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Santa Fe Public Schools

SANTA FE, NM – Geoffrey Moon is a Gifted Education Specialist within the Services for Advanced and Gifted Education Department for the Santa Fe Public Schools. He first heard Josh Waitzkin speak at the National Association for Gifted Children conference in 2009, and has maintained an interest in bringing The Art of Learning principles to New Mexico public school students since that time.
“Josh’s story is a fantastic platform for allowing kids to look at what being pushed does to them and what making their own push and following their own bliss does for their motivation and their talent development,” Moon explains. “I think the book is pretty authentic… in the way it speaks from the first person, unlike a lot of the materials we use that come from a “you ought to” approach. It also breaks down some of his lessons learned in a way that allows students to explore each one and say ‘Do I need to internalize this? Does this affect me, or is it about somebody else and how am I different?’”
The Santa Fe public school system is in the process of expanding their gifted education programs to include greater numbers of minority students, English language learners, and economically disadvantaged students than have historically participated. As part of this push, Moon is developing a seminar course for 8th and 9th grade students who have been identified as gifted or potentially gifted. He emphasizes the importance of helping these students develop breadth, observational skills, and critical thinking skills in order to understand themselves as learners and embrace challenge, rather than allowing them to develop a learning path exclusively in response to the skills they believe they already possess.
Throughout this course, students will read The Art of Learning, explore and discuss concepts from the book that are applicable and identifiable to all the students, and then begin to explore how they will each challenge themselves moving forward. As a culmination to the seminar, each student will create a self-development plan to carry with them beyond high school. It will serve as a dossier with current strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and interests, as well as plans for next steps after leaving high school and being on their own. Moon’s hope is that this plan will support these students as they transition into college and beyond, and encourage them to continue to stretch and grow as learners, independent of the high school support system.

Marshfield High School

MARSHFIELD, MO – Chris Roberds, a gifted coordinator and debate coach at Marshfield High School, is using The Art of Learning with educators and students within the gifted and debate program. His intention is to show students the value of focusing on the end result and building backwards.
Roberds’ high school gifted students are reading The Art of Learning and discussing how the lessons can prepare them for upcoming learning transitions and challenges, namely entrance exams for college, undergraduate tests and the affective learning involved in building new friendships and teacher relations in a university setting.
In his own development as a debate teacher, Chris acknowledges that he has literally changed his entire method of teaching after reading The Art of Learning. He is now building his teaching method focusing on the end game (similar to a chess player approaching the game with just the King and a pawn) and encourages students to familiarize themselves with the chaos that happens when building the beginning of a debate from the end. This approach is different than the most encouraged debate teaching strategies focusing on the construction of the first arguments. Last year was his first experiment in this method of teaching and the strategy led his top debate team from Marshfield to win every tournament they battled in Missouri.

Liberty Elementary

GOODYEAR, AZ- The mission at Liberty Elementary is to educate gifted students about the most effective ways for them to learn.  GATE Coordinator Patty Messer is conducting workshops with the parents of gifted students in order to educate them about how to best help their child succeed in school and life and is considering using the book directly with students.  “Many times students and parents are only concerned about the grades received,” she says. “ Josh’s book highlights that it is about the process and how your child learns that matters in the bigger picture of life.”

Burnside Elementary

REDWING, MN- The vision of the Red Wing Public Schools is for all students to fulfill their highest potential and become respectful, responsible and productive citizens.  Gifted and Talented Coordinator Sandra Flores is introducing The Art of Learning to gifted/talented educational team members who are developing interventions for students in grades K-8th. “We recognize in students a variety of gifts and talents,” she says. “Some learners may have exceptionally strong cognitive abilities, leadership gifts, creative skills or kinesthetic talents. Curriculum must be continually evaluated to ensure proper pacing and depth of content.” Through their book study efforts, Sandra and her peers intend to maximize the benefits of their curriculum and increase student achievement.


GARLAND, TX- The mission of the Garland Independent School District, which incorporates 72 schools and over 58,000 students, is to create a learning environment that fosters and promotes critical thinkers who are prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally to be active participants in the 21st century.  Gifted and Talented Coordinator Linda Phemister is conducting a book study program with Gifted/Talented representatives from each campus who will, in turn, conduct campus-based book study programs with teachers of gifted/talented students.  Says Linda: “The Art of Learning will inspire teachers to view their instructional practices and students in a new light.…One of the goals of the book study is to provide opportunities for teachers to dialogue about current  practices….as well as help teachers to provide enhanced learning opportunities for their current and future students that will make a difference in their school life—and possibly change the course of their future.”

Six Hour Gifted and Talented Book Study 2010-2011

An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance

The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

Part I- The Foundation Innocent Moves

Part II- My Second Art

Part III- Bringing It All Together

Independent Study -Due May 24, 2011

As you read the book, The Art of Learning, please take the time to journal throughout the reading process. It is important to keep in mind as you read how this book relates to teachers of Gifted and Talented students, and how it relates to the children who exhibit exceptional traits and characteristics that identify them as Gifted and Talented.

