by Gina Lima, Parent
Is it ever too early to chat with an astronaut? Have you dissected a cow eye? How would you like to be interviewed by top executives in the engineering field? Maybe competing at nationals in Washington DC is more your style? These are all experiences that my children have had in their Gifted and Talented (GT) class.
People say, why is GT important? I would ask, why is providing a class that supports the needs of any student important? If kids are ready and willing to do extra work and to try new things, why not challenge them? As a parent, I have been astounded by the variety, complexity, and magnitude of what our students can achieve and create in a class that meets for 30 minutes a day.
In our district, anyone testing 75% (proficient) is welcome to join the GT class during resource time. The classroom is a large, open space with 10-20 kids of all races, ethnicities, and religions shuffling in all day to find a spot at shared tables. This variety of proficient and gifted learners stimulates the group both socially and academically as they all “figure it out” together. They have a flexible curriculum that allows for new material and guest speakers, while offering a list of assignments and projects that are repeated with new themes every year.
The GT teacher acts as the bridge between the students and the real world. GT teachers are dedicated to expanding the reach of our student’s capabilities by finding new courses, distance learning, grants, competitions, summer programs, and often, local professionals and parents who will donate their time to enhance the classroom experience. Their position allows them to match students’ unique interests to programs and professionals that parents would not know about. GT resource teachers are constantly encouraging our students, following up on their progress, teasing out their skills, lending a helping hand, cheering them on, creating that safe, creative space, and expanding their horizons. They have the job of pushing them past what is comfortable and easy.
Over the last 12 years, my children have each told me that they look forward to their GT class period. It’s a safe place, where like-minded peers can learn from each other, challenge one another, and dig deeper into new ideas. It is an exploratory place and unlike any other class. These learners create groups, compete as teams, or work independently to deliver assignments. The assignments are chosen because they give an extra academic boost to a variety of subjects including spelling, word analysis, essay writing, geography, history, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Assignments that repeat every year focus on continuous practice of certain skills, critical thinking, research, and interdisciplinary and experiential approaches to STEM.
I can attest to the fact that my three daughters have all been challenged, enriched, and engaged in their GT classroom. They have surprised me with their talents, and more importantly, they have surprised themselves! They seem confident starting new projects, speak effortlessly to groups or professionals, are able to work in teams, and complete projects that require research skills, scientific analysis, problem solving, and essay writing. They can identify and solve problems, manage their time, and see their projects to completion. In time, they have identified themselves as leaders and as competent students.
As a parent, I will continue to support GT curriculum for students in our district as well as any further investments to future GT programs nationwide. GT classes meet the needs of capable students who are curious and creative, ready for more intense challenges. GT teachers support teachers with the overall goal of reaching the highest learning potential of every student. In my opinion, GT elevates the reputation of our school district and gives our kids a chance to shine while they make positive choices about their own education.
On February 25, the Wisconsin Association for Talented and Gifted hosted a Townhall meeting on the topic of leadership. Hosted by Sarah Kasprowicz and Nicole Meier, WATG Board members, this Townhall generated a lot of really great discussion. Many participants shared that although we in Wisconsin are required to identify and program for gifted students in the five mandated areas - intellectual, academic, creativity, visual and performing arts, and leadership - the area of leadership needs much more work. Participants were looking for help in identification and in programming for our leaders at all levels.
As a result of an after-Townhall discussion, Margo Gramling, Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher in Chippewa Falls School District teamed up with Jackie Drummer, WATG Board Advisor and retired gifted and talented coordinator, to compile ideas from the Townhall, and to create a grid of possible programming ideas for leadership development. Here is information from the Townhall, as well as a programming grid:
First of all, participants in the Townhall brainstormed ways to identify gifted leaders. People agreed that nominations and criteria checklists used, as part of an open-door and ongoing evaluation process, were necessary. Identification instruments and procedures mentioned included the Lois Roets Leadership Identification Scale, U-Stars~Plus TOPS, SIGS, the Renzulli Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students, teacher nominations, peer nominations, letters of recommendation (e.g., community, parent/guardians), “try it” options (provide an opportunity for leadership to emerge, see who “bites,” and take note of performance), and service options with campaigns such as Student Government elections.
General opportunities for leadership development included service learning, camp (e.g., environmental camp and ropes courses), in-class leadership opportunities, problem-based learning, mentoring with/ for students, and counseling groups focused on development of leadership skills in the classroom, school, and community. It was also noted that leadership skill development should be included in advanced learning plans, so that it can be monitored and evaluated.
Our thanks go to Margo Gramling for developing the very helpful grid below. District coordinators and teachers of gifted students will find a myriad of ways we can provide leadership development for our students.
We hope that you find this grid helpful, and that you will add your own ideas to it. It is meant to be a living and breathing document. You will also want to check out leadership information at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Finally, we hope that leadership development is an important topic for you, and that you all will join us at our WATG Annual Fall Conference, “Leading the World Into the Future,” October 4-5, 2021. Our keynote speakers will be Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings and Dr. Jonathan Plucker, and this is shaping up to be an outstanding event!
(WATG would like to extend a huge thank you to Dr. Martha Aracely-Lopez of Milwaukee Public Schools for translating this article into Spanish for our Spanish-speaking families and educators. The translation can be found below.)
Desarrollo de liderazgo
El 25 de febrero, la Asociación de Wisconsin para Talentosos y Dotados organizó una reunión Publica sobre el tema de liderazgo. Presidida esta reunión por Sarah Kasprowicz y Nicole Meier, miembros de la Junta directiva de WATG, esta reunión pública generó un gran debate. Muchos participantes compartieron que, aunque en Wisconsin debemos identificar y programar para estudiantes superdotados en las cinco áreas obligatorias: intelectual, académica, creatividad, artes visuales y escénicas y liderazgo, el área de liderazgo necesita mucho más trabajo. Los participantes buscaban ayuda en la identificación y programación para nuestros líderes en todos los niveles.
