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Release: July 18, 2002

EDITORS: Opportunities are available this week to interview some of the Republic of Korea educators. To arrange an interview, please contact Laurie J. Croft, Ph.D., at (319) 335-6148.

Republic Of Korea Educators Meeting With UI's Belin-Blank Center

The Republic of Korea, which has recently made a commitment to providing more and better educational opportunities to academically gifted students, has sent a contingent of 30 educators to study this summer with the University of Iowa's Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development.

Fifteen elementary school and 15 high school teachers are immersing themselves in the theories underpinning differentiated education of the gifted and talented and learning how best to serve their most able learners through counseling support, as well as classroom instruction.

"Teachers who clearly understand the complex needs of gifted students are able to encourage their students’ love of learning, as well as provide them with the foundation for life-long achievement," said Laurie J. Croft, Ph.D., the Belin-Blank Center's administrator for professional development.

The educators -- all science, mathematics or technology teachers -- have met with Croft throughout the month of July, focusing on conceptions of giftedness and ways to differentiate lessons for students who are ready to learn more challenging content. The educators have also experienced special presentations from Belin-Blank Center staff, learning about the counseling needs of gifted students from Director Nicholas Colangelo, Ph.D., identification issues from Associate Director Susan Assouline, Ph.D., creativity from Clar Baldus, Ph.D., administrator for Inventiveness Programs & Rural Schools Programs, and about above-level testing and talent searches from staff member Damien Ihrig, administrator for Research/Evaluation & Talent Searches.

This week, the teachers are observing and "interning" with the center's student programs, including:

* Challenges for Elementary School Students (CHESS): An academic summer program for student in grades two through six, CHESS classes are taught at a faster pace than traditional school instruction, they emphasize higher-order thinking skills and are designed to expose students to content that is not typically offered in school.

* The Junior Scholars Academy (JSA): A one-week residential summer program for students in grades six through eight. Classes are designed to provide students with challenging content that is not usually a part of the junior high curriculum.

* The Environmental Health Sciences Institute for Rural Youth (EHSI): A one-week residential summer program for fifteen of rural Iowa's gifted students who are currently in ninth grade and have a strong interest in learning about environmental health sciences.

By the end of this week, some of the visiting educators may help lead some of the classes.

Only educators considered master teachers in the Seoul area were allowed to take part in the Iowa City trip. Many of the high school teachers are from the prestigious Seoul Science Magnet High School.

The visit hasn't been all work, however. Croft says that over the long Independence Day weekend different members of the group traveled widely, some driving to Niagara Falls, some to Yellowstone National Park and others to the Grand Canyon.