Beyond Giftedness XXV Breakout Sessions and Bios

7:30 am:  Registration, Coffee & Continental Breakfast

8:00 am: Welcome & Tribute with Dennis Corash, Terry Bradley and Jim Delisle

Keynote Presentations

8:10 am - 9:25 am: Different Minds: Cognition, Sensory Processing, and Learning in Gifted Children
According to Thomas Armstrong, the concept of neurodiversity (human differences in cognition, sensory processing, and learning) is as critical to the survival of the human species as the concept of biodiversity is for the sustainability of the planet. Using foundational ideas within the frame of neuro-cognitive difference, this presentation will detail some of the uniquely different minds that make up the diverse population of gifted individuals. Come discover how the gifted children in your life might differ in their learning, processing, and even in their experiencing of the world.

Marlo Payne Thurman, Ph.D. started working 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.


12:25 pm - 1:45 pm:  Doing Poorly on Purpose: Strategies to Reverse Underachievement and Respect Student Dignity 
Most of the “antidotes” for reversing academic underachievement in able adolescents are punitive and disrespectful. It is no surprise, then, that they are also ineffective and emotionally debilitating. In conjunction with Dr. Delisle's release of his book by the same title, this debut keynote provides a new look at “underachievement” from the eye of the students who wear this label and offers a series of school-based suggestions and solutions, each one bearing a similar foundation: preserving the dignity of students who choose to perform poorly on purpose.

Jim Delisle, Ph. D. has taught gifted children and their supporters for more than 39 years. He retired from Kent State University in 2008 after 25 years of service as a professor of special education. Throughout his career, Jim has taken time away from college teaching to return to his "classroom roots," volunteering as a 4th, 5th, and 8th grade teacher. He has taught gifted middle school students one day a week in the Twinsburg, OH public schools, and for the past six years, Jim has worked part time with highly gifted 9th and 10th graders at the Scholars' Academy in Conway, SC. He has also been a Yunasa Senior Fellow for the past six years.

The author of more than 250 articles and 20 books, Jim's work has been translated into multiple languages and has been featured in both professional journals and in popular media such as The New York Times and Oprah! His upcoming book, Doing Poorly on Purpose: Strategies to Reverse Underachievement and Respect Student Dignity, will be published in 2018. A frequent presenter throughout the U.S., Jim has also addressed audiences in nations as diverse as England, Greece, China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

Jim's wife, Deb, served as the Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the US Department of Education in Washington DC for 3 years, and is currently the CEO of ASCD, the nation's premiere association for educators. Their son, Matt, is an Emmy Award winning video editor in San Francisco and the source of many stories about raising gifted and creative kids. In his retirement Jim plans to walk as many beaches as possible and write children's picture books where the main characters are based on young people he has taught or counseled during his career.


Conference Host: Dennis N. Corash, Ph.D.  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.

9:35 am - 10:35 am: Breakout Session I 

Beyond Academics: The Affective Aspects of Giftedness: A gifted individual is more than just a brain.  Along with advanced cognitive ability, they also feel things more deeply, more intensely, and more sensitively.  This session will cover many of the social and emotional aspects of giftedness that make their experiences unique.  We will cover Profiles of Gifted Learners, Overexcitabilities, Asynchrony, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Stress, and Lack of Motivation.  Connections will be made to explain how the experience of these issues create a qualitatively different reality for gifted individuals.  

Terry Bradley is the past president of CAGT.  She is the GT Coordinator at Fairview HS in Boulder.  Terry offers workshops on Creating and Facilitating Discussion Groups for Gifted Students, and presents to parents, counselors, and educators state-wide.

Nurturing the Social-Emotional Development of the Whole Gifted Child Using a Dabrowski Lens: 
What are some of the specific challenges gifted learners face? How do the characteristics of giftedness impact the way gifted learners view and interact with their worlds? How can teachers and parents support the healthy social-emotional development of the gifted learners in their lives? Come join us as we discuss these questions through the lens of Dabrowski’s overexcitablities. We will also share strategies for supporting gifted learners' social-emotional development.

