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Liz Malone on Confratute 2011

August 9, 2011

This summer I had the extraordinary opportunity to participate in Confratute 2011 at the University of Connecticut.  It was incredibly exciting to spend a full week  immersed in the atmosphere of intellectual  stimulation, professional collaboration, and  academic growth that makes Confratute such a special event.

Most of my time during the week was spent in week long seminars with two of the leading researchers/speakers in gifted education.  Each morning I attended a strand entitled “Advanced Curriculum Development: The Kaplan Depth and Complexity Model.”  This strand, led by Dr. Sandra Kaplan, identified various components of a differentiated curriculum, including depth, complexity, acceleration, and novelty, and explored strategies for incorporating these elements into daily instruction.   We spent much of our time  discussing the various factors that I as a teacher can manipulate in order to increase the depth and complexity of the curriculum I am teaching.  The depth and breadth of Dr. Kaplan’s  knowledge was absolutely amazing!  I was fascinated by her ideas and found myself intrigued both on an intellectual and practical level as I sought ways to incorporate her strategies into my classroom.

In the afternoon, I was again challenged, this time by Dr. Del Siegle, head of the Psychology Department at the University of Connecticut.    His strand, entitled “Tackling Underachievement: Increasing Motivation in Students,” provided an in depth examination of the causes and consequences of underachievement as well as some creative interventions that give  students and educators  the opportunity to replace the shackles of underachievement with the excitement and freedom that comes from reaching toward our true potential.   Having encountered the challenges of underachievement both in my personal and professional life, I found this strand to be particularly powerful.  Dr. Siegle spoke from his heart as well as his mind, sharing a perfect blend of experience and research as he led us on a journey of reflection, enlightenment, and professional growth.  There are so many ideas I could share from this one strand, including the five C’s of motivation (control, choice, challenge, complexity, caring), the four components of meaningful tasks (identity, interest, future vision, usefulness), or the traits of an achievement oriented student.  Instead, I would like to share with you a challenge that Dr. Siegle shared with us on the very first day.  This challenge is threefold:

1. Leave the world better than it was when you arrived.

2. Develop the talents you have been given.

3. Pass on what you have learned.

I am looking forward to meeting these challenges in 2011-2012, and I cannot wait to see the impact that it will have on my students, my colleagues, my friends, and my family.

Thank you again for the part you played in helping to make this opportunity possible!

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