Como resultado de una discusión posterior a la junta pública, Margo Gramling, Maestra de Recursos para Dotados y Talentosos en el Distrito Escolar de Chippewa Falls se juntó con Jackie Drummer, Asesora de la Mesa Directiva de WATG y coordinadora de dotados y talentosos jubilada, para recopilar ideas de la junta pública y crear una matriz de posibles ideas de programación para desarrollo de liderazgo. Aquí hay información de la junta pública, así como una matriz de programación:
En primer lugar, los participantes de la junta pública intercambiaron ideas sobre formas de identificar a los líderes dotados. La gente estuvo de acuerdo en que las nominaciones y las listas de verificación de criterios utilizadas, como parte de un proceso de evaluación continuo y de puertas abiertas, eran necesarias. Los instrumentos y procedimientos de identificación mencionados incluyeron la Escala de identificación de liderazgo de Lois Roets, U-Stars ~ Plus TOPS, SIGS, las Escalas Renzulli para calificar las características de comportamiento de los estudiantes superiores, nominaciones por parte de los maestros, nominaciones por parte de colegas, cartas de recomendación (por ejemplo, miembros de la comunidad, padres / tutores), opciones de "inténtalo" (brindan una oportunidad para que surja el liderazgo, ver quién "muerde el anzuelo" y tomar nota del desempeño) y opciones de servicio con campañas como las elecciones del Gobierno Estudiantil.
Oportunidades generales para el desarrollo del liderazgo incluyeron: aprendizaje de servicio, campamento (por ejemplo, campamento ambiental y cursos de cuerdas), oportunidades de liderazgo en el aula, aprendizaje basado en problemas, tutoría con / para estudiantes y grupos de asesoramiento enfocados en el desarrollo de habilidades de liderazgo en el aula, la escuela y la comunidad. También se señaló que el desarrollo de habilidades de liderazgo debe incluirse en los planes de aprendizaje avanzados, de modo que pueda ser monitoreado y evaluado.
Nuestro agradecimiento a: Margo Gramling por desarrollar la siguiente matriz. los coordinadores del distrito y los maestros de estudiantes superdotados encontrarán una gran variedad de formas en las que podemos brindar desarrollo de liderazgo a nuestros estudiantes.
Esperamos que esta matriz le resulte útil y que le agregue sus propias ideas. Está destinado a ser un documento vivo y que respira. También querrá consultar la información sobre liderazgo en el Departamento de Instrucción Pública de Wisconsin.
Finalmente, esperamos que el desarrollo del liderazgo sea un tema importante para ustedes, y que todos se unan a nosotros en nuestra Conferencia Anual de Otoño de WATG, “Guiando al mundo hacia el futuro”, del 4 al 5 de octubre de 2021. ¡Nuestros oradores principales serán la Dra. Gloria Ladson-Billings y el Dr. Jonathan Plucker, y este se perfila a ser un evento excepcional!
Programación para el liderazgo
(WATG desea extender un enorme agradecimiento a la Dra. Martha Aracely Lopez de las Escuelas Públicas de Milwaukee por traducir este artículo al español para nuestras familias y educadores hispanohablantes. La traducción también se puede encontrar en los blogs de nuestro sitio web)
My son, a sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus College, had the opportunity in early January to participate in a College Panel Discussion organized by CESA #1 PAGE (Partners for the Advancement of Gifted Education) in the Milwaukee area. He had attended past events as an audience member and was very much looking forward to being on the panel. He was one of five panelists, each representing a different major and college/university spanning several states.
I spoke with him the day after the event, and he bubbled over with how much he had enjoyed it.
One of his first comments was, “Wow, we were all really different.” Really? I had exactly the opposite reaction; I thought there was a tremendous amount of commonality. These were all high-achieving students who could have chosen a large number of paths. One point they all stressed was that they each did a lot of research to make their college choice and prepare for it. Here are some other points on which they all agreed.
The Application Process
For my son, the decision to take a deep-dive into prospective schools came down to a few criteria which did definitely shorten the list. He wanted a small school (< 5000 students) with a reputable accounting program, a nationally-competitive Division III tennis program in which he would be middle of the playing field as a freshman, and a very high rate of graduation in four years among the athletes. Our requirement was that it be within a 10-hour drive from home. The school he chose met all those criteria. Admittedly, he first became aware of the school because he was recruited for their tennis team, but he made sure the other factors were true as well prior to committing. He had opportunities to speak candidly with several alumni and current students to get a genuine feel of the school, tennis program, and community. The lack of opportunity to have such discussions eliminated one of the other schools he was considering; all he got, as he said, was brochure-type information.
On the drive home from our first day-long, organized visit to the campus, he announced all other scheduled campus visits could be cancelled. He was that sure it was “the one.” As a parent, my advice would be to not underestimate that intuition. Other parents had told me it would happen, but I doubted that until the moment it happened. It has turned out to be an unbelievably great choice for him.
Preparations in High School
As I listened to the five panelists at the CESA #1 PAGE workshop, I noticed many things.
Again, there was substantial commonality across the five panelists, including:
One panelist shared a powerful and profound experience from his high school years, showing that courage is sometimes needed. He had traditionally struggled with writing. His first two years of high school, he took non-Honors Language Arts classes. He said he realized he had not improved to the level he wanted. So, he took the challenging leap to AP Composition in his junior year. He said he struggled for a while, as he expected he would, but at the end of the school year, he recognized that was exactly what he had needed to improve. Anyone in attendance could see how proud he was of what he had accomplished. Well deserved!
My son couldn’t remember how many AP and CAP classes he took in high school, but I agree with his assessment that it was “a lot.” He has experienced a number of benefits from them. He, along with the other panelists, used those credits to cover Gen Ed requirements, reducing the number of classes required outside of his areas of interest. My son opted to take two classes in college for which he had credit because they were in his major area of study. He wanted to make sure he is prepared for future classes which build upon those prerequisites. As it turns out, he probably could have used the CAP credits and not had any problems. However, it allowed him to review the material while getting to know the professors, college life, and peers in his major. He has no regrets. His AP credits have also allowed him to pursue a minor unrelated to his major without requiring super heavy class loads while still on track to graduate in eight semesters.
