The Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented

Kaleidoscope: 2019

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A Message from the President

Hello CAGT Members,

Happy Spring, or is it? Every time I think about packing up my sweaters, our weather turns. That said, we are lucky to live in such a dynamic, beautiful state.

On February 21st, we celebrated 20 years of Legislative Days at the Colorado State Capitol. Three hundred forty seven students (grades 8-12), educators and parents participated in this event. One hundred fifteen students shadowed our legislators, and for the first time, some lobbyists. None of this can happen without the support of our legislators and their staff members as well as the many CAGT volunteers.

The 2019 CAGT Conference planning is underway. This year, we are proud to announce our theme: A Gifted State of Mind. This professional conference offers over 70 presentations from experts in the field of gifted education and has an annual attendance of over 800 educators, administrators, parents and community members. If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the 2019 conference, the Call for Proposals is now open. Registration for Conference will be available the first week in May and other events like Leadership Forum and Family Institute (formerly know as Parent Institute) will also open later in the month. CAGT is excited to announce our new Youth Impact Award. We are looking to honor students ages 7-18 for the impact they are making in their school communities and beyond. Please visit our website at for the description, nomination and forms to nominate students who you think are deserving of being recognized for going above and beyond. The CAGT Colorado Scholarship for Diverse Talent Development Program is now accepting applications. The primary purpose of this scholarship is to increase and support culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students' access to talent development opportunities through teacher training. Again for more information please visit our website.

As your president, I celebrate each and every day the incredible people we have within our state and region dedicated to transforming the experiences available for our gifted students. One of our goals is to increase this reach through the addition of resources including our new Speakers Bureau and the addition of two executive board members from rural Colorado who will be elected this fall. Though a collaboration with our affiliates and these additional board members, we are moving forward to determine the needs for professional learning and support in all corners of our state. Next, we will mobilize to meet those needs.

Thank you for being a part of the Colorado Association for Gifted and Talented. We are here to listen and support you in your quest to advocate and partner in instructing, guiding and celebrating the gifted children of Colorado.

Diana Caldeira

CAGT President

CAGT News & Events...

The 42nd Annual
CAGT Conference
A Gifted State of Mind 

Our 42nd annual CAGT Conference - A Gifted State of Mind conference committee is getting all of the preparations in motion. We are excited to announce two of our Keynote and Signature Series speakers this year are Dr. James (Jim) Delisle and Lisa Van Gemert. We can't wait to hear from these experts in field of Gifted Education and hope you will come hear them present as well.

So many events are waiting for you to send in your presentation ideas, nominations and applications.
Call for Proposals, Student Impact Awards, Colorado Scholars and Leaders In Action are all open.
We would love to hear about your
~ proposals for presentations
~ nominations for amazing students who are impacting their communities ~ applications to attend our conference for your very first time to learn more about gifted students and programming to take back to your school to create or enhance your GT program. Click here for information, application and registrations.

It's also time for exhibitors to register for vending tables and for businesses, organizations and individuals to consider sponsoring events, snack and coffee breaks, and more, to help us make this conference the biggest and best yet. For more information please click here. 

Our annual conference will again be held at the Embassy Suites in Loveland on October 21st and 22nd, with pre-check in and Creativity Night on Sunday night the 20th. Registration for conference will open May 3rd. 

We hope you will join us this fall for this incredible event.

See you in October!





Check out these events offered by our affiliates and more!

Denver Depth and Complexity Conference 
7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Denver Marriott West
1717 Denver West Marriott Blvd.
For more info and to register go to conference

Multiple perspectives icon

Pikes Peak Association
for Gifted Students:
Mini Conference

Saturday, June 22
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
The Penrose House Conference Center
1661 Mesa Ave. Colorado Springs

 If interested contact Mark Hess at
*Spaces for this event are reserved for Pikes Peak Association members. If you are out of the region and would like to be added to the waitlist please contact
Mark at


Brain Growing

How to Grow A Brain: The Top 5 Ways You Can Enhance Executive Functions
by Susanne Phillips Keeley, M.A. CCC-SLP

Executive functions are a collage of cognitive activities that encompass the ability to design actions toward a goal, to handle information flexibly, to realize the ramifications of behavior, and to make reasonable inferences based upon limited information. They are detailed functions of logic, strategy, planning, problem solving, and reasoning. If you imagine a giant jigsaw puzzle, executive functions help us put together all the many pieces of our life to create the big picture.

