Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#ExpressYourself: I'm Infected with the Musical Theatre Bug!

I am so excited!!! I can't wait to write about today's topic.

Last week I was asked to write about a  musical or play I have viewed. I LOVE musicals! I was raised in a traditional Appalachian Irish family where music played a large part of our lives. Every grandchild was expected to play an instruments. Trouble was I didn't want to play an instrument. I wanted to sing and dance! I started singing onstage in little plays and in my church choir when I was around 5 or 6 years old. It never failed, every Christmas I would be chosen play a shepard or a wise man. I always wanted to be Mary. Anyways, my mother introduced me to the ballet when I was around 9 years old. I absolutely loved it. I will never forget the time we watched Firebird at the BalletMet Columbus.

Forget the orchestra! I wanted to be just like the ballerina who played her on stage and tell a story through movement. I wanted to perform on a big stage! Lucky for me the BalletMet had a kids club where I could learn ballet steps and meet the ballerina's before the show began. I couldn't get enough of the ballet until I learned about musicals.

A few years later, the Palace Theatre in my hometown of Marion, Ohio was looking for child actors for a musical. I tried out and got the part of playing Mickey Mouse. I was so excited to be performing on a big, live stage. I had made it! I had become just like the ballerina in Firebird! While I was there, everyone talked about the Phantom of the Opera. I had no clue what that was. Then the Phantom of the Opera appeared at one of our dress rehearsals with that famous music.

I fell in love with the music and had to know more. I never saw the play but loved the music. My grandparents has exposed me to the musicals on film such as Oklahoma, Dolly, West Side Story and Sound of Music but I never realized that they could be done on stage as well.

A few years later I fell in love with another musical. Our Girl Scout troop took a trip to the theatre in Columbus to see Cats! OMG! You mean there are more musicals than Phantom of the Opera? I realized I could mix my love for music, dance, and theatre together.

In 1998, I changed my major in college from history to theatre. It wasn't a shock to some of my friends. I had been involved with the theatre before I officially changed my major. The musical bug had hit me again with the production of Oklahoma. 

The following year while I was in a Mad Max version of Hamlet the stage next to us was practicing for Kiss Me Kate. Every night we would hear the chorus practicing. I decided if I could be in the play I would work backstage. I spoke to the director and was allowed to work backstage. 

I graduated in 1999 with a BA in Theatre Arts from Sul Ross State University. 

#ExpressYourself: New Year's Here I Am

Welcome back the Express Yourself weekly blog tour. I hope your new year has been kind to you so far. Can you believe February is almost here?

Jan 5 - 9: Do you have a New Year's resolution?

No. I use to do New Year's resolutions but then realized I never stick to them so I quit making them.

Jan 12 - 16: What's a musical or play you've viewed?
See the next post for the answer to that question.

Jan 19 - 23: What's your favorite movie you saw in 2014?
This may sound sad but I didn't have a chance to see a movie last year.

My next post will be about something I am VERY passionate about. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

LTW: #Skype in the #Gifted #Classroom

Skype in the Gifted Classroom
Educators of gifted students have struggled to find instructional methodologies that will fully engage their students with academic content. Technology and the Internet have allowed educators to use educational tools that work well with gifted students. Ian Warwick, senior director of London Gifted and Talented, found gifted students have a higher capability to learn on their own whenever they are given the resources where they have access to multiple bodies of knowledge (Jenkin, 2013). Social media sites, such as Skype, allow for students to proactively seek new knowledge through making connections with experts in a specific field of study that they are interested in.
The Perfect Learning Environment
Gifted students often learn information at a faster pace than their peers and have a wide variety of interests. These attributes often lead to behavioral problems at school because they either bored, scattered brained or both. Davis, Edmunds and Bateman (2008) found there is a decrease between the times someone learns something, is able to apply it to their lives and it becomes outdated information (pg.1). Gifted students’ ability to process information quickly and apply it to their lives is a benefit for their population while living in the 21st century. Divergent gifted thinkers also thrive in this world, as they are able to bring together two unrelated concepts, ideas or events to create a new pattern.
Using Skype to Prepare the Next Generation
Gifted students have always been independent thinkers. Their independent thinking and quick processing of information is not widely understood by educators, parents and their peers. Gifted students are drawn towards interacting with older students, adults and experts in any given field they have interest in. Skype allows for a gifted student to make connections and interact with experts. McCrae (2012) found students are exposed to environments and career paths they would never have had access to without Skype (pg. 18). Students are prepared for the world beyond graduation by exposing them to new ideas and places. The gifted student doesn’t have to worry about having too many interests. They are free to explore any area and talk to anyone around the world about their ideas.
Skype also prepares the gifted student for the future by granting them access to people they would have never have had the chance to meet. The student is able to create a network or friends, family and experts in who will connect them with other people they know. As the gifted student’s network increases their world grows smaller so they are exposed to new and exciting opportunities (Laureate Education).
Gifted students have the opportunity to explore their interests within the real world and still go to school. Robin (2009) found academic institutions around the world have traded classes with each other in order to provide academic content that is not available within their school (pg. 2). Some schools have operated virtually when weather does not permit students to attend classes in their building. An unhealthy child can still attend his or her classes via Skype. Some gifted students do better with virtual education than in a classroom. Utilizing Skype as an educational resource helps the gifted student to achieve academic success no matter the situation they are in.
Connecting With Their World
The world in which a gifted student lives is very different from normal society. Each gifted student is unique in his or her thought processes but they all tend to gravitate towards their intellectual peers. Technology has made it possible for anyone to connect with a gifted student. Siemens (2005) stated our brains are in a period of evolutionary change as it shapes the way we process information we receive and our thought process (pg.2). We are in a period of redefining how someone learns and process new information.
Gifted students are bombarded with so much information that they need to develop the skill of discerning what is important and what is trivial. New information is always be acquired. Gifted students using Skype are able to develop the necessary skills to discern which information is more important and apply.
Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from
Jenkin, M. (2013). Gifted and talented education: using technology to engage students. The Guardian.Retrieved from
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Social learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.
McCrae, B. (2012). Skype Takes Students Where No School Bus Can Go. T H E Journal, 39 (5), 18
Robin, I. (2009). Schools Look to Skype for Sharing. Electronic Education Report, 16(6), 1-2

