The Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented

Kaleidoscope: Winter 2019-2020

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The 42nd Annual CAGT Conference Has Come to a Close...

Another CAGT annual conference is in the books. We are excited to celebrate the success of one of the largest annual conferences - A Gifted State of Mind!   Attendees were inspired, invigorated and refreshed by the conference content which provided opportunities for us to consider all aspects of giftedness. Our presenters explored various facets of the "state of mind" of our diverse gifted youth and delved into what educators and GT supporters should know about the state of gifted education in Colorado and beyond. Our Keynotes Dr. Jim Delisle, Lisa Van Gemert, Dr. Susan Baum and Dr. Joy Lawson Davis presented powerful, informative and passionate keynotes, breakout and Signature Series sessions that gave us valuable information and strategies to address students who underachieve; equity in gifted programs; twice exceptional learners; social emotional health; advocacy and much more. Our hope is that all of our attendees were able to glean and therefore hone their pedagogy to better serve our gifted and 2e students across Colorado.
Our attendance numbers were strong once again with over 800 conference participants, over 60 administrators at the CAGT/CDE Leadership Forum, and over 65 attendees for our Family Institute.  This years’ attendees enjoyed Creativity Night where they could relax and let creative juices could flow while spending time with colleagues and friends. We celebrated not only amazing individuals in our field from all corners of Colorado, but the life and legacy of George T. Betts at our 2nd Annual Awards Evening. Our first annual Student Art Contest had a fantastic showing and we all enjoyed the creative interpretation of our conference theme from close to 100 incredibly talented students from around the state. We can't wait to see what amazing artwork we will showcase next year.   Whether you’ve been with us from the start or this was your first year at our conference, we want to thank you for being a part of this annual event.  We hope we can count on you as a member of CAGT, and our fabulous affiliates, to keep our organization strong and vibrant as we move into the future and live our mission:

It is CAGT’s belief that all humans have an inherent right to develop their full potential. The Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented fosters an understanding of all gifted children and their exceptional needs, and advocates for appropriate education and affective support through partnerships with educators, families, students, administrators, legislators, and the general public.

As we look ahead to 2020, we’d like you to save the date for our annual Legislative Day at the Capitol on Thursday, February 20, 2020 and our 43rd annual conference, Through Their Eyes: A Wider Lens of Gifted, October 18-20, 2020.  We hope you consider participating in both events. We wouldn’t be us without all of you. Thank you all for being members of CAGT!


CAGT Communication


CAGT believes that a vital part of our mission is to provide educators, families, students, administrators, legislators, and the general public with the means to build partnerships that ensure all gifted students have the opporutnity to reach their full potential. Communication is key in providing the support necessary for this to happen. If you have any input, suggestions, want to be apart of our meetings or conference planning, please contact us at or call us at 303-520-4887. We look forward to hearing from you!


CAGT News & Events...

Legislative Day is Coming!

This event is held annually the Thursday after Presidents' Day each February. Legislative Day allows students (grades 8 – 12) a unique opportunity to shadow a state legislator for the day. This year's event is February 20, 2020. The application process will open the first week in January.

Information, resources, and links will
 be found at CAGT's website.






Gain More Time on Task in Your Classroom and Have Your Gifted Students Reach Their Full Potential!

Author: Dana Goodier


Success in the gifted classroom is measured in terms of the student learning. Often, G/T classrooms can be very animated, either during discussion or group/partner work time. There must be a positive and authoritative learning environment in the classroom for sustained learning to take place. The creation of this positive learning environment is the primary responsibility of the teacher. However, students should play a part in the creation of this learning environment. Their input on how to best serve their advanced learning needs and engagement in the process is vital is makes them a positive part of decision-making. It lets them know that you care; it values their judgment and gives them ownership of their own learning. Tested and proven effective classroom management strategies can connect your classroom to productive learning environments where all within it contribute to its success. Have you ever wondered how you can achieve more time on task in your classroom? More time to get everything you had planned for the year done and not more wasted time dealing with inappropriate behaviors? More student engagement during your lessons about famous artists and new techniques you are teaching? Well, if you’re one of those teachers who find that too much time in class is spent on dealing with low-level (and sometimes higher-level) problem behaviors, this article is meant to help you!

You probably are aware from your experience in the classroom that students can fall into three types. They are the Always, the Sometimes and the Never students. Your “always” kid is “always” on task. They are a joy to have in class, they seem to “always” do the right thing. Your “sometimes” student might sometimes pay attention, sometimes to their work, are sometimes on time, and listen to you sometimes! Finally, your “never” student is the type you aren’t prepared for when you enter teaching. These kids are never on time, never listen, and are never prepared. They are never sick! What can we do as educators to ensure that our “sometimes” and “never” students are engaged and getting their needs met, without disrupting the classroom?

