Be Practical: Finding and Developing Gifts and Talents

Date:  Friday, September 26, 2014September 26, 2014
Time:  8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Location:  University of St. Thomas, Opus Hall, Room 201/202; 1000 LaSalle Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

Map and driving directions.

Event Contact: 
Aneisha Tucker
$150 Individual; $125 Group (3 or more); $50 Student

Online registration is now closed for this event. 

Be Practical: Finding and Developing Gifts and Talents will discuss practical and defensible ideas based on "best practices" for meeting the needs of advanced learners in their schools.

Program schedule listed below.

Breakout Sessions

Maggie Smith, Minneapolis Public Schools
Two Practical Tools for Identifying Gifted English Language Learners and Economically Disadvantaged Students
Identifying gifted students among our English language learners and economically disadvantaged students can be challenging; the gifts and talents of such students can be masked by a myriad of factors. Fortunately, a growing body of research can help teachers spot talent and identify such diverse students for gifted services. In this session, attendees will examine two new teacher-rating scales for identifying English language learners as well as students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. We will explore the practical use of these tools as talent spotting instruments and discuss exemplars for the research-supported behaviors they describe.

Ill-Structured Problems, Parallel Tasks, and MetaMath Prompts: Upping the Ante for Mathematical Talented Students in Grade K-5
When mathematically gifted students need additional challenge, but are not ready for a grade skip in math, teachers need practical solutions. Open problems, parallel tasks, and ill-structured problems provide opportunities for gifted elementary students to delve more deeply into math content. In the session we redesign grade-level math problems and explore published resources that align with Minnesota State Academic Standards. We also take a look at the new MetaMath Prompts and explore their application to increase students’ self-efficacy, grit, and self-awareness as problem solvers and deep, mathematical thinkers.

Kari Govig, Bloomington Public Schools
Dimensions of Differentiation
Nearly all of us have heard of differentiated instruction and understand the importance of it for all students. Just what does it look like for high ability/gifted students? This session provides a framework to advance high ability students’ content as well as students’ thinking processes and products. This framework helps advance existing curriculum and units of study. During this session participants see examples of the Maker Grid and ways to adapt it to various areas of study.

Cori Paulet, Freelance Consultant
Engaging Learners through Games
What does play have to do with learning? Turns out – just about everything!  Research shows we learn best when we are at play, and with a whopping 97 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 12-17 playing video games, more and more teachers are incorporating video games into their curriculum and instruction. In this session, Cori will share some of the top games currently being used for educational purposes and ways in which teachers (in a wide range of grades) have successfully implemented games in their classrooms to increase student engagement, concept retention, creativity and collaboration. Leave with concrete game ideas and resources you can use with your students. 

Kirstin Moldan, Earle Brown Elementary
Developing and Using WebQuests with High Ability Learners
Looking for an engaging strategy for meeting high ability learner needs in a mixed ability classroom? Try WebQuests! A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented lesson that uses technology, is highly motivating for students, and is time effective for teachers. Does new technology make you nervous? Don’t worry. Webquests can be user friendly and easy to implement. Learn more about what WebQuests are and what makes a WebQuest particularly effective with high ability learners. We preview and search for examples of existing WebQuests that can be used or modified immediately. Plan to leave with ideas for implementing Webquests into your curriculum.

Dr. Karen Westberg, University of St. Thomas
Identification Procedures and Practices: The Do’s and Don’ts
Many school districts report dissatisfaction with the practices they use when selecting students for gifted and talented services. The focus of this session will be on "what to do" and "what not to do" when selecting students for GT services. For example, using multiple assessments that fall into the same category is inappropriate, and using a matrix with points assigned to grouped percentile ranks is often developed incorrectly. Defensible procedures and practices are discussed in this session.

Supporting Students’ Independent Investigations
Providing gifted learners with opportunities for engaging in independent investigations is one of the most highly recommended practices in our field. This session focuses on practical strategies for supporting students’ individual or small group independent investigations. Suggestions and materials for helping students with interest-focusing, problem-focusing, product-focusing, and audience-focusing will be among the topics of the session. 

Carol Malueg, Freelance Consultant
Be Mindful of the Absent-Minded
Missing Homework? Always late? Scatter-brained? Desk in chaos? Dawdling again? Does this sound like a child you know? That incredibly bright, creative, amazing child, yelling “Just a minute!” or “I had it right here!” or “Who took my papers?” while the class is working on the next task? In this session, we'll look at ways to help the absent-minded children in your classroom develop strategies that work with their strengths, discover tools that ‘talk’ to them, and build organizational systems that spark their interest. The session is designed for teachers of twice-exceptional, or gifted and absent-minded children.

Reading the Care Instructions: What Labels Communicate to our Gifted Students
Labels are a useful tool for categorizing kids and communicating with colleagues. When working with the kid behind the label, we need to look at the back of the tag to decipher the individual care instructions. The child who has been labeled quirky, know-it-all, argumentative, absent-minded, spacey or problematic may in fact be exhibiting asynchrony, perfectionism, stress, anxiety, frustration or loneliness. In this session, we will talk about the characteristics of gifted children and how they explain the challenging behaviors that earn these nicknames. Through examining and reframing our labels, we’ll find self-esteem boosting ways to help our gifted learners use their unique strengths in positive ways.

Dr. Karen Rogers, University of St. Thomas
Making Plans for Some of Your “Individual” Learners: How Do You Find the “Best Fit” Between Given Curriculum Outcomes and the Learners in Front of You?
This session will provide some “quick and dirty” assessments that will help teachers to find out about their learner’s personal interests, passions, attitudes, and learning preferences as they start to plan their instruction for the year. During this breakout, we will try this out on four learners of varying ages (through middle school). Participants will have a chance to share possible learning experiences they could provide and how they have managed them when everyone is not the same in their classroom.

Program Schedule

8:30-9:15 a.m. – Registration
9:15-10:00 a.m. - Opening Session
10:00-10:15 a.m. – Break
10:15-11:30 a.m. - Breakout Sessions I
11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Lunch
12:15-1:30 p.m. - Breakout Sessions II
1:30-1:45 p.m. – Break
1:45-3:00 p.m. - Breakout Sessions III
3:00-3:30 p.m. - Closing Session


The Gifted, Creative, and Talented Education conference provides practical strategies that can be applied directly to classrooms and schools. It features panels and breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics regarding gifted education programming.

Conference profits fund scholarships for graduate students in the GCT certificate and Master’s programs at the University of St. Thomas.

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1000 LaSalle Avenue · Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403 · USA
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