Executive functions are housed in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the last to develop in an evolutionary sense and also in an individual. While many parts of the brain are fully developed early in life, the frontal lobe takes decades to reach maturity. This is very important when considering growing brains.

The over arching premise is that your children will go through their entire educational experience with immature frontal lobes and therefore immature executive functions.

Asynchrony is a hallmark of giftedness and the development of executive functions is not exempt from this asynchrony. Many students excel in their particular area but that does not necessarily mean that their executive function skills coincide. Often times the student is perfectly capable of doing the work intellectually but not able to “do the work.” The length of the class, the quantity and pace of the homework, papers, projects and assessments are often beyond what their executive functions can handle.

So what can you do to help this important brain function mature?

1. Assume Nothing
As adults with more mature brains, it is easy for us to forget all the small, individual steps that go into completing a task. They have become automatic to us. But they are not automatic to kids. Often an inability to complete a task isn’t defiance or procrastination but rather the inability to know exactly what to  do, in what order and when. Further, children usually don’t know what they don’t know. Therefore, “Assume Nothing!” Don’t just tell your child what you’d like them to do, the end result. Provide them with the starting point, the subsequent steps and ask for their input as to what might come next. Do not assume they know. Obviously, the amount of structure you provide will decrease as skills are developed but begin by assuming nothing. The same is true with “seeing the big picture.”
Connect the dots! The adult brain can consider many parts, steps or segments and determine the big picture. The immature brain cannot always do so. Again, assume nothing and help your child connect the dots even when it seems painfully obvious to you.

2. It’s About Time
In order to manage time, one must first be able to feel, tell, calculate and estimate time. Feeling time is the ability to judge the passage of time without any external aid. Even before a child can tell time, we need them to begin to feel time. “We’re leaving in 5 minutes,” means nothing to a young child. Pairing sequences with time can help build this skill. “You need to get ready for bed after this game ends” or “When you’re done brushing your teeth we need to leave” or “Recess will be after we put away our math materials.”

 In my practice, I find that most individuals under the age of 30 have difficulty or cannot tell time using an analogue clock. They have grown up with digital, where minutes and hours flip without any visualization of the time in between. They can’t understand terms like half hour, quarter after, and 15 till. They don’t see minutes and hours as slices of a 60 minute or 60 second pie. It’s the same with calendars and the date. They can read December 5 but they don’t know where that is in relationship to the week, month or year.

 Analogue clocks are a wonderful way to help teach all aspects of time. Have these available to your child to teach telling time. Full month paper calendars will also help establish a good sense of time. Constantly reference the amount of time before and after a particular day or month. “In 2 days, it will be the weekend and we plan to go skiing” or “It’s been 3 months since your birthday.” Include the calculation of time in your time discussions. How many hours are there between dinner and bedtime?

The ability to estimate how long a task will take to complete is another essential pre-requisite to the ability to managing time. Help your child develop this skill by offering how long you think a particular task should take and then discuss the reasons for any discrepancies.

3. What’s Your Plan?
An essential tool for student success is a good student planner and a routine for its use. I encourage a distinction between an assignment notebook and a student planner. One is a to do list and the other a plan. The best planner is the one your child will use. One size does not fit all.
It can be paper or electronic, but a good student planner will:
• be big enough to write in, small enough to carry
• include the day and date written in for the entire year
• include weekends
• have a space for every activity
• provide ample room to write in each section

A more complete discussion of how to make a student planner work for your child, can be found in my book Write This Down.

4. Share your story
As an adult, you have mature executive functions and in your head you are always thinking about the end result, steps, timing, priorities, sequences, revisions, etc. Let these thoughts out of your head and share them with your child. Children learn by watching and listening. Talk out loud about what you are doing including the how, when and why.

5. Teach Self Questioning
Adult brains think in questions. When getting ready in the morning you ask yourself “What is the weather?” “Where am I going?” “What do I need to have with me?” etc.
Unfortunately that is not how we typically talk to our kids. Instead we bark orders. “Get your coat!” and “Take out your math book” for example. Help you child learn to ask
themselves questions by asking questions to them. “It’s pretty cold outside today. What should you wear?” or “It’s time for math. What do you need to have available?”

