Project-based Learning with Kayaks

My middle school students are currently working in collaboration with the New Mexico Wildlife Center to learn the physics of kayaks through building their own personal, functional kayak.

Students are learning about buoyancy, resistance, kayak design, riparian ecosystems, and weather. We are spending the winter months building the kayaks so that we can explore water habitats in the spring.

Espanola Kayak Class

At the 2015 NMAG Fall Institute, Alicia Cotabish presented on both project-based and problem-based learning. She highlighted the differences as well as the way in which they are appropriate for high ability learners. There are numerous advantages to using project-based learning with gifted learners including:

  • It is interdisciplinary
  • It is aligned with curriculum and supported by NAGC Gifted Programming Standards
  • It allows for in depth inquiry and problem solving
  • It lends itself to differentiation and scaffolding
  • Student can take ownership of their learning
  • It allows for collaboration, critical and creative thinking
  • It can motivate and engage students
  • Students are addressing real world, authentic problems

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Growing New Mexico’s Gifted Visual Artists

As a New Mexico public school art teacher turned teacher of gifted students, I’ve long been interested in the overlap of artistic and academic talent. It was satisfying to learn of positive reviews from both professional fields of the recent ESEA reauthorization. The Every Student Succeeds Act has been praised for revisions that will benefit advanced and gifted learners in the public schools It has also been recognized for including the arts as essential, no longer peripheral, to a “well-rounded education.” This reorientation prompted me to consider again what I can do to help develop the talents of gifted visual artists on my caseload.

I’d like to know if anyone in New Mexico is currently providing artistic talent development for students with a demonstrated very superior ability in the domain of visual art. If so, what instruments are used to demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual arts and to show the need for services, and what services can be designed to meet these needs?

The Impact of Disadvantage on Potentially Eminent Visual Artists
Mona Shahid, Artist.

By Daesherri (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

I have no doubt there are students with high potential in the visual arts who, without support, will not be prepared to succeed in post-secondary visual arts training. Without such credentials, they are not likely achieve positions of leadership in the arts and influence the work of museums, galleries, and higher education institutions. They have great potential but may be poor, recent immigrants, or racially, culturally, or linguistically marginalized. Unlike the young artists of families with more resources and connections to invest in talent development through clubs, lessons, mentorships, and arts activities, these disadvantaged students may lack affirmation of their artistic talents while young. For college and careers in the arts, they might lack the preparedness of better resourced peers. Can New Mexico’s gifted education programs support young, high-ability visual artists who lack their own connections and resources?
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Cory Messenger: Javits-Scholar at NAGC Conference

This past year, Gifted Educator, Cory Messenger, was able to attend the NAGC Annual Convention as a recipient of the NAGC’s Javits-Frasier Scholarship. Below he discusses some of his experiences and thoughts on the convention and the scholarship program.

What would you like teachers and parents of gifted students in New Mexico to know about NAGC?

The NAGC community is much larger than I had anticipated. It is filled with some of the most dedicated and passionate people I’ve ever met. I think it would be extremely beneficial for the teachers and parents of gifted students to attend the conference as often as possible. There are many impressive speakers covering a vast range of topics related to gifted education and there’s something for everyone there to learn, no matter how experienced he/she may be. Unfortunately, since gifted education is not federally funded, it can become financially challenging for educators to attend. I was very fortunate to be awarded the scholarship, because it may have been my only chance to attend.

Cory Messenger

Cory Messenger

How were you inspired to apply for the Javits-Frasier grant that allowed you to attend the NAGC Annual Convention?

It was my wife’s idea actually. I had been lamenting the fact that I’d probably never be able to afford to go to the conference and she suggested I look for a scholarship. I had never heard of a scholarship of this nature, so while I was skeptical, I took her suggestion. I visited the NAGC website and saw a page dedicated to the Javits-Frasier Scholarship for Diverse Talent Development. As I read the requirements, I couldn’t help but think that I was a perfect applicant. Continue reading

NMAG On Demand

NMAG On Demand Free PD

Bringing professional development by nationally recognized experts in gifted education to every teacher in New Mexico is no longer a dream, it’s a reality.

Oh, and did I say it’s FREE!!! Continue reading

Conference Program 2015

“Empowering the Next Generation”

2015 Fall Gifted Institute Program

Preliminary conference program for 2015 Fall Gifted Institute, “Empowering the Next Generation”

NMAG offers the program for the upcoming conference, October 16 & 17, 2015 at NMHU Rio Rancho Campus, featuring keynote speakers, Dr. Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik and Dr. Alicia Cotabish.

Download the program here.

Call for Nominations for Award

Dear NMAG Members:

Please consider nominating someone you know who is doing an outstanding job advocating for gifted students, serving as an administrator benefiting gifted students or an outstanding teacher of gifted students. We would like to recognize these people at our Annual Meeting on October 17. These recipients will receive a framed certificate and a lifetime membership in the New Mexico Association for the Gifted.

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Letter from the President: Teacher Evaluations

Many of my friends are teachers.  In New Mexico, we’ve all received our annual performance reviews, based on observations of the Danielson teaching characteristics, classroom surveys, and in some cases, value added modeling of test results or “VAM” scores.  Some were given their evaluations just days ago, in the final hours of the school year.

Talk of those evaluations has dominated end-of-year parties, walks, and phone conversations, because most of my friends are either disheartened by the results and/or disillusioned about the validity of the whole system.

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Highlights from the NAGC Affiliate Conference

March 21-24, Washington, DC

By Christy Jewell-Roth, President-Elect, and Dr. PJ Sedillo, Legislative and Higher Education Liaison

We were proud to represent New Mexico at the National Association for Gifted Children State Affiliate Conference held in Washington, DC, in late March. With advocates from states across the country, we discussed local and national issues affecting gifted education. On the last day of the conference, we visited Capitol Hill and met with New Mexico lawmakers and their staff to lobby for gifted legislation before Congress. Specifically, we urged Senators and House members to support legislation known as the TALENT Act that would help close the “excellence gap” between high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds and their more affluent peers. It would do so by reforming how the learning progress of high-achieving students is tracked and reported each year and by ensuring federal teacher training dollars can be used to support gifted education teachers.

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New Mexico News

The U.S. Department of Education will allow New Mexico to use results from its teacher-evaluation system to meet No Child Left Behind Act staffing requirement.

New Mexico is the first state to be granted a waiver of exemption from the “highly qualified teacher” requirement of No Child Left Behind. NMAG members are encouraged to follow this issue with consideration of its implications for gifted education. Please follow the links below for more details about this landmark decision.

NM Receives Waiver PED Press Release

Read the letter from Deborah S. Delisle, Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education to Hannah Skandera, New Mexico’s Secretary of Education:

KRQE News New Mexico Gets Waiver on Teacher Requirements

San Juan Chapter NMAG Conference Highlights

On April 14, the San Juan Chapter of NMAG presented its 4th Annual Conference entitled “Giftedness and the Real World” at the Sycamore Park Community Center in Farmington.  Over thirty-five teachers and parents attended, representing all four school districts in the county.

Keynote Speaker Dr. Amy McConnell Franklin, in her presentation entitled “Pedagogical practices to develop emotion-related skills in gifted students,” guided her audience to consider the three dimensions of emotional intelligence: awareness, intention and choice. She led group activities to engage everyone in the practice of identifying these aspects for themselves and then facilitated discussions about how to help teachers and parents guide their students and children to discover these components for themselves.

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