Jenny Ritchotte, Ph.D. is a professor and co-coordinator of gifted education at the University of Northern Colorado. She teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses in both special education and gifted education. She is also the co-director of the Summer Enrichment Program. Her research primarily examines the cognitive and affective needs of at-risk gifted student populations.

Amy Graefe, Ph.D is a professor and co-coordinator of gifted education at the University of Northern Colorado, where she teaches graduate-level courses in gifted education. She is also the co-director of the Summer Enrichment Program. Her primary research interests include secondary gifted education, creativity, and underserved gifted learners.

Creating Creative Thinkers through Depth of Knowledge: 
Participants will increase their understanding of creativity as a teachable skill through a variety of activities and experiences. Learn about the four components of creativity and dive into a hands-on activity around fluency and flexibility. Participants will leave with resources and tools to bring back to their classrooms.

Matt Wilkinson is a Gifted and Talented Resource Teacher with Jefferson County Public Schools. He has taught art, technology, and adult learners in a variety of capacities over the last 15 years. He has a Master Degree from the University of Northern Colorado in Gifted Education. He specializes in the identification of gifted students, collaboration amongst multiple stakeholders and creativity. Matt's presentations are directly applicable to today's classrooms and teachers will leave with tools and resources that they can apply when returning to their environments

10:45 am - 11:45 am: Breakout Session II 

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.

Twice Exceptional Kids in the Classroom: Surviving & Thriving: 
How can educators balance meeting the needs of twice-exceptional (gifted with co-occuring disabilities) children thrive while also meeting the needs of other students within the regular classroom? Even the National Association of Gifted and Talented (NAGC) acknowledges that their own definition of twice-exceptional "belies the complexity" of meeting the needs of 2E children. With 20+ years of experience in the field, Marlo Payne Thurman will detail strategies to help educators and their students survive and thrive in the classroom.
(bio above)

Developing Potential in Gifted Learners:
Are we providing the support children identified for gifted education services need to develop their full potential?  We identify children for gifted education services because a body of evidence indicates they have high ability.  What challenges and supports do these gifted learners need in order to develop their full potential?  This presentation will focus on how we can provide the challenge and support gifted learners need to achieve excellence in a chosen career.   We will discuss curriculum strategies necessary for gifted learners to achieve depth and breadth of understanding along with teaching strategies to create complex, multifaceted learning experiences that encourage learners to grapple with meaningful problems and create defensible solutions.  Finally, we will examine our role in providing highly challenging tasks in a supportive learning environment that challenges students without leaving them feeling threatened.

Beverly A. Trail Ed.D. is author of the best-selling book Twice-Exceptional Gifted Children:  Understanding, Teaching, and Counseling Gifted Students and a chapter in Parenting Gifted Children:  The Authoritative Guide from the National Association for Gifted Children.  She coordinated the Gifted Education Program at Regis University and is past chair of NAGC Special Populations Network and a frequent presenter at the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Conventions.  In addition, she served on the Colorado Gifted Education State Advisory Committee, Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented Board Member, and is a national consultant who conducts professional training across the country on topics related to gifted learners.  Dr. Trail is endorsed as Gifted Education Specialist with a Master's degree from DU and a Doctorate in Special Education from UNC.


                           2:00 pm - 3:00 pm: Breakout Session III

Using Strengths to Drive Instruction:
 This session will introduce strategies for developing strength-based programming and making differentiation work despite competing demands. By implementing these strategies in the classroom, participants will see increases in student grown not only for gifted learners but for all students. 

Dr. Rebecca McKinney is the Director of the Gifted and Talented Department for Denver Public Schools. She has expertise in cirriculum and instruction, strength-based programming, early childhood education, school leadership and gifted education P-12. She is passionate about ensuring equity in gifted education. A Colorado native, she lives in Denver with her husband, two children and sheltie puppy, Harley.

