The punch line

Image by Lisa Conrad

This week I will be the guest and we will be discussing Humor and the Gifted on GT Chat.

By a strange coincidence Sprite is doing a study unit at school about how humor can be used to comment on political and social conditions and maybe act as a force for change. She is learning about Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Charlie Chaplin films, Robin Williams and political cartoonists.

As an introduction to the topic they each had to pretend they were a stand-up comedian and tell a joke or do something to make the class laugh.”

Sprite told me “Most of the kids got up and told a riddle. Some just pulled a silly face or fell over and everyone laughed at them. If they were just being silly or taking too long without being funny the teacher would say they had to get to the punch line. Of course some of the boys took her literally when she said that and punched each other.”

“When it was my turn Intellectual Dabrowski and Imaginational Dabrowski helped me tell a story about a cat who got shut up in a box and lots of things happened to him while he was in there. I could just picture it! It was so funny! I could hardly tell the joke because I was laughing so much but the class didn’t seem to find it funny. So the teacher said ‘Get to the punch line, Sprite’.

And I said “How is your cat, Mr Schrödinger?”

And the kids all said “Huh?” and the teacher said “Good try, Sprite”.

I was not really surprised. Gifted people often have a very different, quirky or intellectual sense of humor. Sometimes it is appreciated and they become beloved comedians, actors and authors. But sometimes they are just misunderstood and regarded as strange.
I am looking forward to the GT Chat session.

Changing the way you see us

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

New Zealand’s Gifted Awareness Week 2015 takes place on 15-21 June 2015

Once again Mary St George is organizing a blog tour 8-21 June to mark the occasion

The Origami Secretary Bird had seen the memo I had written about the blog tour and had summoned all of the Sprite’s Site folk to gather opinions.

“I understand that ‘Changing the way you see us’ will be the theme of the week “the Origami Secretary bird told them.

Psycho Motor Dabrowski stopped bouncing for long enough to ask “Who is you and who is us?”

“I surmise” intoned Intellectual Dabrowski “that Us refers to gifted and twice exceptional students and You refers to teachers, parents, politicians and the general public.”

“I would like to proffer this piece of wisdom” Intellectual continued “To paraphrase Robert Burns
O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
Or so much better, if by spells
Others see us as we see oursels”

“That is all very well if you have good self-esteem and are contented with the way you see yourself” said little Thinks He’s An Alien Black Dog. “But it is bad enough if I see myself as an alien without everybody in general seeing me as an alien too.”

“He does make a good point” said Columbus Cheetah “It is probably more helpful to show what gifted and twice exceptional students are really like and to dispel the myths which most people have about them. This has been a major focus of my work and you can find my Myth Busting Efforts on Gifted Resources website at

“We usually go down to the beach and wave to New Zealand during their Gifted Awareness Week” said the Memory Elephant, showing the pictorial memories of all the previous years.

“Are we going to do that again this year and, if so, how could it be related to the theme?”

“Oh yes, yes, Frisbees and kites with messages on them” barked Psycho Motor.

“Or messages in bottles It makes people feel all warm and fuzzy to get a message in a bottle” said Emotional Dabrowski.

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

“I think having gifted and 2E students telling their own story or having their story told is a really powerful way of changing the way people see them” said Sprite. “That is why I don’t mind you writing about me on the blog – though sometimes I wish would not show my faults and embarrassing moments!”

I certainly enjoy telling the story of the 2E Twice exceptional Sprite  and I found, when I was considering whether she was a suitable candidate for being made into a Persona Doll, that over the years I have drawn quite a detailed description of her.

I also consider it effective to tell the stories and investigate the needs of many different types of gifted student using Persona Dolls.

The three webinars I have presented about them should contribute somewhat to changing the way people see and understand gifted and twice exceptional students.

Information about these webinars and links to the recordings of the sessions can be found at

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Websites such as Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and Gifted Homeschoolers Form  provide information about gifted and 2E students and links to resources and also conduct monthly blog tours on specific aspects of giftedness

Social media
Facebook groups such as Mary’s Gifted Contacts
Twitter chats such as #gtchat
webinars, Vlogs, podcasts Livebinders, Slideshares
can all be very helpful in raising awareness about gifted and 2E students.

I was really delighted to receive this comment on Facebook after Gail Poulin, a dynamic teacher from the U.S., had attended a presentation I gave using Blackboard Collaborate for Jo Hart’s Fine Focus webinar series


So here we are again for the fifth time going down to the beach to wave across the water to New Zealand and wish them all the very best for a wonderful and productive Gifted Awareness Week while the Persona Dolls watch on the laptop.
Emotional Dabrowski is sending a warm fuzzy message in a bottle. The Memory Elephant is sending greetings on a helium balloon. Tweetil is attempting to catapult his lucky acorn across ‘the ditch’.
Wishing you success with changing the way people see the gifted!

