SIG eNewsletter: The Gifted Student

Sponsored by:
The Princeton Review
The Princeton Review

April 2014

In this issue:

From the President's Desk

A letter from Barbara Swicord, President of SIG:

You've heard the old adage: if you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there. Here in the northeast, we think that winter doesn't know it's supposed to be going out! But, since I can't control the weather, I'll focus on things I can impact.

This time of year, school educators are likely looking toward the home stretch of the school year while we at SIG and NSGT are anticipating our opening days of camp that follow soon after school ends. In both school and camp scenarios, we are concerned with learner outcomes at the end. Learner outcomes specify student behaviors we desire at a particular developmental point in time. In this field, we often debate what the learner outcomes should be for gifted education. School year core education usually has outcomes prescribed externally, which may deal with curriculum mastery and academic behaviors. They likely involve comparisons to similarly aged or placed groups of students. Teachers and schools may also have their own outcome expectations. Gifted education outcomes can be wide-ranging, also dealing with academic goals or being more specific in regard to higher level cognitive functioning, or broader in dealing with interpersonal skills, independent learning, motivation, academic self-concept, and so on.

Here at SIG, our outcomes are focused on an individual level and are directed toward long-term goals for the students. We plan our programs with the expectations that outcomes will be both cognitive and affective. On a cognitive level, we expect that students will leave our programs feeling that that have thought differently about an intriguing issue than they have in the past. We hope they leave us with a sense that they can face any future cognitive challenge with self-confidence, knowing there are many ways to approach a problem and welcoming mistakes and failures for what they can learn from them. We encourage the products they create to demonstrate their learner outcomes to be individual and authentic. We also hope they leave with ideas of additional topics they would like to study that they discovered while at SIG. Affectively, we know they leave with a positive self-image that comes from making new friends their age who share a lot in common with them. Affectively, we also expect that they leave with a good feeling about themselves and those with whom they have come into contact through social and cultural interactions with other campers as well as with staff, and through engagement on a college, university, or school campus.

So, if you are an educator, what thought have you given to the outcomes you have for your students? Are they personal or imposed from without? If you are a parent of a gifted child, what outcomes do you expect for your child? Are you aware of what his or her school outcome expectations are? If you are a student, what outcomes have you created for yourself? If you haven't thought about these questions before, now might be a good time to start.

We hope the outcomes of enjoying this newsletter include new knowledge about what we do, where we do it, and who we are. We also hope you enjoy Kevin's new column (this one on creativity), and that you check out the puzzle and calendar too.

Barbara Swicord
President, Summer Institute for the Gifted

Kicking It Back with Kevin!

Welcome to our new column! I am honored and excited to embark upon this opportunity to discuss matters pertaining to gifted students and education, and to provide a window into what we do at the Summer Institute for the Gifted to support both. We seek to make this an avenue to provide relevant and interesting information to you, and as such sincerely appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

It seems appropriate that our first column briefly explore an aspect of a seemingly simple, but hotly-debated question: “What makes one gifted?” I like to think that, as with good art or music, I know it when I see it. However, it is obviously not that simple. Traditionally, there have been several indicators used to identify gifted individuals. This is not to say that all agree on the extent to which these indicate giftedness, but solely that they have served this purpose.

One indicator producing some of the most contentious debate is creativity, particularly regarding whether a person must be creative to be considered gifted.

How can one quantify creativity? I'm not sure it can be done, but again I want to say that I know it when I see it. Commonly described as the ability to come up with novel and useful designs or ways of doing things, we tend to evaluate creativity by the end result of seemingly creative actions. We don't really know if a potentially creative idea will bring desirable results until it is acted upon. Sure, trying to take one's couch apart in a novel way in order to move it into a room with a small entrance door might seem like a useful idea, but it doesn't successfully pass the creative litmus test until we get the couch in the door and put it back together relatively easily, with no serious structural damage.

In his seminal book Creativity; Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explores common characteristics of those considered creative who hail from several professions and walks of life. He finds that they don't always (or often, for that matter) share easily detectable traits. Using master artists and their personalities as examples, he illustrates, “You can be a happy extrovert like Raphael or a surly introvert like Michelangelo – the only thing that matters is how good your paintings seem to be” (pg. 52).

Irrespective of their profession or personality, Csikszentmihalyi adds that a less obvious, nearly always common trait helps demark the truly creative: determination and focus upon successful creative outcomes. While personal habits, appearance, tastes, and many other visible, easily tangible characteristics may vary widely, the creative are similarly “remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make due with whatever is at hand to reach their goals” (pg. 51).

