Good Resources

UC Irvine Gifted Student Saturday Academy for students in grades 1-3

I know some of you are looking for program options and enrichment activities for younger children. This class is open to children in grades 1-3, and enrollment is now open.

Gifted Students Network Saturday Academy
Turkey Day Science
(Grades 1-3)

Come discover the connection between chemistry, physics, biology, and Thanksgiving dinner. Using hands-on experiments, students will explore chemical reactions such as potato power and chemical pie. Learn “Turkey Day” science tricks and answer questions like “Does eating turkey really make you sleepy and do turkeys fly?”

Date: November 23, 2013
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Location: UCI Center for Educational Partnerships

Registration Fee: $175

Please note: Bring bagged lunch *Snacks provided throughout the day.*
However, if your child has certain food needs, it is advisable that you pack snacks along with lunch.

Debora Martin, M.Ed.
Debora has a Masters Degree in Education and over 40 years experience working with children and adults. Throughout her career, she has been a teacher, administrator, trainer, and has developed math and science curricula in both the private and public sectors. For the past 10 years, she has worked at the University of California, Irvine on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that focused on the importance of science as an integral component of the elementary curriculum. This past summer she joined the Gifted Students Lower Academy team as an instructor.

Registration link:

Please contact us with any questions at #949 824-5069

Thank you, and have a nice day!

Peak Performance for Smart Kids- How to Manage your Talents


Gifted people are multi-potentialed. They are interested in many things and often quite talented in many things. This can create many stresses.
Gifted youth may ask themselves:
What do I focus on?
What do I spend my energy on?
How do I choose between the different things that I am passionate about?
Do I have to specialize?
How do I find time to do all the things I love?
These questions are especially difficult for young gifted people as they are still exploring their different areas of passion and still need time to decide what they truly excel at and most importantly, discovering the thing they truly love.
Add the components of working with their parents to find good coaches, teachers, mentors and support in the form of friends, family and fellow geeks. Now layer on the complexity of naysayers, saboteurs, bullies and jealous friends. The mix starts getting pretty thick.
How does a budding talent deal with the stress of being really good at something? Yes, your passion can be a source of great joy but it isn’t always easy. Success comes at a cost. It takes time, energy, sacrifices  and resources to truly develop a talent. Just watch any interview with a talented actor, top level athlete or virtuoso musician.
Dream Big is one of my favorite presentations for conferences and parent meetings.
It is a blend of my personal experiences as an elite athelte and gifted scholar and a conglomeration of several terrific books that I’ve read on the topic that I wish I had access to in my youth.

Here are some books that I recommend:
Peak Performance For Smart Kids by Maureen Neihart, Psy. D.
Dahlkoetter, J. (2008) Your Performing Edge
Urlinger, S. (2005) Mental Training for Peak Performance

Here are some documents and resources that I’ve put together to help parents of gifted and talented students to reach their potential. I have much more.
I am available to present at your conference or to a parent group.
I am located in the Los Angeles Area.
My email is:

Enjoy the resources below. One of my favorites is the progressive muscle relaxation technique.
As a collegiate athlete, I often had a hard time winding down after hours of practice, followed by hours of studying. Learning progressive muscle relaxation saved my life! I could finally get some desperately needed quality sleep.

Find the resources to this presentation on my blog at:

There are PDF files, an MP3 track for progressive muscle relaxation and more.

Bullying and Gifted Kids


Study: Gifted children especially vulnerable to effects of bullying”All children are affected adversely by bullying, but gifted children differ from other children in significant ways,” says Jean Sunde Peterson, an associate professor of educational studies in Purdue’s College of Education.

Many are intense, sensitive and stressed by their own and others’ high expectations, and their ability, interests and behavior may make them vulnerable. Additionally, social justice issues are very important to them, and they struggle to make sense of cruelty and aggression. Perfectionists may become even more self-critical, trying to avoid mistakes that might draw attention to themselves.”

Peterson and Karen E. Ray, a doctoral student in counseling psychology, surveyed 432 gifted eighth-graders in 11 states. The students were asked if they had experienced bullying behavior, such as name-calling, pushing, hitting and other physical violence, or teasing about family, grades or appearance.

The researchers found that 67 percent of gifted students had experienced bullying by eighth grade, 16 percent defined themselves as bullies and 29 percent had violent thoughts. Interviewed students described depression, unexpressed rage and school absenteeism as responses to bullying.

Should bullying be something we should pay attention to as parents and advocates for gifted children?
Find out what information is out there and find ways to support gifted students.

As an educator and an advocate for gifted students, I have been spending the better part of the last 12 months gathering research on this important topic.
We need to work on several fronts. What works?
Comforting the victim, for certain. But our gifted kids know this changes little.
As educators and advocates we need to work on educating and empowering the BYSTANDERS. The bully may very well need counseling as well to deal with what issues drive him/her to bully others.

