Beyond Giftedness XXIV Speakers & Topics

Onsite Program


Whole Mind and Whole Brain (8 am - 9:05 am)
Intelligence is not static. The brain is a complex system that changes in response to social forces. “Psychological” experiences of loneliness, social support, affectionate touch, intellectual challenge, social stability or bullying can alter the brain at the smallest levels, including the lifespan of a neuron, as well as how we later think, learn and love as adults.

Nadia Webb, PsyD, MPAP, ABPdN, ABN. is a Medical “prescribing” Psychologist, double-boarded neuropsychologist, and earned four advanced degrees in various specialties within psychology. She served on the SENG Board of Directors and has been a Consultant for the Davidson Institute for Talent Development for over a decade. Recently, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Rutgers and the Heiser award for professional service from the American Psychological Association. She maintains a private practice in Portland, OR.

Overexcitabilities: Myths, Realizations and New Research (12:15 pm - 1:30 pm)
The term “overexcitability” made its debut in gifted education in 1979. Over the last 35 years, we have embraced this concept, credited it as being the main cause of the misdiagnosis of the gifted, rejected it in some academic circles and misconstrued it in others. What is overexcitability (OE)? What is its theoretical basis? Why is the concept so controversial? How do we distinguish OE from AD/HD, sensory processing disorder, and other treatable diagnoses? Are gifted children more overexcitable? What does the research say? How should parents and teachers respond to gifted children’s overexcitability?

Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical and counseling psychologist. She directs the Institute for the Study of Advanced Development, and its subsidiaries, the Gifted Development Center and Visual-Spatial Resource in Denver, Colorado. In the last 37 years, she has studied over 6,300 children who have been assessed at GDC, the largest data bank on this population. This research enabled the creation of extended norms on the WISC-IV. Her Ph.D. is in educational psychology and special education from the University of Southern California. For nine years, she served on the faculty of the University of Denver in counseling psychology and gifted education. She has been studying the psychology and education of the gifted since 1961 and has written over 300 articles, chapters and books, including Counseling the Gifted and Talented, Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner, Advanced Development: A Collection of Works on Gifted Adults and Giftedness 101 (translated into Swedish and Korean).

Celebrating the Whole Gifted Child: A Dialogue with George Betts and Linda Silverman (1:40 pm - 2:40 pm)
The Whole Gifted Child is a topic which Linda and George have explored for over 80 combined years. Now it is time to hear these two professionals and learn about the future for the gifted child. This dialogue will provide audience members with established information as well as a look ahead. Questions will be generated by the facilitator and audience members. Join us for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

George Betts, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus, and founder and director of the Center for the Education and Study of the Gifted, Talented, and Creative, as well as the founder and director of the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) at the University of Northern Colorado for 35 years. He is an internationally acclaimed speaker and consultant who specializes in assisting schools, districts, states, and national organizations to implement and refine programs for gifted and talented learners. Dr. Betts developed the Autonomous Learner Model (ALM) for the facilitation of lifelong learners. The ALM is implemented throughout the world. He received the 1990-1991 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented (CAGT) in 1996. In 2003, NAGC selected Dr. Betts as one of the 50 Most Influential Leaders in the history of Gifted Education (Profiles of Influence in Gifted Education). In 2006 he received the prestigious M. Lucile Harrison Award for Professional Excellence at the University of Northern Colorado. Dr. Betts considers this to be the capstone award of his career, since it was conferred by his professional peers. He is currently serving as President of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) in Washington, D.C.

Dennis N. Corash, Ph.D. Conference Host is a teacher at an inner-city school in Denver. He is the father of three gifted children/twice exceptional children who are now adults. He is a past president of Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented, past assistant professor of Elementary Education and Literacy at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and a Founding Member of the Colorado Academy of Educators for the Gifted, Talented and Creative.

