Tag Archives: academics

The Impact of the Common Core State Standards on Gifted Education

By Mark Erlandson

Mark Erlandson, the parent of a gifted student who presently attends a boarding school out East, is a former lawyer and public high school English teacher from Wisconsin starting a new business as a legal writing consultant.

commoncorelogoFor a variety of reasons, considerable angst has been created among educators, academicians, politicians, and parents by the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) by 46 states. (Some states are even in the formal process of revisiting that decision.) For now, the standards only apply to English/Language Arts and Mathematics. The impact the adoption of the CCSS will have on the education of gifted students is open to debate.

The CCSS were developed by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers to provide a clear standard of what students should know and be able to do at each grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade. The standards are aligned with college and career expectations and attempt to establish uniform goals across the US based on best practices.

Learn about the Common Core State Standards’ impact on gifted education!

The Many Faces of Gifted: Sneha

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted person has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts depicting the many faces of gifted by highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs. IEA’s Apprenticeship Program – mentioned in this story – links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences.

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Sneha Chidambaram
2013 Apprentice, Social Media and Media Relations, University of Southern California

“At first, I was definitely intimidated to enter into a real, adult workplace as a mere high school junior. But looking back, I feel this one nerve-wracking transition was what helped me gain more confidence in myself,” high school senior Sneha explained about her IEA Apprenticeship experience.

A counselor at an SAT Prep center told Sneha about IEA’s programs. “What interested me the most about IEA Apprenticeship was the fact that I would be working one-on-one and alongside a professional in my desired field of study, business. After searching for numerous summer programs as an anxious high school junior interested in business, I felt that the Social Media and Media Relations Apprenticeship suited my interests perfectly, as it is the perfect opportunity for getting a snapshot into the business world.”

During her apprenticeship, Sneha conducted competitive market research on Facebook pages, websites, and Twitter feeds; developed a logo; and wrote a news release that was published on the USC News and USC Marshall School of Business websites.

I asked Sneha how she felt going back to high school after her Apprenticeship. “In terms of academics, I feel my procrastination has reduced drastically, and I approach my tasks more methodically. I have definitely grown to plan effectively and manage my time more wisely!”

This summer, Sneha’s plans include “relaxing, eating, shopping, and hanging out with my friends and family,” before heading east to attend University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School to study business. “After my Apprenticeship, I can definitely say that I fell in love with the corporate world, and I definitely intend to work in a corporate firm upon my college graduation. At this point in time, I am leaning more towards the financial sector, so I aspire to work in either a top investment banking firm, or maybe even a private equity firm!”

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Sneha (second from left) with her Mentors and Apprenticeship alumnus Hunter at IEA’s Summer Spotlight 2013

See what Sneha and other IEA program participants said about their IEA experiences at our 2013 Summer Spotlight.

Want to meet more bright and talented individuals? Sign up for our e-newsletters, which regularly feature a different face of gifted.

Disrespectful or Misunderstood? Gifted Students in the Classroom

By Lisa Hartwig

Lisa is the mother of 3 gifted children and lives outside of San Francisco.

Gifted Students in the ClassroomI can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a parent say, “My child is gifted but he’s not one of those disrespectful know-it-all kids.” These parents are referring to the gifted gold standard: a child who knows the answers but politely participates in all of the class discussions with the appropriate amount of enthusiasm. Everyone wants this poster child, but they are hard to find, mostly because the traits that make them gifted also make it difficult for them to behave like model students. Parents might try to mold their gifted kids into this ideal, but it comes at a cost.

I learned the price of my son’s struggle to become a model student during our recent college road trip. We were sitting in a lecture hall filled with eager parents and high school students waiting to hear the admissions officer’s pearls of wisdom. Around 2:15, she started to talk. Around 2:25, I realized she hadn’t said anything. I had listened intently for 10 minutes and, as far as I could tell, she only made one point. Her speech was peppered with “…to put it another way” and “I don’t mean to repeat myself but…” I started to get annoyed. I was stuck in a room with 100 other awestruck parents and teenagers waiting for some information on the school’s culture, classes or admissions policies. Instead, I got a lot of words. So, I did what any mature 51 year old woman would do: I passed a note to my son. 10,000 words and still she hasn’t said anything, I wrote on a small notepad. My son’s eyes widened, he took the pen and wrote, I’m chewing gum to stay awake.

The information session went on for an hour and fifteen minutes. She made 3 points. By the time we left the school, I was mad.

Read the rest of Lisa’s story!