Here are some great resources that teachers can use in the classroom. I have been using some of my ELD (English Language Development) time each week to do some bibliotherapy.
Bibliotherapy is where you use books to help people. Some of these books already come with discussion questions in the back. They are a great springboard for kids to share their experiences and to do role-playing.

BULLIES ARE A PAIN IN THE BRAIN  by Trevor Romain is a little book filled with illustrations and great discussion points.  You can read and share several pages with a group of students and stop and have a class discussion.
The book has a page of “Do’s and Don’ts” for dealing with bullies. For example. “Do use your best judgement and instincts. Don’t believe that names the bully calls you are true.” It contains a chapter on myths about bullies. It discusses some of the reasons bullies act the way they do.


One of my favorite series is by Erin Frankel. She has written three books titled: Dare, Weird, and Tough!Weird is written from the point of view of the victim. She doesn’t know why she is targeted and doesn’t know what to do.
It gives a wonderful insight into her feelings of self-doubt and self-consciousness and the lowering sense of worth.


DARE! is from the point of view of the bystander.
It gives insights into how a nice kid can get dragged into joining in on the bullying.
It also shows how fear and intimidation play into the bystander becoming a victim as well.
Erin Frankel shows how the bystander can feel guilty and powerless and at a loss of what to do.
There are about 10 discussion pages in the back of the book that a teacher can use with a discussion group.


TOUGH! by Erin Frankel is the same story as Dare! and Weird! but told from the point of view of the bully.
The back of the book shows frank talk about why the bully wants to change.
It also has different activities you can do with your classroom- for example, starting a Kindness Club.
Page 38 has discussion questions to use while reading the book.


This is one of my favorites. Just as gifted kids get bullied for being weird or different, children with learning difficulties are special targets of bullies as well.
This is a true story of Patricia Polacco’s childhood struggle with dyslexia.
She was a very late reader and was horribly bullied.
I haven’t been able to read this one aloud yet without tearing up.
The class discussion that followed this book was awesome.
We talked about how we could help someone who was struggling with learning and came up with a “lunch bunch” of student volunteers to help tutor struggling students.


Just Kidding hits the issue of teasing. The main characters are boys and the teasing revolves around recess and after school sports activities.
It has great discussion activities and a recommended reading list at the back of the book.


Trouble Talk is similar to Just Kidding, but deals with harmful gossip, lying,  rumors and sharing others’ personal information in order to gain status and gain attention.
Some highlights from the highlights for discussion:
“No offense, but....”
Do the words “no offense” make what Bailey said to Keisha any less insulting? Why or why not?Have you ever had anyone say “no offense” to you before saying something negative about you?
How did that make you feel?


Say Something is a book that really informs the bystander about how important his/her role is in putting a stop to bullying.
There are tips at the back of the book such as:
1. Say something to the person who is getting teased. Just saying “Hi” to someone that you usually don’t hang out with makes a difference.
2. Say something to the bully. Don’t become part of the fight. You might try: “I don’t want to hear that” or “Knock it off” or “That’s not OK”.


My Secret Bully hits a topic we don’t often talk about…when a close friend is your bully.
Often this type of bullying is triggered by jealousy.
Gifted kids are very talented and have a lot of potential and are often recognized for their achievements.
This makes them a special target for this type of bullying.
Their bullies may begin using social isolation as well as personal verbal jabs. This is called “relational aggression …acts of emotional bullying hidden among tightly knit networks of friends.
The character in this story begins having physical reactions to her bullying such as headaches, stomach aches, depression and anxiety  This is a good platform for discussing more hidden physical effects of bullying.


Bully by Patricia Polacco touches on cyber bullying and the use of social networking and texting to bully.
It discusses peer pressure and social isolation as well.
It has discussion points about the need to be yourself and the need to fit in.
Another theme is loyalty and friendship.
The story leaves it up to discussion where one of the main characters is trying to decide whether to change schools or  change to a new school district to leave her bullying issue in the past.
This is an option some parents and students have had to face.

Bullying is an age old problem that doesn’t seem like its going away any time soon.
However, more schools are creating anti-bullying programs and are increasing awareness about the problem.
More school districts are creating anti-bulling policies in place to protect students and are holding teachers accountable for taking action against bullies.
Especially important is to have a clear policy on cyber-bullying which takes place outside of school walls but has a definite impact on the well-being of the student and directly affects the student’s academic performance, educational experience  and emotional well-being.
If you are unclear about the policies and procedures your school district has in place regarding bullying, please contact your local school district office and ask to see their policy. You can be an advocate for your child.

