Belonging – A place of sanctuary

Image Jo Freitag

Image Jo Freitag

Sprite’s Site is a place of sanctuary for many:

  • Lobsters holding their Lobsterfest without fear of the Wicked Lemon Wedges
  • Pumpkins hiding from the Halloween carvers
  • Outfora Duck escaping the humiliation of cricket matches
  • Twitter Birds setting up bowers where they can gather to discuss topics of their own choosing
  • The Topiary Tessellation Bird Leaf Tree Octopus (Octopus Topiarii) because at least there are some at Sprite’s Site with sufficient imagination to acknowledge him
  • Thinks He’s Alien Black Dog because he can find others there (like Sprite  and Retweet)  who also feel at times as if they are an alien who has been abandoned on this planet or have sufficient imagination (like Imaginational Dabrowski) to guess how he might be feeling.

Everyone needs a place of sanctuary – a place where they feel as if they belong and are understood. It is a basic need.

Gifted people are no exception. They have the same need to ‘find their tribe’, find their peers, find their place of sanctuary. But it can be harder for them to do it.

Exceptionally and profoundly gifted students are unlikely to find another student like themselves in their own classroom unless it is a selected entry gifted class.

It is one of the most compelling reasons for acceleration https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/columbus-cheetah-myth-buster-myth-6/

http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/

It is a powerful reason for grouping gifted students together.

It is the reason Dr Karen Rogers says “Gifted and talented students should spend the majority of their school day with others of similar abilities and interests”
She has written articles about the grouping of gifted students which can be read at

http://nrcgt.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/953/2015/04/rbdm9102.pdf http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10173

And Prof Miraca Gross emphasises the social emotional importance of finding a true friend who can be a sure shelter and share at a deep level and that the likeliness of this happening is greater if the student has been accelerated http://www.sengifted.org/archives/articles/play-partner-or-sure-shelter-what-gifted-children-look-for-in-friendship

Belonging is the theme for the 2016 New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week Blog Tour.

Every year folk from Sprite’s Site go down to the beach to wave ‘across the ditch’ to New Zealand and wish them well for Gifted Awareness Week.
To read about Sprite’s Site involvement in previous blog tours see https://spritessite.wordpress.com/tag/gifted-awareness-week-new-zealand/

To read all the posts on this year’s tour go to http://nzcge.co.nz/blogtour

nzblogtour16logo

Columbus Cheetah, Myth Buster – Myth 6

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?’
http://www.stephanietolan.com/is_it_a_cheetah.htm

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This is a myth which particularly concerns Columbus Cheetah.
It is used to argue against accelerating gifted students on the grounds that either
a) it will be detrimental to the flow of the student’s learning or
b) it will have negative social effects on the student

Columbus Cheetah is very eager to advocate for gifted students to be able to learn at a suitable LEVEL and PACE and to have the opportunity to spend time with their TRUE PEERS who may not be the same age as themselves.

Acceleration is an educational intervention that moves students through an educational program at a faster than usual rate or younger than typical age.
Acceleration means matching the level, complexity and pace of the curriculum with the readiness and motivation of the student.

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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.
http://www.positivedisintegration.com/Hoekman1999.pdf

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.
You can listen to the TED talk at http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html

For gifted students to find that eyebrow crinkle level or state of flow they may need to be given acceleration.

This could take the form of early entry, year or stage level advancement, subject level advancement, dual enrolment, curriculum compacting or telescoping, correspondence courses or extra-curricular programs or mentoring.

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Regarding pace Columbus Cheetah says this myth can be busted using similar methods of observation of the cheetah’s running gait, physics and common sense as were used for busting Myth 5.

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

Slow motion of cheetah running from National Geographic
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/mammals/cheetah/

Note those two points when the cheetah has no feet touching the ground.
Not only do gifted students learn at a faster pace they also often make great leaps in understanding by seeing the implications of the facts or by associating knowledge from several fields

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One of the main concerns about acceleration is that the student could
have social problems because of being with a group of older students.