Woven in the answers of the panelists were some gems that should not be missed:
Kudos and gratitude to CESA #1 PAGE for annually hosting this event.
What did you think?
Did you attend the event? I’d love to get your comments on their differences versus commonality. What was the best advice they had for high school students? What surprised you?
(WATG would like to extend a huge thank you to German Diaz of Milwaukee Public Schools for translating this article into Spanish for our Spanish-speaking families and educators. The translation can also be found in our website blogs.)
Preparación para la Universidad: Una retrospectiva del Panel Universitario
Mi hijo, estudiante de segundo año en Gustavus Adolphus College, tuvo la oportunidad a principios de enero de participar en una Mesa Redonda Universitaria organizada por CESA #1 PAGE (Partners for the Advancement of Gifted Education) en el área de Milwaukee. Había asistido a eventos pasados y estaba deseando estar en el panel. Fue uno de los cinco panelistas, cada uno representando a una especialidad diferente y universidad / universidad que abarca varios estados.
Hablé con él el día después del evento, y se desmoronó con lo mucho que lo había disfrutado.
Uno de sus primeros comentarios fue: "Wow, todos éramos muy diferentes". ¿Realmente, tuve exactamente la reacción opuesta; Pensé que había una enorme cantidad de punto en común. Todos estos eran estudiantes de alto rendimiento que podrían haber elegido un gran número de caminos. Un punto que todos subrayaron fue que cada uno hizo mucha investigación para tomar su decisión universitaria y prepararse para ello. Estos son algunos otros puntos en los que todos estuvieron de acuerdo.
El Proceso de Aplicacion
Para mi hijo, la decisión de profundizar en las futuras escuelas se redujo a algunos criterios que definitivamente acortaron la lista. Quería una pequeña escuela (< 5000 estudiantes) con un programa de contabilidad de buena reputación, un programa de tenis de la División III competitivo a nivel nacional en el que estaría en medio del campo de juego como estudiante de primer año, y una tasa muy alta de graduación en cuatro años entre los atletas. Nuestro requisito era que estuviera a 10 horas en coche de casa. La escuela que eligió cumplía con todos esos criterios. Es cierto que primero se dio cuenta de la escuela porque fue reclutado para su equipo de tenis, pero se aseguró de que los otros factores fueran ciertos también antes de comprometerse. El tuvo oportunidades de hablar con franqueza con varios exalumnos y estudiantes actuales para tener una sensación genuina de la escuela, el programa de tenis y la comunidad. La falta de oportunidades para tener tales discusiones eliminó una de las otras escuelas que estaba considerando; todo lo que obtuvo, como él dijo, era información tipo folleto.
En el viaje a casa desde nuestro primer día de visita organizada al campus, anunció que todas las demás visitas programadas al campus podrían ser canceladas. Estaba tan seguro de que era "esta era su universida". Como padre, mi consejo sería no subestimar esa intuición. Otros padres me habían dicho que pasaría, aunque tuve mis dudas. Al final, esto a resultado ser una gran opción para él.
Preparacion para la escuela secundaria
Al escuchar a los cinco panelistas del taller CESA #1 PAGE, noté muchas cosas.
Una vez más, hubo una similitud parecida entre los cinco panelistas, incluyendo:
Un panelista compartió una experiencia poderosa y profunda de sus años de escuela secundaria, mostrando que a veces se necesita coraje. Tradicionalmente había tenido problemas con la escritura. En sus primeros dos años de escuela secundaria, tomó clases de artes del lenguaje sin honores. Dijo que se dio cuenta de que no había mejorado al nivel que quería. Así que dio el desafiante salto a la composición de AP en su primer año. Dijo que luchó por un tiempo, como esperaba, pero al final del año escolar, reconoció que eso era exactamente lo que necesitaba para mejorar. Cualquiera que estuviera presente podía ver lo orgulloso que estaba de lo que había logrado. ¡Bien merecido!
Mi hijo no podía recordar cuántas clases de AP y CAP tomó en la escuela secundaria, pero estoy de acuerdo con su evaluación de que fue "mucho". Ha experimentado una serie de beneficios de ellos. Él, junto con los otros panelistas, utilizó esos créditos para cubrir los requisitos de Educacion General, reduciendo el número de clases requeridas fuera de sus áreas de interés. Mi hijo optó por tomar dos clases en la universidad para las que tenía crédito porque estaban en su área principal de estudio. Quería asegurarse de que está preparado para futuras clases que se basan en esos requisitos previos. Resulta que probablemente podría haber utilizado los créditos del PAC y no haber tenido ningún problema. Sin embargo, le permitió revisar el material mientras conocía a los profesores, la vida universitaria y sus compañeros en su especialidad. No se arrepiente. Sus créditos AP también le han permitido agregar una especializacion adicional con su especialidad sin requerir cargas de clase súper pesadas mientras todavía está en camino de graduarse en ocho semestres.
Tejidas en las respuestas de los panelistas había algunas joyas que no se debían perder:
Felicitaciones y agradecimiento a CESA #1 PAGE por ser sede anual de este evento.
¿Qué te pareció?
¿Asististe al evento? Me encantaría recibir sus comentarios sobre sus diferencias versus lo común. ¿Cuál fue el mejor consejo que tuvieron para los estudiantes de secundaria? ¿Qué te sorprendió?
(WATG desea extender un gran agradecimiento al Dr. German Diaz de las Escuelas Públicas de Milwaukee por traducir este artículo al español para nuestras familias y educadores de habla hispana. La traducción también se puede encontrar en nuestros blogs de sitio web.)
Collected ideas over time
Beth Fairchild, WATG board member
10 consejos, trucos e ideas para enseñar a niños con talentos especiales
Ideas recopiladas a lo largo del tiempo
Beth Fairchild, miembra de la junta de WATG
1. Evaluaciones preliminares: Por el amor de todo lo que es santo... esto es un DEBE! La investigación afirma que la mayoría de los estudiantes superdotados no aprenden nueva información hasta enero. No haga que un estudiante que ya ha dominado un concepto se siente a través de la lección de nuevo.