A New Dawn for GATE

 Saturday GATE Seminars Expanded for 2012-13 School Year

As you may have heard, the district GATE Resource Room was closed for this school year due to the devastating budget crisis. The district had to cut millions of dollar from our budget this year. The Resource Room was one of the casualties.

However, remain assured, that EMCSD is committed to providing differentiated instruction, challenge and enrichment for your gifted child.

We are creating a plan to expand our Saturday GATE Seminars. We have added dates and class offerings. These are in the process of being board approved. Classes are slated to begin in January, so please keep an eye out for the applications, which will be sent to your child’s classroom. Additionally, the applications will be posted on this site as soon as they are available.

Tentative class offerings are:

  • Music appreciation
  • Drama
  • Lab Science
  • Technology
  • Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted
  • Visual Arts & Art Appreciation
  • College Tours for our older students.


We will continue to work with teachers and our psychologists to identify new students for the GATE program, so they can take part in all services we offer.

For some amazing resources for your brain,visit this website:

Keep visiting this site for more resources and program updates.

-Chantal Cravens, GATE specialist and fourth grade teacher

Please contact Oscar Marquez at the district office: 626-453-3760 if you have further questions.









Big news…gifted folks are intense.

I use the word folks because gifted kids grow up to be gifted adults and guess what?

Giftedness is terminal. You never outgrow it!

Do you like my his and her cups? I am a nerd, I married a nerd and I parent two nerds.

I <3 nerds!

But living together !?

Noisy, intense and fun!

Many people (parents, siblings, teachers and classmates) have a rough time knowing how to handle the intense emotions of gifted children and adults. Gifted folks can be like a dog with a bone when they are stuck on their opinion or idea of something. They hate it when folks don’t agree with them or someone tells them they might be mistaken. They want to be right! They hate to make mistakes and can take criticism (even constructive, guided and couched) very badly.











They are a conundrum. They may be the first to point out others’ mistakes or shortcoming, but at the same time, they are sensitive and get their feelings hurt easily. They can be very candid with their opinions and when called out, often respond with  “But, it’s true!” Then appear to be clueless when others get mad at them and call them annoying or rude.

I read this article today and thought it could really help gifted folks- young and old alike:

Here is a site that is excellent: 50 Essential Links for the Parents of Gifted Children-

Some ideas on self- talk:

“Very simply, you want to become aware of what you tell yourself inside so that you—rather than your emotions—direct your choices. Your happiness depends on it. This is critical because your thoughts activate emotion-driven processes within you. That’s right, even painful ones. Your thoughts, and the underlying beliefs that drive them, automatically trigger emotions.”

Profound. What we think makes it so. We choose to be angry or neutral depending on what we THINK about an event that happened. For example, we say hello to someone and they don’t respond. We can think, “No biggie! They probably didn’t hear me.” OR “What a jerk! She is probably mad at me for something and is ignoring me.”

How about this one:

“Remind yourself you are not your emotions. You are the observer of your emotions. Emotions are energy, and what you are feeling are pockets of intensely charged energy, linked to past wounds.”

I find, too often we react to situations in a particular way because it reminds us of previous experiences. Perhaps, that experience didn’t go well. However, we need to recall that this moment is a new experience and we cannot predict it will go the same way. Especially if we respond differently to what is happening.

Visit the link to see the Seven Steps to Develop Awareness of Emotions and Thoughts. 

Good stuff. As a young person, I found opinionated people abrasive. As an adult, I LOVE opinionated people. I recognize their passion and intensity. I am interested in their point of view, especially when they can defend their position in an informed and well-thought manner.

Also visit the section of this website on the social and emotional needs of gifted people.





Student Multimedia Projects

With student projects, a big issue is evaluation. The first major thing is  letting kids know how they will be evaluated. IE what they need to include in their project. Here is a check list I am using with third and fourth grade students that are creating a power point presentation on a self-selected research topic: Checklist for GATE Multimedia project

Still Life Collage Project- Learning can be messy!

Also, give them plenty of examples to look at for reference: Good Questions Powerpoint. This gives them a rough idea of what decent questions look like that introduce what’s coming next. I also suggested they use a picture only format and then pose the question orally to introduce the next point.

Student still life example

I think it is important to give mini check points along the way,so kids don’t fall behind and you clearly know who is struggling. You can assign several students as “Checkers”, armed with a 3-5 line item check list to go around and check student work for you. This frees you up to assist struggling students.

Helping each other out.

I kind of like the “each one , teach one” motto as well. When I am busy helping a student and another kid approaches me, I might ask, “Who knows how to copy and paste a URL into a document?” and then ask that student to help the struggling student. Just make sure the saavy student doesn’t use up too much of their own learning and exploring time doing this sort of thing. All students have the right to move from point B to point C, and need to reach beyond their grasp.

