Critical Thinking

I had returned from a #gtchat session on Twitter about Critical Thinking and was looking forward to reading the transcript which will be posted soon at  Much helpful advice and many useful links were shared during the chat and also some light hearted joking like this

 I found Sprite trying to finish her homework with “help” from Intellectual and Imaginational Dabrowski.
As Serendipity would have it her homework involved reading the chapter about brain function, then writing an essay about it and drawing a picture or chart to illustrate it.
Intellectual had suggested that she should  stick some pictures on her whiteboard and make notes about the various areas to help her with writing the essay and creating a chart.
Much to Intellectual’s frustration, Imaginational had insisted on doing the fun bit first and was suggesting the form her illustration should take.
This is the diagram Sprite drew with the help of Imaginational.



“See” said Sprite “This is my Thinkatorium. Twitter Birds bring stuff in and I see stuff with my eyes and hear stuff with my ears and then it all gets put on conveyor belts which are on cogs that are turned by hamsters in hamster wheels and they get sent to the Language Garden to be sorted out into the subjects they are about and then the Memory Elephant files them somewhere in the filing cabinets and if I have told the Memory Elephant enough about them they can be found again. Otherwise I can’t find them when I need them later.”

Intellectual sighed! “Let’s apply some Critical Thinking to this” he barked “Bearing in mind that you are required to write a factual essay and provide an accurate factual illustration, can you see any inconsistencies between what you just read about how the brain functions and the picture that Imaginational helped you to draw?”

“Oh, incidentally, I do approve of your use of the word Thinkatorium” added Intellectual “ I checked your sources and I found that there is an excellent wiki of the same name at Thinkatorium  and that Dr Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory also used the term
I hope you are going to cite the sources of your quote properly!”

“I didn’t know I was quoting!” wailed Sprite “I thought Imaginational invented it!”


Finding the Right Flock 2

Great Aunt Hashtag had gone home and the Psych Owl Ogist ordered take-away food so that hunger would not distract them and settled in for further discussion about how to find the right flock for the gifted Tweetlets. He ordered Fried Mice for himself, Wormburgers for the Tweets and Tweetil and a seed heart for Tweetelle.

“First of all I have to say” said the Psych Owl Ogist “YMMV!”

“Why what?” asked Tweet.

“YMMV, my good man – Your Mileage May Vary”

“You will hear lots of advice and suggestions. Listen to all of it and weight it up carefully and come to your own conclusions. Because a particular flock was suitable for some does not necessarily mean it will suit others.”

“But don’t be too quick to reject suggestions either because often variations can be found or potential barriers removed.”

“For example you rejected Fine Feathers without further consideration because of the cost. It could be possible to get a full or partial scholarship and work some overtime to cover the fees if you felt strongly that it would be the best flock for the Tweetlets.”

“And Retweet rejected all Local Flocks on the basis of the one she saw.
But Local Flocks vary a great deal and some can be excellent for gifted Tweetlets.
You need to visit many of them and ask them the questions. Also join a support group for parents of gifted Tweetlets and find out which flocks the members recommend. Some flocks are happy to accept early entry of gifted Tweetlets.”

“Some Flocks will have programs for groups of gifted Tweetlets or occasionally join with other flocks for special activities and excursions.
Some will offer Vertical Timetabling, Differentiation, Withdrawal classes or Dual enrolment.
Make sure that the Tweetlets with be given suitable teaching in their regular classes every day. They are not only gifted between 2.00-3.00 pm on Tuesday!”

“Check whether they are open to accelerating the Tweetlets to a higher class either full time or for some subjects and if they would use the Iowa Acceleration Scales”

Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual: A Guide for Whole –Grade Acceleration K-8
The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development
Susan Assouline Ph.D., Nicholas Colangelo Ph.D., Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik Ph.D., Jonathan Lipscomb B.A., Leslie Forstadt B.A
Published by Great Potential Press

Finding the Right Flock

When we last looked in on the Tweet family, Tweet and Retweet were teaching their Tweetlets in the nest until they were old enough to join FLOCK Ed and had already embarked on the study of Flight 101. As the Tweetlets wings were not developed enough they had not been able to start the practical part of the course but they had a good understanding of the theories.

