Power Up Potential Conference – What is Our Purpose?

By Maureen McDermid, Gifted Children’s Association of BC

Two organizations, the Gifted Children’s Association of BC (GCABC) and the Lower Mainland Gifted Contacts, an educator group (LMGC), that support and advocate for gifted learners have come together to raise awareness of gifted learners in our province. The purpose of this conference is to inform those who work with gifted students and those who nurture them by sharing the most current information we have about recognizing giftedness and supporting gifted potential.

The Gifted Children’s Association of BC has long been one of many parent support groups that operated in BC in support of students with special needs. Local chapters brought together parents in a school district or region to network, share and learn from each other and provide feedback to schools about how initiatives or programs were serving their students.  It was a positive force in the community in many places across BC, energized in the early 90’s by the Ministry of Education’s decision to support the philosophy of inclusion of students designated as Special Needs, which was taken as a signal that all designated students would be receiving enhanced support.

In those day the language of inclusion was ‘integration’ and the intent was to include all learners in regular classroom settings, closing special education classes and programs. To support this move, many additional Education Assistants were trained and hired and specially trained teachers employed in schools as Resource Teachers to support integration.  In addition, in recognition of the additional needs special education students needed, a system of reporting identified students and receiving additional grants to provide services was instituted.

Many of us who worked in schools and supported families with gifted children wondered how this would serve our students. While we could readily see the benefits for students in other categories of need who had been grouped together by designation so specific types of instruction could be offered efficiently, we wondered how this would benefit gifted students. Best practice in supporting the gifted category of special need includes having the opportunity to work with like-minded peers as well as providing a learning environment that offered the breadth, depth and pace for learning that these students needed. If classrooms and programs that gathered these like-minded learners together disappeared, how would that optimum environment and support survive in a very mixed ability class? However, the special education grants allowed districts to identify students and claim funding that provided for an array of supports and assignment of teachers with gifted special education backgrounds to work with and support identified students.

Awareness about and service to gifted learners has been in steady decline in our schools since 2002! 

On January 3, 2015, the Vancouver Sun ran an article motivated by a visit of two journalists (Tracy Sherlock, Chad Skelton) to the TALONS program for gifted students at Gleneagles Secondary School in Coquitlam, BC.  Subsequent investigation of the status of gifted education in the province resulted in the following findings:

  • Students reported as gifted to the Ministry of Education has dropped by half across BC, from 2.5% of students to just 1.1% since 2002.
  • Experts in the field agree that this is not because BC’s population became less intellectually able, but because gifted kids are no longer being identified

For example, in some districts, this drop was striking – where?

  • Mission – the % share of gifted students rose steadily from 2002 to 2006, then in one year dropped to almost none!
  • Surrey – in 2002, 2.7% gifted were reported, in 2014, 0.9%
  • Vancouver – 2002, 5% reported, this past year, 0.7%

Coquitlam (third largest district in the province) is one of only 5 districts where the number of identified gifted students reported in the past few years has increased. The other districts are Delta, Revelstoke, Conseil Scolaire Francophone, and Haida Gwaii.

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

In 2002, the Ministry removed targeted funding to four categories of special needs students, one of which was gifted. Removal of this targeted funding meant that very quickly, those supports that had been in place because the funding required that it be spent on services to the students who were designated, stopped!  Districts also stopped assessing and designating students because they reasoned that there was no option as there was no funding.

THE RESULTS

Fewer and fewer students were designated as gifted and fewer teachers acquired the knowledge and experience to identify and respond to their needs. And so today, the number of gifted students reported to the Ministry has dropped from a high of about 16,000 students in the later 90’s to a little over 3,000 today.

FAST FORWARD TO 2018! THIS IS WHY GCABC AND THE LOWER MAINLAND GIFTED CONTACTS EDUCATORS GROUP IS ORGANIZING THE POWER UP POTENTIAL CONFERENCE!

We need to raise the issues of

  • appropriate environments and instruction for gifted students,
  • the growing emergence of twice exception students – gifted and with a learning challenge – and,
  • the increasing prevalence of behavioural and social emotional issues emerging with gifted students.

We invite parents, educators and health care and counselling professionals who support, report, diagnose and treat gifted students to join us and learn, network and organize in support of these learners. We look forward to seeing you!

 

Dr. James Webb is My Hero – Don’t miss seeing him in Canada!

