Watson Chronicle


Support for Educators in the Field

AIG Technology Conference Draws 150 Area Teachers

Monday, May 04, 2015

"Gifted students are great at figuring things out," Ian Byrd told a packed audience of teachers at a recent AIG conference at the Watson College. "In the classroom it's important to create environments that inspire inquiry, curiosity and discussion. Technology, when used in an appropriate way, can do that."

Byrd, a nationally acclaimed speaker on academically and intellectually gifted (AIG) students who maintains a blog about gifted learners, was the morning keynote speaker at a conference held at the Watson College on April 17. Approximately 150 teachers attended the conference titled "UNCW AIG REBOOT: Utilizing Technology to Support Advanced Learning."

Aig3 (1)"North Carolina provides a mandate and funding to identify and serve AIG students in grades K-12, but there is a scarcity of teachers who are qualified to serve the unique needs of gifted and talented students," said WCE associate professor and academically and intellectually gifted program coordinator Angela Housand. "Our goal for the conference was to provide teachers with effective strategies and practical tools they can use to engage gifted learners in the classroom."

AIG students are "logical leapers" and unexpected connectors with a big picture focus, Byrd said. They love to solve problems and don't respond well to repetition. Technology can be used to challenge them because it feeds curiosity, he said.

"Adults often view new technology like Minecraft and other video games with suspicion, considering it frivolous and a waste of time, but well-designed games engage kids because they get harder as kids get better. Each stage is perfectly matched to their skill level," he said. "We also underestimate the social power of technology. It connects students to their peers and is a part of their world in a core way."

Byrd said he wasn't suggesting teachers "turn classrooms into a video arcade" but said it's important to introduce concepts in ways that align to students' skill levels, give them opportunities to figure things out and promote a social aspect of learning.

Aig2 (1)Brian Housand, associate professor and co-coordinator of the academically and intellectually gifted program at East Carolina University, was the lunch keynote speaker. In his address titled "Tech Tools and Resources to Whet your APPetite," he said teachers could help gifted learners by encouraging participation in competitions such as the Google Science Fair Competition and the Disney Create Tomorrowland Challenge. He also shared a variety of technology tools for use in the classroom, and invited teachers to access more at a website he created for the conference: www.brianhousand.com/uncw2015.

Byrd, Housand, Shelagh Gallagher, Andrew Julian, Lucas Gillispie, Sheila Sokolinsky and Ray Pastore led breakout sessions during the morning and afternoon to introduce effective teaching strategies and additional tech tools.

Angela Housand was pleased with the high turnout and teacher responses after the conference. "Teachers are pressed to keep up with an endlessly changing landscape and often feel students are ahead of them when it comes to technology," she said. "They appreciated having this opportunity to gain practical tools and strategies to take back to their classrooms."

Housand said plans for a 2016 AIG Conference are already underway with a keynote address by Dr. Del Siegle on April 22.

To view Byrd's blog visit www.byrdseed.com

To access tech tools introduced by Housand visit www.brianhousand.com/uncw2015.

AIG Programs Offered at the Watson College

The Watson College of Education offers Add-On Licensure and a Master of Education (M.Ed.) with specialization in Academically or Intellectually Gifted (AIG). Both programs have been designed with working teachers in mind. They feature a series of courses using the seven-week model - half the length of a traditional semester, which allows participants to complete the requirements for the AIG Add-On Licensure in one regularly scheduled academic year. The courses are offered online and the "in place" practicum experience can often be completed at the school where the teacher is employed.

For information on AIG Add-on Licensure, visit www.uncw.edu/ed/aig/licensure.html

For more information on the M.Ed., visit www.uncw.edu/ed/aig/med.html