To assess the usefulness of creativity, we need to see its products – creations in whatever marvelous forms they might assume. As parents and educators, we need to inspire children to act upon their creative thoughts and create. We need to help develop adaptability, determination, resourcefulness, and a drive that inspires creation even when the environment or situation at hand does not seem conducive to creativity. Of course, we need to ensure that actions in the pursuit of creativity will be safe, and to provide guidance when creative thoughts are tested in the real world. When providing effective guidance, we play a crucial role by fostering creative confidence and helping blaze a path for present and future innovation.

Making the jump from carefully-managed and monitored small-scale creativity to the type of creativity that produces globally-influential, culture-shifting innovation is often referred to as moving from creativity with a little c to creativity with a Big C. Little c creativity describes accomplishments unique to, and isolated within, places of business, classrooms, individual homes, etc. Big C creativity produces groundbreaking innovation, which causes a significant impact upon society.

Some of the keys to moving from the little c to the Big C are practice, inspiration, imagination, determination, and, of course, growth. In our next column, we’ll explore some ways to help develop these traits in the creative learner.

SIG is Social Media Savvy!

Social media is a driving force in many of our lives. Here at Summer Institute for the Gifted, we see it as a great way to connect with those who are just as passionate about gifted education as we are!

We often hear from parents of alumni that SIG summers were some of the best their children ever had! If you are a SIG parent, we encourage you to pass this along to your current or former student(s) so that they can stay up-to-date on SIG happenings.

Through social media outlets, SIG provides updates on everything from gifted education resources to details about our various programs, from puzzles and learning strategies to event announcements across the country. Stay connected with us throughout the entire year by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!

SIG on Facebook:
SIG on Twitter:
SIG on LinkedIn:

The Summer Institute for the Gifted is a program of the National Society for the Gifted and Talented (NSGT), a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. NSGT also offers a University Prep program at various locations nationwide.

University Prep Facebook:

We look forward to connecting with you!

Campus Spotlight: Emory University

Emory University, founded in 1863, is ranked 20th among national universities in the U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Colleges 2014.” Emory is enriched by the legacy and energy of Atlanta, whose downtown is located 15 minutes away. Emory University is recognized internationally as an inquiry-driven, ethically engaged, and diverse community whose members work together collaborating for positive transformation in the world through courageous leadership in teaching, research, scholarship, health care, and social action.

Fun Facts!

  • Emory is recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as 1 of only 60 institutions of higher learning named as Engaged Institutions.
  • It is home to 5 libraries housing over 3.1 million volumes, including an extensive William Butler Yeats collection and many writings of Malcolm X.
  • The faculty of Emory includes His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama as Presidential Distinguished Professor.
  • SIG has been on the Emory University campus since 2006!

SIG offers many options for students who wish to attend this program:

  • Residential Program for students ages 9-17
    Students choosing this option will participate in the full curriculum of SIG including a 4-period academic day, evening programs, Saturday Get-Away Days and Sunday Activity Days. Students live on campus in dormitories.

    • Day Commuter Program for students ages 9-17 (8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
      Commuter students participate in the full 4-period academic day, lunch and recreation period. They do not participate in any weekend or evening activities. Commuter students must be dropped off at 8:30 a.m. and picked up at 5:30 p.m.

    • Extended Commuter Program for students ages 9-17 (8:30 a.m. - 9:15 p.m.)
      Extended commuter students will participate in the full 4-period academic day, lunch, recreation period, dinner and all evening activities, as well as Saturday Get-Away Day trips. Extended commuters do not reside on campus or take part in Sunday activities.

A Day Program is also available for students ages 5-8, with half-day and extended day options. Learn more.

Interested in Working with SIG?

Every year, Summer Institute for the Gifted recruits and hires top-notch and passionate employees for our programs in multiple capacities. We are currently in search of summer staff to join our team!

Summer Roles Available Nationwide:

  • Residential Nurses (Berkeley, CA; New York, NY; and New Haven, CT)
  • Day Program Nurses (Princeton, NJ)
  • Director of Day Program (Bedford, NY)
  • Counselors, Residential Assistants, and Program Assistants (multiple locations)
  • Housemasters (Bryn Mawr, PA; Los Angeles, CA)
  • Office Managers, Administrative Assistants, Academic Dean Assistants (multiple locations)
  • Instructors (multiple locations)

If you or anyone you know is interested in working with us this summer, please visit to submit an application. SIG cannot consider you for employment without a formal and complete online application.

Puzzle Corner

What number should replace the question mark in the grid?

7 8 3 5
2 6 4 2
9 9 6 3
6 8 2 7
5 4 3 ?

Submit your answer online at The first student who submits the correct answer will receive recognition in the next issue of The Gifted Student!


Last Month's Puzzle

What four-letter word can be attached to the beginning of the given words to form six longer words?



Congratulations to Monica from Manchester, CT, for being the first to respond with the correct answer to last month's puzzle!