Dr Karen Rogers says “Gifted and talented students should spend the majority of
their school day with others of similar abilities and interests”

And Prof Miraca Gross emphasises the importance of finding a true friend who
can be a sure shelter and share at a deep level and that the likeliness of this
happening is greater if the student has been accelerated http://www.sengifted.org/archives/articles/play-partner-or-sure-shelter-what-gifted-children-look-for-in-friendship

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If there is doubt about whether a student is a suitable candidate for acceleration working through the Iowa Acceleration Scales will give a helpful conservative indicator score.

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
http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Resources/IAS.aspx

You can read more about acceleration at
http://www.templeton.org/pdfs/funding_areas/10112_Final_Rpt_Bibliography.pdf

Hoagies Gifted Education Page http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/acceleration.htm

Policy and implementation strategies for the education of gifted and talented students
http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/policies/gats/assets/pdf/polsuppacc.pdf

Blog Birthday

While I have been busy writing posts for the New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week blog tour  http://ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/696/ Sprite has been planning the celebrations for her blog birthday.
She has chosen the theme The Flowers of Giftedness and created this poster to use for decoration and promoting the event.
It combines the stationery P’est Pour Parfait, the perfectionist poodle had produced belatedly when she was searching for invitation cards and the Flowers of Giftedness that Imaginational Dabrowski had suggested.
Intellectual Dabrowski insisted that I should include references to the reasons for including the various flowers.
So…
Sunflowers and  irises were  included because of the paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, one depicting a jug of sunflowers and the other a bed of irises with just one white iris in a large group of purple irises.  The symbolism of the one white iris was explained in the film Little Man Tate. 
Orchids were included because of an excellent blog post poem by Lesley Graves at http://innreach.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/giftedness-and-nurturing-blooms-66/

Poppies were chosen because of Miraca Gross’ article Small poppies: Highly gifted children in the early years at http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10124.aspx
NZAGC magazine Tall poppies http://www.giftedchildren.org.nz/national/tallpoppies.php 
The logo for The Soul of Giftedness 20th World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children is a poppy http://www.worldgifted2013.com/

The tree in the centre of the poster in the Topiary Tessellation Bird Leaf  Tree decorated as a Topiary Tessellation Flower Tree

Sprite has already received some greetings for the card shelf for her blog birthday. If you would like to send a greeeting please reply in the comments box.

New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week 2012 – TBA Post 4 Part 2

I am very happy to be participating in the New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week blog tour again this year.
For news of the events to be held during New Zealand Gifted Awareness Week 2012 see http://www.giftednz.org.nz/awareness.html
and for links to all the posts for the blog tour see http://ultranet.giftededucation.org.nz/WebSpace/696/

This is Part 2 of my post on the topic TBA

While Echidna and Kiwi were inspecting Sally-Anne McCormack’s book Stomp out the ANTs Columbus Cheetah took the opportunity to present me with information in the form of Books (B) and Articles (A) about the giftedness related topic closest to his heart – Acceleration (A)

Columbus Cheetah’s choice Books
Radical Acceleration of Highly Gifted Children: An annotated bibliography of international research on highly gifted children who graduate from high school three or more years early by Miraca U.M. Gross PhD and Helen E. van Vliet MBBS M.Teach. Supported by a 2001 grant from the John Templeton Foundation
Published by Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre, The University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia.

Twitter Bird link find of the complete book as a PDF file http://www.templeton.org/pdfs/funding_areas/10112_Final_Rpt_Bibliography.pdf

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
http://www.accelerationinstitute.org/Resources/IAS.aspx

Columbus Cheetah’s favourite articles about Acceleration included several by Lynne Mackenzie-Sykes which he found in the files of articles and the collections of conference handouts in the Gifted Resources library.

