Beyond IQ
Last updated: 05/02/2008

Gifted Conference Planners


Beyond IQ: Greater Boston 

"Social and Emotional Curriculum"

Presenters and Sessions



In the Footprints of Genius

A field guide to understanding the essence and the development of the Highly Gifted.

P. Susan Jackson, MA, RCC 
is the Founder and Therapeutic Director of “The Daimon Institute for the Highly Gifted” in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada. The Daimon Institute offers service to highly and profoundly gifted children and adults supporting the educational needs and overall development of this special population. Sue is also co-chair of the Programming Committee of the National Association for Gifted Children Counseling and Guidance division for the 2007-2008. In addition, Sue is the District Coordinator of “Programs to Support Gifted and Talented Students” in Langley BC Canada. Her full bio can be found here.

Plenary Session: Peekaboo! Hidden Curriculum and the Gifted Child


Adult's Program
Overchallenged While Underchallenged: Identifying and Serving the Gifted Child with Learning Disabilities
Children who are gifted and have learning disabilities have unique needs which are seldom identified or met. This can result in incorrect diagnoses, labels of willful underachivement, a learning environment which is simultaneously too hard and too easy, and misery. This presentation will include: identification; self-advocacy; creating an appropriate educational environment in school or homeschool; accommodations. There will be ample time for questions. Suitable for parents, teachers, administrators, parents. Young adults are welcome but this will not be specifically geared to them, and will not be interactive until the Q & A.

Diana Abramo
 is an educational consultant in NYC. She focuses on helping children (and their parents) identify their neurological preferences, strengths, and weaknesses in learning, then using them to modify and prioritize a learning program. She is the mother of two gifted children, one 2E in a gifted public school program, and another whom she has homeschooled for the last 9 years. She completed all the course work for a Ph.D. in Community Psychology with a research minor; is completing a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (Gifted Children with Learning Disabilities) with Dr. Susan Baum; and has studied at the National Center for the Study of Gifted and Talented Children. She is member of the Learning and the Brain Society. Her prior professional work included counseling, research, and program development. She worked for 11 years each in the fields of AIDS education and rape survivor counseling, and developing nation-wide programs in these areas. She has also been the project coordinator on CDC grants, and taught and designed evaluation.

Gifted Kids and Group Work
The topic of group work comes up frequently on the gifted boards. Gifted kids frequently find group work frustrating or end up doing all the work for their group. This talk will focus on some underlying principles of group dynamics and the psychology of team development. It will show how these principles apply in school work groups and provide techniques that parents can use to help their children navigate the experience of being on a team.

Stephen R. Balzac
 is the president of 7 Steps Ahead, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in increasing individual, team, and organizational performance.
Steve serves on the boards of the New England Society of Applied Psychology (NESAP) and the Society of Professional Consultants (SPC). Steve is a member of the Operations Committee of the American Judo & Jujitsu Federation. No stranger to the challenges of achieving peak performance under competitive and stressful conditions, he holds a fourth degree black belt in jujitsu and is a former nationally ranked competitive fencer. He has published numerous articles on the application of sport psychology techniques to martial arts training.
Steve has bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science and engineering from MIT, and a master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, with a focus on motivation, performance, and group dynamics, from Capella University. He has spoken at several conferences and appeared on panels on computer game design. His articles have appeared in Metagame, The Journal of Interactive Drama, The IBM Systems Journal, The Lincoln Journal, Mass High Tech, The Kiai Echo, and the Worcester Business Journal.

The Social Skills Acquisition Process

Many people use a very harsh and nonproductive way to describe their level of skill in different areas.  For example, “I’m good at _____ , I suck at _____” or “That (skill I have) is easy but that (skill I don’t have) is hard”.  These narrative assumptions undermine self respect, promote challenge avoidance and do not provide a story path to describe the process of learning.  In this session we will explore the process of acquiring a skill and make a narrative that makes the process easier.

Anna Caveney
 is an education consultant. She has designed and implemented individualized curricula for homeschooling teenagers, developed a theory of the emotional foundations of underachievement and led workshops addressing the challenges and joys of being highly gifted. She has created and taught classes in calculus, thinking skills and peer counseling. She runs the Young Adult program at BIQ.

We Already Teach a Social and Emotional Curriculum, But it's the Wrong One!

Through interview and give and take, we hope to explore the lessons in this realm that are often taught, and some ways to respond to them. Audience involvement is expected.