2. Pon atención a las leyes de trabajo infantil: Los estudiantes on abilidates exceptionales que terminan temprano no deben ser automáticamente el ayudante del maestro. Los estudiantes dotados pueden ser algunos de los peores estudiantes para ayudar a otros porque sus cerebros a menudo funcionan de manera muy diferente.
3. Permitir agrupaciones: No todos los estudiantes con talentos especiales están destinados a ser el director del proyecto. Permita a los alumnos la oportunidad de trabajar solos o en grupo. A veces, estos estudiantes necesitan agruparse con estudiantes en niveles de grado más altos, ya sea para una sola asignatura o para todas las asignaturas. Hable con su escuela acerca de la aceleración de grados.
4. Modela estrategias de organización: a los estudiantes con talentos especiales les gustan las opciones, y ver cómo funcionan en el "mundo real" es muy útil. Por ejemplo, muestra a los alumnos cómo usar las notas para organizar las cosas, cómo el calendario de Google, el cual es mi salvavidas. He utilizado planificadores en el pasado, y mostrar esos ejemplos también sirven de mucho.
5. Toma descansos: Ofrezca a los estudiantes con talentos especiales un pasatiempo que pueda ayudar a calmar sus mentes ocupadas. Fomente tejer, colorear, crear origami o un instrumento musical autodidacta, cualquier cosa que les permita centrarse cuidadosamente en los detalles puede ayudarlos a calmar parte del ruido extra en sus cerebros. Mi hijo se enseñó a tocar la guitarra y sé que ha tenido un día estresante cuando escucho el rasgueo proveniente de su habitación. Cuando termine, estará tranquilo y listo para afrontar el desafío.
6. Encontrar mentores: Los estudiantes dotados necesitan mentores dentro de sus áreas de interés. Los mentores pueden enseñar a los estudiantes cómo navegar a través de las profesiones e incluso pueden permitir acceso a oportunidades. ¡Nosotros encontramos a nuestro mentor en una universidad local!
7. Localizar audiencias auténticas: El trabajo que los estudiantes crean debe tener una audiencia real y ser apreciado por aquellos que auténticamente se beneficiarían de su finalización. Los estudiantes más jóvenes son un primer público auténtico.
8. Enviarlos a Campamentos de Verano: Encuentra campamentos que les permitan conectarse con otros estudiantes que comparten su pasión. Cuando mi hijo tenía 8 años fue a un campamento de matemáticas para niños con habilidades en esta área. Allí pasaron un balón de fútbol con los demás mientras discutían el Teorema de Pitágoras. Dijo: "¡Es la primera vez que encontró a alguien que realmente le gusta lo que hago!"
9. Permítales leer libros de bajo nivel: ¿Por qué esperamos que cada libro que lean los alumnos con habilidades excepcionales sea de libros por encima de su nivel de lectura? Digo, si un estudiante está disfrutando de un libro, ¡léelo! Sí, se necesitan libros desafiantes para desarrollar la capacidad de lectura, pero no descartes un libro solo porque este está por debajo del nivel de un estudiante. Leer un libro con un propósito diferente puede aumentar la dificultad de un libro sin cambiar el texto. Ellos también necesitan una "lectura de relajación o placer".
10. Conviértete en un espacio seguro: Proporcione un espacio seguro para que los estudiantes dotados tomen riesgos sin ser puestos por debajo. Los estudiantes dotados a menudo son tímidos cuando responden a algo de lo que no están seguros debido al estigma social asociado a no responder correctamente. Cree una cultura en el aula donde las respuestas incorrectas se conviertan en una oportunidad para celebrar diferentes maneras de pensar. ¡Promueve una mentalidad de crecimiento!
(WATG desea extender un gran agradecimiento al Dr. German Diaz de las Escuelas Públicas de Milwaukee por traducir este artículo al español para nuestras familias y educadores de habla hispana. La traducción también se puede encontrar en nuestros blogs de sitio web.)
Maria Katsaros-Molzahn, WATG Board Member
If hindsight is, indeed, 20/20, then 2021 promises to become a year of growth for us all. WATG continues to promote a deeper understanding of the needs and realities of all gifted individuals in Wisconsin. We believe that gifted people have existed throughout history and are demographically diverse. However, we recognize that children from low socioeconomic status or minority backgrounds often fail to receive appropriate opportunities for talent development. Further, we are troubled by reports indicating that some school districts in Wisconsin are cutting advanced programming in the name of equity, including gifted programming, honors classes, and Advanced Placement classes. Is it possible that social justice advocates believe giftedness does not exist in people of color? What would Maya Angelou, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kamala Harris, or Carmen Diaz have to say to that?
Erasing programs that support student growth rarely solves a problem. Indeed, we argue, loss of appropriate learning opportunities exacerbates inequity. We must learn to SEE POTENTIAL and commit to assisting all learners to reach their dreams. Indeed, to dismantle structural and institutional racism, we need to promote scholarly discourse in all of our students. Students must learn the skills of critical analysis and synthesis. Advanced and challenging programming must be offered in an equitable way. We adults must learn that giftedness is never limited to one group, or to those who score well on one test.
Throwing the baby out with the bathwater rarely helps. Recognizing who our students are and what they bring to the table begins with the growth model. Multilingual children, for instance, exhibit higher neuro-plasticity (Skibba, 2018). Similarly, students with strong ethnic ties learn to assimilate aspects from the dominant culture while maintaining their unique heritage. We need to embrace strengths and provide students with positive growth opportunities.
Of course, honest solutions are rarely simple. A critical look at the issue must start with local demographics. Who are the students in each individual school system? Where do they come from? What are their stories and histories? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Wisconsin is 83.9% White, 6.2% Black or African American, 6.4% Hispanic/Latino, 2.6% Asian, and 0.8% American Indian and Alaskan. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, 1,276,103 minors live in Wisconsin. This population breakdown is similar to the overall demographic, although Wisconsin’s children are more diverse: 70.4% of the minors are White, 12.0% Hispanic, 8.8 Black, 3.7% Asian, 4.0% two or more races, and 1.1% American Indians/Alaskan Native. These numbers belie the multi-dimensional aspects of inequity in our state.
