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Back in November, I wrote about the upcoming NAGC Conference. As promised, I’m reporting back on my experiences.

The convention in Phoenix was jam-packed with informative sessions, networking events, and thought-provoking keynotes. I heard some great presentations given by folks from Google, Maker Media, and Disney, about the importance of fostering hands-on creativity and problem-solving skills for the economy of the future. I also saw the film, “Underwater Dreams,” about four Latino youth, from an impoverished high school in Arizona, who won a national underwater robotics championship — even beating MIT’s team. (The story’s Hollywood film version was, based on reviews I’ve read, far less compelling than the documentary film shown at the convention.) The themes of teacher support, creativity, and resilience resonated strongly with the attendees.

The conference sessions featured a strong emphasis on identifying and meeting the needs of underserved populations of gifted students. In addition to attending several presentations in that vein, I was also invited to participate in NAGC’s Diversity and Equity Committee meeting, in which we discussed creating an online toolbox for educators and administrators. This toolbox will provide information helpful in working with gifted students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, and English-language abilities. It will also offer resources specific to meeting the needs of gender/sexual minority-status youth. The project will evolve over the next two years or so, as videos and written assets are produced and launched.

I had the opportunity to attend a roundtable discussion on using true literature (not just any fictional works!) in literacy development. I was able to share information on Degrees of Reading Power with the presenter and a network colleague of mine. Both were intrigued. Since they are experts on the importance of expanding reading skills in empowering all students, and they both train future educators, I was glad for the chance to make them aware of this tool.

I also made the rounds in the Exhibition Hall. As mentioned in my previous post, several assessment providers were there. I got to chat with some of their reps, and it was interesting to see how they managed their booth presence.

Next year, the convention will be held on a Disney property in Orlando. Rumor has it that Disney will have input on evening programming — which is when the various formal NAGC networks typically hold network-themed events. I will be looking for updates from NAGC, to see how this approach will affect the overall programming results. Stay tuned!