Friday, January 30, 2009

Facets of Gifted Education: Hoagies' Gifted Education Pages

Today in our interview series we have Carolyn K., the host of Hoagies' Gifted Education Pages. Twelve years ago, this mom began compiling links to gifted education resources and articles. She called the page Hoagies because her husband's nickname had been Hoagies in high school and college, and so she became known as Mrs. Hoagies, and so the webpage became a Hoagie family effort. If you want to know why his nickname was Hoagies...you'll just have to go check out the webpage.

These days, if you're the parent of a newly identified gifted child and you go online to Google "gifted education," Hoagies is the first place you'll land. She joins us today.

GE: Who should check out Hoagies?

CK: Hoagies' Page is for everyone who knows a gifted child... Or is one! Hoagies' is divided into three parts: Parents; Teachers, Administrators, Counselors and other professionals; and Gifted Kids & Teens. The Parents and Teachers pages are full of articles and annotated links to other resources on just about every subject in gifted education: Identification, Parenting, Gifted Programs, Differentiation, Free Online High School Courses, Twice Exceptional Children, and hundreds more. Resources include research, professional resources and parent success stories, by authors including Miraca Gross, David Elkind, Kathi Kearney and dozens of others.

The Kids & Teens pages are lesser known... 20+ pages of child-safe links by topic, from Art to Space, Brain Teasers to Math, even a page of fun Multiplication links for practice. Plus the Hot Topics Reading List - a different kind of reading list, organized by topic then reading level, with topics including Early Readers, Math, Science, Biography, Classics, Cartoons, History, Puzzles, Social Stuff, Being Gifted, and more! There are also 15 pages of Toys and Games that gifted kids love, featuring many small toy companies who have developed great games that you won't find on the shelves of your local store; a page of Software titles that gifted kids love for more than just a day; Movies featuring gifted kids in a positive light;
Magazines; Contests; and even Nerd Shirts - those great T's featuring pithy sayings or likenesses of your favorite nerd.

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page is for everyone!

GE: You've been at this for 12 years (a lifetime on the web) - what have you learned while building and maintaining your portal? Anything you were surprised by? Is the web changing much about gifted kids and education?

CK: I have learned that there's still not a lot of information out in the
public on gifted kids. Most pre-service education programs don't teach about gifted children at all, and teachers come out of school with no knowledge of gifted, or worse, with misconceptions. Counselors, psychologists, and physicians, too! It's up to these professionals to learn about gifted kids after their formal education. The good news is, there are a *lot* more books and other resources than there were 12 years ago.

I've learned that parents of the gifted often feel alone and isolated. That's how I felt 12 years ago, and that's how many parents who write me feel today. The internet allows us to find information, but more important, to find each other. It's so relieving to learn that we are not alone!

The web has changed a lot, for those who use its resources, but I'm always surprised when I go to a conference and the majority of the attendees have never heard of Hoagies' Page, or worse, any of the resources that Hoagies' Page points to on the 'net.

Technically, I've learned the importance of keeping content fresh, keeping old links correct, and keeping the site looking new but quick and easy to load for folks still on slow connections in rural areas.

So far Hoagies' Page has been able to avoid accepting any paid advertising but I'm not sure that can continue; it must start to pay for itself. Our only income is through our affiliates programs... Visitor purchases made through our links to Amazon, Discovery Toys, Barnes & Noble and dozens of other affiliates (click here) on (the site) don't cost visitors anything, but support Hoagies' Page with a few pennies on each purchase.

GE: Any stories from readers that moved you? Has Hoagies made a difference?

CK: I get stories every week from parents, teachers, gifted adults and even teens who've benefited from Hoagies' Page. Compliments are always welcome.

"Your web site is totally impressive and you've gotten to be an expert yourself along the way, in MANY areas related to gifted." -- Peggy

"I want to thank you for Hoagies. If not for your website,
I wouldn't have found the GDC, my daughter wouldn't have been tested, I wouldn't know about Nation Deceived, I wouldn't know that there are other kids much like her, and she'd still be on the edge of a total breakdown, miserable at school." -- J.K.