Acceleration: an expanded vision c. 1996 Lynne Mackenzie-Sykes

Acceleration: Real-life perspectives Presented to The 12th World Conference of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children – Connecting the Gifted Community Worldwide Seattle, Washington July 29- August 2, 1997

Acceleration: Real-life perspectives Presented to Maroondah Gifted Children’s Parents’ Assoc on Tuesday 10 October 2000

The Twitter Birds found this one online
http://www.world-gifted.org/sites/default/files/wg-21(1).pdf

I also found a photo of Jennifer Grant reading those articles when she was considering the education of the eldest of her children. Jennifer now speaks to parents and teachers about ‘The Advocacy Journey’ which covers the provisions used for meeting the needs of her exceptionally gifted children ranging from early entry, through enrichment, enhancement and extension to acceleration, radical acceleration, dual enrolment, gifted programs and holiday programs, outside school activities and groups such as choirs and scout groups.

The Twitter Birds found great collections of articles about acceleration at

Les Links Livebinders http://www.livebinders.com/play/play_or_edit?id=218888
Hoagies Gifted Education Page http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/acceleration.htm

Having presented his selection of resources, Columbus Cheetah was eager to move on.
“Can we go down to the beach and wave now?” he asked
I will admit the idea was very tempting; but Intellectual Dabrowski was giving me the working dog stare and reminding me of the text which I had read only a few hours before
It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfil it. Ecclesiastes 5:5 (NIV)
“Not yet” I said “I still have to write about Twice Exceptional Gifted Students. That will be the theme of the next post.”

The Psych Owl Ogist 6

“Are you really sure that both the Tweetlets are gifted?” Tweet asked the Psych Owl Ogist. “They seem so different from each other!”

“Yes” reaffirmed  the Psych Owl Ogist  “They are both gifted. But Gifted is not a homogenous group!”
As David Harrison of Gifted and Creative Services Australia has said ‘Think of the IQ levels of the whole population as represented by a spiral galaxy. Most of the population would be congregated near the centre. Imagine that the rarer the IQ the further it is from the centre.  But there are many arms to the spiral and there are many other differences apart from IQ There are different areas of expertise and interest. And there are also many differences in character traits and different levels of intensity and sensitivity’

Levels of giftedness
Do you remember the Bell Curve of prevalence of IQ scores in the population?

There are different opinions about how the IQ scores relate to levels of giftedness and the prevalence in the population. You can find a discussion on Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page website at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_profoundly.htm

Here is one example from Prof Miraca Gross quoted in an article at
http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/policies/gats/assets/pdf/plk12gtlvls.pdf

Another way of looking at the different levels of giftedness is given by Dr Deborah Ruf in her Ruf Estimates™ of Levels of Gifted at  http://talentigniter.com/ruf-estimates 

Interests, passions, fields of expertise

Another source of differences in the gifted population is that, as you have already noticed with your Tweetlets, they have interests and abilities in different fields. We saw that in the different Competencies in Gagne’s DMGT model diagram.

And we can also see it in the differing ways of thinking and learning shown in Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Personality Types
As well as differences in levels of giftedness and areas of ability and specialization among the gifted population there are differences in personality type.

One of the ways of describing personality types is seen in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment  http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

In fact George Betts and Maureen Neihart have compiled and recently revised Profiles of the Gifted and Talented
http://www.ingeniosus.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/PROFILES-BEST-REVISED-MATRIX-2010.pdf

My guess is that Tweetelle is has some attributes of the Successful Type and some of the Creative Type. Although she does seem to be keen to please and eager for approval, she is certainly highly creative and sensitive, can be highly emotional and is prepared to argue and stand up for her convictions.

Tweetil appears to be an Autonomous Learner. He is eager to learn the things he wants to know by doing it his own way. He is not afraid to experiment and take risks. Although we want them to become life long Autonomous Learners it does not necessarily make them easy to teach!”