Breakout Session #1 (9:25 am - 10:25 am)

One Size Does Not Fit All in Gifted Land: Teachers may be fooled by the diverse levels of ability, strengths and difficulties among gifted and talented students. Gifted is not a “one size fits all” singular attribute. There are distinguishing innate characteristics across the spectrum of gifted, highly to profoundly gifted individuals, specifically among intellectual traits, social and emotional temperament, intensity and perceptivity of focus, and typical behaviors.  Most often teachers lump together gifted individuals in expectations and thereby have difficulty creating meaningful lessons. Incorporating three decades of consulting experience with this advanced population, learn gifted distinctions, ways to respond and motivate each group academically, and support them personally to live a contented life.

Patricia Gatto Walden, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized licensed psychologist who has worked holistically with thousands of gifted and profoundly gifted children, adolescents, and adults for three decades. In her adjunct consulting practice, she has specialized in three areas: holistic health and well being, educational consulting for the gifted, and staff and program development seminars. Dr. Patty has helped parents, educators, and administrators understand and accept the multifaceted inner world, needs, and concerns of gifted individuals. Her career has included university instruction of doctoral level counseling trainees, counselor supervision, and educational administration. With extensive experience guiding staff development, program development sessions, problem solving groups, and workshops, Dr. Patty has been a featured speaker at international and national gifted conferences and educational workshops and has served two terms as chair of the Global Awareness Network of the National Association of Gifted Children. She is a Senior Fellow for the Institute of Educational Advancement (IEA) and has authored a soon-to-be-released book incorporating her insights and wisdom acquired through thirty years of counseling and consulting.

Understanding and Working With Neurodiverse Styles in Gifted Children and Adolescents: With vast differences in perceiving, processing, organizing and performing, gifted children present unique challenges for both teachers and parents. Within this session, Dr. Marlo Payne Thurman will, for the first time ever, summarize the primary learning styles and neurodiverse cognitive trends that she has observed in her work with over 3,000 gifted children. Drawing from her 20-plus-year history in the field and within the framework of the Neuordiversity Movement, Dr. Thurman will then detail the primary ways that educators and parents and can best support the needs of different-minded, gifted individuals.

Marlo Payne Thurman, Ph.D. started her work with special needs children in 1986. Early in her career, she developed an interest in the unique needs of individuals who were both highly intelligent and asynchronously developed, which led her to specialize in assessment, advocacy, cognitive training, sensory and behavior support, and socio-emotional coaching. In 1999 Marlo founded the Brideun Learning Communities and Brideun School for Exceptional Children, a play-based, therapeutic school. She later founded 2E Consulting Services to provide training to programs that work with individuals unable to find success in traditional settings despite adequate intelligence. Marlo holds board positions with 2E Newsletter and the US Autism and Asperger’s Association. She codirects the US College Autism Project and is an adjunct faculty member in the special education department at the University of Northern Colorado. She has been recognized for her work by People Magazine, the Special Educator, ADDitude Magazine, the New York Times, and National Public Radio.

Powerful Strategies for Enhancing The Learning of Gifted and Highly Capable Children: This workshop explores numerous, proven ways to reach gifted learners in challenging ways. The objective is to have participants leave with a variety of new strategies and specific ideas to help pupils become better creative and critical thinkers. A variety of successful teaching and parenting techniques will be shared. Bring your thinking caps and your funny bones.

Nathan Levy is a gifted educator and the author of works such as Stories with Holes, Whose Clues?, and Nathan Levy's 100 Intriguing Questions. In his 35 years as a teacher, principal, and consultant, Nathan worked directly with children, teachers and parents. He has developed unique teaching strategies that encouraged the love of learning. Mr. Levy has mentored more than thirty current principals and superintendents, as well as helped to train thousands of teachers and parents in better ways to engage children in learning.

