Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hoist the Colours, Me Hearties!

We're flying the Jolly Roger today because Pirates of the Caribbean opens tonight. Granted the second installment, Dead Man's Chest, was a disappointment, but Pirates 3: At World's End is just as epic and just as witty at the first one. Just what you need to tide you over until National Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

5000 Darwin letters go online!

From their press release:
"Welcome to the Darwin Correspondence Project’s new web site. The main feature of the site is an Online Database with the complete, searchable, texts of around 5,000 letters written by and to Charles Darwin up to the year 1865. This includes all the surviving letters from the Beagle voyage - online for the first time - and all the letters from the years around the publication of Origin of species in 1859.

The letter texts, and the contextual notes which help make them accessible, are taken from the first thirteen volumes of the Correspondence of Charles Darwin (Burkhardt et al., Cambridge University Press 1985-). Letters from later volumes will be added on a rolling programme following behind publication of the print edition. Volumes 14 (1866) and 15 (1867) are already published and Volume 16 will be published in 2008.

The database also includes summaries of a further 9,000 letters still to be published. There will be 30 volumes of the print edition in total. Previously unknown letters continue to come to light.

Darwin’s letters are a rich source of information on many aspects of 19th century science and history; they are also very readable, and we hope they will be used and enjoyed by a wide audience."

Find out more about the letters and Darwin's correspondents here.

Parent Survey on Acceleration from the Belin-Blank Center

"A Survey of the Prevalence and Practices of Acceleration in Schools

Conducted by the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA)
Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development
The University of Iowa

We invite you to participate in a research study being conducted by investigators from the University of Iowa.
In 2004, The John Templeton Foundation sponsored a report titled A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students. This report highlighted the disparity between the research on acceleration and educational beliefs and practices that often run contrary to the research.

An outcome of the report A Nation Deceived was the establishment of the Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration (IRPA) at the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education. The purpose of IRPA is to provide educators, parents, and the general public with current information on the many aspects of acceleration. In addition, IRPA conducts research studies on acceleration and provides consultation on policy issues for schools.

The purpose of this study is to estimate the prevalence of acceleration in our nation’s schools and to gather information on the attitudes of parents, policy makers, and educators toward acceleration as a curriculum intervention for gifted students."

The study takes about five minutes. To participate, click here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Summer Scholarship Opportunity, due June 1

Board of Trustees Scholarships Fund from the National Society for the Gifted and Talented

Program Year 2007

2 Scholarships totaling $1100 ($550 each)

NSGT scholarships are awarded to NSGT members to support their academic, intellectual, and cognitive development. Funds can be used to help pay tuition for various academic programs, such as after-school, weekend, summer, and distance learning. Funds can also be used to support independent projects, paying for equipment, supplies, and mentors. The funds may be used for up to one year.

Students need to complete the one-page application. Call 800-572-6748 to request a form. In addition, students need to submit a detailed description (one page) of how they propose to use the funding. This description should include:

The purpose of the program or project
A description of the program or project
The expected outcome
How the program or project will be evaluated
What resources will be used
A budget

Beside the description, applicants need to submit one letter of recommendation from a teacher or administrator. If the project includes a mentor, that person must also submit a letter of support and agreement to participate in the project.

Students may submit additional materials to support their application, such as school projects or papers, listings of honors or awards won, or any other evidence of their academic creativity and success.

A team of educators in the field of gifted education will review the applications and choose the scholarship winners.

Deadline for applications is June 1st, 2007.

Winners will be notified by June 20th, 2007.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Intelligent Life in the Classroom

A review from Teacher Magazine written by David Lee Carlson:

Intelligent Life in the Classroom: Smart Kids & Their Teachers
by Karen Isaacson and Tamara Fisher
(Great Potential, 213 pages, $16.95)

"As schools scramble to meet the standards associated with No Child Left Behind, it’s good to know there are still individuals who take the time to appreciate the qualities of accomplished students. The authors of Intelligent Life use anecdotes of their own and others’ interactions with gifted children to illustrate these characteristics.

The stories in the book give clear examples of each gifted-child trait. As the pair points out, a student may be intense, creative, and curious in one subject or on one assignment, but not another. Gifted children are not “better” than other students, but they learn differently, (“faster,” according to the authors), and they “like to learn more about things.” They’re caring, curious, intense, persistent, and sensitive, to name a few characteristics—sometimes in ways that can both please and annoy teachers. ..."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Size Does Matter

Many people are contemplating early kindergarten entrance for their gifted and/or late-birthday children. Conventional wisdom seems to be that leaving these kids back a year has no down-side. "Give them another year to just be a kid!" they say. "Boys mature socially/emotionally more slowly than girls, anyway. If he can't sit still, they'll give him Ritalin!" "He'll be bigger and stronger than all the other children, so they'll look up to him!"

Klaus has an early October birthday, so missed the kindergarten cutoff by a couple weeks. We decided to leave him back a year for all of the above reasons, plus the fact that he was in a good preschool situation that would grow with him. But there is a downside to red-shirting kindergarteners.

Size does matter. Yes, your son will be bigger and stronger than all the other children. Remember those older, bigger kids when you were in school? Were they the smart ones? Or the ones called "Moose" who may have been left back a year? Being older and bigger isn't a ticket to popularity. For gifted kids who may already have trouble relating to their agemates, being physically as well as intellectually different only compounds the socialization issue.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Can Read This, So I Thank My Mother

Normally I'm not a big fan of the Dobsons, but Linda Dobson has a great Mother's Day column in this month's Home Education Magazine:
I Can Read This, So I Thank My Mother

An Oldie but a Goodie

Purely by coincidence, both Wolfie and Xavier are studying plants in science at the moment. (Xavier's still whizzing through 7th grade science but he's at least interested enough to try some of the activities--I hesitate to call them "experiments--which is more than I could say about 6th grade science.)

Anyway, yesterday's activity required an emergency trip to the store for celery, so he could put a stalk in colored water to watch it to "demonstrate how water is transported to the leaves," (read: "To watch it change color"). A classic elementary school project, although we always did it with carnations. Celery is cheaper, I suppose. I now have a stalk of celery that is both green and a disgusting shade of purple.

I ordinarily wouldn't consider this blog-worthy, but the boys got all excited about the purple celery and decided to extend the experiment. We now have three carnations--white, yellow and pink--in three vases of water in the front window. They're trying to see if the already colored carnations will take up the color in the water and whether the color will mix, i.e. will the yellow carnation in the blue water turn green or yellow with blue edges? Will the dyed pink carnation take up the blue water and turn purple?

The second and third experiments are with houseplants. Will watering a plant with colored water make variegated leaves or white flowers turn color? We're using a diffenbachia and a Japanese peace lily for this experiment. Xavier is watering the diffenbachia with purple water and Wolfie is watering the lily with pink/red water. This is clearly a longer term experiment and we may end up testing different strengths of color as well (stronger color = more likely to be taken up into the leaves?) Stay tuned...

I'm excited about this mostly because I hope this means we're beginning to revive their love of learning. Maybe "projects" is no longer a dirty word. I'd been disappointed lately because they had zero interest in developing 4H projects to enter in the county fair. Not that they're not participating in 4H and enjoying it, just that they refuse to compete. And in the meantime, we're looking at scholarships and college apps for Klaus and they all want to know "when have you competed?" and "did you win?" One step at a time.

If anyone else tries these experiments at home, let me know how they go? Maybe we can compare results.