There are three classroom management styles most teacher practice. These are: Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative. Dahlgren, Malas, Faulk & Lattimer, 2008, put it this way...
Classroom management style essentially relates to how a teacher manages student behavior in his or her classroom and encompasses a wide range of approaches, from the authoritarian “dictator” to the permissive “hands-off” teacher. But a middle-of-the-road approach for most classroom situations combines the positive elements of both extremes." (p. 103). 

Another thing that is important to remember that in building relationships with students, we should use both contingent and non-contingent interactions. Contingent interactions are talking to them about school-related things, such as how well you think they did on their mosaic. Non-contingent interactions are when you’re talking to them as human beings, such as commenting them on how well they playing in the game or acted in the school play last night. These two types of interactions need to be 50/50 with your students so they know you are interested in them and respect them as human beings, not just a member of your class.

The key is to use proactive, not reactive strategies. “Kids don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”, said Madeline Hunter. Relationships being built are the cornerstone of building a positive classroom environment! (Dahlgren, et al., 2008). Proactive strategies can include changing up the seating arrangement often and without warning, maintaining close proximity to students while they are working, and considering ecological classroom settings such as lighting, sound and smell. Recently I bought an essential oil diffuser for my classroom. Most students enjoy the different scents I put in it, but if it bothers them, they are free to turn it off as they please. I also tend to play some type of soothing music while kids work. I find it helps them concentrate and it also is a simple gage for me to tell if the noise level in the room is getting too high- if I can’t hear the music the farthest away from where it’s playing, then students’ working voices are too loud. 

We have all heard how positive reinforcement can increase the likelihood that a desired behavior will happen in the future. We’ve seen this in canine training classes and with preschoolers. How often do we use it with our K-12 students? Many of us use some form of PBIS (positive behavior intervention and support) but the rewards that come with using “PRIDE” tickets and other common forms of rewards only motivate some students. In exploring what works for your particular group of students, you can come up with incremental rewards that may be based on a points system, tickets, or other ways of tracking positive behaviors.

Using the model of “Teaching to expectations” (as described in Dahlgren & Lattimer, 2012), teachers are able to come up with a way to model positive behaviors. Many teachers believe that students know what appropriate behaviors are. However, even at the secondary level, it is imperative for teachers to start out the school year models the behaviors he or she expects to see in class. This can be accomplished by role play, student input and must be followed up when an infraction occurs. We too often see that after the “honeymoon period”, teachers get lax on their behavioral expectations. When students see that as an opportunity to act out, the teacher will start having difficulty maintaining authority in the classroom. A few crucial steps to the process are 1) identify areas of need, 2) devote adequate time to “teaching-to” the rules and routines and 3) develop a lesson plan for your classroom expectations, rules and routines (Dahlgren, et al., 2008).

There comes a time, even with the best laid routines, where a student will want to “test how far they can bend the rules”. Often, this can come in the form of a low-level misbehavior such as tapping a pencil or crumpling a water bottle. When consequences are needed, push the negative behavior aside with a short message to the student and deal with it during a more appropriate moment (such as during lunch or a passing period) instead of taking away from the teaching momentum in the moment.  

The key to maintaining teacher self-control is to avoid having power struggles. If students are questioning your authority or credibility by statements such as “this is stupid” or “Mr. Jones did it a different way”, then acknowledge their statement and move on. Use a simple diffuser such as “Maybe so” or “Probably”, and continue with your teaching without skipping a beat. You can easily come up with diffusers that will work for you.

As we start the second semester of the ‘18/19 school year, best practices are to implement clear expectations and a set of intervention steps from day one after you welcome students back from break. To learn more about the strategies mentioned in this article, please see visit the author’s website, listed in “about the author”. 


Dahlgren, R., & Hyatt, J. (2007). Time to teach: encouragement, empowerment and excellence in every classroom. Hayden Lake, ID: Center for Teacher Effectiveness (CTE).

Dahlgren, R., & Lattimer, M. (2012). Teach-tos: 100 behavior lesson plans and essential advice to encourage high expectations and winning classroom behavior! Hayden Lake, ID: Center for Teacher Effectiveness.

Dahlgren, R., Malas, B., Faulk, J. & Lattimer, M. (2008). Time to teach! The source for classroom management! Hayden Lake, ID: Center for Teacher Effectiveness.