The Tweetlets had been assessed as gifted by the Psych-Owl-Ogist who had warned Tweet and Retweet that the Tweetlets  could be very disappointed with the introductory classes of FLOCK Ed as they would be covering topics which they already understood.
“In most introductory classes they are still learning the nesty rhymes,” he had told them.

“In fact,” he had said “it may not be wise to send them to the local flock. You need to select a flock which will allow them to go far!”

Now the Tweetlets have stopped wearing nappies and are ready to join FLOCK Ed and Tweet and Retweet are faced with the decision of which flock to choose.
The Psych Owl Ogist arrived bringing a list of questions Tweet and Retweet should ask the Flock based on Finding the best school for your gifted child: Recommended questions to ask from the Davidson Institute

Some of Tweet’s relatives were trying to pressure them into choosing the exclusive private flock Fine Feathers which they had attended and sent them glossy promotional brochures.

Tweetelle gazed at the pictures of the Preening and Deportment classes and chirped “I want to go to that flock”.

But Tweet stated firmly that he could not afford the flock fees of a wheelbarrow of seeds per term.
And the Psych Owl Ogist argued that, although Fine Feathers would offer upper class social connections and the brochure claimed that each Tweetlet would be given the opportunity to reach their potential, it would probably not be a suitable Flock for the Tweetlets.
“Although they are ahead of most local Flocks,” he said “the main focus of the introductory class study is ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ Tweetlets who are independent thinkers would not fit into their mould!”
“You should let them fly with the Local Flock” chimed in Great Aunt Hashtag. “It’s free and there is no extra travel involved. I flew with the Local Flock. It was good enough for me!”

But Retweet had already made the acquaintance of the Local Flock when they held a class on her washing line and was not impressed. They were disheveled and disrespectful. They made rude gestures at Tweetil and whistled lewdly at Tweetelle and kept on squawking “Yo, Knickerfeathers!”
Although they were already able to fly, they were still learning their nesty rhymes. Retweet had felt relieved about that at first; as she knew her Tweetlets would not be behind the others in this group. But then she learnt that the group on her line was not the group her Tweetlets would join – this was the older group! Her Tweetlets were already a long way ahead of the older group in many respects.

The Psych Owl Ogist suggested that it would be worthwhile investigating Al TERN ative Education and suggested the select entry accelerated program ‘Voltare ad Astra’ as being particularly suitable.
Here, the Psych Owl Ogist said, the Tweetlets would be challenged, would have individualized education plans and would find a cohort of true peers
As the Psych Owl Ogist expressed it ‘One good TERN deserves another’


Intellectual Dabrowski greeted me at the entrance to Sprite’s Site with his lead in his mouth and a determined expression in his eyes.
“It is time for us to go back to the school and talk about Sprite’s Education Plan again!” he said.
“You can’t just make a plan once and leave it at that, you know!”

I do know. Situations change and the measures you put into place are not appropriate any longer. It is just like growing out of shoes.
We have needed to review the provisions for Sprite’s education often in order to challenge her in her areas of giftedness and support her in the areas where she has problems 
Derrin Cramer’s book Gifted and Thriving at School: How proactive parents can get the education that fits their child  has proven very valuable.
And one of Derrin’s key messages is “Advocating for your gifted child is an ongoing process. It is not a one-shot fix”

The Appendix to the book contains an example of an Individual Education Plan form and I also found one at

I had been reading Derrin’s blog at
I had taken particular note of the post
Do you need to test again?

And I enjoyed the analogy Derrin gave in another of her posts
Lessons about identifying gifted students learned from making grape jam

“I will go up to the school again” I told Intellectual “But I am not ready to go just yet.