Dedicating time to develop deep inquiry leads to stronger understanding of the individual needs of local communities and individual students.. Rather than eliminating programming, discovering and fostering promise builds hope in our students and their families.
As a first-generation immigrant from a low-economic status enclave, strong public school TAG programming provided the catalyst propelling my siblings and me out of the cycle of addiction. For this reason, and so many other reasons, eliminating gifted programming for the sake of equity makes as much sense as throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s cast a wider net, and prospect for talent in all children, and then provide the services that they need.
Children’s Defense Fund (2018). Retrieved from:
Skibba, R. (2018). How a second language boosts the brain. Retrieved from:
(WATG would like to extend a huge thank you to German Diaz of Milwaukee Public Schools for translating this article into Spanish for our Spanish-speaking families and educators. The translation can also be found in our website blogs.)
Satisfaciendo las necesidades de TODAS las personas con habilidades esc excepcionales en Wisconsin
Si la retrospectiva es, de hecho, el año 2020, entonces el 2021 promete convertirse en un año de crecimiento para todos nosotros. WATG continúa promoviendo una comprensión más profunda de las necesidades y realidades de todas las personas dotadas en Wisconsin. Creemos que las personas con talentos excepcionales han existido a lo largo de la historia y son demográficamente diversas. Sin embargo, reconocemos que los niños de bajo nivel socioeconómico o de origen minoritario a menudo no tienen acceso a oportunidades apropiadas para el desarrollo de sus talentos. Además, nos preocupan los informes que indican que algunos distritos escolares en Wisconsin están cortando la programación avanzada en nombre de la equidad, incluyendo los programas para estudiantes con habilidades superiores, clases de honores y clases avanzadas. ¿Es posible que los defensores de la justicia social crean que el talento no existe en las personas de color? ¿Qué tendrían que decir Maya Angelou, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kamala Harris o Carmen Díaz?
El deshacerse de programas que apoyan el crecimiento de los estudiantes con talentos especiales, rara vez resuelve un problema. De hecho, podemos argumentar que la pérdida de oportunidades de aprendizaje apropiadas exacerba la inequidad. Debemos aprender a VER POTENTIAL y comprometernos a ayudar a todos los estudiantes a alcanzar sus sueños. De hecho, para desmantelar el racismo estructural e institucional, necesitamos promover el discurso académico y el pensamiento crítico en todos nuestros estudiantes. Los estudiantes deben aprender las habilidades de análisis crítico. La programación avanzada es un paso más para lograr obtener un desarrollo equitativo y justo. Los adultos debemos aprender que el talento nunca se limita a un grupo específico, o a aquellos que obtienen los grados más altos en los exámenes.
El tratar de deshacernos de aquello que funciona junto con lo que no funciona no es una buena estrategia. Reconocer quiénes son nuestros estudiantes y lo que traen a la mesa es una señal de un cambio de crecimiento mental. Los niños que hablan varios idiomas, por ejemplo, exhiben una mayor neuroplasticidad (Skibba, 2018). Del mismo modo, los estudiantes con fuertes lazos étnicos aprenden a asimilar aspectos de la cultura dominante manteniendo su patrimonio único. Necesitamos adoptar un cambio mental que nos permita reconocer los dotes y talentos que nos ayuden a incrementar el acceso a oportunidades para todos los estudiantes de comunidades minoritarias.
Por supuesto, las soluciones honestas rara vez son simples. Una mirada crítica al problema debe comenzar con estudio demográfico local. ¿Quiénes son los estudiantes en cada sistema escolar? ¿De dónde vienen? ¿Cuáles son sus historias y sus pasados? Según la Oficina del Censo de los Estados Unidos, Wisconsin es 83.9% blanco, 6.2% negro o afroamericano, 6.4% hispano/latino, 2.6% asiático, y 0.8% indio americano y alaskano. Según el Fondo de Defensa Infantil, 1.276.103 menores viven en Wisconsin. Este desglose de la población es similar a las cifras demográficas a nivel nacional. Aunque los niños de Wisconsin son más diversos: el 70,4% de los menores son blancos, 12,0% hispanos, 8,8 negros, 3,7% asiáticos, 4,0% dos o más razas y 1,1% indios americanos/nativos de Alaska. Estos números desmienten los aspectos multidimensionales de la inequidad en nuestro estado.
Dedicar tiempo a desarrollar una investigación profunda conduce a una comprensión más coherente de las necesidades individuales de las comunidades locales y de los estudiantes de cada comunidad. En lugar de eliminar los programas que existen y que dan fruto, debemos descubrir y fomentar la promesa que genera esperanza en nuestros estudiantes y sus familias.
Como inmigrante de primera generación, quien viene de una familia de bajos recursos económicos, se que la programación de las escuelas públicas proporcionan el catalizador que impulsó a mis hermanos y a mí fuera del ciclo de la adicción. Por esta razón, y muchas otras razones, eliminar la programación que ofrece sus servicios a estudiantes con habilidades excepcionales en nombre de la igualdad no tiene ningún sentido. Deberíamos extender nuestra visión y perspectiva de talento, el cual se encuentra en estudiantes de todos los grupos y estratos económicos, para poder ofrecer así, los servicios que ellos necesitan.
Children’s Defense Fund (2018). Sacado de:
Skibba, R. (2018). How a second language boosts the brain. Sacado de:
(WATG desea extender un gran agradecimiento al Dr. German Díaz de las escuelas de Milwaukee por traducir este artículo al español para nuestras familias y educadores de habla hispana. La traducción también se puede encontrar en nuestros blogs de sitio web.)
