From the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development

2e Center News

March/April , 2016

A Professional Development Opportunity

About this Column

The 2e Center is located on the campus of Bridges Academy in Studio City, California. In this column, we share what’s happening at our center and report research findings, teaching ideas, and parenting suggestions we have found to be successful in helping 2e kids thrive.
— SB

A key ingredient of our strength-based model at Bridges Academy is a suite of tools that help us “put the person” in personalized learning. These tools allow us to collect and synthesize information about our students’ strengths, interests, and talents, as well as their learning and personality preferences.

We use the information from these tools to plan meaningful experiences for our students. The goal is to help them develop skills and competencies in ways that augment how they learn best. The information gained from the tools gives us ideas on how to partner with parents to engage students in talent-development opportunities, which will be instrumental in helping students develop their potential as creative producers and future leaders.

The 2e Center has finalized plans for offering a professional development opportunity that will take place at Bridges Academy. The workshops, aimed at counselors, therapists, educators, and others, will introduce the suite of tools and explain how professionals can use them to enhance their practice. Registration is limited to 12 participants for each session.

Putting the “Person” in Personalized Learning

What: One-day workshop for counselors, therapists, educators, and others
Why: To learn to use an innovative suite of tools to help you discover and include the “person” in strength-based, talent-focused learning. This simple approach, refined at Bridges Academy, can lead to big changes in motivation and learning.
Where: 2e Center for Research and Professional Development, Bridges Academy, 3921 Laurel Canyon Dr. Studio City, CA 91604
When: Thursday, August 11, 2016, or Saturday, August 13, 2016, 9 a.m. — 4 p.m.
Cost: $295 (lunch included)
Workshop Leaders: Co-creators of the tools, Susan Baum, Ph.D., and Robin Schader, Ph.D.
Contact: email kim.vargas@bridges.edu; phone 818.506.1091, ext. 229

Our Fifth Factor for Success

The focus of our column in this issue is talent development, as we continue to highlight the findings of a research study facilitated by the 2e Center and featured in Tom Ropelewski’s documentary film entitled 2e: Twice Exceptional. The study provided helpful insights into the academic, social, and emotional development of young people with twice-exceptionalities. The research uncovered six factors influential in establishing a strong foundation for success:

  1. Tolerance for asynchrony
  2. A psychologically safe environment
  3. Positive relationships
  4. Respect for time
  5. Talent development
  6. Strength-based strategies.

Talent development happens best within an enriched curriculum. The teachers at Bridges use the Enrichment Triad Model to plan curriculum units, to design enrichment clusters and problem-based learning opportunities, and to encourage individual and small-group investigations. Jean Gubbins, a member of the Executive Board of the 2e Center for Research and Professional Development, describes this model below.  

Factor 5: Talent Development –
A Way to Promote Engagement Among Twice-exceptional Students

By E. Jean Gubbins, Ph.D.

What Teachers Want to Know

I am a novice teacher looking for information on using talent development with 2e students. My major is high school English, and my first-year experiences definitely prepared me for diagnosing students’ academic needs and creating learning plans to remediate skills. My colleague suggested I learn about the importance of talent development in working with twice-exceptional students, especially one student, Brianna.

Although Brianna is a high school junior with excellent writing skills, she does not focus on her talents, only on her challenges with quantitative subjects. How can I incorporate talent development into my work with Brianna? What do I need to know about it?

How can we develop the talents of twice-exceptional (2e) students? While their academic abilities may be evident to teachers and other adults in their lives, these students sometimes allow their talents to be overshadowed by learning challenges, which may have a negative effect on their personal and academic growth.

Nurturing academic environments promote talents and provide the necessary leverage for experiencing academic success. In this article we will look at an approach to talent development based on the Enrichment Triad Model (ETM), developed by educator Joseph Renzulli.

The Enrichment Triad Model

Too many times, Renzulli witnessed bright students engaged in activities and projects that were not meaningful, purposeful, nor challenging to them. In response, in 1977, he developed the Enrichment Triad Model (ETM), a theoretical, research-based, yet practical model that would ensure that gifted and talented students experience the challenge of solving real-world problems.

The ETM consists of the types of activities shown in the table below.

Description

Includes activities that…

Type I: General Exploratory Activities

Provoke students’ interests through access to human, material, and technological resources

Type II: Group Process Activities

  • Serve as the toolbox for experimenting with and mastering these skills:
    • Creative thinking
    • Critical thinking
    • Problem solving
    • Decision making
    • Researching
  • Address these integral skills that bridge the development of topics and creation of products:
    • Affective skills
    • Learning-how-to-learn skills
    • Written, oral, and visual communication skills

Type III: Individual and Small-group Investigations of Real Problems

  • Provide opportunities for students to:
    • Brainstorm personal or community-based problems
    • Use appropriate methods of inquiry to seek solutions
    • Create products documenting their solutions

Type I, II, and III activities are both independent and inter-dependent. They may occur in any order and within varying timeframes. The following scenario serves as an example.

