Igniting Ideas and Innovations
For those of you who live within reach of Minneapolis, Minnesota, whether by car or by airplane, the deadline will soon be upon us to register for this year’s annual National Association for Gifted Children convention. Although many of you are aware of this great organization, I want to take this opportunity to fill the rest of you in on its many missions and benefits, as well as to encourage you to become a member yourself and to register for their always-enlightening convention. (I am not a spokesperson for NAGC, but I am a member. No one has put me up to this! I’m just taking advantage of great timing.)
NAGC is “an organization of parents, teachers, educators, other professionals, and community leaders who unite to address the unique needs of children and youth with demonstrated gifts and talents as well as those children who may be able to develop their talent potential with appropriate educational experiences.” The organization’s mission is to “support and develop policies and practices that encourage and respond to the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups.” Additionally, NAGC “supports and engages in research and development, staff development, advocacy, communication, and collaboration with other organizations and agencies who strive to improve the quality of education for all students.” NAGC defines gifted as someone who “shows, or has the potential for showing, an exceptional level of performance in one or more areas of expression.”
This year’s convention will take place in Minneapolis, November 7-11 and the early bird registration deadline is September 21. You can still register after that date, but it will cost a little more. This year’s theme is “Igniting Ideas and Innovations in Gifted.”
About 3,000+ teachers, gifted specialists, parents, researchers, and administrators attend the convention each year. I would describe the experience as being like any conference you’ve ever been to on steroids. It is a fast-paced week offering thousands of opportunities to learn more about gifted students, differentiation strategies, gifted policy, and much more. They offer three days with 350+ breakout sessions and two days of in-depth sessions (Wednesday Academies and Thursday Focus Sessions and Action Labs). In addition, keynote speakers this year will be Dean Keith Simonton, Robert Sternberg, and Garrison Keillor. Hundreds of vendors will be available in the Exhibit Hall. And special opportunities are available just for superintendents and parents.
I will be presenting (co-presenting) on Thursday (Focus Session #Q) - “Full of Promise: Factors that Influence Academic Success among Gifted American Indian Students,” a topic of apparent interest to many of you), and on Friday with my co-author, Karen Isaacson - "Self-Advocacy: The Power of a Child’s Voice”. These are just two of the thousands of interesting topics being offered throughout the week.
For anyone going to the convention, if you don’t yet know about the “Build Your Own Itinerary” feature, I highly recommend using it. Through the website, you can search all of the available sessions, narrow down your choices in each time slot, and save your very own mini-version of the schedule. Even if you can’t narrow it down to ONE session in a time slot, at least being able to narrow it down to 4 or 5 (instead of 30+) saves oodles of time once you’re at the convention. Just print it before you leave home and you’ll find yourself better prepared to deal with the multitude of options once you get there. (I always hate that last minute scramble of trying to decide which of the great sessions to go to, the minutes quickly ticking away… This feature eliminates – or at least reduces – that in-the-moment angst for those of us who wish we could do it all!)
If attending the convention doesn’t fit your schedule this year, I still encourage you to look into joining NAGC. From my own experience, membership has afforded me the benefits of easier access to research in the field (“Gifted Child Quarterly”), teaching ideas (“Teaching for High Potential”), and strategies to offer to the parents of my students (“Parenting for High Potential”). In addition, I love that NAGC is a key means by which I can collaborate with and come to know others around the country who do what I do. Anyone out there who is a Gifted Education Specialist like me can probably relate to the solitary existence we live at times within our own schools or districts. Being involved with NAGC is one big way I counteract that isolation.
NAGC’s Gifted Program Standards offer an important guideline for anyone creating, polishing, administering, or teaching in a gifted program. The organization also does some work in the policy/legislation realm, and even makes suggestions to colleges about Teacher Preparation Standards in Gifted Education. Anyone looking to delve into the nitty-gritty of the field will enjoy their Hot Topics page. And finally, a feature that is a favorite among the parents of my students is NAGC’s annual Toy List (this link is for an older list… this year’s list isn’t out yet), which always highlights the latest and coolest in challenging think-games for kids (and the adults in their lives!)
For those of you who are already members of NAGC, what benefits do you appreciate about your membership? What advice do you have for first-timers at the convention? Will any readers of this blog be presenting and what is your topic? What questions do any of you have about NAGC or about the upcoming convention?
Enjoy your week!