Attending Winter Edufest Gifted Conference 2011 in Coeur d’ Alene Idaho

26 04 2011

by Bob Bishop

With the theme Mission Possible: Ideas take flight, the Winter Edufest in Coeur d’ Alene, we were invited to taste the flight of ideas. 

The keynote presentation was performed by Scott Shepherd whose award winning impersonations of Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Monet and Michelangelo have awed audiences for years.  To this privileged audience Scott produced an original opus reflecting a dream similar to a Native American “vision quest.” It portrayed a frustrated artist who had lost confidence for his talent. He was visited by an eagle and a dragon whose conflicting perspectives give him insights that enable him to soar.  Using concepts from aero-dynamics and quotations from a myriad of geniuses from the past, Scott Shepherd gave inspiration to propel our lives by curiosity, creativity, enthusiasm and dedication.

Here is a summary of Scott Shepherd’s flying lessons. The gravity of personal importance, popularity, dominance and fixation on winning weighs us down. Drag is the resistance (such as money, stuff, superiority, and control) that pulls us back. Whereas lift (the awareness or attitude that pulls us up higher) is based on listening, appreciation, generosity, and kindness.  Our thrust, our purpose that pulls us forward, is curiosity, creativity, and enthusiasm and dedication to purpose.  

This challenging presentation was fitting for this Edufest whose theme was Mission Possible: Ideas take flight.  It was also perfect for teachers of the gifted who desire to make a difference in their own lives and in the lives of their students.

Taking off from this excellent keynote, participants had a feast of choices. 

-Diane Gilmire and Beth Brubaker ignited our creative artist within by wowing our senses with hands-on art lessons to wake-up learning. They even took us on an observation lesson with a “Private Eye” loupe that magnified our concentration, critical thinking and creativity.

-Karen Rogers, a master researcher, influential author (Reforming Gifted Education) and spokesperson for the direction of gifted education, shared from her wealth of knowledge to the administrators, counselors and parents.  Her topic was the ten “musts” of educating gifted learners appropriately and fully.

-Suzanne McPherson shared about the construction of a solid literacy model and practical creative ideas for teaching poetry to the gifted student.  She also presented a double session on the challenges of autism and the twice-exceptional child.

-Bob Bishop (Idaho’s Math Magician) shared from his wealth of knowledge and years of teaching about how to train gifted students to think like a problem solver.  He also amazed a “standing room only” crowd with examples of his original math magic.

-Jean Peterson, an award winning teacher and prolific writer, spoke on the social-emotional development of the gifted student and how to motivate gifted underachievers.

-Margo Long, with her provocative and enthusiastic presentation style challenged us with the application from Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Drive by Daniel Pink and The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t Born, It is Grown by Daniel Coyle.

-Mike Beck astonished everyone with his hands-on science expertise, kinetic art, automata and 3-dimensional interactive artistry.

-Christine Deitz inspired and challenged us with teaching habits of the mind with Dr. Seuss.  She also shared on teaching bias and point of view.

-Linda Stokes, award winning teacher, shared an exciting session on fabulous new literature books for the gifted and how to draw across-the-curriculum connections.

-Bonnie Cramond shared the thirteen thinking tools used by creative thinkers in all fields with their application to different content areas and at different levels.  She also shared a spectacular closing keynote on how creativity and innovation must be basic skills for the 21st century gifted student.

-Kathie Nunley, popular author and speaker, shared a luncheon keynote about education and brain research. This was an exciting synthesis of comedy and brain research entitled: A Student’s Brain-How it Works.   This had a group of more than 200 teachers laughing at her hilarious insights and applications of how brain research applies to teaching.

Over lunch the convention was wowed by the Sorensen Gifted School’s talented dancers, jugglers, percussion players and singers.

To top off the last day, Marcia Wall invited us to an evening at the Chocolate Affair Art Tour.  We perused several galleries in downtown Coeur d’ Alene and tasted many varieties of imported and locally made chocolate.

Winter Edufest, with inspiration from the keynotes and the 34 excellent sessions, was definitely a successful winter premier conference!  

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to be.”  Leonardo DaVinci

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