By Alyssa Roth, Student
These are trying times. There’s no questioning that. Things are changing more rapidly than we even believed to be possible. Masks have become a necessary evil, people are divided over politics and social issues, but most importantly, the future is up in the air, and there are so many questions that are left unanswered. Yet in this time of change and division there are things that do remain the same, and some change has even been for the better.
My world turned upside down on March 17th. That was the day we found out school was closed. I was honestly kind of excited. It’s like an extended spring break, we’ll be back in no time, I thought. What I didn’t see was that it would get so much worse before it got better, and about 9 months later we would still be sheltering in place.
After summer vacation my family made the decision to go completely virtual and learn from home for my Sophomore year. This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I was in between friends and had just started fitting in, which is saying something as I had been with the same kids since 6th grade. I missed my friends and I missed the teachers. I missed everything. I received daily emails from the school, telling me what I was missing, whether it was club activities, spirit week, an outdoor movie, and so much more. I didn’t find joy in learning anymore, and I fell behind in my classes.
Then I had an epiphany. When I go back to school, I don’t want my grades holding me back from doing things I love. So I started working harder. I worked for hours and put all my energy into loving my classes and learning new and interesting things. Even the classes I don’t like, I still powered through with the promise that they will benefit me in the future. As of this moment I am almost done with all my classes for the semester.
Working hard in my classes has been fantastic. It’s given me opportunities I never expected. I have the freedom to explore my interests and try new things. I’ve cooked, I’ve started learning a new language, I’ve written stories, I’ve even picked up a guitar for the first time in years and played until my fingers were raw. It’s an amazing feeling, being able to try so many things I’ve always wanted to do.
Another thing quarantine has made me notice is how hard my mom works. She’s always either been at home or worked part time, and just from what I saw before quarantine all she did was household chores. When we started learning from home I saw the other side of the story. She had meetings with the police and fire commission, the school board, and even WATG. She worked (and still works) so hard to make Altoona a better place for everyone. “I don’t know if I can change the world, but I do know I can make my tiny corner of it a better place,” she always says. And she really has. She advocated for me to get the classes I need, she advocates at a state and national level for kids like me to get the education they deserve, and through all that she still manages to put dishes in the dishwasher and fold blankets and let the dog out.
This quarantine has been hard for her too. When this all started she was supposed to go to Washington D.C. to talk with legislators about gifted education. Unfortunately her trip got cancelled. Some things have remained the same though; even though it’s completely virtual she’s still meeting with senators and representatives, trying to get the resources we gifted kids need. She still attended the annual WATG conference, (virtually of course), despite technology issues and complications. She’s still advocating for me and for everyone, and now more than ever she’s taking care of my family when we need it the most.
Of course many bad things have happened this year, but as a new budget cycle approaches, my mom and everyone in WATG is working harder than ever to ensure success in obtaining resources and funding for gifted students. It does not go unnoticed, and I’m pretty sure I speak for all gifted kids when I say thank you all for your hard work. Even if you’ve only done something seemingly small and insignificant, it’s a step forward. Plus, as my personal hero says, “I don’t know if I can change the world, but I do know I can make my tiny corner of it a better place.”
Post Script by Hillarie Roth, WATG President-Elect:
As Alyssa stated, there have been many changes this year, but WATG continues working tirelessly to advocate for gifted individuals everywhere. Please stay connected with us as we move into a new budget cycle for Wisconsin, choose a new State Superintendent in the spring election, and navigate equity issues in gifted education. Change is always happening, let’s work hard to make it a change for the better!
I’m a mom of two gifted kids. I spend most of my time volunteering at my children’s school, for their extracurricular activities, and advocating for educational opportunities that will lead to their academic growth. Food, however, is my passion. I love to cook for my family and friends, discover new restaurants, collect and study cookbooks, grocery shop for the best available ingredients, and learn about food history, culture and policy. It is my hope that writing articles about food will get the Gifted and Talented community thinking more about the link between our diets and our brains.
History and science have demonstrated that diversity in a human’s diet has led to brain growth and development. Incorporating as many types of whole foods as possible into a family’s meals is key to healthy, strong, and clear brains in which new synapses are able to form, allowing for deeper and more complex thought. This was the subject of an article written for the WATG October Newsletter, Is a Diverse Diet Key to Brain Development? I often get asked how my kids are such good eaters. Below are some food rules and practices that we have implemented into our house to make sure everyone eats a diverse diet.
Finally, I’ll ask you to consider this. If you were able to afford a full-time chef, what would you instruct the chef to make for you most of the time? Would you instruct your chef to make mostly healthy meals? Would you do this because as an adult you are aware of the overall health benefits of balanced and nutritious meals? Now consider the fact that you are that chef for your children. If they had the knowledge of adults, what would they instruct their chef to make for them?
By Jessica Albrecht-Schultz, WATG Board Member
By Jessica Albrecht-Schultz, WATG Board Member
We have all heard the old adage “you are what you eat,” but does that apply to your brain as well as your body? Can a diverse diet play a role in your child’s neurocognitive development?
Diverse diet in the evolution of the human brain
First, let us review some human evolution to see how our big brains came to be.
Between 1.9 and 2 million years ago, the brain size of our human ancestors increased dramatically. Stephanie Pappas, in her article Ancient Brainfood Helped Humans Get Smart, discusses how bone fragments and fossils from various animals found in northern Kenya during this time period adds evidence to a theory that these pre-humans owed this brainpower boost to fish. The Omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish could have provided the nutrients the hominins needed to evolve larger brains. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal published a study that also revealed a huge variety in the hominids’ diets. Aquatic animals are believed to be part of early hominid diet and likely helped with the evolution of large brains, but it may have been the diversity of diet rather than single food groups that pushed hominid evolution forward. 
Our ancestors had seasons of abundance and those of hardship due to Nature’s relentless cycles. When fish, meat and fruit were scarce, our ancestors relied on whatever was available, which oftentimes was not much more than plants, nuts and seeds, tubers, wild grains, and bugs.  They ate what they could get their hands on which led to a diverse diet.
According to the “cooking hypothesis,” the advent of cooked food again altered the course of human evolution. By providing our forebears with a more energy-dense and easy-to-digest diet, it allowed our brains to again grow bigger. 