A 16 Year Old’s Guide to Colleges

By Lisa Hartwig

Lisa is the mother of 3 gifted children and lives outside of San Francisco.

Be sure to check out the first part of Lisa’s college road trip journey!

ElonWe were 5 minutes into the student-led tour and I knew the school wasn’t the right place for my son. Our guide led us down the hallway of a beautiful colonial building. The walls were lined with cork board and sheets of brightly colored paper framing announcements and pictures of professors and administrators. “No, no, no,” I thought. “He’s going to hate this.”

I was trying to think like a 16 year old boy, or at least, my 16 year old boy. I had promised myself that I would allow him to set his own criteria when evaluating colleges. I admired how he navigated class selection, extracurricular activities and the work/life balance in his high school. I would not substitute my values for his now that he was looking for a college. So I tried to see the college through my son’s eyes.

It turns out that I was right—he hated the school. While the environment looked warm and nurturing to me, he felt smothered by the level of support suggested by the cheerfully decorated hallway and confirmed by our tour guide. We made a hasty exit at the tour’s end, skipping the information session and catching an earlier train to New York City. On the way out, my son said that he was really glad we made the trip. “I didn’t know if I would recognize a bad fit if I saw one. Now I know. I can trust my instincts.”

Thus began my son’s search for a methodology to assess the colleges we were visiting. What follows are his indicators of college excellence:

1. Personal Freedom

My son is on a quest for autonomy. He wants support at college to be available and encouraged, but not conspicuous. He disapproves of schools with multiple student committees tasked to help freshmen with everything from writing to public speaking skills. If he wants help, he will ask his professor. Jesuit priests in your dorm? Minus 5 points. A campus policy that encourages students to ask professors to lunch and gives them the funds to do it? Plus 10 points.
See what other factors were important to Lisa’s son!

Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Veronica Eliasson

Dr. Eliasson and her research group, including an IEA Apprentice, during the summer of 2013. “I really like my research group,” Dr. Eliasson told us. “The students become part of my family.”

Dr. Eliasson and her research group, including an IEA Apprentice, during the summer of 2013. “I really like my research group,” Dr. Eliasson told us. “The students become part of my family.”

Dr. Veronica Eliasson
Assistant Professor, Department of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering at University of Southern California
Education:
Ph.D., Mechanics, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
Research Interests:
Shock wave behavior in gases and liquids, shock wave focusing, fluid-solid interactions

For the last two summers, Dr. Veronica Eliasson has introduced high school students to shock wave research through IEA’s Apprenticeship Program. This program links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors like Dr. Eliasson who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences. Dr. Eliasson, who will be joining us as an Apprenticeship Mentor again this summer, took some time to talk to us about herself and her experiences.

Describe your educational journey.

My dad always told me I should get a Master’s degree in some kind of engineering area. I kept saying no — but somehow I still ended up with a Master’s degree in Engineering. My dad was right, he knew I had the interest and background to do well in such a program and that there are plenty of opportunities to shape your career any way you like afterwards.

So, when I was 19 I moved to Stockholm to attend KTH (Royal Institute of Technology). I applied to a program in Vehicle Engineering only because of the way their brochure looked (perhaps not the best way to pick your undergraduate/Master program). It had pictures of trains, boats and cars, and I thought it would be very interesting to understand the physics behind how they work. The last year I went in a different direction and specialized in nuclear safety. I thought it was very fascinating to learn more about nuclear fuel plants, how they operate and how to keep them safe. My Master’s thesis was conducted in collaboration with a nuclear fuel company, and when I was done I knew I wanted to attend a PhD program to learn more, not necessarily about nuclear fuel, but something with fluid mechanics. I applied for a PhD position at the Mechanics Department at KTH with a Professor working on shock waves (something I knew very little about). I got the position, and it was the beginning of a very fascinating journey, learning about shock waves through experiments and numerical simulations. It was scary in the beginning not knowing there was a “right” answer at the end, that no one knew ahead of time what the results of the experiments would be. It was very different, and certainly more fun, than taking a course where the correct answers to all questions are displayed at the end of the book.

Read more of our interview with Dr. Eliasson!

The Many Faces of Gifted: Melissa

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted person has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts depicting the many faces of gifted by highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs. IEA’s Apprenticeship Program – mentioned in this story – links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences.

