2019 Conference Program

An overview of the November 22, 2019 Rutgers Gifted Education Conference program is provided below.


Rutgers Continuing Education Center at the Atrium
300 Atrium Dr. Somerset, NJ 08873 

Time Speaker Description
7:30-8:30   Registration
8:30-8:45 Joyce Van Tassel-Baska Opening Comments
8:45-9:45 Sylvia Rimm Keynote | Pressures Gifted Children Feel: The early environments which foster giftedness in children also make them vulnerable to feeling extreme pressures. The praise and power which cultivate a positive learning environment may become “too much of a good thing.” Gifted children may thus internalize highly competitive pressures to be brilliant, perfect, extraordinarily creative, beautiful and/or popular. The pressures that gifted children internalize can lead to motivation or may also cause gifted children to learn defensive patterns which cause underachievement. Families and schools can help gifted children to cope with these pressures by providing realistic challenges and guidance. Schools which provide for the needs of gifted children will encourage them to thrive on challenges, to become life-long learners and to make contributions to society. Students can then feel good about their personal accomplishments and about themselves.
9:55-11:25 Brian Housand Fighting Fake News!: In 2006, we first learned that even the brightest students were easily fooled by internet hoaxes like the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. While we tried to laugh this as the folly of misguided youth, a decade later we witnessed the rise of fake news and its impact on a “post-truth” world overrun by an ever growing network of social media. To fight for truth, justice, and yes, even the American way, this session presents a collection of superhero themed critical thinking activities designed to empower you and your students conquer the evils of fake news.
9:55-11:25 Alicia Cotabish Rich Kid, Poor Kid: Poverty and the High Achieving Brain: The effects of poverty create pervasive issues and barriers for school-aged children. Beyond effects on test scores, social norms, and language development, etc., students who live in poverty are less likely to have growth mindsets. However, students from low-income families who believe that they can develop skills and do better in school if they work hard and practice—a “growth mindset,” in other words—may be buffered from the effects of poverty on student achievement, a Stanford University study has found. In this session, we will discuss the effects of poverty on the high achieving brain, learn strategies for addressing a ‘fixed mindset,’ and discuss resources for talent-spotting and identifying low-income, high potential students.
9:55-11:25 Deb Dailey Enhancing Your Curriculum: Technology integration involves students engaging in the learning process using tools to help them investigate, collaborate, and communicate. Technology tools can help provide and/or increase content knowledge and skills, enable creative problem solving through shared ideas, and offer opportunities to learn in an authentic, real-world environment. Technology also allows for student choice in learning, presentation and product creation, and provides multiple avenues for differentiation. In this session, we will discuss how to increase the relevancy of the content through engaging technology tools such as virtual and augmented reality, Skype collaboration, and other interactive applications. Participants will utilize these tools and their curriculum to develop a differentiated lesson to be used in their classroom.
9:55-11:25 Sylvia Rimm Helping Anxious Gifted Children Build Confidence: Intensity and sensitivity are characteristics of giftedness that can lead children to anxiety and perfectionism. Parents and educators can help these children overcome their anxieties. They can encourage them to take challenging opportunities and insist they gradually move forward to creativity, success and fulfillment. Caring parents and educators who cater to children’s oversensitivities may unintentionally reinforce their avoidance of challenge. Perfectionistic children often spend hours overdoing already excellent work to avoid completing other assignments that feel threatening. They may convince teachers to excuse them from assignments claiming boredom instead of confessing the fears they feel. Their tears and fears invite teachers to help them more than they require, thus increasing their dependence. Educators will receive practical tools how to encourage these students to speak up in class, cope with mistakes, work independently, enter competitions, take risks in writing, learn to accept criticism and, finally, learn to cope with their own oversensitivities by productive engagement. The Rimm Model of Achievement and Underachievement will be shared. Participants will work together on intervention plans for anxious gifted students who may be underachieving.
9:55-11:25 Jessica Manzone Challenging Gifted Learners: A major philosophical tenet of programs and services for gifted learners relates to the creation of an “appropriate challenge” for these students within the general curriculum. Creating a challenge for gifted learners might be easy to define in concept and harder to execute pragmatically. This session engages participants in a discussion related to how parallel pathways for gifted learners can be created within a unit of study. This session will present The Depth and Complexity Model as a tangible and concrete strategy for modifying, adapting, and/or tailoring the curriculum to meet the needs, interests, and abilities of gifted learners. Participants are encouraged to bring their curriculum to the session and will leave with a series of “challenge” tasks to extend the learning for gifted students. This session is open to teachers of any grade level or subject area and will function as an interactive curriculum writing workshop where teachers can network, plan, and share ideas with colleagues.