Parent Breakout: Who Am I and Why Does it Matter?: The Existential Dilemma: So often, we hear gifted youth of all ages, lamenting the fact that no one “gets” them … sharing their frustration with peers who do not seem concerned at all with the questions that plague them, confused by their peers’ preoccupation with what they perceive to be meaningless things. The isolation that so often results from these feelings can not only lead to periods of depression, but can also prevent youth from fully engaging in their lives due to the fears and doubts they carry. This presentation and discussion will focus on how we can support our youth in their quest for answers, helping them learn how to cope with the questions, and manage the discomfort of the unknown.

Jenny Hecht of Karuna Healing is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Yoga Teacher with 15 years of experience working with individuals between the ages of 10-adult in a variety of settings. Her practice is grounded in strengthening distress tolerance skills through mindfulness practice and supportive examination of the thought patterns that are limiting each individual’s potential. She has a passion for supporting the specific social-emotional needs of gifted individuals, particularly the existential dilemma so many face beginning at a very young age and works as a consultant and support for educational professionals who work with this population.

Breakout Session #2 (10:35 am - 11:35 am)

Neurobiology of Giftedness This workshop reviews the neurobiological differences associated with exceptional intellectual ability and talent in greater detail. In addition to qualitative differences, the biological markers include shifts in genetics, cellular metabolism and altered neuronal organization -- as well as differences in developmental trajectories and alterations in genetic expression. Dr. Nadia E. Webb, Psy.D.

Dirk’s Model, An Experience with Genius Hour: “Genius Hour” originated in the 80/20 work concept adopted by Google and other businesses. Employees were encouraged to spend 80% of their workday on Google projects and 20% of their workday working on their own projects. It proved highly successful with “genius” projects such as Gmail and Google News. This presentation will cover one school's GT program’s implementation of the Genius Hour, as adapted for education, with 98 gifted students in grades 6-8. Learn about the program’s structure, the allocation of time for the students to work, what the students took from the experience, teacher observations and lessons learned.

Deborah Shipley is 27-plus year veteran of the US Air Force who stumbled into teaching when she couldn’t really decide what she wanted to do when she grew up. As part of her journey into teaching, she found herself teaching three grade levels of gifted and talented students and discovered that she loved doing it. She enrolled in the master’s in gifted education program at University of Northern Colorado and is now pursuing her doctorate there.

Universal Screening and MTSS Practices to Support Gifted Students: In order to make knowledgeable decisions about identification and programming for high-potential students, many schools collect data from multiple sources, but what does it mean for programming? Underserved populations may not make an identification cut off score, but need and deserve advanced programming. Looking at gifted characteristics in all populations, including those specific to diverse cultures (Castellano & Diaz, 2002) (Ford, 1996) (Frasier & Passow, 1994) (Kingore, 2007) and students of poverty (Slocomb, P. & Payne, R, 2000) (Kingore, 2007) will provide the teacher with multiple pathways to provide advanced programming with which unique strengths can be recognized. This data, combined with the knowledge of gifted characteristics, can create a portfolio to support more highly informed instruction and identification.  This session will give participants a deeper understanding of how to use information available from the CogAT 7 to provide instructional strategies to support student learning. Participants will become familiar with strategies used during the partnership of the GT and Assessment departments to recalibrate the Universal Screening process in accordance with Colorado HB 14-1102 to successfully assess 6500 second graders.

Cindy Dunning Gifford, MA has been formally involved in the education of gifted students for twenty one years. Her education includes a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction with a Certification in Gifted Education awarded the University of Denver. She holds a preK-12 Endorsement in Gifted Education. She is currently employed as a Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher for JeffCo Schools in Golden, Colorado. Cindy is Co-Governor of the Colorado Academy of the Gifted, Talented and Creative and is a past board member of the Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented. She has presented at state, national and international conferences on the topics of differentiated instruction; meeting the social emotional needs of gifted children; analyzing assessments/data; and supporting the twice-exceptional issues of gifted children. Cindy is the mother of two grown gifted and talented children, so her informal involvement with this unique population began many years ago. She brings knowledge of parenting and educating gifted children. She is passionate about supporting the needs of these wonderfully, unique children!