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

To read about Sprite’s Site’s participation in previous NZ Gifted Awareness Week blog tours see the posts at

This is a post for the New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week blog tour. To read the other posts on the tour go to


Do you grow out of giftedness?


Sprite was looking at the clothes in her wardrobe with a puzzled expression on her face.

As well as her dresses, skirts, shorts and tee shirts she has a full set of De Bono’s Six Action Shoes and several other pairs of shoes she hopes to be able to wear some day including Chindogu gift shoes and a pair of impractical high-heeled shoes which were a Christmas gift which demonstrated the giver’s lack of understanding of Sprite’s needs.

“For homework we have to write an essay titled Can a leopard change his spots?” she said.

“I asked Columbus Cheetah and he said no because a leopard’s spots are part of who he is. The leopard cannot change his spots like I change my clothes. But then I thought maybe a leopard’s spots might grow and change shape as the leopard grows.”

“Then I started to think about how people grow and change and whether you are a different person if you wear different clothes.
You know how some people say ‘Clothes maketh the man’.
And you know how some people say ‘It’s not really me’ when they look at themselves in the mirror when they are trying on clothes”

“I do like my new blue pinafore” she said. “But it is much more frilly and fancy than the shorts and skirts and tee shirts I used to wear.
So I wondered ‘Am I a different person if I wear different clothes’?”

“And Columbus Cheetah said I was not a different person. I was the same person inside with different clothes on the outside. It might make me feel different and even behave differently but I would still be the same person.”

“So then I started to think about growing and changing” she said “which is a bit hard to do when you always depict me as being the same age, whatever that is.
Columbus Cheetah said it did not matter that you always drew me the same age; because giftedness is asynchronous development and I am probably many ages at one time anyway. He said that, for example, I could be primary school age and think like a teenager and behave emotionally sometimes like a teenager and sometimes like a toddler.”



“And that made me think about when people say ‘she is just going through a phase – she will grow out of it’.
And then I wondered if being gifted  is just a stage in life – like being a teenager; and do you grow out of it?”

“Well,” I said “I believe that you do not grow out of being a gifted person.”

I reminded Sprite that I had talked about Gifted Grown Ups in a post on this blog at  as part of another GHF Blog Hop


And we were talking about this topic on #gtchat on Twitter recently.
“Giftedness Across the Lifespan: Do Gifted Children = Gifted Adults?”:

The questions that we discussed were,
1) How does the ‘achievement vs wiring’ debate impact this discussion?
2) Why is it important to recognize that giftedness exists throughout the lifespan?
3) How do unresolved childhood issues affect responses to social interactions for gifted adults?
4) What personality traits affect giftedness across the lifespan?
5) What changes in adolescence affect the nurturing of giftedness?
6) What can individuals do to cultivate their own giftedness as they grow older?
You can read the Storify transcript of the session at
and a blog post about it on the GT Chat blog at

This post is one stop on the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum April Blog Hop Gifted at Different Ages and Stages.
To continue hopping see



Giftedness: Why Does It Matter?


The sign announcing the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum September blog hop on the topic ‘Giftedness- why does it matter?’ had been posted and the characters at Sprite’s Site were busy discussing it.

“Giftedness matters because, to quote the Columbus Group definition, the gifted need modifications in parenting, teaching and counselling in order to develop optimally” said the Psych-Owl-Ogist.


“It was certainly very helpful for us to have the tweetlets assessed by the Psych-Owl-Ogist and to learn about giftedness” Retweet said “Before we did that everyone said that they were just being naughty or neurotic and blamed our parenting. But when we found out it helped us to be more understanding and also to make decisions about how they should be educated”

“It also matters because there are so many myths and so much misinformation about giftedness” said Columbus Cheetah.
“We have people saying everyone is gifted or nobody is gifted. We have people saying you can create giftedness by practice and attitude. We have people saying it does not matter whether you identify giftedness if you differentiate. We have people saying you should give all students exactly the same programs and people saying gifted do not need any different treatment.”
“But we know from the Columbus group definition that the gifted need modifications in parenting, teaching and counselling in order to develop optimally”


“It is especially important in the case of 2E students like Sprite” said Columbus Cheetah. “If their giftedness is not recognized only their learning difficulties and differences get noticed and they are put into remedial groups and not given appropriate challenges. Or else the difficulties mask the giftedness and the giftedness enables the student to hide the difficulties and the student appears average and receives no modifications at all.”