By Debbie Clelland, Past-President of the Gifted Children’s Association of BC

As a parent of two gifted sons, I have been very fortunate over the years to be inspired and consoled by the resources created by Dr. James Webb.  That is why I am ecstatic that he is joining us here in Vancouver in April as a speaker for parents, educators and health care professionals! Since I realized that some of you may not really know about him, I wanted to jump up and down a bit about how rare and important an opportunity it is to hear him speak.

Back in 2003 when our oldest son was assessed as gifted, my partner and I turned to each other and said, “OK, now what?”  There were two things that really helped us: the GCABC and the resources created by James Webb.  We got a VHS tape out of our library of James Webb presenting to a group of parents about understanding giftedness, and then watched it several times.  It helped us see we were “normal” gifted parents experiencing “normal” things with our family. That was a huge relief, and so needed for us and our family to make sense of re-interpreting our experience over the previous 9 years with our sons.

James Webb (Jim) is a great humanitarian on a mission to help parents of gifted children, educators and mental health professionals understand giftedness and its many nuances.  When he discovered that parents and psychologists were struggling to understand the social-emotional aspects of giftedness, he created the organization Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG). Within SENG, he developed a way to train parents to lead support groups for other parents and created a new publishing house to get books out there as a support for gifted families. He even ended up writing several books on unique things like grand-parenting gifted children and the sometimes world weary existential depression experienced by some gifted people

I have had the pleasure of seeing Jim present at a few SENG summer conferences in various locations around the US, and have always found him to be an engaging speaker who really “gets it”. He speaks to the people in the room in a way that conveys his many years of learning as if we are sitting down at the kitchen table together to have a chat about these gifted folks we all care so much about.

I was over the moon when I learned that our own Maureen McDermid invited Jim to join us in Canada and that he accepted.  To my knowledge, this is the first time he has presented in our country.  I can’t say enough about how big a deal this is – come and join us!


Still not registered for the conference Power Up Potential 2018 with Dr. James Webb, and a number of other experts on giftedness? Sign up on the conference website before March 1 to take advantage of the Early Bird rate. 

<< Register for Power Up Potential Here!

Why Parenting a Gifted Child is Lonely

Gifted kids are more likely to flourish when they find like-minded peers who understand them and share the same passions. Similarly, the parents of gifted children may  benefit when they meet with other parents who face the same parenting issues, and with whom they can be honest about their children’s challenges and accomplishments without judgments.

The article “Why Parenting a Gifted Child is Lonely” by Medium.com blogger Amber Campbell discusses why so many parents of  gifted children can feel lonely and provides some ideas to assist them.

 

Website for Power Up Potential 2018 is launched

The website for the conference “Power Up Potential 2018” has been launched and the registration process is open for anyone who want to attend this exciting and interesting conference. The conference is organised by the GCABC in a joint effort with the Lower Mainland Gifted Contacts – a teacher network for teachers all working with gifted education.

Feature lecturer is Dr. James Webb, more known as  the psychologist who initiated the organisation Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted – SENG.

There will be four events during the three-day conference:

  • Event 1 – Thursday April 5, 2018, 9:00AM-11:30AM “Twelve Key Concerns of Parents of Gifted Children that Educators should know about”. With Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb. Target audience: Educational Leaders.
  • Event 2 – Thursday April 5, 2018, 4:00PM-8:00PM. “Motivation and Underachievement”. With Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb. Target audience: Teachers.
  • Event 3 – Friday, April 6, 2018, 9:00AM-11:30AM.  “Misdiagnoses and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children”. With Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb. Target audience: Health Care & Counselor Professionals.
  • Event 4 – Saturday, April 7, 2018, 9:00AM-3:00PM. “Power Up Potential 2018”. With Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb as well as 12 other experts on different aspects of gifted children. Target audience: Parents and other adult family members.

Please note that tickets are limited and are expected to sell out fast. Get your ticket today and experience the newest and hottest information on giftedness in BC!

Power Up Potential: Registration is Open!

cropped-gifted_children_bc_artist.jpg

Registration for the conference “Power Up Potential 2018” is now open!

Join us for four separate events with Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb:

  • Event 1 – Thursday April 5, 2018, 9:00AM-11:30AM “Twelve Key Concerns of Parents of Gifted Children that Educators should know about”. With Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb. Target audience: Educational Leaders.
  • Event 2 – Thursday April 5, 2018, 4:00PM-8:00PM. “Motivation and Underachievement”. With Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb. Target audience: Teachers.
  • Event 3 – Friday, April 6, 2018, 9:00AM-11:30AM.  “Misdiagnoses and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children”. With Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb. Target audience: Health Care & Counselor Professionals.
  • Event 4 – Saturday, April 7, 2018, 9:00AM-3:00PM. “Power Up Potential 2018”. With Featured Speaker Dr. James Webb as well as 12 other experts on different aspects of gifted children. Target audience: Parents and other adult family members.

