Best Australian Blogs 2013 No 12: Stories

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“I knew where to take people to show them Sprite’s Site social media activity” said Sprite “But how do I show them where to find the storytelling to illustrate the writing on the blog?”

“If you had been more attentive to your Latin studies” said Intellectual Dabrowski “you would be able to read the sign and see that the stories are all around you in all the blog posts!”

There are several series of posts which tell stories about Sprite and the other characters. Some have already been gathered into Youblisher booklets or told on Storyjumper, Little Bird Tales or other online story writing programs. Others can be read by reading all the posts in a particular tag.

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Perchance to dream http://www.youblisher.com/p/36792-Perchance-to-dream/

If only If only http://www.storyjumper.com/book/index/5746162/jofrei

You can read about the character of Sprite at About Sprite
I took the opportunity to find out whether my readers understood Sprite in the way I hoped I was depicting her at
 https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/gifted-island-challenge-2-getting-to-know-myself-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/gifted-island-challenge-2-getting-to-know-myself-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends-the-results-are-in/

Most of the storylines on the blog are about Sprite and are used to help provide information about 2E Twice Exceptional students who are both gifted and have some learning difficulty or learning style difference and to give links to helpful resources.

Sprite’s giftedness is apparent in her thirst for knowledge and love of research and experiments  and in the deep, sometimes existential type questions she asks.
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/elephants-in-the-waiting-room/

Storylines on the blog often deal with trying to find ideal provisions for Sprite’s education and advocating for her
 https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/casting-sprites-education-in-a-new-form-part-1/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/advocacy/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/the-meeting/

spritesitread05
A main theme is using De Bono’s Six Action Shoes as a planning tool to find programs that will be suitable for gifted students who also have a learning difficulty or different learning style.
Sprite is always depicted as having an injured left ankle and needing to wear different shoes on each foot to illustrate the concept that she needs different educational provisions for both her giftedness and her disability.

The De Bono’s Six Action Shoes posts can be found here
Orange gumboots https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/orange-gumboots/
Pink slippers https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/pink-slippers/
Grey sneakers https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/grey-sneakers/
Blue formal shoes https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/blue-formal-shoes/
Purple riding boots https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/10/04/purple-riding-boots/
Brown brogues https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/brown-brogues/
More shoes https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/more-shoes/
Plaster cast https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/casting-sprites-education-in-a-new-form-part-1/

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The Survivor –Gifted Island series has not been made into a booklet yet but here are the links to the posts in the correct order.
 https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/survivor-gifted-island/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/survivor-gifted-island-2/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/gtstoogies-15-april/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/onto-the-island-and-into-the-fish-bowl/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/reality-check/
 https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/gifted-island-challenge-for-reward-1-personalise-your-tent/
 https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/gifted-island-testing-testing/
 https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/meanwhile-back-on-gifted-island/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/gifted-island-challenge-2-getting-to-know-myself-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/09/03/gifted-island-challenge-2-getting-to-know-myself-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends-the-results-are-in/

Sprite has both a heightened sense of justice and a vivid imagination.
She loves to set up her soft toys with placards and hold protest marches
Feetspeak Unfair to Sprite march
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/the-protest-march/
Please remember campaign
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/please-remember-campaign/
Cruel is not cool – support for anti-bullying campaign
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/cruel-is-not-cool/
March for the tree octopus
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/march-for-the-tree-octopus/

“And that is only some of the stories about Sprite” said Intellectual Dabrowski.
“There are also plenty of stories about the other characters.”

Vote for Sprite’s Site (and as many other great Australian blogs as you like) by clicking on the Vote for Me button in the sidebar of the blog. But you can only vote once: so be sure to make the vote count. Sprite’s Site is on Page 4 O-S.
If you have entered Sprite’s Site by following a link to a specific post you will need to click on the Sprite’s Site header to see the sidebar.

Gifted Island Challenge 2: Getting to know myself with a little help from my friends – The results are in!

Sprite’s second challenge on Survivor: Gifted Island
https://spritessite.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/gifted-island-challenge-2-getting-to-know-myself-with-a-little-help-from-my-friends/was based on Johari’s Window and was designed to help understand what we know about ourselves and how we relate to others.

For this exercise Sprite had to write 5 questions about herself and ask other people to answer them. For some of the questions she would know the answer already but the answers would show whether others perceived her the way she sees herself. For other questions she would not know the answer and the replies could help her see possibilities and fill in the unknown to self areas. As Sprite’s creator I had already chosen for her to know some of the answers and not others and I was also hoping that the readers of Sprite’s Site blog would understand Sprite in the way I intended.

These were the questions

  1. What is my favourite colour?
  2. What subjects interest me most?
  3. Do you think I am an introvert or an extravert?
  4. What do you consider are my main personality traits?
  5. What career can you imagine me following?

I was really delighted with the replies as the majority matched very closely to the character I hoped I was portraying.

There were 8 respondents to the questionnaire.

Question 1 What is my favourite colour?
This was a question for which I intended Sprite’s answer to be Blue
5 responded Blue shades 2 responded purple shades with excellent reasons, 1 did not know and 1 did not know but guessed red
Shades of blue would be in the A section and shades of purple would be something she had discovered from the feedback and could add to the B section

Question 2 What subjects interest me most?
I intended Sprite’s answer to be animals, science, researching and music.
These interests were all recognized by some of the respondents and could be included in the A section.
The feedback from others would add issues related to giftedness and 2E issues, homeschooling, art, history and mysteries to the B section.