"I first write to thank you for your tremendous website! This past year, I feel like I have passed through "Gifted 101" to "Doctoral Thesis in Gifted Ed!" Until last year, I had only "mythological" knowledge of the term "gifted." I came into a situation where I felt compelled to advocate strongly for my oldest daughter. I know I could never have done so successfully without all of the wonderful information you offer on your site." -- A Mom from Pennsylvania.

Here are a few of the most heart-warming stories:

"Without Hoagies, my entire family would certainly be MUCH worse off, and my local schools would still be badly damaging ALL the gifted students attending them. If the impact has been anywhere near as great in other places, the good resulting from Hoagies is IMMENSE!" -- Margaret

"I have you to thank for my not only being able to recognize and accept that I have a gifted child, but understand why I always felt like such an oddball my entire life - because I too am GT" -- Sarah

"I just wanted to send you a great big THANK YOU from Australia. About 5 years ago, in total frustration I sent in a couple of lines of text about my PG son literally being taught to twiddle his thumbs in 4th grade. Sensing my distress you wrote a lovely personal email to me validating my feelings about the lack of education my son was getting. Your website was a catalyst for us taking the leap into the last 4 years of homeschooling and it has been a joyous decision for our family. A few weeks ago my son started studying at a University in Sydney after completing the educational requirements and interviews for early entry. He is now a fulfilled happy young man and I am eternally grateful to you as you gave us the knowledge and courage to create the educational environment our son needed. Best Wishes."-- Trish

All these stories really encourage me to keep going. If I can help just one person each week, it's worth it. I think Hoagies' Page has made a difference.

GE: What's the biggest misperception about gifted kids (or their parents?)


CK: I'd say the largest misperception is that gifted kids already have "too much," and don't deserve anything different in their education. I think ALL kids need an appropriate education, and now that we're focusing on the lower-achieving kids (which is a good thing!) many schools are ignoring the high-achieving kids. And I think the solution is simple: let's educate ALL kids starting where they are and moving forward at their pace. Every child deserves to learn every day, every week, every year.

And the parents? There's a mis-conception that we're just pushy parents, that our kids are no different, it's just that we're pushing because we think our kids are "better" than everyone else. Gifted kids aren't better, they're just different. And sure, some parents are pushy, but most of us are just desperate to help our kids grow up happy and healthy. Learning is a big part of all kids' lives; gifted kids need to be happy and healthy in learning, too. That's what all parents want; parents of the gifted are no different.

3 comments:

The Princess Mom said...

Well said, Carolyn! In my work with Mensa's Gifted Children's Program, I refer people to your site all the time. It is the gold-standard for gifted information. Plus, you're just such a darn nice person! Thank you, Carolyn, for all that you do.

SwitchedonMom said...

Carolyn, I got this comment yesterday on my blog. The teenage poster was referencing his/her advocacy for gifted friends.

"And what I do I learned, as strange as it may sound, from the internet. From blogs like this, sites like Hoagies and people I have met. I learned what rights I really had, what fights others are fighting for those under their protection, the good that could be, instead of the trap I was stuck in and the views I had absorbed from my parents and school.

It is always encouraging to find parents and educators that are advocating for the gifted kids in their area or under their protection. So, thank you. Thank you for doing this. And for writing about it and sharing it."

Thank you Carolyn, for your tremendous gift to us all.

Eileen Gallagher said...

Carolyn K.

You are amazing.
The Hoagies website is amazing, and your enduring, unwavering dedication to Gifted Education, issues, advocacy laudable.

Your work and the Hoagies site serves as a beacon of light for best interests of our world's most precious, under served, treasures - gifted children. Educators, curriculum, lack of funding, lack of policy, procedures all contribute to pushing down, holding back, stifling, misunderstanding, and not meeting the needs of our gifted children.

Sadly this only harms society as a whole. Unfortunately myopic views cloud policy makers, educational administrators, and educators.

Denying their (Gifted Children) gifts, stifling their inner ability to soar to amazing heights in their each unique way -will only deprive the world of achievements, advancements, inventions, cures, phenomenal art, music, theater, comedy and all type of arts, the list goes on and on.

Your work inspires so many, parents, gifted children and Gifted adults, educators and hopefully policymakers.

Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.

Eileen Gallagher,
Parent of 2E 13 yr. old (Also "Gifted")