To Infinity and SIG BEYOND!

SIG Beyond: Summer Online Learning Program
June 18-August 12
Application Deadline: June 4

Cost: $425.00 plus $25 application fee
Returning ONLINE STUDENT discount – $25 off

The SIG Beyond Online Learning Program is an exciting 8-week online program for Gifted and Talented students. These courses offer students curriculum beyond what is offered during the school day, are wide ranging in potential interest areas for individualized learning, and engage students in hands-on learning while applying school content through speaking, writing, researching, analyzing, reasoning, and questioning.

Courses (see course descriptions)

  • Be A Pet Vet (Ages 7-8)
  • What's The Chance? (Ages 7-8)
  • Trend Economics (Ages 9-10)
  • Zoology: Ape to Zoo (Ages 9-10)
  • DNA: Your Unique Code (Ages 11-12)
  • The Past Is Present: Anthropology in Action (Ages 11-12)
  • Digital Photography (Ages 9-12)

Eligibility: This program is open to students who have been identified for a gifted & talented program or who can demonstrate eligibility for any SIG program.

Additional Information

  • Students will need access to the internet on a regular basis, as well as basic word processing and presentation software (such as Word and PowerPoint). Students should have a level of comfort with creating new documents and presentations, navigating the web to conduct research (younger students will be provided select links), and saving/uploading documents; parents may need to provide assistance to students not comfortable with these tasks. 

  • Specific login times are not set, as students attend from several time zones. Assignments are posted on a weekly basis (typically Monday, though this is class dependant), and have varied due dates throughout the week. Students should expect to need to access the online course at least 3 different times during the week in order to accomplish all tasks on a timely basis. All courses follow this basic format.

  • Instructors are typically SIG summer instructors that have experience teaching in an online format. Instructors and students interact through the course learning management system (LMS); students can also email instructors for additional information. Student email addresses are not shared with other students; however, students can interact with each other via discussion posts and LMS messages.

Learn more about the SIG Summer Online Learning Program

Giving SIG/University Prep Students a Boost!

SIG believes all gifted students, regardless of their financial situation, should be able to experience the academic rigor and enrichment that they deserve. As such, we strive to provide as much scholarship funding that we can so that they may attend gifted and talented programs, including our own.

We have begun a new fundraising initiative, and we need your help! empowers anyone to rally support for a cause, loved one, group or project by selling custom t-shirts and collecting donations online. SIG has created a custom t-shirt, and the profit from each shirt purchased will go toward scholarships that will directly affect the lives of gifted youth. If you are able, we encourage you to purchase one and show your support proudly.

This campaign will end May 2, 2014.
100% of funds raised will go to NSGT scholarships.

To view and purchase a shirt, please visit

Upcoming Conferences & Events

Come and see SIG Staff at the following event:

Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE) – April 24-25

Other Upcoming Events


Splash! Stanford
April 12 - 13, 2014
"Education for students, by students," A weekend-long extravaganza of lectures, workshops, and seminars for middle and high school students, modeled after the MIT event
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

TAGT Leadership Conference
April 14 - 15, 2014
Keynote: Sally C. Krisel
Omni Austin Hotel at SouthPark
Austin, TX

April 17, 2014, 7:30 p.m. EST
"Beyond Academics: Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted," Carolyn K. (online)

Mensa Mind Games 2014
 April 18 - 20, 2014
Hilton Austin Airport
Austin, TX

Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Education (PAGE) 
April 24 - 25, 2014
"Gifted Education: A National Treasure for the Future," Keynote: Jim Delisle
Ware Center, Millersville University
Lancaster, PA

Minds in Motion 
April 26, 2014
Workshops for students K-8 and adults
Canton, CT

International Conference on Giftedness & Creativity (ICGC) 
April 30 - May 1, 2014
Crown Plaza Hotel


May 6, 2014, 7:30 p.m. EST -
"Social/Emotional Needs of Gifted Performers and Athletes," Malik S. Henfield, Diversity Series

May 15, 2014, 7:30 p.m. EST
"Strategies for Dealing with Emotional Overexcitabilities," Regina Hellinger

Sixth Annual Student-to-Student GATE Conference
 May 17, 2014
Offers students grades 3–12 an opportunity to shine, to share their interests, talents and passions in a 15-minute workshop that will be attended by other students
Cowell College, UCSC
Santa Cruz, CA

Lowcountry Homeschool Convention 
May 30 - 31, 2014
Charleston Southern University
N. Charleston, SC

Spread the News!

If you are excited about what you have seen in The Gifted Student newsletter, please share it with your friends. Or send us their names and email addresses, and we'll put them on our email list. Write to Michelle Holleran at with "The Gifted Student" in the subject line to subscribe.