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University of Iowa News Release


July 20, 2009

Korean educators visit UI for gifted education seminar July 19-31

Twenty-one educators have traveled from Korea for a two-week seminar at the University of Iowa College of Education's Connie Belin and Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. Aiming to enhance the creativity, inventiveness and excellence of gifted students in Korea, the group arrived Sunday, July 19 and will be on the UI campus and in the local community through July 31.

An agreement between the Daejeon Metropolitan Office of Education in Korea and the University of Iowa College of Education in July 2007 created a joint effort to support each other's attempts to enhance gifted education. Annually, Korean educators participate in seminars on topics including the nature and needs of high-ability learners, as well as challenging those students in mathematics, science, technology and humanities.

"The teachers who are selected to participate in this program are all professionals who are dedicated to learning everything they can about the needs of gifted students as well as new strategies to meet those needs," said Laurie Croft, Belin-Blank Center administrator for professional development. "By visiting the center, they can learn more about best practices that are less common in Korea, including the above-level assessment of students to determine their academic needs, and acceleration to allow students to progress at a pace that is best for them."

During the first week, Korean educators will have opportunities to visit student programs to observe the excellent teachers facilitating classes on campus for gifted elementary students, and to observe the interaction between teacher and students in an academic setting, Croft said. As well, professionals at the Belin-Blank Center will teach seminars on conceptions of giftedness and creative problem solving, taking the visitors to the Natural History Museum to conceptualize their own creative problem-solving activity for their students.

Belin-Blank Center staff members have also arranged for the group to visit Des Moines the weekend of July 25 and 26. They will visit the Iowa State Capitol and the Science Center of Iowa, and will have dinner in the Amana Colonies.

The following week, educators will learn concepts and skills to enhance programs for Korea's gifted students, including acceleration and identification of gifted students through the talent search process. Master teachers will talk about and model activities that they have found effective with their American students. Throughout the two-week program, educators will be introduced to best practices in differentiating curriculum for gifted learners, and by the last day, Korean educators will present their own differentiated units to try in their classrooms at home.

Although Korean students generally are among the best in the world in math and science, the government wants to enhance their creativity as well as their analytical academic abilities, in order to generate new solutions to the world's emerging problems, Croft said. Croft noted that the government of Korea has become very interested in and supportive of gifted education in the past few years.

One way the Belin-Blank Center will help achieve this is by providing an overview of how to recognize creative students, as well as some of the ways to meet the needs of those students. The day spent with Belin Blank Center Administrator Clar Baldus, learning about American approaches to creativity, is one of the most popular segments the program, Croft said.

For more information on the Belin-Blank Center, visit

NOTE TO MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA: If you would like to arrange an interview with some of the South Korean visitors, call Croft at 319-335-6148.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Laurie Croft, Belin-Blank Center, 319-335-6148,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Tessa McLean