All presentations are open to anyone in the public, but please note that the content has been shaped to fit the targeted audience of the particular event.

Look at the Registration Page for more details!

GCABC & LMGC

“POWER UP POTENTIAL 2018” with Dr. James Webb, Leading Expert on Gifted Learners!

Spend time with Dr. James Webb, an internationally renowned expert on the unique profiles of children with high potential, at the conference “Power Up Potential 2018” (#PUP2018).

Where: Various locations in the Lower Mainland, BC,

When: April 5-7, 2018

What: Half, full-day, and evening sessions on topics of interest for teachers, parents, counselors, district staff, school psychologists, and medical professionals

Co-hosted by the Gifted Children’s Association of BC (GCABC) and the Lower Mainland Gifted Contacts (LMGC)

Watch the GCABC website for news about registration, prices and program details!

For further information, contact the organizing committee by email (commgcabc@gmail.com) or phone (+1 (604) 315-3158).

 

 

 

Mini-school – a realistic academic high-school model for your gifted child?

Alternate programs recruiting academically strong students at different high schools may be an interesting option to explore for gifted students who want to be challenged within their area of interest and ability. One type of program that may be of interest to students in grades 8-10 in Vancouver, BC, is a mini school program. These programs usually admit one class of grade 8 students each year.

But how do you know what mini-school would work for your child?

Before you begin the application process, there are some aspects to consider for your tween/teen:

– Does the focus of the mini-school address a passion for your child? Students have an increased commitment to focus and learning if there is significant attention to the area of study they are already interested in.

– Does the mini-school require social-emotional intelligence at a level that your child demonstrates? This is something to consider, especially for students who are twice exceptional with a diagnosis affecting their behavior and perspective taking.

– Does your child have a strong aversion to writing or some type of language learning disability? Become aware of programs that emphasize verbal and written proficiency.

– Consider your child’s gifted profile. Search for programs that have knowledgeable educators who can personalize the program to accommodate the disparity between their areas of strong development and those that require additional support or compensatory strategies.

– Is the program open to and experienced in accommodating support for gifted students who have a learning disability? Gifted learners with writing output disorder, dyslexia and/or dyscalculia are known to compensate with their high-ability but need support for their learning disability.

– Ask about the application process. Does it consider more than grades? Does it recognize creativity? Is there an interview as part of the application process? Programs that emphasize talent more than performance may be a good choice for gifted students known to underperform.

In Vancouver, BC, there are 18 high-schools which offer challenging and comprehensive programs as alternatives to regular programs. To apply for most VSB programs, students must complete the District Cognitive Skills test on Nov. 21, 2017.

Download the VSB information pamphlet if you want to read more about the program in Vancouver. Please note that all students are required to do a district cognitive skills test on Nov. 21, 2017. Students with a designated Special Need and IEP take test at 9 a.m. at VSB Educational Centre. Please consult the VSB website for exact details.

For intellectually gifted students who have a learning disability, there is the GOLD program in Vancouver, BC. This is an academic program designed to meet the needs of Grade 8 and 9 students. Students may receive support into their Grade 12 year if required. The goal of the program is to help students understand their own strengths and difficulties, while they learn effective strategies and skills to be successful at school.

In Surrey, there is the STEAMX (STEAM ACCELERATED) program of the SAIL Academy. This combines 4 days of face-to-face interdisciplinary instruction with one day of supported online learning, and makes students eligible for university by the third year of this program.

It is important to understand the differences between the various available programs. Most of these programs DO NOT advertise themselves as programs for the gifted. They are targeting high achieving students, not necessarily gifted learners, but may also be a good choice for gifted students with even learning profiles. Investigation of the programs you are interested in should include a clear understanding of the goals of the program, the target students, and the capacity and understanding they possess to support atypical or unique learners. Admission processes are usually designed with attention to discovering student passions, strengths, goals and aspirations and the variety of community activities students undertake that build leadership and community awareness. No matter whether your child will be accepted as a student or not, it can be an interesting and instructive process to participate in, which can prepare your child for future applications.

Does your gifted child have experience of student life at a mini-school or a similar choice program? Please share your experience below or email us! We would love to hear your story!