Dr. Barbara Clark`s Presentation

Tri-County GATE Council Presentation
Barbara Clark, Ed.D
Understanding Brain Form And Function
The six-layered CORTEX
NEUROPLASTICITY is available throughout life.
INTEGRATION of brain functions develops understanding and retention
and creates powerful learning.
Movement supplies oxygen to the brain and allows more efficiency in
Key Points:
Memory requires change in the cell body: powerful experiences change
short-term to long-term memory and create learning.
 There are important differences in the development of the brain by gender.
Created during testosterone flow during fetal development
Males – right hemisphere functions become more available; spatial
problem solving; math; spatial and non-linear thinking
Females - left hemisphere most used; linear thinking preferred; language
focus in learning
 Mirror neurons are cells whose activity reflects their surroundings effecting
perception and memory.
Caution: In this electronic world children are in danger of losing their sense
of three dimensionality and their ability to image, fantasize, and create.
What We Know About The Brain
Stress and tension prevent good flow through in the corpus callosum and create
biochemistry in the limbic area that turns off brain cells.
Stimulation increases dendritic branching and the potential for interconnections
between neurons increasing the complexity of thought.
As glial cell production increases the cell is better nourished and supported.
As the myelination of the axon is increased, the flow of energy within and between
cells becomes stronger and more frequent.
As the number of synapses and the size of the synaptic contacts increase
communication within the system becomes faster paced and more complex.
The reticular formation, limbic system, and thalamus actively select stimuli and
respond positively to novelty, the unexpected, and to discrepant information.
As the brain becomes more effective and more efficient, more use is made of the
activity of the prefrontal cortex of the brain.
The brain uses patterns and organizes using an integration of all areas of brain function
for optimal efficiency and retention.
Issues for Gifted Learners During Adolescence
The Personal Goals:
 Achieve independence
 Discover identity as a person
 Establish personal values and philosophy, both personal and social
 Develop self-guidance, self-motivation, and self-esteem.
 Become aware of the needs of others and of how the self can contribute to
meeting those needs.
 Explore and accept sexuality.
 Acknowledge intellectual power.
 Acquire life maintenance, career, and self-actualization skills.
 Develop meaningful interpersonal relationships
 Explore reality structures by use of personal experiences.
The brain begins to scan and remove the weakest synapses; patterns of the brain’s
functioning are formed – adolescents are very susceptible to losing mental ground.
An enriched environment is critical; a boring environment will strengthen the
thinning effect.
The very qualities that can lead to competence and power can result in some unique and
sometimes overwhelming problems.
Have few role models their own age – leading to feelings of isolation
Often lack challenge – no chance to test limits or learn to cope
Too many areas of interest – How many areas should they explore? When to focus?
When to make career choice? Or specialize?
Girls may be forced to choose between being gifted and being feminine.
Physical Transition
The physical body has not changed as much or as quickly since the first 2 years of life.
 Promote healthy body image
 Practice techniques of relaxation and tension reduction
 Encourage self-expression through movement and disciplines devoted to
mind/body integration
Intellectual Transition
The gifted student is now faced with an intolerable amount of repetition and conceptual
 The repetition of known concepts, and segregated subject matter can create
boredom and indifference to achievement. The incidence of underachievement
rises during this time.
 There is a need to challenge parental and teacher-related values.
 A desire for group acceptance may create the denial of academic ability. (10%
to 20% or dropouts test in the gifted range.)
Solutions possible:
 Develop an academic core by combining three periods with a team of two or
three teachers.
 Use flexible grouping, and mentors,
 Use the resources of neighboring senior high schools, instruct at the level of
Social-Emotional Transitions
Acceptance, belonging, and self-esteem are areas of critical concern. Periods of
fluctuations in emotion and mood swings are interspersed with periods of unusual
maturity and insight.
 Good grades must be earned with seeming ease.
 To gain acceptance gifted boys must be athletically able.
 For gifted girls, high intelligence is seen as too aggressive, too masculine; for
boys, it is seen as too feminine.
 It is important that nonjudgmental, open communication exist among teachers,
the family, and the adolescent student.
Intuitive Transition
Gifted adolescents have an early concern for and interest in intuitive knowing. They
need opportunities to converse meaningfully with philosophers and others who share
their interest.
 Need may be met through use independent study, mentors, and class
 Guidance in experiencing and evaluating appropriate uses of this type of
creative effort should be made available
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Caution In this electronic