Last week I was very fortunate to be able to attend the VAGTC EmpowerEd for Giftedness conference which was held at CQ Function Centre Queens St Melbourne on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 April
The conference program can be read here
The main theme of the conference was differentiation and the keynote speakers were Susan Winebrenner from the US http://www.susanwinebrenner.com/and Debbie Youd from Tasmania. It was wonderful to hear Susan Winebrenner speak as her books are favourites of mine and ones I often recommend.
Susan Winebrenner’s opening keynote presentation was titled Compacting and Differentiation are Easy! Her closing mini keynote was The most equitable way to provide gifted education services – The Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Model.
The conference also saw the launch of the ‘New opportunities for the gifted and talented directions paper’
This directions paper builds on the findings of the Victorian Parliament’s 2012 Inquiry into the Education of Gifted and Talented Students (the inquiry) by signalling a renewed focus on the needs of gifted and talented children and young people, their educators and their families. For the final report for the 2012 inquiry, see: Inquiry into the Education of Gifted and Talented Students
Jewel Topsfield wrote about this in The Age newspaper
David Southwick MP, chair of the Parliamentary Inquiry launched the ‘New opportunities for the gifted and talented directions paper’ and presented a conference session titled Unmasking Economic Potential of our Gifted Students in Victoria.
Sarah Humphreys of ACARA spoke about newly added provisions for adjusting the National Curriculum to meet the needs of gifted students See
Gifted and Talented
Student diversity and the Australian curriculum
A Parent Seminar was run in conjunction with the conference on the morning of Tuesday 23. At this seminar Dr Anne Grant spoke about research into giftedness in early childhood and the factors impacting the transition to school.
Lynne Maher, the president of the Tasmanian Association for the Gifted, and her son Jonathan Geeves spoke about acceleration and the various types of acceleration which Jonathan had experienced. It was very helpful for the parents to hear about the social/emotional as well as the academic aspects of acceleration from a student’s point of view.
Susan Winebrenner also spoke to the parents covering many topics including differentiating instruction for gifted students and perfectionism
I also attended an excellent practical workshop presented by Andrea Blake and Kylie Graham titled Differentiating for Gifted Learners within an Inquiry Framework , a session presented by Christine Ireland titled Making differentiation work for gifted students: strategies, options and pitfalls and a session presented by Mark Smith describing the provisions for gifted and talented students at Macedon Grammar School titled Using Differentiation to Build Classroom Engagement and Uncover Student Talent
Conference participants were also treated to a display of fencing by Gabriel Spano and Sam Gilfillan, members of VRI Fencing Club https://www.vrifencing.com/ organised by Kayt Spano and Dr Zoltan Vilagosh directors of Fencing Victoria
Kayt describes fencing as ‘physical chess’ and says that it can be a sport for gifted students which builds transferrable skills in physical co-ordination and strength while appealing to their mental strategic and problem solving skills.
There were also performances of Ave Maria and Gloria by singers from Salesian College, music from Mary McKillop College Leongatha, hip hop dancers from Damm School of Dance see their news item at http://www.daamdance.com.au/news.html and the songs “Don’t write us off” and “If you could see the world through my eyes” written and performed by twice exceptional students from Kids Like Us http://www.kidslikeus.org.au/
A Tribute to Professor John Geake was given by Jonah Oliver and the book Explorations in mind A collection of articles by John Geake edited by Wilma Vialle was launched
At the Conference Dinner life membership of the VAGTC was conferred on Christine Ireland in recognition and appreciation of her excellent commitment, contributions and service to the VAGTC and gifted education over many years.
I enjoyed the experience of participating in the conference which ran very smoothly and catching up with friends and colleagues and also meeting and learning from so many people who are passionate about the education of gifted students.