“The main thing to remember is that the Tweetlets have asynchronous development. They are not typical of the majority of Tweetlets their age. You will probably find they meet some developmental milestones earlier and gain understanding of issues earlier than their age peers. For example you may have to discuss ‘the birds and the bees’ with them earlier.”

“Unless you have any further question that wraps up this session” said the Psych Owl Ogist. “But feel free to contact me again. It has been a hoot!”

The Psych Owl Ogist 2

Tweet and Retweet arranged for a baby sitter to care for the Tweetlets and went to visit the Psych Owl ogist to discuss the results of the Tweetlets’ testing https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/the-psych-owl-ogist-1/

The Psych Owl ogist said that he had chosen to use the Ravens test because it was suitable for young Tweetlets and a good test of visual spatial ability which is very important for Twitter birds. He said that the Tweetlets had scored very highly indeed and added that, to give a complete picture and a more accurate score, a full battery of other tests could be done in future if required.

He showed Tweet and Retweet a diagram of the Bell Curve of IQ scores in the population and showed them how the higher the IQ was the smaller the percentage of the population it represented.
He cautioned that this could make it difficult for Tweetil and Tweetelle to fit in when they started FLOCK Ed as they may not find others who would understand them. He said it was very likely that they would choose older Tweetlets and adult Twitter birds for their friends.
“It is very important for them to find true peers who can be true friends and share thoughts and experiences with them at the depth they will seek” he said.
“I want you to read Prof Miraca Gross’ article ‘From the saddest sound to the D Major chord to see just how important this is!”
He also warned that they could be very disappointed with the introductory years 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 told them.

“In fact,” the Psych owl ogist continued “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!
Tweetil has the intelligence, strength of character, spatial awareness, ability and vigour to be a future Leader of the Great Migrations!”

“See, I said he got it from you, Tweet!” said Retweet and added, for the benefit of the Psych Owl ogist, “There were several Leaders of the Great Migrations in Tweet’s family tree. Tweetelle is more like my family – they were mostly musicians, poets and dreamers.”

“Both Tweetlets are very gifted” said the Psych Owl ogist “but they are expressing it in different ways. It is very common for siblings to shine in different domains. Often, even when one Tweetlet is identified as gifted, the parents do not realise that the second Tweetlet is also gifted because they seem to be so different.”

“And poets, musicians and dreamers are just as important to the Twitter Bird species as the Leaders of the Great Migrations. We need the poets and musicians to record the history and the dreamers and visionaries to show what could be. Future migrations will traverse landscapes which are quite different from those seen now. It is your duty and challenge to do all that you are able to provide a warm, nurturing nest environment for the Tweetlets with exposure to the teachers and experiences that will encourage and enable their abilities.”

At this point the Psych Owl ogist produced a diagram of Professor Francoys Gagne’s DMGT model and pointed to the Environmental Catalysts section to demonstrate how the influence of the nest environment played its part in the development of the Tweetlets innate giftedness into fully developed talent.

“So it is all about a duty to develop the Tweetlets’ talents then?” asked Retweet. “That seems like a huge burden on us and also on the Tweetlets themselves!”

The Psych Owl ogist drew himself up to his full height and fluffed out his feathers.
“Good heavens, no!” he said “Talent development is very important but it is only one part of the story.
Giftedness is not only about what the IQ score is and what achievements are made.
It is about WHO the Tweetlets are!”

The Psych Owl ogist produced a series of giftedness definition flashcards.


“Here is some more reading for you.”

The moral sensitivity of gifted children and the evolution of society by Linda Kreger Silverman
http://www.sengifted.org/archives/articles/the-moral-sensitivity-of-gifted-children-and-the-evolution-of-society

“Even if Tweetil never gets to be a Leader of the Great Migrations he will still be a gifted Twitter Bird and even if Tweetelle spends her whole life nest making and raising Tweetlets she will not cease to be a gifted Twitter Bird!”