Melissa Mai Headshot

Melissa M.
2013 Apprentice, Astronomy, California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

“Seeing the way the professors critiqued their students truly was an unexpected treasure of the Apprenticeship Program, as it revealed, unfiltered, the true dynamics of a research environment and showcased the intrinsically collaborative nature of research,” Melissa said about her four-week IEA Apprenticeship at Caltech last summer.

“I worked under Drs. Djorgovski, Donalek, and Mahabal in Caltech’s Department of Astronomy to create interactive, multimedia presentations using the WorldWide Telescope platform. My main job was to take data from my Mentors’ research about atomic emission spectra, Doppler shifting, and variability, and present it in a way that the everyday person can understand through ‘tours’ on the program. I worked with one other apprentice, Daniel Wright, who worked on a tour about asteroids.”

Learn more about Melissa!

My Passion for Learning

By Min-Ling Li, IEA Program Coordinator

Growing up alongside my older sister and younger brother, I knew I was different from other kids. They played and studied with a little bit of a carefree nature, whereas I was almost always overly inquisitive, constantly asking “why?” and “how?” When I started elementary school in America as an English language learner, it was difficult for me to communicate this same curiosity. I asked the same questions, and teachers would often speak to me slower, ask me to re-read or, if available, send me to a volunteer translator with no content knowledge to find the answer. Finally, in the third grade, I was tested in the Los Angeles public school system and identified as gifted. I remember going to school on a Saturday morning and meeting a nice lady who insisted I be “natural.” I vividly remember the pattern on the circular carpet I walked around and around as she asked me questions in Cantonese and English.

Read more of Min-Ling’s story!

The Many Faces of Gifted: Arden

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted child has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs, depicting the many faces of gifted. Academy – mentioned in this story – provides young students with challenging enrichment classes that focus on exploration and application of knowledge.

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Arden
Academy Student

Although Arden is not yet six years old, he’s already been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, met Al Gore, been featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live twice, and received a personal letter of encouragement from Bill Clinton. Arden garnered this attention because of his love and extensive knowledge of world geography and presidential history.

Learn more about Arden!

Chapter 1: The One Thing Needful – What Is It?

By Louise Hindle

Louise Hindle is IEA’s Academy Coordinator. A British import, Louise graduated from the University of Manchester with a B.A. Honors Degree in English Literature and Language, completed her post-graduate teacher training at The University of Cambridge, and has recently completed her dissertation in Educational Leadership and Innovation with the University of Warwick. Louise has 20 years of experience in education as a high school literature teacher, lead teacher, administrator, adviser, and consultant. IEA’s Academy program, described here, provides elementary and middle school students with challenging enrichment classes that focus on exploration and application of knowledge.

Mr. Gradgrind

Mr. Gradgrind

“Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts….Plant nothing else, and root out everything else… nothing else will ever be of any service,” declares Mr. Gradgrind in Charles Dickens’ novel Hard Times. Gradgrind is, of course, a grotesque parody of all that education shouldn’t be. Ingrained in his face, Gradgrind, like the educational system he advocates, is “inflexible, dry and dictatorial,” demanding only closed-answer responses with absolutely no space to think, let alone enquire. Inexorable in his approach, Gradgrind looks at his room of students and sees “empty vessels,” vessels he must fill to the brim with the facts he determines most useful. The one thing needful in this context is a 19th century industrialized utilitarian view of education: keep it if it’s “useful,” lose it if it’s not, and let’s not think about who decides what’s useful. Furthermore, it’s an educational system where the distance between the teacher and the students is a steadfastly vast unexplored wasteland, devoid of personal interaction, engagement or – dare we say it – enthusiasm for teaching and learning.
Read Louise’s reflections on “the one thing needful” for our bright young minds!

Helpful or Over-Involved?

By Lisa Hartwig

Lisa is the mother of 3 gifted children and lives outside of San Francisco.

My middle son is a junior in high school. It’s time for him to start thinking about college. To help the process along, his school invited a speaker from Colleges that Change Lives to speak to the parents and students. She reminded the parents that the search should be student-centered. To make her point she told stories about over-involved parents who push their children aside during college fairs in order to speak to the admissions officers and those who get their pronouns confused when talking about the application process, as in, “We are still in the process of writing our essays.”

I have never pushed my children, and I am very conscious of which pronoun I use. That said, I was very involved in my oldest son’s college search, and I plan to do the same for my middle son. My experience has given me sympathy for the parents she ridiculed. It’s a fine line between over-involved helicopter parent and helpful consultant. But whichever side of the line you fall, there will be consequences for your child and a corresponding label of their own.

Read more of Lisa’s story here!