As you journal, think of how you can you make any connections to the text from the student and/or teacher perspective. Take note of what thoughts come to mind, memories from childhood, or a particular student  that comes to the forefront of your thinking. Take a moment to capture your thinking as you read the book.

Also, the Art of Learning is full of rich quotes that provide opportunities as a reader to become more connected to the text. Write down the quotes that resonate for you, and make a note as to why. Did it bring back thinking to you from your childhood? Did the quote make you think of your classroom, or perhaps, make you think of your very own child? What impact does this book have on the teaching of the Gifted and Talented learner?

Encapsulate your thinking by writing a one-half to one page reflection for each one of the three parts: The Foundation, My Second Art, Bringing It All Together. Make sure to include in your summary the implications for teaching and how your thinking has shifted towards the teaching of the Gifted and Talented learner. In your summary focus your response on one of the following statements:

What parallels can we as educators make between gifted and talented students in our classroom and:

  • their approaches to learning
  • keeping achievement in perspective
  • teacher’s role in the learning process
  • perfectionism (handling mistakes)

Campus Book Study – Must be Completed by May 24, 2011

When you meet as a campus please be prepared to bring your thoughts regarding your connections to the texts and quotes, phrases and words that you have determined to be important. Be ready to share your responses with the Book Study group. Each meeting should run no longer than 45 minutes.

Part I The Foundation

Block Party Protocol – A Pre-Reading Text Based Activity (40-45 minutes)

  1. Members of Book Study submit quotes to GT Liaison one week before the meeting.
  2. Facilitator writes quotes on index cards prior to session. You may choose one quote per participant, or repeat some quotes.
  3. Participants randomly select quotes/cards and spend a few minutes reflecting upon their quote’s meaning for them and their work. (3 minutes)
  4. Participants mingle and share quotes in pairs. Participants are encouraged to share with three other participants in 3 minute segments. (10 minutes)
  5. Form triads or quads and share quotes and insights about the text and its implications for our work. (Extension: Speculate on the purpose/origin of the text.) (10-12 minutes)
  6. Whole group sharing of ideas and questions raised by the experience. This can be done popcorn style or as a round, but is usually not a conversation. (10 minutes)
  7. Debrief the process and its implications for use in a classroom setting. (5 minutes)

Part II My Second Art

Four “A”s Text Protocol (40-45 Minutes)

  1. The book study group reads the section II- My Second Art prior to the meeting and independently answer the following four questions:
  • What Assumptions does the author of the text hold?
  • What do you Agree with in the text?
  • What do you want to Argue with in the text?
  • What parts of the text do you want to Aspire to?
  1. In a round, have each person identify one assumption in the text, citing the text with page numbers as evidence.
  2. Either in rounds or facilitate a conversation in which the group talks about the text in light of each remaining “A”s, taking them one at a time-what do people want to argue with, agree with, and aspire to in the text? Try to move seamlessly from one “A” to the next, giving each “A” enough time for full explanation.
  3. End the session with an open discussion framed around a question such as: What does this mean for our work with students?
  4. Debrief the text experience and discuss classroom implications.

Part III  Bringing It All Together

Text Rendering Experience (40-45 Minutes)


To collaboratively construct meaning, clarify, and expand our thinking about the book, The Art of Learning.


  • A facilitator guides the process.
  • A scribe to track the phrases and words that are shared.

Set Up

Before the session mark the sentences, phrases, and words that you think are particularly significant for you as a teacher of Gifted and Talented students in your journal.

Focus on: What parallels can we as educators make between gifted and talented students in our classroom and:

  • their approaches to learning
  • keeping achievement in perspective
  • teacher’s role in the learning process
  • perfectionism (handling mistakes)


  1. First Round: Each person shares a sentence from the document that they think is relevant to their work.
  2. Second Round: Each person shares a phrase that they think is particularly relevant as a teacher. The scribe records each phrase.
  3. Third Round: Each person shares the word that they feel is relevant in their role as a teacher. The scriber records each word.
  4. The group discusses what they heard and what it says about the book.
  5. The group shared the words that emerged and any new insights about the book.
  6. The group debriefs the process.

Oak Grove Middle School

PARAGOULD, AR-Char Edwards Green, a gifted and talented school facilitator at Oak Grove Middle School, is using The Art of Learning as a tool to help develop a lesson plan to meet the affective needs of gifted 10-13-year olds.  By focusing on the  book’s principles “Using Adversity” and “Making Smaller Circles”, she is teaching students to reach deeper and giving them a framework for understanding what quality learning and performance is.  She is using the book in the context of lessons relating to: recognition of abilities and limitations, the setting of appropriate goals, development of the ability to succeed, establishment of priorities and goal setting, development of learning skills, and cultivation of risk-taking as it pertains to mistakes and failure.