9:55-11:25 Joyce Van Tassel-Baska Basic Program DevelopmentThis session focuses on basic program development practices that work for successful gifted programs to exist.  Based on 10 evaluations conducted across multiple states, the session will present the most effective combination of approaches to employ in building research-based interventions for gifted students.  Controversial issues regarding identification and grouping will also be discussed, and the top 10 biggest mistakes in managing gifted programs will be revealed.  
11:35-1:05 Deb Dailey Redefining Your Curriculum Using Problem Solving and the Engineering Design Process: This session will provide participants knowledge and skills on how to establish an investigative culture of learning in classrooms. To challenge and engage gifted students, learning should be situated in real-world contexts. Using real-world and relevant problems, students can experience authentic learning in STEM while making connections across all content areas. Students faced with real-world scenarios engage in problem-solving using the engineering design process, build science content knowledge by “doing science,” utilize real-world mathematics in building and evaluating models, and read informational texts and write proposals, summaries, and conclusions as they utilize content-based literacy skills. This type of classroom will augment science talent development, contribute to students’ scientific literacy, reinforce scientific and mathematical practices, and provide gifted students an outlet for innovation and independent learning. Participants in this session will engage in a PBL unit study, employ strategies such as engineering design, technology integration, and student-workforce mentor relationships.
11:35-1:05 Brian Housand From Curious to Creative: A common characteristic of gifted students is a seemingly insatiable curiosity, and thanks to the power of the Internet, the answer to almost any question is only a few clicks away. Today’s students also have unprecedented access to powerful tools designed for creative production and worldwide distribution. As educators how can we tap into students’ interests and purposefully guide them towards meaningful products? Together, we will explore viable options for transforming you and your students from consumers of information to producers of new knowledge.
11:35-1:05 Alicia Cotabish Parenting and Teaching for High Potential: Resources for Promoting High Potential: Parents and teachers of the gifted hope for children to be smart and to excel in school, but sometimes we just don't know what to do with a child who is especially exceptional. Keeping gifted students challenged, interested, and engaged can be tough, as can dealing with an educational system that doesn't always focus on helping out bright students. In this session, we will discuss outside resources that provide meaningful educational resources and opportunities for gifted students.
11:35-1:05 Elissa Brown Secondary Gifted: For the majority of gifted students, formal services occur in the elementary school and to a lesser degree middle school. Most high schools offer honors, Advanced Placement, or other higher-level courses but these are open to all students. Often these courses do not consider gifted students’ abilities, interests, or need for social emotional support. In 2008, Matthews reported that approximately 1 in 50 identified gifted students will drop out of high school. This session will provide ways to structure learning for gifted high school students which attend to their academic and social-emotional needs.
11:35-1:05 Jessica Manzone Beyond the Page: Picture books have always been an integral component of early childhood classrooms. In an era of 21st Century literacy and critical discourse, picture books function as the medium for building experiences, academic language, questioning techniques, and content exploration. This session will demonstrate how high-leverage picture books can be used as the entrance (motivation or curiosity catalyst) AND the extension (synthesis and transfer) from core learning experiences. Participants will experience a lesson simulation that presents a curriculum model for how picture books bridge the discipline standards and meet the needs, interests, and abilities of emerging and identified gifted learners of any age or grade level. As a consequence of attending this session, participants will learn specific strategies for how high-level picture books can be used to fuel curiosity, questioning, and literacy development in gifted learners.
11:35-1:05 Joyce Van Tassel-Baska Curriculum Interventions in Regular ClassroomsThis session will share the curriculum interventions that work in regular classrooms with gifted learners and other students as feasible.  Examples of curriculum material and accompanying strategies will be highlighted in each core curriculum area.   A rationale for serving the gifted in flexible settings will be argued.
1:15-2:15   Lunch
2:15-2:30   Award Ceremony
2:45-3:15 Michelle Falanga, Lenore Cortina, & Mike Kaelber Panel Discussion: Focus on current regulations related to gifted education in New Jersey and two proposed legislative actions intended to strengthen current regulations and better prepare teachers to work with gifted learners.  Panel members will provide an overview of existing regulations, the current state of gifted education in New Jersey, the rationale for establishing professional learning requirements, and a detailed explanation of the advocacy efforts being pursued.  Participants are encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback to panel members. 
2:45-3:15 Elissa Brown Administrators’ Panel: Practices and Possibilities from the Field: This panel conversation will feature administrators in charge of implementing gifted programs in various school districts in New Jersey. Whether large or small, urban, suburban, or rural, each school district faces unique challenges and finds innovative ways to identify and serve gifted learners. Additionally, they each approach teacher training and capacity building based on local context and priorities. Learn first hand, what administrators have found that works, as they discuss the barriers and supporting structures to building and sustaining exemplary programs for gifted learners.