Summer is almost here. For most students in Wisconsin this school year will come to a close one day this week. Chances are most students are counting back the days to the one special day when they can wake up and say, “School’s out for summer!” Kids are excited for a variety of reasons. They can hang out at home, play all day with friends, watch TV or play video games and move a the pace they want to move. The daily structured learning of school is put on hold for nine or ten weeks.
And the potential to be a full time-I can dive completely into my passion area—adventure for gifted students comes alive in the summertime. From sun up to sundown these students have the opportunity to dig deep into their interest area, challenging themselves to wonder and grow. Inspiration comes from their personal inquiry; the desire to know. These students are ready to read, experiment, take apart, create and practice. Many won’t need an adult or teacher to motivate them. Their sheer curiosity is the best motivator.
Children can thrive in the summertime yet oftentimes need a bit of help or guidance in pursuing their passion areas or the resources necessary to further their inquiry. Kids love to learn; anything hands on is what they crave. Camps and interactive museums strengthen student inquiry. Science, STEM, technology, theater, music, art; camps where students can be actively involved are sought after.
Summer learning and activities don’t have to be formal or cost a lot. A student can conduct his/her own science experiments using the scientific method. Make sure the child is safe but say yes to inquiry. Give the child an audience to share what was learned—even if it means sharing what went wrong.
Books, documentaries, job shadowing and field trips to businesses that are willing to open their doors to let students “see how it’s done” all feed the desire to learn. Children who like to take things apart can benefit from finding interesting and cheap items at Goodwill or rummage sales. *Make sure they are safe to take apart. Resources from the internet are boundless and can be interesting and diverse. Authors, scientists, professors and other professionals from around the world are often willing to connect with students who share their interest.
So, as we all prepare for the students to take time off from the school let’s give them avenues to keep on learning throughout the summer!.
Today I’m feeling especially appreciative of all the people who volunteer their time advocating for gifted and talented students. Actually, I feel appreciative of these advocates every day. Students with gifts and talents run into a myriad of roadblocks and jump hurdle after hurdle. They are seldom seen as the underdog or the student “in need.” The world is built with supports for the underdog cheering them on to possible success.
I think it’s time to look at gifted students as underdogs. Can we see them as the ones who sit in classrooms waiting; hoping for the pace to be faster, or the material to be something new or challenging? Can we SEE them as students in need? Do YOU see them as students in need? I do.
If you do NOW is the time to make a difference. We need your voice NOW.
Please take the time, right now, to contact your state representatives and senators and let them know funding is needed to help our most needy students. DPI asked for $1,000,000 to be included in the state budget for students with gifts and talents. This is not enough, but it is a step in the right direction as past amount is lee than one third the proposed amount. Along with the board members of WATG, I’ll be reaching out to all of my representatives asking for them to support an increase of $5,000,000.
Not sure who your legislators are? Go to the WI state legislature website http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/ and enter your HOME address (not work). You can see links to your state Assembly representative and your state Senator.
SAMPLE MESSAGE (feel free to adapt for your own use)
“To the members of the Joint Finance Committee:
I am writing to ask for your support for Wisconsin’s advanced learners K-12. Students with gifts and talents are found in every economic and cultural group, and Wisconsin provides minimal support for these students, especially in comparison with other states. Wisconsin’s funding of only $237,200 per year (for a small grant program) works out to $0.27 per K-12 student. Minnesota state funding (from a recent national survey) was $11,417,865 ($13.75 per student); Iowa, $35,057,950 ($74.77 per student); and Georgia, $367,057,950 ($227.67 per student).
Wisconsin statute (s.118.35) requires school districts to identify advanced learners (“gifted and talented”) and provide them with appropriate services. No funding is provided in school funding formulas to facilitate this mandate. Advanced learners require instruction and services beyond what is typically provided at grade level, just as students with other special needs require targeted instruction and services. Developing the talents of ALL of our students, including Wisconsin’s estimated 105,000 advanced learners, is an economic issue as well as an educational one. The latest issue of Wisconsin School News documents issues related to the “excellence gap” (the disproportion in income levels of those scoring “advanced” on academic achievement).
DPI has requested an increase of $762,800 from the current $237,200 per year (to total $1,000,000 per year), but the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted (WATG) and I ask that you consider funding programs for these students at the level of $5,000,000 per year. The DPI request for a modest increase was removed in the governor’s budget and I ask not only that it be reinstated, but increased. The governor’s budget supports DPI’s request that school districts be allowed to apply directly for the grants, so a funding increase would allow many more students to be appropriately challenged.
[Add in any personal story about your child or your students that you wish]
Thank you for your time; I appreciate your consideration of this request.
From the President
"Children can thrive in the summertime yet oftentimes need a bit of help or guidance in pursuing their passion areas or the resources necessary to further their inquiry."