Teachers ask: “What skills should I have and where can I learn those skills?” Here is an excellent resource:  What I like about this website is that it has tutorials and guides to help guide you through the process.

Student Seminars- Their Role in a Gifted Education

What are student seminars?

In short, they are meetings with gifted students to support the social and emotional needs of gifted students. They are a type of structured support group.

They can be run at a school site by a site counselor, psychologist, principal or a classroom teacher. Some groups meet at lunch time or before or after school.

As a GATE program specialist, I meet with students on a pull-out basis. I make arrangements with the school site administrator and I meet with a set group of GATE kids a few times a year. We meet for an hour in the morning. The principals make arrangements to loan me a room, so we have confidentiality and the kids can really talk.

Think about how you group students at your school site and consider how you might better be able to support their social and emotional needs.

Some seminar topics I have taught are:

Friendship: How do I make good friends? How can I be a good friend? How can I communicate better? How can I improve my relationship with  my teacher? My parents? My siblings? My friends? How can I be a better listener?

Intensity: How can I control my anger? What can I do when I feel like I am going to burst? How do I wait my turn? Can I do something to get hold of my sensitivity?

Perfectionism and Stress: Why do I procrastinate? Why am I often unhappy with my work? Why do I hate group projects? Dealing with feeling overwhelmed. How can I learn to chill out?

Traits of Gifted People: What a gift to understand oneself. To understand “Over-excitabilities” and Intensity. Why am I so intense? Why does my mind race? Why do I get my feelings hurt so easily? Over-excitablility in Gifted People

Here are some resources:

Book: The Essential Guide to Talking with Gifted Teens by Jean Sunde Peterson.

This book comes with a Cd-Rom of all student worksheets. It has lesson plans and discussion starters and guidelines for holding student  discussions.


I also really like Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens




Although I have listed books with the words teen in them, these strategies and materials work really well with younger students.

Promoting Student Seminars – Cover

Underachieveing GATE 11.20.09

How can GATE programs address the social

Student Seminar Sample Topics Bibliography

Stress Management

My Needs. activity to share with family members

Perfectionism worksheet

I have many more resources listed under the resources tab on this site, under social and emotional needs.

Give this method a try. Our students need the emotional support and understanding as much as academic interventions and modifications.



PAGE Meeting Minutes and Resources May 18, 2012

Freedom of Expression

After welcomes and introductions, Chantal Cravens, PAGE President and GATE program specialist for El Monte City School District,  presented first with Psychedelic Synergy. She tied in gifted education with technology tools for differentiated instruction.

PAGE would like to thank Patti Yoshihara for donating the lovely flower arrangements for our tables.

Chantal Cravens’  presentation and additional resources are added below.
May 18 PAGE, Creativity  Power Point Presentation PDF
art-of-asking-questions Quality Questioning
Gagne and giftedness What is giftedness?
How to create a Movie in Movie Maker Students creating mulit-media presentations
inductivedeductive Questioning
Williams taxonomy2 Taxonomy of Creative Thinking
Next, Susan Mc Namara, GATE Specialist for Baldwin Park Unified School District, shared a presentation on the book “Making Thinking Visible”. Her presentation and handouts are below.

GATE Parent Meeting on May 9

Here are many resources we talked about during our parent meeting on May 9. Give your children EXPERIENCES. Don’t ask for packets or worksheets for the summer.
Sign your kids up for all the things that they don’t have time for during the school year. Ask them what they want to do and find out what they are interested in.


May 7: Summer 2012 registration begins
May 26 – 28: Memorial Holiday, no classes, offices closed
June 16 and 17: Summer 2012 first session classes beginMusic, drama, art, martial arts, swimming, computer classes, etc.
East Los Angeles College, Community Services 
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez,
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone: 323-265-8793  Fax: 323-265-8687 
FREE THINGS TO DO IN LOS ANGELESKeeping your kids safe online:
Smart use of cell phones, social media, gaming sites, cyberbullying. Please discuss with your children and have them go through parts of this excellent site!

Vroman’s book store in Pasadena has many family activies and has visiting authors:
check out their calendar for upcoming events.

El Monte Aquatic Center
11001 Mildred Street
 El Monte, CA 
Phone: (626) 580-2213
 Office Hours:
   Mon – Thurs
 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM 


Museums and StuffNorton Simon Museum in Pasadena has family acitivities and a free evening: LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Sign your kids up for a free youth membership. One adult gets in free with them.  Nexgen. Art Classes
Peterson Auto Museum- see their summer family program 
Summer Reading Programs:
El Monte: 
Call for more information: 626) 443-3147 Norwood Library