Eating better made our ancestors smarter, and being smarter now allowed them to feed themselves more efficiently. Little by little, as the brain grew larger, man grew taller… eye-hand coordination improved, and planning skills became more sophisticated… allowing for better hunting techniques to catch bigger and… fresher game. This high-quality diet further increased our ancestors’ fat consumption and available energy, which proved crucial for this rapid brain evolution of Homo erectus. 
In Kelly Brogan’s book, A Mind of Your Own, she argues that carbs as well as fish have been key to human evolution. She says there’s no way we could have developed such big brains had it not been for our access to carbs, in addition to high-quality protein. Carb consumption, particularly in the form of starch from tubers, seeds, fruits, and nuts was the key to the rapid growth and development of our brains over the last million years. 
If a diverse diet is thought to be crucial to brain growth and development, humans should have a very diverse diet today as we have the easiest access to a variety of food in history. Simply go to the grocery store at any point during the year and you can get high-quality foods such as fresh wild fish, grass-fed animal protein, local and exotic organic fruits and vegetables, and any type of grain, nut, or seed. Over 300,000 foods and beverages are available with 30,000 to 40,000 available at supermarkets;  however not all are considered healthy. Diversity in our diet is available to us, but the typical American diet is less diverse than ever. The majority of foods in grocery stores are processed forms of commodity crops, mainly corn, soybeans, and wheat, none of which are sold in their original form from nature, and are often high in sugar, manipulated fats, refined salt and chemical preservatives. Still, the availability of whole foods, in a state similar to how they are found in nature, are more available to us than ever before. Naturalists regard biodiversity as a measure of a landscape’s health.  Should diversity at our local supermarket be a measure of our physical and mental health? I believe it can be, but only if we consume that diversity as nature intended.
… humans can live just about anywhere on earth, and when their familiar foods are in short supply, there’s always another they can try. Indeed, there is probably not a nutrient source on earth that is not eaten by some human somewhere – bugs, worms, dirt, fungi, lichens, seaweed, rotten fish, the roots, shoots, stems, bark, buds, flowers, seeds, and fruits of plants; every imaginable part of every imaginable animal, not to mention haggis, granola, and Chicken McNuggets. The deeper mystery, only partly explained by neophobia, is why any given human group will eat so few of the numberless nutrients available to it. 
Food sciences today
Nutrition science is a relatively new science. It began less than two hundred years ago and is today approximately where surgery was in the year 1650.  There have been some interesting and beneficial findings, but there is much confusion around which foods and nutrients are good or bad for you. New studies contradict the findings of earlier studies. As is the case for all scientific studies, the results depend on a vast number of factors. In the case of nutrition, whomever funds the study, the expected results, the interpretation of the data and what is chosen to be highlighted from the study all influence the published findings. The ramification is confusion and inconsistency. Additionally, food trends are a darling of the media, and we are bombarded with information about new superfoods, foods to avoid and fad diets, all adding to the confusion. Diversity of whole foods in our diets steer us away from this confusion. Nature has given us a plethora of foods that humans can eat.
Neuro-nutrition, or how food affects the brain, is even younger. Nutritional requirements for the brain may be substantially different than requirements for other organs of the body. Diversity is believed to be key for neuro-nutrition. However, in looking at food and its specific relationship to the brain, we may be trying to isolate something that is meant to function as a whole. A lot of research is being done with a holistic view of the mind-body connection and the gut-brain connection.
Nutritional psychiatry is a newly recognized but growing field. This discipline focuses on how the use of food and supplements can be used as treatments for mental health disorders. According to Eva Selhub, MD in her article Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food, this field is finding that there are many consequences and correlations between not only what you eat, how you feel, and how you ultimately behave, but also the kinds of bacteria that live in your gut. Microbiota in the gut and the beneficial bacteria that live in it are being studied for the impact on your immune system and various medical conditions.
What to eat
Whole foods, those of which are unprocessed and typically found in the outer aisles of the supermarket, are the best brain foods and are also good for our bodies.
Food that contains polyunsaturated fat which has Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be necessary for healthy brain function. These foods have been studied to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and memory loss, and contain the fat that our brains in large part are made of. Omega-3s are found in fish and shellfish and have higher concentrations in wild-caught than farm raised fish. The same is true for wild game and grass-fed beef, compared to their conventional counterparts. I find it extremely interesting that walnuts look like a brain and are the top nuts to eat for brain health. But don’t limit your nut consumption to walnuts just because they have a high concentration of Omega-3s. All nuts and seeds, in general, are good for the brain due to their rich sources of fatty acids and antioxidants.
Eggs contain nutrients such as choline, which is used by the brain to memorize information and learn from experience. Of all the animal foods available to us, eggs are hard to beat for brain nutrition. To continue your diverse diet, try as many types of eggs as you can find. I’ve found chicken, duck and quail eggs at my local supermarkets. In addition, friends who have geese, guinea hens, and pheasants have given me some of their eggs for my family’s meals.
Whole grains slowly release glucose in your bloodstream, which helps with concentration and focus. They also work to reduce inflammation in the brain, potentially preserving your memory. Ancient grains, such as einkorn, emmer, amaranth, millet, quinoa, black rice, black barley, and spelt, can be found at the supermarket, or are now easily ordered online. These ancient grains are nutritionally superior to modern grains like wheat, corn and rice.
Phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables are powerful to protect our health and promote healing, but also work specifically in the brain to improve memory and learning. Over 8,000 phytochemicals exist,  again advocating for diversity in our diet. Nutritional science has started to figure out the synergistic effects of combining certain foods, but much is still unknown. Our ancestors may have figured out these synergies intuitively or by trial-and-error without having the science to help them. This synergistic knowledge of what types of foods to combine with each other in a meal has been passed down from generation to generation, and may have been lost in part when America’s fore-families moved away from their homelands and thus lost their generational food knowledge.