Monday, January 5, 2015

LTW: #SocialMedia and #GiftedEducation

Social Media and Gifted Education

Social networks are wonderful tools that educators of gifted students can and should employ within the classroom.

Gifted students of all ages often struggle in a traditional learning environment because they do not meet their unique needs. Gifted students need to be pushed academically in order to keep their academic progress. Bingham and Conner (2010) define community as a place where students are free to learn the information they seek (pg. 38). Gifted students often struggle with forming and maintaining friendships because they want a relationship with someone who understands their thinking patterns. This is the reason a gifted elementary student will often times seek out a friendship with their teacher or a high school student. Cross (2013) found gifted students become more engaged with material in online educational settings with the opportunity to comment such as blogs and  discussion boards because they not only allow the student to explore their specialized interest but they can interact with someone who intellectually is their equal (pg. 114)

Cross (2013) found gifted students who actively participate in online social networks benefit not only by exploring their interests in and outside the classroom but by learning social skills through interacting with their intellectual peers. Gifted students are motivated to learn through competency, autonomy and relatedness (pg. 114). These three skills are hard for the student to learn in the traditional classroom because the gifted student often times does not feel they belong. Gifted students, when interacting in an online discussion or conversation about a topic of their choosing, do not have to worry about if they belong to that group or not. They are empowered to be who they truly are online. Cross (2013) found introverted gifted children interact more when they are online than they do in the classroom and the number of gifted children connecting with others online has greatly increased (pg. 115).

While all of this sounds great for an educator to utilize social media in the classroom with their gifted students the educator should use some caution.

Educators would be wise to remember that while the gifted student may intellectually be advanced they could have some social/emotional delays. Educators and parents should know where the gifted student is online and what they are saying to someone online.

Another area to think about is the use of the internet in academics. It is very tempting for any educator to allow their gifted students free reign on the internet in order to complete a project. Gifted students can teach themselves but they should not depend upon the computer to teach them everything. The computer and internet is just one of many tools an educator has to teach a gifted students.  It is not a replacement for the teacher.

Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations through social media. Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development.
Cross, Tracy L. (2013). Unchartered Territory: Growing Up Gifted amid a Culture of Social Media. Gifted Child Today, 36 (2), 144-145 doi 10.1177/10762175113475450

Friday, January 2, 2015

WhatsUpWithAllison: Being #gifted. Changing the #Educational World

Happy New Year! 

This week has been a busy and insightful week for me. On December 26th I left Indianapolis for my first residency for my PhD in Education program. I arrived in Washington DC in the afternoon and along with over 150 other students attended residency at the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland. I was excited and nervous because this was the first time I had met my best friend in person. We had met at Full Sail University while working on MFA in Creative Writing, had spoken almost on a daily basis via phone and internet but had never met in real life. 

Krystol had entered into her PhD program in Psychology a few months before I did. Walden University requires all of their students to attend their first residency within 90 days of their start date. Even though Krystol was accepted into her program before I was we both started our classes in the same quarter. We decided to attend our first residency at the same location and share all of the expenses. We had a GREAT TIME together. Here is a picture of Krystol and I together at the hotel. 

My first residency was a blessing for me. I made new friends who work in different educational fields including international and online education. I was the only one out of our group that works at a private school. It was very interesting to share our experiences with each other. I'm quite certain the friendships we started won't end after graduation. 

My experience at residency 1 also inspired me to stay on the path I am heading down. I have a passion to help educators, parents and the community to understand the educational needs of gifted children.  As a gifted young woman who has struggled in this world I feel encouraged that there is interest in the educational community to learn more about how the needs of the gifted community can be met and empowered to help make those changes. Not all gifted children and adults are the same. It's hard to put the gifted community into a box because we are so different. It's time for the educational community to stop labelling us with LD, ADHD, ED and other disorders and focus the educational needs of the gifted on a path where we can be successful.