“That is why initial assessment with a psychologist who specialises in gifted and 2E issues and ongoing evaluation and treatment with an education consultant can be so helpful. 2E students need to be allowed to work at their level of ability while receiving support for their difficulties. Sometimes special services or funding is available for the students whose needs qualify them to receive them”
That is why Sprite went back to see Dr Ed Needs recently for progressive achievement testing and planning the next stages of her education.
We are planning Sprite’s education programs  using De Bono’s 6 Action Shoes as the planning tool and checking the effectiveness of the programs using Gagne’s DMGT model. We need to make both suitable provisions for both her giftedness and support measures for her difficulties.


We talked about the topic of Identification of gifted students recently on Twitter #gtchat.
The transcript can be found here

A review of the chat and additional information links will be found on the #gtchat blog at

This is a post for the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum September Blog Hop.
Please join us on the hop and read and comment on the posts.
To find all the posts in the hop please follow the links at  


Donkeys live a long time 2


Intellectual Dabrowski had suggested that Sprite should read George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

Although she is quite a bit younger than I was when we studied the book at school, it probably would have been suitable for her to read as a story or even to read as an historical allegory. We could have had some great discussions about the book from either of those angles.

However her exceptionally gifted mind and the promptings of the overexcitable Dabrowski dogs lead Sprite to combine the story with the articles she was reading in the newspapers and make some completely unexpected connections and internalise the issues and messages of the book.

I found that instead of talking about a simple story or an allegory we were discussing communism, socialism, democracy, personal and corporate responsibility, ethics and morals, politicians’ electoral promises, refugees, the environment and a number of other issues.

In fact the discussion became so complex and had so many aspects to it that I needed to make a quick mindmap and I will write a series of posts about it.


But one of the first issues that became apparent was that of Asynchronous Development.

Gifted children are often capable of reading and understanding and making further inferences from material that they are not mature enough to cope with emotionally.

We discussed this recently in a Twitter #GTChat session about locating age appropriate books for high ability learners

And the Hoagies Gifted Education Page July 2014 blog hop focused on Summer reading


Hoagies have a section dedicated to reading at

And I also found ERIC Guiding the gifted reader on the Hoagies site

Asynchronous development is at the heart of the Columbus Group definition of giftedness and impacts every aspect of the life of a gifted child. 

Articles about it can be found at

SENG Asynchronous development

Lisa Rivero Many ages at once


“Just tell me before we go on any further – why are you sitting in the Naughty Corner?” I asked Sprite.

“I put myself here because I am not being active in doing something when I can see things are not right or not fair” said Sprite.

“But in my own defence I have to say that I don’t know what I should be doing and there are just so many things wrong or not fair that I don’t even know where to start!”

“You and me – both!” I agreed

Staying motivated throughout the homeschool year


Sprite and her friends are joining in the first Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop for 2014 which deals with the challenge of staying motivated throughout the homeschool year.

The Tweet family of Twitter Birds who live at Sprite’s Site are teaching their tweetlets at home using the NEST Ed method.
Retweet says that she has experienced difficulty with maintaining motivation for the whole year but that she has found a number of strategies that were helpful.

Intellectual Dabrowski had encouraged her to watch

RSA Animate Daniel Pink The surprising truth about what motivates us

It discussed Intrinsic /extrinsic rewards and interest and engagement as sources of motivation
Retweet had tried using the reward of digital badges as motivation

Get in the Flow
The Psych-Owl-Ogist advised Retweet to “Get in the Flow”
He told her that in order for students to be engaged in their learning it is important to pitch the teaching at what Dr Katherine Hoekman would call ‘the eyebrow wrinkle level’ of challenge – possible to attain with effort – but neither impossibly difficult nor far too easy.

He also referred her to the TED talk about Flow at
Professor Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi’s work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, notes that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow when they are completely absorbed in the activity at hand and nothing else seems to matter. For the state of flow to occur the challenge of the task and the ability of the performer need to be matched. The task should be neither too easy nor much too difficult.

Columbus Cheetah agreed it was important for Retweet to start at the right level and work at a suitable pace in order to keep the tweetlets engaged in their studies and added that they should also be given opportunities to spend time with true peers.


PBL – Project/Problem/Passion Based Learning

Retweet had seen how disastrous it could be when the tweetlets were not interested in their studies

Intellectual Dabrowski had suggested the use of PBL – Project/Problem/Passion Based Learning and Retweet had incorporated project work in the areas that the tweetlets were passionately interested in to their studies.
Retweet had included some theme studies such as the study of luck  and arranged for the tweetlets to build kites. She had encouraged Tweetelle in her love of painting and suffered cracked ear wax as Tweetil mastered the drums.