It is my belief that incorporating as many types of whole foods as possible into your family’s diet is key to a healthy, strong, and clear brain in which new synapses are able to form, allowing for deeper and more complex thought. This diet provides more nutrients than a low quality, uniform diet.
Diverse for diversity
Not only is a diverse diet likely beneficial for brain growth and development, expanding the variety of food offered to your children, and encouraging enjoyment of dishes from various cultures is also a good way for us to demonstrate racial, ethnic and cultural diversity. Voicing opinions about diversity is common in 2020, but feeding our children dishes from many cultures is a small, but important way that our actions will help our children be tolerant and understanding of the diversity in the world in which we live. It’s actually food for thought, as they say.
I’m a mom of two gifted kids. I spend most of my time volunteering at my children’s school, for their extracurricular activities, and advocating for educational opportunities that will lead to their academic growth. Food, however, is my passion. I love to cook for my family and friends, discover new restaurants, collect and study cookbooks, grocery shop for the best available ingredients and learn about food history, culture, and policy. This article is meant to get the GT community thinking more about the link between our diets and our brains. Many of the ideas have, or could have, entire books devoted to them. It is not meant to be comprehensive, and I am not a food nutritionist or neuroscientist. I’m just a mom trying to do what I think is best for my family, like so many moms and dads out there. I’m happy to receive constructive feedback, but please keep it positive.
 Stephanie Pappas, Ancient 'Brain Food' Helped Humans Get Smart June 03, 2010
 Dr. Lisa Mosconi, Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power
 Michael Pollan, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
 Mosconi, Brain Food
 Kelly Brogan M.D., A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies and Reclaim Their Lives
 Bill Code, Karen D. Johnson M.D., and Teri Jaklin, Solving the Brain Puzzle: A Complete Layperson’s Guide to Achieving Brain Health
 Michael Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma
 Pollan, The Omnivore’s Dilemma
 Michael Pollan, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual
[10} Code, Johnson and Jaklin, Solving the Brain Puzzle
The 2020 WATG Conference will be here before we know it. As a parent, another conference or meeting held virtually in front of your device may be the last thing you want to do, but the WATG Board has assembled an impressive conference schedule with both educators and parents in mind.
Our keynote speakers, Dr. Marcia Gentry and Dr. Brian Housand will be presenting new information from which we as parents can benefit, either personally or globally. Dr. Gentry’s keynote, “Equity in Wisconsin” will feature state report cards in several important inclusivity areas, as well as possible approaches to improvement. Dr. Housand’s keynote “Where do we go from here? Charting the Course Ahead for Gifted Ed” will provide practical opportunities and strategies to challenge all gifted students, including your own. The different conference tracks, as well as exhibitor sessions. are sure to provide you with plenty of learning opportunities.
Before you fill your schedule with sessions specific to your child’s needs, though, don’t forget to consider your own needs. With pandemic-influenced circumstances imposed since last March, the line between teacher and parent has blurred in many of our homes. I suggest you use the conference’s offerings to give you ideas and confidence to grow your knowledge and skill sets. Try attending sessions like “Exploring STEM in the Classroom” (even if that classroom is now your kitchen) or “Social-Emotional Learning Through Leadership.”
I encourage you to attend a session or two that don’t appear to have direct relevance to your child, but are just plain interesting to you. Last year, I attended a session about how to incorporate art into every subject. Now, artistic prowess doesn’t exactly run in our family; it fascinated me to see how art can be incorporated into social studies, math and language arts. Maybe your child isn’t into reading about anything but current times? Attend “Learning the Importance of the Classics” to remind yourself how the classics influenced your life.
Maybe most importantly, don’t miss the opportunity to attend a session that reminds you that you are not alone navigating gifted education for your child in these unusual times. The conference offers some great sessions which explore the affective needs of gifted kids, workshops such as “Defining Ready: The Head, The Heart, The Courage,” “Wicked Good Family: Hands-on, Minds-on Community,” and “Racial Disparity in Academic Achievement.”
On Monday at 4 PM we will present our “Unconference” on Zoom, hosted by WATG Board members. Breakout rooms will be devoted to various topics centered on gifted children and gifted education. As Board members, we bring a diverse set of reasons we became involved with WATG, and we are eager to share. These sessions will be an opportunity to casually discuss a wide range of topics with current board members.
To quote a sign at the exit of a fitness chain, we as parents should remind ourselves that “you did something great today” every single day, even when our confidence takes a hit. Take advantage of the WATG Conference to help you with that reminder.
Lalitha Murali, WATG Board Member
We are living in unpredictable times. There is a global pandemic. Many of us are wearing masks and practicing social distancing as a sign of mutual respect for each other. Our Black brothers and sisters are fighting for their lives, and we stand in solidarity with them by listening to them, amplifying Black voices, and sharing and practicing anti-racist ideologies.
So how do we, as gifted individuals and/or parents and educators of gifted children, activate our social conscience and practice social justice daily? The answer may be simpler than you think. Perhaps we already are.
Giftedness is all about imagining and achieving the impossible, and living through these unpredictable times is also about imagining and achieving the impossible. Our lives have been greatly altered, and we’ve had to adapt.
First of all, I challenge you to think about challenges that you’ve already faced in your life. What did you have to do to achieve work-life balance? What have you had to do to remain safe and keep everyone around you safe? How have you reconciled your feelings about the world with the actions in your life up until this point? Think about how you’ve grown, changed, and adapted. You’ve been resilient.
Now that we know and understand how resilient our minds are and how we grow to adapt to our life circumstances, let’s discuss how we keep this momentum going and create change to make this world a better place.
You see, giftedness is about using the skills you already have and utilizing them to achieve greater heights. The more you perfect these skills, the better equipped you will be to face the challenges ahead. And believe me there, will be many challenges that will eventually make us better humans. These challenges will force us to rethink our ideologies, and to work together to make the world a better place.
So keep reading, my friends. Keep writing, keep talking, and keep doing. These skills will serve you and the world well.. And we need these skills now more than ever.
Student and Parent Voices
Hear from and about gifted and talented students and parents across the state Wisconsin.