The Gifted Kids' Survival Guide (review)
The Gifted Kids' Survival Guide by Judy Galbraith is very kid-friendly, inside and out. The synopsis on the back reads:
"Look inside to find out...
· Facts about your GT brain and how it works
· A GT survey and quizzes to help you know yourself better
· Advice on friendships, talking with adults, and dealing with problems like bullying, stress and loneliness
· Ways to boost your brainpower in and out of school
· Over 100 quotes from gifted kids
· Lists of brainy books, blogs, Websites, video games, and contests
The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide is the essential guide to growing up gifted.”
Not only is this book an essential for a gifted student, it is also very insightful for parents and teachers to read and keep handy as well. The book is based on surveys of more than 1,000 gifted students and includes several quotes and anecdotes from the students who could, essentially, be one of the kids in my class. Several of the items that I read sounded like comments I’ve already heard my students make. Some of the things I read really made me wonder how my students feel, and if they feel the way the students in the Survival Guide feel. When I finished reading the book, I passed it around to a couple of students to get their feedback on the book. The book now sits in the “My Favorite Books” basket in my classroom library.
The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide is just over 100 pages long and is divided into ten chapters. These chapters cover topics such as “What It Means to Be Gifted,” “Gifted Programs – What Works, What Doesn’t, and What You Can Do,” “Perfectionism and Other Pains in the Brain,” and “Great Brain Power.”
I think the first chapter, “What It Means to Be Gifted” is probably the most important for students to read. It gives several definitions and facts on giftedness, including information from The National Association for Gifted Children, the Columbus Group, and Dr. Joseph Renzulli. Not only does the book quote these organizations/researchers, but it explains who each one is and their position on gifted education.
The chapter goes on to list several facts about being gifted, such as “Giftedness means different things to different people,” and “There are many different ways of being gifted.” The latter is a point I stress to my students all the time – you might not be good at everything , but there’s probably something that you’re great at. I tell my students that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, whether it’s writing or math, art or music, computers or P.E.
When I gave the book to one of my students to read, I handed her a Post-It note pad and told her to leave me notes throughout the book telling me what she thought, similar to the quotes from gifted students that are strewn throughout the book. When she read the first section, “Giftedness means different things to different people,” she wrote: I think everyone is gifted at something, such as their talent.” She then proceeded to read the section “There are many different ways of being gifted,” which highlights academic ability, creative thinking, visual/performing arts, leadership, intellectual ability, and psychomotor ability. She then wrote me another Post-It note that read: THAT’S WHAT YOU ALWAYS SAY!
The first chapter goes on to explain Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and includes a brief “Whiz Quiz” for students to identify their strong areas of intelligence and possible career fields.
The second chapter discusses the pros and cons of being gifted. My students commented that they agree with/can relate to both lists. This chapter also lists several celebrities that are gifted and talented: the actress Natalie Portman graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA, has a degree from Harvard, and is fluent in 3 languages; the singer Shakira has an IQ of 140 and she composed her first song at age 8.
Chapter 3 in The Gifted Kids’ Survival Guide explains the biological aspect of giftedness. This chapter discusses parts of the brain, brain functions, and memory.
Chapter 4 discusses gifted programming. It explains how students are evaluated for gifted programming, what tests might be used, and what certain “teacher phrases” might mean (practices that I’ve used in the classroom) such as “differentiated instruction” and “enrichment.”
The Gifted Reader's
Bill of Rights
I have the right to read at a pace and level that matches my ability, no matter what grade I’m in. I have the right to discuss what I read with my intellectual peers, regardless of their age. I have the right to reread many books and not finish every book I start. I have the right to use reading to explore new and challenging information and to grow intellectually. I have the right to read in-depth about topics of my own choosing. I have the right to learn advanced vocabulary words and literary concepts. I have the right to be guided toward the best literature, rather than be told what I must read. I have the right to read several books at the same time. I have the right to discuss my reading choices with others, without having to defend those choices. I have the right to be excused from reading material that I’ve already learned.
Chapter 5 looks at ways students can actively try to make their gifted program better. It focuses on promoting student choices and discusses ways that students can talk to a teacher about coming up with alternative assignments and assessments that might be more interesting, exciting, and beneficial to a gifted student.
The next chapter deals with gifted students’ self esteem, anxiety, and perfection. It also includes facts and myths about the differences (and similarities) between gifted boys and girls. There’s a big section on stress and things that you can do to reduce and relieve stress.
Chapter 7 deals with social development – how gifted students can find, interact with, and keep friends. There are also tips and ideas on how to deal with teasing and bullying at school.
Chapter 8 talks about how gifted students can handle pressure they might feel from their families – whether it’s parents’ expectations that are too high or how to handle all the pressure a student might feel from the combined stress of schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and responsibilities at home.
Chapter 9 gives an awesome, extensive list of great websites students can visit, books they should check out, and a copy of the Gifted Reader’s Bill of Rights. I am going to hang the Gifted Reader’s Bill of Rights in my classroom, because it pretty much sums up how I feel about reading and encouraging our students to read.
Finally, chapter 10 lists other resources for gifted students (and teachers!) such as scholarships, grants, and contests such as the Adobe Digital Photography Kids Club and the Young Playwrights Competition.
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