About the author: Dana Goodier is a veteran teacher, who is currently a middle school administrator and speaker on classroom management and student engagement. She expects to complete her EdD in Educational Leadership in summer of 2019. or follow her on Twitter @danagoodier




Denine Dains

University of Colorado, Denver 

Doctoral Candidate, Fall 2017


This book review seeks to explain Sanguras (2017) suggestions for building grit in the classroom.  Sanguras (2017) distinguishes intelligence from grit and explains the importance of grit in success.  She references many scientists who have sought to identify how intelligence works and finally details ways to improve talent development and simultaneously, grit.  She summarizes Bloom’s Taxonomy and concludes with its relevance to grit.  Sanguras (2017) also tackles programmatic changes in Gifted and Talented education that seek to exemplify the benefits found in passion and perseverance.  Finally, she lists her recommendations for teachers when working with both students in the classroom and parents outside of the classroom.  She illustrates how educational leaders can foster a culture of grit for the benefit of students in all schools.


     Grit in the Classroom: Building Perseverance for Excellence in Today’s Students authored by Laila Y. Sanguras seeks to understand and explain the importance of grit.  Sanguras (2017) is a former middle school teacher who received her doctorate in educational psychology from the University of North Texas.  The book begins by distinguishing intelligence from grit and moves on to assert that grit is just as important to success as cognitive ability.  Following this, the author argues that grit can only exist when sustained perseverance is paired with passion (Sanguras, 2017) and then shows how this combination can be applied in the classroom, in Gifted and Talented programming, in parent/teacher relationships and within school culture.       

     As a Gifted & Talented (G/T) Coordinator, I was interested in hearing how Sanguras (2017) not only proposed teaching grit in the classroom and how to apply it to G/T programming, but also how it benefited each of these.  Her book is applicable to the needs of both primary and intermediate classroom teachers. In addition, she references the work of many scientists including Spearman, Duckworth, Renzulli and Reis who have determined that general intelligence stays somewhat stable throughout one’s life.  Beginning with Charles Spearman who published a paper about intelligence in 1904, Sanguras describes new data discovered by Duckworth et al. (2007) which demonstrate that although intelligence in somewhat stable, talent is not. Talent can be nurtured and improved over time, with perseverance and passion,  the combination of which is referred to as ‘grit’ according to Renzulli and Reis (2014).  

     After analyzing the basis of intelligence compared to grit, Sanguras (2017) goes on to explain various ways that educators can support the teaching of grit in the classroom, based primarily on the work of Dr. Benjamin Bloom (1985).  Bloom’s work includes three stages of talent development. 

     At the primary level, it is important to foster discovery and curiosity in passion to meet the requirements of Dr. Bloom’s first stage of talent development.  As educators, Sanguras (2017) recommends creating lessons that incite excitement, with all the bells and whistles. After students are hooked, she suggests allowing them to generate questions about the topic and engage in curious behavior.  Additionally she encourages students to generate questions about topics that enter their minds when they begin to daydream, which allows for the discovery of additional passions that may otherwise remain unrecognized.

     Once students are engaged in curious behavior and begin to generate questions about passions, they can begin to use interest-building activities, which moves them towards the second stage of Dr. Bloom’s talent development.  In this stage, students start to connect their passions with their personal identity. Students in this stage refer to themselves as writers, athletes, scientist, and other identities. Ultimately, the connection of passion to identity leads to the third stage of Dr. Bloom's talent development.  

     The third stage of Dr. Bloom’s talent development occurs when students begin working towards mastery in their passion, something which occurs later in life and on into adulthood.  Acknowledging that this is beyond the reach of the classroom, Sanguras (2017) introduces the idea of a stretch goal which enables students to begin work towards mastery. Unlike a smart goal, a stretch goal does not incorporate the ideas of being specific, measurable, attainable, realistic or timely.  Instead, it can be as grandiose as “I want to be the president someday.” As educators, Sanguras (2017) suggests that it is our responsibility to offer encouragement in these goals and give hope. She points out, however, that this is not the hope that one will be lucky and become president; but rather, this is the hope that with enough passion, hard work and determination, one will have what it takes to become president.  Sustained perseverance, which could take an entire lifetime, is set up within a stretch goal. The combination of passion and sustained perseverance allows students to work towards mastery within a stretch goal and set them up to reach the third stage of Dr. Bloom’s talent development. 

     To conclude, the first stage begins with talent development by building interest, discovery and curiosity in relation to an individual’s passions.  The second stage occurs when passion becomes a part of someone’s identity. In the third stage, individuals work toward mastery in their passion, which often occurs later in life or in the intermediate level of schooling.  With these as a general framework, Sanguras (2017) explores how to achieve grit in the classroom.