Dr. Colleen Urlik is the Assistant Principal at Hulstrom K-8, the Adams 12 Five Start School District's magnet school for advanced academics and gifted learners. She has expertise in cirriculum and instruction, strength-based programming, social-emotional instruction, school leadership, and gifted education P-12. She is passionate about ensureing educational equity and promoting a whole child, strength-based approach to education. Originally from Canada, she now lives in Denver with her husband, two children and golden retrievers.


Collaborative Structures to Increase EngagementParticipants will learn about collaborative structures to increase student engagement and rigor. Structures can be utilized to aid in differentiation and to reach deeper levels of knowledge with students. Participants will engage in strategies as learners so that they feel prepared to implement the structures with their students upon returning to their classrooms. With Matt Wilkinson (bio above).


A Panel Discussion on Giftedness & Mental Health*
(2:00 PM - 3:30 PM)

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 our 3rd annual Q & A with panelists Jim Delisle, Bobbie Gilman, Jenny Hecht and Marlo Payne Thurman 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.

Barbara (Bobbie) Jackson Gilman, M.S. is Associate Director of the Gifted Development Center in Westminster, CO, where she specializes in the assessment of gifted children at all levels of giftedness, with and without disabilities, for educational planning and advocacy. With a background in psychology and child development from Duke and Purdue, Bobbie consults with parents worldwide and participates in research on the gifted and gifted assessment. Bobbie wrote /Academic Advocacy for Gifted Children: A Parent's Complete /Guide and /Challenging Highly Gifted Learners/. She co-chairs, with Dan Peters, the National Association for Gifted Children's assessment special interest group, which has produced two NAGC position statements on use of the WISC-IV and V, and has worked extensively to improve identification of often overlooked 2e children since IDEA 2004. Bobbie is the 2015 recipient of SENG's Healthcare Professional of the Year award.


3:05 pm - 4:00 pm: Breakout Session IV

Nurturing and Developing the Overexcitabilies of the Gifted Through LiteratureHow do we address Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities [OE] in the classroom? Most discussions of the OEs provide a platform for understanding and viewing gifted individuals, but how do we apply and celebrate the OEs in the classroom? Since many, if not most, gifted students are avid readers, literature of all genres, including picture books, provide an appropriate springboard to meet their social and emotional needs. In this session, we will investigate how to guide students in the analysis of picture books and provide a strategy to connect them to the OEs as one means of nurturing and supporting their social/emotional growth. The growing sophistication of picture books have proven that this genre is an important resource for students of all ages, especially secondary students. A Book List will be provided.

Robert W. Seney, Professor Emeritus/Gifted Studies, Mississippi University for Women, has worked in education for over 46 years, 40 of those in gifted education. He was a classroom instructor, district administrator, head of private schools, and university professor. He is most known for his advocacy of using Young Adult Literature with Gifted Readers and his work with gifted readers. At MUW, he directed the graduate programs in Education and was the primary instructor in the Masters of Gifted Studies program. He was also the director of the Mississippi Governor’s School, a three-week summer residential program for gifted high school students. Upon retirement, the Mississippi University Board named him Professor Emeritus for his educational service to the state of Mississippi, the university, and the field of gifted education. He has been active in several state gifted organizations, NAGC, and the World Council for Gifted Children. He was the 2005 World Conference Chair in New Orleans.


A Teaching Toolkit for Underserved Gifted Learners: Underserved gifted learners need to be seen, understood, taught, and challenged. We will explore implicit bias to better see and understand underserved gifted leaners’ potential academic and affective strengths and needs; dive into strengths-based teaching strategies and modifications to the learning environment; and share research-based practices that are often used to challenge learners who have already mastered grade-level material. Lastly, we will work together to brainstorm next steps to better support the underserved gifted learners at your schools.  With Jenny Ritchotte and Amy Graefe (bios above).


3:35 pm - 4 pm
Book Signing in the Atrium with Jim Delisle


Parent Mini-Session Info

*Topics and presenters subject to change. Check back for updates.