A student attends a Type I presentation by a famous author and begins to wonder what it is like to “think, feel, and act” like a practicing professional (albeit at a junior level). As a result, the student is inspired to write a story to share with others. This inspiration serves as an initial idea for a Type III product.

As the student explores this initial product idea further, Type II skills come into play. They become the supportive tools for perfecting the written, oral, and visual communication skills the student needs to create the product. The actual creation of the product, during the Type III Investigation phase of this process, will require extended time periods within and outside school hours as well as support and guidance from a mentor.

Type III Investigations as Talent Development Opportunities

Type III projects are dynamic because they result not only from topics of study in classrooms, but also from issues and problems that go beyond the learning environment. There may be direct or indirect connections to current courses of study; but there are always clear connections to skills and abilities students need to complete their research, prepare an action plan, and develop the types of products that practicing professionals create for audiences in the “real world.”

The emphasis on working with real problems is an important factor in Type III Investigations for two reasons:

  • It promotes personal investment on the part of students.
  • It motivates students to seek potential solutions with the support of teachers, administrators, professionals in the field, and community members who can broker the resources needed to address the problem.

What constitutes a real problem? According to Renzulli (1982), calling something a problem does not necessarily make it a real problem for a person or group. He states that a problem is real when it meets these criteria:

  1. It has a personal frame of reference because it involves an emotional or affective commitment as well as an intellectual one.
  2. It does not have an existing or unique solution.
  3. The purpose of pursuing it is to bring about some form of change and/or to contribute something new to the sciences, the arts, or the humanities.

These characteristics are reminiscent of a comment by Strong, Silver, and Robinson (1995), who said: “Students who are engaged in their work are energized by four goals — success, curiosity, originality, and satisfying relationships” (p. 8).

Involvement in Type III investigations promotes student engagement academically, behaviorally, cognitively, and psychologically (Wolfe, Steinberg, & Hoffman, 2013). The students do the following:

  • Spend extended periods of time on interest-based tasks, pose questions, and seek solutions related to their topics
  • Establish “action plans,” or steps needed to complete their product, and they connect with others with similar interests
  • Determine the formats in which they will develop and present the results of their inquiry, including visual, oral, written, performance, and artistic expressions
  • Interact with mentors, experts, or peers in their selected topic of inquiry to get the support, guidance, and advice they need
  • Experiment with different approaches to creating products, extending and enhancing their talents, and developing a “sense of belonging” (Good, 2012).

Helping Students Design a Type III Investigation

To promote student involvement in designing a Type III investigation, teachers can pose questions such as the following:

  • What do you want to know about an issue or problem?
  • Why do you want to learn more about it? How do you want to learn about it?
  • What human and material resources will be most useful to you?
  • What types of products would practicing professionals develop on this issue or problem?
  • What are potential audiences for your investigation?
  • What types of learning environments will support your work? (For example, would the student benefit from having a writing corner, library space, or a technology lab where the student could work independently or with support from a mentor and peers?)

Following is an example of a Type III Investigation that one student designed using questions such as these as a guide.

Brianna’s Investigation

During her walk to school each day, Brianna noticed a young girl standing outside a local store with a woman. At first, she wondered if the girl was the store owner’s child. Eventually, Brianna spotted an old van at the far end of the parking lot, and she watched as the girl and the woman, her mother, entered. Brianna realized then that the van was serving as their “home.”

From this experience, Brianna developed the elements of a Type III Investigation with guidance from her mentor, who was her high school English teacher and a published author. The elements of the investigation include the research question, the research product, and the audience for the product.

Research Question: How can I, as a 16 year-old high school student, provide support for homeless families?

Product: A research-based article on homelessness in Brianna’s town submitted to the Partnership for Strong Communities Organization. The article was based on knowledge and skills Brianna learned from multiple data-gathering techniques, including blogging, developing a public service announcement, writing a newspaper article, brochure, and public presentation.

Brianna realized that her peers and community members needed to know more about the homeless families in their midst and what steps could be taken to help them. As she worked with her high school mentor, she realized that she needed to gather data about the needs of these families. With help from the Local Commission on Housing, she conducted several interviews focusing on available resources. Once she recognized that information about resources was not reaching people in crisis because they had lost their homes and no longer had a fixed address, Brianna decided to do the following:

  1. Connect with her peers to start a blog highlighting issues surrounding homelessness in their neighborhood
  2. Contact the local radio station and develop a public service announcement highlighting key resources
  3. Summarize her data and prepare an article for the local newspaper’s community opinion page
  4. Create a brochure highlighting community resources and place copies in local stores, libraries, and service organizations
  5. Arrange a presentation at a public meeting with the Local Commission on Housing.