I want to finish reading Derrin’s new book The Beginner’s Guide to Life on the Bright Side first”
“OK, I’ll ask Sprite to come for a walk with me!” said Intellectual.

The Un-Olympics Bower 5.02

An unexpected result of the Twitter Birds Un-Olympics Bower 5 the Keep it Simply Science Bower was that Outfora Duck arrived seeking asylum from the Cricket.
“Every time they televise a cricket match and somebody goes out without making any runs, they stick a cricket cap on my head and a bat in my hand and force me to waddle across the screen looking stupid!” he complained “I’ve had enough! I’m going on strike!”

The Twitter Birds declared he would be safe hanginging out with them in the Un-Olympics Bower and they showed him their simulation of the explanation of the Higgs Boson particle.

The Un-Olympics Bower 5

The Creativity Challenge Un-Olympics Bower will today be the venue for the Twitter Birds Science Expo.

There will be opportunities to conduct science experiments, watch a film of the space shuttle launch and much excitement sharing links to recent discoveries, science programs and great blogs.

The Twitter Birds have brought links to recent science news

Higgs Boson particle

Cosmic Log MSN The Higgs Boson particle explained in just over a minute

The Guardian UK

The Twitter Birds also have some links for Online  science courses

MIT Open Courseware

RELATE Introductory Mechanics Course for Instructors and Advanced Students

Registration is open for a free online MIT-level course in Introductory Newtonian Mechanics targeting people with good knowledge and skills in mechanics that’s being given this summer by MIT professor David Pritchard and his education research group, RELATE ( The course will enable participants to improve both their conceptual overview and their problem-solving skills in mechanics.  The course features e-text, videos, simulations, problems, and weekly interactive office hours. More information at

Cybraryman’s Educational Web sites Science pages


World Builders

Virtual frog dissection

And they also have links to some interesting science blogs

Dr Jeff’s Blog on the Universe

The big blog theory

Krissy Venosdale Venspired blog


Apparently the pair sitting in the black ring had not read the small print and thought that the Un-Olympics Bower was set aside today as a place to kiss!

The Un-Olympics Bower 4

The Creativity Challenge continues in The Un-Olympics Bower with a Twitter Bird Art Exhibition and Painters Master Class.

Art critics are privileged to be able to view masterpieces such as Mona Tweeter, The Screech and Blue Polz and sculptures such as The Twinker.

You may want to go up close and click on the picture to see the artworks more clearly.


The Un-Olympics Bower 3

Today, as part of the Creativity Challenge, the Un-Olympics Bower is being used by the historical re-enactments group for young Twitter Birds – H.A.P.P.Y. – Historical Appreciation Parades & Performance Youth.

They often refer to the Society for Creative Anachronism and the SCA Demo site at to help them create their costumes and stage their events.

The Un-Olympics Bower 2

The first group to utilize the Un-Olympics Bower was the Twitterknitters Knitwits Group. They booked regular time in the bower to work on their current craft projects and display finished pieces.
Good fellowship and witty conversation is as important to the group as the knitting, crochet, lace making and patchwork quilting they enjoy.
The patron saint of this group is Leslie Graves of Ireland who has been delighting her friends in gifted education circles and on the Facebook Brilliant Chaos creativity group!/groups/brilliantchaosonline/   with her crocheted creatures who hatch from crocheted egglets

The Un-Olympics Bower



“Not all the Twitter Birds want to tweet about the Olympics” Sprite told me “and they said probably nearly all the Twitter trending topics will be about the Olympics.
So they have set up an Un-Olympics Bower on my blog where they are going to keep on reading books and writing and doing science stuff and painting and playing the sort of music that isn’t popular with most people and then tweeting about that.
They said they have made their bower with non-interlocking rings so that they won’t breach any IOC copyright stuff – See


I said they could do it. I hope that’s OK with you?”


