt.

How to vote for Sprite 3

Sprite had obviously taken in what I said about attracting visitors to Sprite’s Site! I found a trail of Easter eggs leading into her site and up to a basket of Easter eggs on the table. Her campaign poster was prominently displayed on the wall by the table.

Also on the  table was a perpetual motion  bird pecking  at the Vote for Me Now widget. “I know it doesn’t work from inside the blog” Sprite said. “It is just for showing people what they have to do to vote for Sprite’s Site in  in the Sydney Writers’ Centre Best Australian Blogs 2011 competition  

Record a vote for Sprite by clicking on the People’s Choice voting badge in the top right of the side bar or by going to and voting for Sprite’s Site on the P-Z page.
If you have entered Sprite’s Site by following a link to a specific post you will need to click on the blue Sprite’s Site header first to see the sidebar.

Gifted Island – Testing, testing…

“Are you really enjoying being here on Gifted Island?” Sprite asked me.
It felt like a trick question. It reminded me of a time I was trudging along a hot, dusty country road toward the fun I had promised at the playground, with a three year old and a baby in the pusher. Three year old asked in a very serious tone of voice “Are we having fun yet, Mummy?”

I did not want Sprite to think that I was not enjoying the experience of Survivor Gifted Island because then she would feel guilty that she had arranged it.
But I did not want to give the impression that I was ecstatically happy either; because we had often talked about the value of being direct and truthful with each other. In that way we could build a large reliable deposit in the truth bank and would be worthy of being believed when it really, really mattered.
I was tempted to answer “It’s like the curate’s egg – it is good in patches!”
But I did not want to have to explain the joke.

Then I wondered whether Sprite was wishing that she had not signed us up for Gifted Island and was hoping for my unhappiness as an excuse to leave.
So I gave her a flowery spiel about finding value and things to enjoy and learn in all experiences. I probably sounded a bit like a Pollyanna clone. But it convinced Sprite.

“Oh!” said Sprite “Oh! Well then I think I will be too sick to do any activities tomorrow”

And then I realised what the problem was.
In the handouts from the producers of the Survivor – Gifted Island game we were told that participation in the program would not exempt the students from the regular national and international academic benchmark testing.

“I thought NAPLAN was scheduling time to have a snooze in your hammock” said Sprite “But it isn’t! It is testing and tomorrow the inspector, Mr TIMSS is going to come and take the students to PISA to dive for PIRLS for more testing.”

Naturally Sprite was very anxious about the prospect.
One of the characteristics on Dr Linda Silverman’s Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities list was
* performs poorly on timed tests

Testing was one of the times that the De Bono pink slippers could sometimes be produced.

As a 2E student Sprite would sometimes be given concessions such as extra writing time or use of a scribe or the computer during tests.
But she had not been permitted to bring the pink slippers to Gifted Island.
She was forced to wear the Can Do adjustable Velcro sandals and just manage as well as possible.
And I had noticed that some of the producers of the show tended to greet any concerns or complaints with “Suck it up Princess!”

“Would you still love me if I failed the tests and they said I wasn’t gifted at all and we had to leave the island and you couldn’t stay here any longer?” she asked.

That one question illustrated so many issues that can besiege gifted and 2E students

I could see it was time to go to a quiet rock pool for a long talk about how much I love her just for herself regardless of her performance.

“Of course I would still love you!” I said.

Gifted Island Challenge for Reward 1: Personalise your tent

The first challenge which led to a reward on Survivor – Gifted Island also acted as an ice breaker getting to know you exercise and also a creative way of marking the starting point of the experience in a KWL manner.

K = KNOW – What I already know about the topic

W= WANT – What I what to learn about the topic

L= LEARNED – What I have learned about the topic that I did not know before – This is be done at the end of the exercise

We were all told to decorate our tents with a Coat of Arms.

This helped us to locate our own tent and showed some of our interests and aspirations which could provide conversation starters and assist in locating like minded people.

The exercise is found in an article by Dr James Webb ‘Dabrowski’s Theory and Existential Depression in Gifted Children and Adults’ which can be found online in the Davidson Institute for Talent Development collection of articles at

The instructions for personalising the Coat of Arms were:

  • First, title your shield by putting your name on the top.
  • In each section of your shield, put the following:
    • Choose one word that describes you, and draw a picture that represents that word in one panel of the shield.
    • Draw a symbol to represent the social or political cause that you have done the most for in your lifetime.
    • List two things that you have been struggling to become better at, and write them in one panel of the shield.
    • Draw a picture or note a major fantasy of what you yearn to do or would do if you had no restrictions.
    • Select three words that you would like people to use to describe you, and write or symbolize them in one panel of the shield.
    • Draw something to represent what caused the greatest change in your way of living.
    • Draw or symbolize the most important person in your life.

Now consider how central this coat of arms is in your daily life. Do you use your coat of arms only to protect you, or does it also represent something that you aspire to?

This is how my decorated tent appeared.

The other exercise was also from the same source and was called Johari’s Window
to help us understand what we know about ourselves and how we relate to others.

Luft and Ingham (1955), recognizing that all of us have “blind spots” when it comes to how we see ourselves, developed a simple matrix which they called Johari’s Window as a tool to help people understand themselves, their blind spots, and their relationships with others. To use Johari’s window, a person is given a list of 55 adjectives and instructed to select five or six that describe his or her own personality. Peers of that person are then given the same list, and they each choose five or six adjectives that describe the subject. These adjectives are then put in the appropriate “window” below. The person discovers which of the adjectives match what others have listed, as well as which adjectives they listed that others did not. The results can be extremely helpful in gaining self-understanding, including how one is seen by others.

I remember enjoying doing these exercises with Anne Jackson when she held a camp for families of gifted children at Wombat Corner in Emerald several years ago.