Audience: School and community members, community organizations, businesses, the Local Commission on Housing, and the Partnership for Strong Communities Organization

By creating multiple written, visual, and oral products over the course of six months, Brianna was able to raise the level of awareness about homelessness in her community and communicate with people who most needed access to local information and resources. The blog, radio station public service announcement, newspaper article, brochure, presentation, and research-based article ensured that information was available in many formats and in multiple places.

Brianna not only became invested in the issue of homelessness, she found ways to capitalize on her strengths as a twice-exceptional student. According to researchers Higgins and Nielsen (2000), these include:

  • Advanced vocabulary
  • Sophisticated creative and critical thinking skills
  • High levels of curiosity, imagination, and questioning abilities.

Brianna’s combination of abilities and disabilities had to be managed with the help of her mentor and friends who believed in her goal. When she needed help with writing, designing, or presenting, mentor and friends were there for her.

When students like Brianna are motivated by their own interests and have a teacher serving as a guide to help them design and carry out their plan, these students thrive. They can choose the resources that suit how they learn and develop products that are reflective of their strengths, interests, and talents.

Talent Development at Bridges Academy

At Bridges Academy we invest highly in providing talent development to our students for many reasons. Among them is that twice-exceptional students do best when engaged in areas of talent and interests; and it is here that we see the best in our students and experience a vision of what they can become.

Furthermore, research has shown that engagement in talent-development activities results in dramatic growth in the twice-exceptional students’ self-regulation, perceptions of ability, and academic achievement (Assouline & Whiteman, 2011; Baum & Owen, 2004; Baum, Hebert,& Renzulli, 1995; Baum, S., Renzulli, S. & Rizza, M. S., 2014. Baum Schader, & Hébert, 2014). Talent development also allows these students to find their individual niches so that they can have a productive and rich life. Documentation of students’ extraordinary accomplishments in a talent area provides evidence of achievement necessary to the continuance of education at the appropriate institutions of higher learning. Finally, recent research suggests that the happiest people make life and career decisions that align with their individual strengths, interests, and passions (Baum et al., 2014; Gardner, 1999; Grandin, & Panek, 2013).

These opportunities make up a vital part of Bridges Academy students’ educational program, and in no way are they considered extra-curricular. We strongly believe that these opportunities are critical in helping our students make optimal growth.

References

  • Assouline, S. G., & Whiteman, C. S. (2011).
  • Twice-exceptionality: Implications for school psychologists in the post-IDEA 2004 era. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 27, 380-402.
  • Baum, S. M., & Owen, S. V. (2004). To be gifted and learning disabled: Meeting the needs of gifted students with LD, ADHD, and more. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press.
  • Baum, S., Renzulli, J., & Hebert, T. (1995). Reversing underachievement: Creative productivity as a systematic intervention. Gifted Child Quarterly, 39, 224-235.
  • Baum, S., Renzulli, S. & Rizza, M. S. (2014). The Twice Exceptional adolescents: Who are they and what do they need? In F.A. Dixon & S.M. Moon (Eds.)  The Handbook of Secondary Gifted Education, 2nd Edition. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.
  • Baum, S. M., Schader, R. M., Hebert, T. P. (2014). Through a different lens: Reflecting on a strengths-based, talent-focused approach for twice-exceptional learners. Gifted Child Quarterly, 58(4), 311-327.
  • Cray-Andrews, M., Baum, S., & Gubbins, E. J. (1987, January/February). Gifted students as creative producers. Gifted Child Today, 10(1) 1 22-24.
  • Gardner, H. (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple intelligences for the 21st century. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Grandin, T. & Panek, R. (2013). The autistic brain: Thinking across the spectrum. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Higgins, L. D., & Nielsen, M. E. (2000). Responding to the needs of twice-exceptional learners: A school district and university’s collaborative approach. In K. Kay (Ed.), Uniquely gifted: Identifying and meeting the needs of the twice-exceptional student (pp. 287-303). Gilsum, NH; Avocus Publishing.
  • Reis, S.M., Baum, S.M. & Burke, E. (2014). An operational definition of twice- exceptional learners: Implications and applications. Gifted Child Quarterly, 58, 217-230.
  • Renzulli, J. S. (1977). The enrichment triad model: A guide for developing defensible programs for the gifted and talented. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press.
  • Renzulli, J. S. (1982). What makes a problem real: Stalking the illusive meaning of qualitative differences in gifted education. Gifted Child Quarterly, 26, 147-156.
  • Renzulli, J. S. (1997, July). Five dimensions of differentiation. Keynote presentation at the 20th Annual Confratute Conference, Storrs, CT.
  • Strong, R., Silver, H. F., & Robinson, A. (1995). Strengthening student engagement: What do students want (and what really motivates them)? Educational Leadership, 53(1), 8-12.
  • Wolfe, R. E., Steinberg, A., & Hoffman, N. (2013). Anytime, anywhere: Student-centered learning for schools and teachers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

 

Jean Gubbins, Ph.D., is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut and a member of the Executive Board of The 2e Center for Research and Professional Development, Bridges Academy, Studio City, California.  

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