“No problem!” I said “I do like watching some of the Olympic sports on TV but I don’t want it to be to the exclusion of everything else”


Australians love their sport and their sports stars.

See The ABC program Sporting Nation 

On 25 July 2011, the day of the first of the hearings for the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Education of Gifted and Talented Students,


the front page news was

Cadel Evans wins Tour de France


This led Carmel Meehan, President of the VAGTC, to say during her evidence

“We celebrate people like Cadel Evans. He had a problem that he has solved in a physical way, and we have him on the front page of our papers today. We have people like Gustav Nossal and people who are working in stem cell research in our universities and who are doing brilliant work, but we do not see much of that on the front page of the paper. Our gifted and talented students are the resource that we have to solve those problems and the people who tomorrow will be at the cutting edge of helping humanity to survive.”


“We acknowledge our sporting heroes. We have a very good model for acknowledging excellence in our sporting domains. That could be transposed very easily into celebration of academic excellence, problem-solving, music and arts. In this country if we have good leadership in acknowledging gifted and talented people and celebrating their successes in the way that we celebrate our sporting heroes’ successes, then we are well on the way to having a very smart next generation coming through.

What we are looking for is equity for all the fields, whether it be in sport, arts, dance, mathematics and science, or whatever. In a level playing field let us celebrate it all, not one at the expense of the other.”

On 12 August 2011 Cadel Evans was given a street parade through Melbourne

However we were not given a public holiday to celebrate his victory.

When Alan Bond’s yacht Australia II, with its winged keel designed by Ben Lexcen and Boxing Kangaroo flag, won the Americas Cup in 1983 then Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously proclaimed “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.”

I used to get annoyed that SBS would take one of my favourite TV programs Letters and Numbers off air in order to screen the Tour de France but this year the announcement is even more upsetting

Audience Announcement on their website  says

SBS has made a decision to rest Letters and Numbers and develop other programs so we can continue to offer new, great content to our audiences. The last episode will be transmitted on June 27.
Following Tour de France, Countdown – the UK version of Letters and Numbers – will air at 5:45pm weekdays.
Lily Serna, one of the shows stars, is working on a new show with SBS, Destination Flavour. SBS hopes the appetite for Letters and Numbers will be satisfied with the very popular UK series Countdown.

When I was young the quiz shows of the day, such as Pick a Box, had challenging questions and worthy champions such as Barry Jones.
Many of today’s quiz and game shows have become so trivialised and given such an emphasis on celebrities and pop culture that they do not appeal to me at all.
Letters and Numbers is one show that has not been dumbed down. I hope the ‘rest period’ of the show will be very short and the genuine locally produced  Australian show will return soon!

Victorians love their Australian Rules football.
I grew up in Geelong. In those days Geelong was the only team outside Melbourne in the Victorian Football League and the people of Geelong and the surrounding country areas of the state were enthusiastic supporters of Geelong’s team, the Cats.
It was essential for my father to be able to discuss football in order to relate to his clients and I was very interested in the Geelong team.
But my mother, who was a physiotherapist and a proud member of the Women Graduates Association in the days when very few women graduated from university, had no interest at all in the football.
One of her favourite news columnists was Keith Dunstan and she was delighted when he created the Anti-Football League that pokes fun at the obsession with Australian Rules football. The chief qualification for membership is not an active dislike but a disinterest in football, a desire to spend one’s time and conversation on other things. Members could wear a badge to indicate that they would like to have conversations on topics other than football.
 My mother was quick to purchase the badge in the shape of a square football and happy that the proceeds of the sales of the badges were donated to the Berry Street Babies Home. See


So I can very readily appreciate the Twitter Birds need for an Un-Olympics Bower and happy that Sprite is giving them a place to set it up. And as part of the July Creativity challenge I will assist them to hold Un-Olympics gatherings in the Un-Olympics Bower.