Sunday, April 30, 2017

Born Gifted or Just Plain Gifted

One of the premier gifted websites is  This is a great web site.  While I've always felt that Hoagies website is more interesting than mine, has better content and more participation, the most important difference between Hoagies' and my site is that readers of Hoagies' site think their child is truly gifted, and I find that concept absurd.

This page lists comments from anonymous parents about how gifted their children are. The page is titled "You Know You're The Parent of a Gifted Child When..."  I enjoyed reading it.

While some of these scenarios are probably manufactured, and some are trivial, many jibe well with reality.  When I come across a child who exhibits extraordinary talents, the child immediately becomes part of my research project entitled "How do I get my kids to be like that."  When I come across a parent who thinks their child is gifted, I generally worry about the child's future.  Nothing produces a snowflake like a parent who thinks their child is gifted. Snowflakes melt when it gets hot.

Recently I asked my 6th grader who the performers were in math class.  We have been doing math together on the weekends since he was 5 and I need a benchmark to gauge return on investment.  He explained that there are no smart kids in any subject, and the reason is this:  If a child tries to act smart or special, there are 29 other kids in the class who are very capable, and the 29 kids will gang up on Mr. Special and crush the special out of him.  I asked if anyone in class has any idea of where he's at or what he's capable.  No, they don't.  Hmmm.  I don't know what to make of this, but it's not a bad thing.

Today's Chicago Tribune has a 5 page article on the gang problems in an hispanic neighborhood in the west.  Small progress.  Things are much worse in the African American community.   I'm gearing up for Phase 2 of the Chicago Project.  I don't think anyone but insiders can solve Chicago's violence, but I have a plan to create some.

In Phase 1, I went to the schools seeking Pre-K teachers.   I was surprised to meet some really awesome teachers.  Picture being in graduate school and having to go to your teacher's office and your teacher is Einstein.  That's what it was like when I introduced myself and started asking questions.  It was very humbling.

When I found schools that fit my target, I was greeted like I was planning to steal the best and brightest, which in some ways is exactly what I plan to do.  I visited schools because it was 30 degrees out and I had 4 months to wait until I will have access to kids outside of school.  What I saw at some of these schools fascinated me.  Our schools have so much potential in need of a really high bar.

Lately I've been working with kids on the higher end of the spectrum, and I'll need a few more kids to 'help' with this research in a few months.  I can't wait to work on the opposite side of the spectrum.   The fact that I have to act like a spy behind the iron curtain is even more appealing to me.


  1. Hello - I just want to say thank you for all the helpful information and answers to my questions for the last two years. I just got my kid's NNAT score and it was 99 percentile which is automatically in the GAT pool. We have a COGAT test next year. One down, one more to go!

    1. The good news is that this is totally awesome. The bad news is that the COGAT is much harder. I think the NNAT is the easiest test to prepare for. Think about taking some time off or setting a nice leisurely pace, two things I was never able to do until my kids survived the first year of GAT. After you think about this briefly, get some material and a wall chart and a word board and don't take a day off until Christmas. The one thing I did pull off was a vow to never care about incorrect answers and bad days; this approach prevented us from burning out and turned out to be one of the keys to learning. Back to back testing years can be a real challenge otherwise.

  2. My kid is taking COGAT in the fall so test prep this summer is important but we're going to be out of country the whole summer. It will be a great time but we will waste our time too and not necessarily disciplined daily which worries me. Any tips? Should I cancel my trip which I am absolutely willing to do. I am going to take a binder full of questions or a couple of books too, but I don't want to regret that I ruined my child's the one and only chance this summer. :)


    1. NorwoodMay 15, 2017 at 5:28 PM
      As your COGAT consultant, I'm not willing to rule out a summer trip without more information. What city do you live in, what is your child's grade, how many cousins will be staying at or near your accommodations overseas, and can you establish a morning workbook time and an evening reading time each day (or weekend during school) before the end of May? Also, when are you leaving?

    2. -will take the test as a second grader in October
      -1 cousin
      -leaving as soon as school ends and coming back one week before school starts
      -we have a routine but have to disciplined to do just about the same overseas e.g., going to a nearby library
      -The county we live in is extremely competitive and they consider both NNAT and COGAT scores, but COGAT score is weighed more. Our NNAT was 99% but I need to make sure that I don't underestimate COGAT just because NNAT sore was okay.
      -My guess is that we will struggle with verbal section, we've been doing vocabulary workshop and reading comprehension but need to find a better way to build vocabulary.

    3. The NNAT is easy and the COGAT is really hard. I'm sensing overconfidence because of the NNAT score so that's a minus. Our cutoff for the COGAT is about 98.8% and rising, although it falls a bit in 2nd grade, but this underpins my approach. The cousin count is a plus.

      I'm assigning you an exercise. Get a notebook. Write down every vocab word you come across, then write down synonyms next to it, carry it around, and see how many you can use in conversation with your child every day. That might sound insane, but if I wrote an article on every parent I know in GAT programs and what they do, you'll realize that insane is the key. If you had 2 PhD's you would do it naturally without the notebook. If you can do this (which I recommend anyway notebook or post its on the fridge) then you've addressed the discipline gap. I'll assign a grade. Anything under 20 a day is a B.

      My 12 year old, who isn't especially gifted, just got through the first 60 words from an SAT book, none of which anyone ever uses in conversation, so I have confidence that you can do it.

    4. Thank you. I really needed this advice, encouragement and a wake up call at the same time. :)