Marla Caviness-French, MA ITL, MA EA, has been teaching for 26 years; 14 years as a secondary social studies and language arts teacher, 9 years as a teacher librarian, and 3 years formally in the Gifted and Talented department. She is currently employed as a Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher for JeffCo Schools in Golden, Colorado. Marla is very interested in how a deeper understanding cognitive data can help teachers adapt their instructional strategies and resources to better meet student's cognitive learning styles.

Parent Breakout: Supporting Gifted Kids' Growth and Well-being In and Out of the Classroom: Gifted children thrive when they live well-balanced lives. The session will explore practical tools for encouraging and creating holistic growth in the life of your gifted students and children. We will discuss mindfulness techniques, and ways to facilitate personal and intellectual growth. In addition, we will share practical exercises that have been developed and successfully implemented by experts in the fields of gifted to enhance students’ personal growth, focus and self-confidence. Our hope is that these tools will support families at home, and students inside the classroom. Patricia Gatto-Walden with Elizabeth Jones, President of Institute of Educational Advancement

Elizabeth D. Jones has been an educator, researcher and administrator of educational programs for over 30 years. She holds a masters in special education from the University of Southern California and has completed doctoral work in the field of educational policy and learning theory. Ms. Jones was the Associate Director of The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) and the Director of the Western Region for ten years. During her time at CTY she served as Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Sally Ride and Dr. JoBea Way for a NASA/NSF sponsored educational initiative call KidSat. She received recognition from the National Diffusion Network for the creation and implementation of exemplary programs for underserved highly able students. Elizabeth founded the Institute for Educational Advancement in 1998, which assisted in the creation and implementation of the Davidson Young Scholars program. She went on to lead in the creation of the Award-winning Yunasa summer camp for the gifted and the Caroline D. Bradley Scholarship program.

Breakout Session #3 (3:00 pm - 4:00 pm)

Five Profile Characteristics You May Not Know and the Top Five Strategies for Engaging Visual-Spatial Learners: If you are looking to reach those students in your school who you know are exceptionally bright but may not be showing their strengths, this workshop will give you the understanding of the dominant brain profiles for processing and representing information and the tools to empower your students to know themselves as learners.

Catherine Conlin, PhD, CCC-SLP is the owner/director of Bright Brain Thinking, a private therapy practice in Boulder, Colorado that serves individuals with reading, spelling, vocabulary and comprehension needs. A clinically trained Speech-language Pathologist certified by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), Catherine received her PhD in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2009, from Florida State University, in conjunction with the Florida Center for Reading Research. Catherine specializes in written language communication through the use of scientifically-based reading instruction and evidence-based methods. Trained in various multi-sensory approaches including Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes™, and RAVE-O for auditory and visual processing development, she uses the principles of these discovery-based learning approaches in her sessions with children and adults.

Incorporating STEAM in the Classroom Using Design Thinking: This presentation will focus on the practical application of standards-based STEM activities for the purpose of increasing student questioning and inquiry in the classroom. Attendants will leave with subject-specific strategies and activity ideas that can be utilized during a typical school day with low-cost materials found at home or a local retail store. This will show you how to provide teachers and administrators access to higher-order thinking techniques without having to sacrifice instructional time or rewrite the curriculum guide!

Michael Stover currently teaches 5th grade at Legacy Elementary School in the St. Vrain Valley School District. He has lead Legacy's gifted and talented program for 5 years; coordinating testing for students, coaching teachers, and running after-school and summer STEM programs.

A Panel Discussion on Giftedness & Mental Health
Is there a connection between giftedness and mental health issues? Are some who are diagnosed with mental health issues actually "just gifted" and does such a distinction matter? Join us for a Q & A with panelists Marlo Payne Thurman, Jenny Hecht, Nadia Webb and parent Harry Bruell, as we discuss the complex and often painful relationships between giftedness and mental health. With real-world questions and expert answers, this panel will open up a discussion about the need for increased understanding about mental health in our gifted population.