She had incorporated some Online courses such as the ones offered by Gifted Homeschoolers Forum
Khan Academy etc. and various universities and programs and tutorials such as Scratch


Vocational guidance

Giving the tweetlets some insight into future careers by taking them to Work Experience Week at the Twitter Stream for Vocational Ed studies had also provided a sense of purpose for the tweetlets. It broadened their awareness of careers that are available and what subjects should be studied in order to prepare for them.


Participation in Global Projects
After I participated in the Global Education Conference I brought back to Sprite’s Site information about making connections with others by joining in global projects such as World Museum World Friends Project, Peace One Day, Dream flags, My Hero and Flat Stanley. Retweet was quick to see that collaborating with others around the world and sharing their work with a real audience would be great motivation for her tweetlets.

Find mentors or tutors

Imaginational Dabrowski had suggested to me the benefits of finding a mentor for Sprite

“I love the idea of a mentor for Sprite!” Imaginational said “She could go and listen to her mentor giving lectures and show her the things she has been working on and the mentor could suggest books for her to read and send her encouragement notes. And if the mentor has overcome difficulties too she could help Sprite overcome her difficulties and not feel embarrassed about wearing one pink slipper. And she could come and visit and we could all look at the stars together”
We found Paula the Physicist who shares Sprite’s love of astronomy and she has been a great source of encouragement and motivation for Sprite.


A recent gtchat discussed the value of mentoring for gifted learners

Retweet agreed that finding mentors was a great way to encourage motivation and engagement. The Psych-Owl-Ogist had advised her to engage mentors and tutors or take courses with specialists in specific subjects and had suggested that she could share the teaching of
Migration and Navigation with Arctic Tern
Business Studies with the Secretary Bird
Collecting and curating with Bower Bird
Humour with Kookaburra
Carolling with Magpie
Theatre with Lyrebird
Elocution with Parrot

Retweet said that her tweetlets loved the sessions they spent with their mentors and tutors.


This is a post in the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum February 2014 Blog Hop: Staying motivated throughout the homeschool year

To read all the posts from the blogs participating in this blog hop please see


Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 5

In line with his New Year resolution, that in 2014 he will increase his efforts to bust the myths surrounding giftedness and advocate for acceleration and ability grouping opportunities for gifted students, and in preparation for a webinar and Global GT chat on Twitter for the next two weeks, Columbus Cheetah is updating his myth busting presentations.

Columbus Cheetah’s discussion of the myths surrounding giftedness are based in his own brand of cheetah logic and the wonderful analogy of the cheetah to the gifted person given in Stephanie Tolan’s wonderful article ‘Is it a Cheetah?’


We hear this myth often used as excuse for not providing for the needs of gifted students in the lower primary classes.
It is often used as a corollary of Myths 1 and 2 or as part of myths about pushy parents and hot housing and flash carding which we will look at later.

Columbus Cheetah says this myth can be busted using observation of the cheetah’s running gait, physics and common sense.

The cheetah is the world’s fastest land mammal. It can accelerate from zero to 40 mph in three strides and to full speed of 70 mph in three seconds. As the cheetah runs, only one foot at a time touches the ground. There are two points, in its 20 to 25 foot (7-8 metres) stride when no feet touch the ground, as they are fully extended and then totally doubled up. Nearing full speed, the cheetah is running at about 3 strides per second

See the slow motion of cheetah running from National Geographic

Gifted students usually learn at a much faster rate than other students.
This is partly because they need to hear fewer repetitions of the material being taught in order to understand and master it.


In order to demonstrate that the faster you move for the same amount of time the further you will go Columbus Cheetah downloaded a program titled The Moving Man  a physics simulation from the University of Colorado


Using it he showed that travelling the same path for 20 seconds
at 1metre per second the man travelled 20 metres
at 2metre per second the man travelled 40 metres
at 3metre per second the man travelled 60 metres
at 5metre per second the man travelled 100 metres


Relating this to students, if all the students work for the same amount of time, the ones that learn faster can master more material
If allowed to work at their maximum rate they will complete more work and reach a higher level than those who learn more slowly.


So if they all start at the same point and work consistently by the time they reach Year 3 the gifted faster learners will be ahead of the others.

However they are usually not starting from the same point.
Some students have already mastered the material to be taught.
At a point half way through Year One some students will be at the average level, some will not have achieved it yet and some would be able to work at level of Year Two or higher.


The students will NOT all be at the same level by the time they time they reach Year 3. And that is only considering velocity. We have not even started to look at acceleration yet!