She has mentioned in the past her passion for astronomy so she could reveal that in Section C to increase others knowledge of her

Question 3 Do you think I am an introvert or an extravert?
I intend to depict Sprite as an introvert and so was happy that 5 of the respondents chose Introvert. 2 said she was an extravert – one of them based on her interactions with other characters on the blog. When I pointed out that several of those characters are soft toys or imaginary friends, we had a very interesting discussion about what things were real to which characters.
The characteristics I had included which I hoped pointed towards Sprite being an Introvert is that she is socially awkward with same age peers and likes to spend a lot of time by herself or with animal and soft toy friends pursuing her own interests. One respondent noted that she almost never speaks directly to the audience.
It is interesting that some Introverts can put on a mask of Extraversion when engaged in interesting conversation with true intellectual peers or in order to give a performance or presentation. Maybe Sprite can manage this occasionally – enough to influence a couple of the respondents.

Question 4 What do you consider are my main personality traits?
I did not intend Sprite to be aware of her personality traits. The traits I hope to have given her are being imaginative, creative, disorganized, inquisitive, intelligent, highly sensitive and emotional. The respondents seem to have noticed these qualities and they can be added to her B section.

Question 5 What career can you imagine me following?
I intended this question to represent Section D – something which neither Sprite nor anyone else knows yet. But I loved the suggestions which the respondents offered to this question! Several picked up on her concern for animals and environmental issues and her sense of justice and suggested careers which involved these passions.

Thank you very much to all respondents for helping Sprite on her path of self discovery !

Gifted Island Challenge 2: Getting to know myself with a little help from my friends

Sprite’s second challenge on Survivor:  Gifted Island was based on Johari’s Window and was designed to help 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.

For this exercise Sprite had to write 5 questions about herself and ask other people to answer them. For some of the questions she would know the answer already but the answers would show whether others perceived her the way she sees herself. For other questions she would not know the answer and the replies could help her see possibilities and fill in the unknown to self areas.

Please can you help Sprite by answering these questions for her in the comments box or via Twitter or Facebook?

  1. What is my favourite colour?
  2. What subjects interest me most?
  3. Do you think I am an introvert or an extravert?
  4. What do you consider are my main personality traits?
  5. What career can you imagine me following?

This is an interest project for me also.
As Sprite’s creator I have already determined the answer to some of these questions but others are open to speculation.
It would be very interesting to me to see whether other people perceive Sprite in the same way as I am trying to portray her. I will let you know the results.
I enjoy reading a blog called ‘The blog that helps you diagnose your characters’ http://theforsakenpetal.blogspot.com/
It really makes me think about the way my characters are depicted and whether they are understood the way I intended them to be.
It brings to mind the song

If you knew Susie like I know Susie
Oh, oh, oh what a gal!

So – do you know Sprite like I know Sprite?

  

Meanwhile, back on Gifted Island…

One of the drawbacks of blogs is that the entries are in chronological order so sometimes entries which belong together as a series become separated.

So recently we have participated in the fun of the Best Australian blogs competition, the launch of Christine Fonseca’s new book, set up a teachers’ lounge and battled with Mean, Mean 13 for #gtstoogies.

And meanwhile, back on Gifted Island…

Having participated in our first challenge for reward, we have received our first rewards.

The reward for me was to spend some time on the Teachers Island with the teacher who is the third member of our team for Survivor – Gifted Island. It turned out to be a real eye opener for me and lead to much greater understanding of and empathy with the teachers.

I found that the situation on the teacher island was not as rosy as we had been led to believe on the parent/child island. We were given the impression that life on the teacher island was just a luxury holiday during which they could develop programs for their gifted students.
However this was not the case. The teachers were also expected to act as emergency teachers in a variety of regular school classes and to prepare the students for standardized testing. They were also given large amounts of correction, marking and report writing to complete within firm deadlines. The amount of time they were actually able to devote to the program planning turned out to be minimal.
Having embarked happily and in one accord on the Survivor –Gifted Island project, we now found that both the parents and the teachers had sources of stress which made the team effort more difficult.

However we did enjoy the short time together and managed to share some laughs and chocolate and plan a few strategies for challenging Sprite in her areas of ability and passion while giving her support in the areas which cause problems for her.
We also discussed the rumour that there was another island where we could find psychologists and education consultants who would be able to help design an excellent program for Sprite.

Sprite’s first reward was a copy of Christine Fonseca’s new book 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids. She took it to her hammock straight away.

Now she quotes advice such as:
Success Secret #18 You control your feelings not the other way around.
Success Secret #33 Don’t put off your projects (with comment from Chandler, 13 “Waiting to the last minute to do your work only makes you more stressed. Try to get things done early. You’ll sleep better”
Success Secret #35 Don’t overthink things (This has always been a problem for Sprite eg the Weed wars debate]

It is just amazing how she is accepting and acting on advice from 101 Success Secrets since she disregarded the same advice when I gave it to her!

#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
http://www.giftedbooks.com/mediakit.asp?id=64

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
http://www.giftedbooks.com/mediakit.asp?id=65

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.

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.”
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/gillard-was-concerned-schools-prepared-for-naplan-tests/story-fn59niix-1226038104285

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
http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/What_is_Gifted/2echildren.htm#signs

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
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10554.aspx

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.