Susanne Phillips Keeley
Susanne earned undergraduate degrees in Communication Disorders & Speech Science and in Psychology from the University of Colorado and received her MA in Speech-Language Pathology from Northwestern University.
Susanne is a licensed speech-language pathologist with over 30 years of experience successfully treating those with executive function disorders and differences. She is the author of “Write This Down: Making Your Student Planner Work For You” (, “The Source for Executive Function Disorders” ( and developed GOSTRONG, a unique tool to maximize executive function skills. Susanne’s innovative work has led her to be a frequent speaker at conferences, schools and parent groups across the country. Her private practice is located in Evanston, Illinois.

A Short Guide to Giftedness

by Dr. Vanessa Ewing

  What exactly does it mean to be gifted? There are a variety of ways giftedness is defined, however students are often identified by their score being within the top 3% of all students of their age on intelligence or academic tests. Some skill areas identified for gifted students may also include leadership, the arts, or a particular subject, however giftedness is always related to being exceptional (unusually good or outstanding) relative to peers. Giftedness may relate to particular skills (sometimes referred to as talents) but many tests are looking for a student’s potential. Traditional IQ tests are used to examine a student’s potential at times. IQ tests are typically examining things like: vocabulary, memory, speed of processing information, learning of new tasks, and connections / understandings across a variety of areas. These are areas often thought of as “gifted”. Other traits many have researched that may not be thought of as “gifted” but are often noted include: emotional intensity, sensitivity, advanced humor, perfectionism, feeling different than others, and creative / unique thinking. Some of these traits can lead to struggles for gifted students. If they are not cultivated and worked with by students, they may lead to “checking out” of school work, getting into trouble in general, and feelings of anxiety or depression.
Giftedness is not something that just appears and disappears. Just as a person identified as intellectually disabled continues to have that disability, a person that is gifted continues to be gifted. It may or may not translate into actual skills. Students that are gifted, if not motivated or focused, may not be learning a great deal. A person can be gifted and be behind in some areas while advanced in others. A person can also be gifted, but struggle because of being “twice exceptional” meaning they also have a disability such as ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities, or other disabilities. This confuses people who equate giftedness with being “really good” in academics. Many students that are good academically are advanced or ahead of peers, though not to the level of “giftedness” on a lot of tests.

• Faster pace of reading developmental milestones
• Advanced vocabulary
• Sustained attention
• Excellent memory
• Creativity
• May be an early reader
• Early development of empathy
• Emotional intensity and sensitivity
• Frustrations with limitations
• Perfectionism
• Leader during cooperative play
• Over-excitabilities (additional energy/ focus in the areas of psychomotor/movement, sensual/sensitive to
particular lights/sounds etc, intellectual/ passionate learning, imaginational/creative, and emotional-
sensitive and big feelings toward self and others)

Boredom in school (not learning anything)
• Tremendous skill in some areas but behind in others (also part of asynchrony)
• Lack of time for devotion of interests, passions, and strengths
• Lack of understanding by teachers / administrators about what giftedness means (and does not mean) so
programs / lectures not designed with their needs in mind
• Perfectionism leading to struggles with anxiety, underperformance, depression
• Lack of true peers (or don’t know where to find them / identify them)
• Feelings of being different / alien
• Intensity, sensitivity, and over-excitabilities: psychomotor, imaginational, intellectual, sensual, emotional

Community recreation centers
• A plan with your teacher / school gifted coordinator
• Gifted or accelerated programs online, on weekends, in summers
• Create time specifically for passions
• Join student support groups/services (may be through parent groups)
• Check out counseling / support services
• Strongly encourage journaling, exercise, “arts”, meditation, self reflection, realistic personal goal setting, and documenting progress

A SAMPLING OF RESOURCES: Website with many articles, links, and resources –a local site related to schools, services, and testing a website related to social and emotional needs of the gifted –National Association for Gifted Children- articles, conferences, and other info. Colorado Association of Gifted and Talented- articles, conferences, and other info.

© Dr. Vanessa Ewing

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