      Next, Sanguras (2017) addresses why students identified as G/T struggle with grit as well as identifies programmatic changes in G/T.    Students who are identified as G/T struggle with developing grit, Sanguras argues, because their identity is closely wound up in their G/T Identification.  Students who are labeled G/T often feel like they lose part of their identity if they get a bad grade or have to work hard to understand something, both of which are integral parts of developing talent.  In 2011, the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) understood this and shifted the language and expectations of gifted students to include those who showed talent. The idea of a talent pool allowed students who may not have performed well on G/T  Identification Assessment, but could produce the work necessary for a more difficult class, to take G/T classes. Essentially, it allowed those students with grit to be challenged in classes with students formally identified as G/T. In addition, the new guidelines specified students by domain (e.g. Language Arts, Math, General Intellect, Divergent Thinking, Leadership and Visual Arts) and allowed students the opportunity to pursue challenges in specific domains while also recognizing students may not perform well in all domains.  The guidelines recognized that just because a child was labeled “gifted,” it did not mean they were gifted in all domains and they perhaps showed talent in another domain.  

     Classroom teachers will appreciate the suggestions offered by Saguras (2017) which include giving students challenging work, daily.  One example of this recommendation is to give students a menu of options they can pursue for a class project. Within the menu, teachers are encouraged to let students know what the hardest project on the list is.  Teachers can use this as leverage to create a passion within their identified G/T students as well as their unidentified talented students, who strive to prove they can complete the most challenging task on the list.  Teachers are invited to act as coaches who offer students feedback and reinforcement of the behaviors that demonstrate grit. She also recommends that teachers do not offer solutions to students who are struggling and instead ask the student what they could do differently.  Placing the control in their hands allows them to feel the hope needed to continue a gritty path.  

     Sanguras (2017) continues to speak to teachers in her next section as she describes parent/teacher relationships.  She begins by explaining three parenting styles: Permissive, authoritative and authoritarian. She explains how teachers need to get parent buy-in to accomplish the goals of teaching grit in the classroom and this parent buy-in will come easier with some parenting styles than others.  She even offers a sample letter teachers can use with parents. As a former educator, she recognizes that kids go home and might hear a different message from parents than they are receiving at home. Sanguras offers a view of parent/teacher relationships that might not be the norm in every school and might have some teacher’s balking at her suggestions; however, as educators it is important to work with our parent community to create challenging learning experiences for our students.  

     Finally, Sanguras (2017) offers three different ways of creating a gritty school culture.  She offers a top-down approach where the administration begins by celebrating grit seen in teachers and teachers celebrate grit observed among students.  She also offers a bottom-up approach where students start learning about grit, teachers adapt lessons for students and administrators support the effort.  Finally, Sanguras offers a bookend approach where administration and students push for the teaching of grit in schools and teachers adapt somewhere in the middle.  As a G/T Coordinator, and someone in a leadership position, I believe there is a 4th approach not mentioned by Sanguras. The approach is that teachers who are passionate about grit, teach it.  In this approach, students who are practicing grit and showing success become models for other teachers or administrators who may be wary of the concept of teaching grit. Sanguras (2017) gives examples of how to teach grit by aligning lessons with various state standards.  She also recommends teachers look over their lesson plans with an eye for grit. This 4th approach is the opposite of the bookend approach. Change does not start at the top or the bottom nor does it push in. Instead, change starts in the middle and pushes out.    

     Overall, the book made sound arguments for how teaching grit can be applied in classrooms, G/T programming, parent/teacher relationships and school culture.  The connections to Dr. Bloom’s stages of talent development offered many ideas on how to engage in, identify with, and ultimately master passion. The teaching of grit can be used in G/T programming to support students who show talent in certain areas.  Parent/teacher relationships can grow into healthy partnerships when based on the idea of grit and school culture can offer a safe place for children to learn when the focus remains on sustained perseverance and passion. 


Bloom, B.S. (1985). Developing talent in young people. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.

Duckworth, A.L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M.D., & Kelly, D.R. (2007) Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. American Psychological Association, 92, 1087-1101. 

Renzulli, J.S., & Reis, S.M. (2014).  The schoolwide enrichment model: A how-to-guide for talent development (3rd ed.). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

Sanguras, L. (2017) Grit in the classroom: Building perseverance for excellence in today's students. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press Inc.

Spearman, C. (1904). "General intelligence," objectively determined and measured. The American Journal of Psychology,15, 201-292.



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