Ryan Caveney
 M.S., is a physicist and mathematician. He has studied at MIT, Princeton and Johns Hopkins, and once taught 9th grade science in Gloucester, MA -- for 13 days. He works near Washington, DC as a contractor to the federal government, including a stint at NASA designing algorithms for weather satellites and interplanetary laser communication systems. His hobby of reading technical research on the influence of biology on personality and society is a continuation of his childhood interest in figuring out why he was so different from the other inmates. His wife, Anna, is the young adult program at this conference.

What is Normal? A Context for Giftedness 

What do we know about intelligence? What is it, how is it measured, how do people differ in it, and how much does it change? In order to understand what it means to be told, "your child has a 160 IQ", it helps to know something about the typical capabilities and behaviors of people with IQs of 130, 100 and 70. The aim of this presentation is to provide background details about what normal means, to help the gifted understand the typical needs that schools and society are meant to meet.

Give Them Wings
This presentation focuses on tips for parents to assist their children to become the well-rounded students colleges seek and build a foundation for integrating into the college milieu. If begun early, these will help children develop skills and approaches, many based on parent-modeled attitudes.

Dr. Eichel
 received her Ph.D. from UCLA, specializing in human development. She possesses an unusual and valuable set of skills derived from an extensive and diverse background in academia in both teaching and student support services. Her teaching background includes such areas as Sensory Motor Education for young children, teacher and tutor training, and creative problem solving. She directed UCLA’s Mentor Program, one of the first such support services in the country, providing her with experience in freshman retention efforts. While Assistant Director of UCLA’s Math and Science Tutorials, she created a program to assist students with graduate and professional school applications. Thus, she has over a 20-year track record of helping students, some of whom are now physicians, lawyers, judges, engineers, professors, teachers, and corporate executives. 

Today, she teaches English as a Second Language at Framingham State College and her private practice as an educational consultant, Pathways Consulting Services, is located in Framingham. Her web site is

Speaking Educator - the Translation Issue
Your child has been happily living and learning in a thoroughly non-school like fashion. You know your kid is fine and has been learning. How do you keep records that show this in education terms? This session will take a mythical family and do the translation from activities to academics covered.

Kit Finn is an experienced homeschooling mother with five adult children. She is also owner and director of the Tagfam online community.

A Conversation with Sue Jackson
We'll be following up on yesterday's keynote for people who want to go deeper into the issues. Bring your reactions and questions for some exploration of these ideas.

P. Susan Jackson, MA, RCC 
is the Founder and Therapeutic Director of “The Daimon Institute for the Highly Gifted” in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada. The Daimon Institute offers service to highly and profoundly gifted children and adults supporting the educational needs and overall development of this special population. Sue is also co-chair of the Programming Committee of the National Association for Gifted Children Counseling and Guidance division for the 2007-2008. In addition, Sue is the District Coordinator of “Programs to Support Gifted and Talented Students” in Langley BC Canada. Her full bio can be found here.

1st Time BIQ Attendees
This will include a brief presentation on terminology you are likely to hear during the weekend, which presentations are aimed at newcomers, and other introductory material. A good chunk of this period will be spent doing Q&A with the attendees.

Carolyn K. is the winner of the NAGC Community Service award, and PAGE Neuber-Pregler award, for her work on Hoagies' Gifted Education Page (, and she writes for the Gifted Education Communicator.
The role of social emotional content in all curriculum for the gifted
All children come to education with their emotional states, social interactions, and feelings about learning impacting their education.  For gifted children, this may be even more true.  Teachers of the gifted must teach with an eye to social emotional aspects in all of their curriculum.  We will explore why this is particularly important, what has worked, and what might work.

Lisa Rainen 
Lisa Rainen earned her M.A.Ed. in Gifted Education from the College of William and Mary. She taught a self-contained 5th grade gifted classroom in Wausau for two years and has now worked as the gifted specialist for three years at John Glenn Middle School in Bedford, Massachusetts. Her research interests include social and emotional issues of the gifted, gender and sexual orientation and their interaction with giftedness, and the needs of highly and profoundly gifted students.

We Already Teach a Social and Emotional Curriculum, But it's the Wrong One!

Through interview and give and take, we hope to explore the lessons in this realm that are often taught, and some ways to respond to them. Audience involvement is expected.

Josh Shaine 
is a migrant teacher, working for homeschool families, public and private schools, and whatever else comes down the pike. He works predominantly with gifted children, with a focus on underachievers and hg/pg issues. He is also slowly researching non-linear thinking styles.

Thinking and Learning Styles

Often in my presentations, I talk about various types of non-learning styles. While we will explore those, to an extent, we will also be looking at the implications and applications of other learning style theories to study, to classes, and to life issues.

Kissing Cousins: Gifted Children and Third Culture Kids 
Wenda will talk about her recent research, published in Roeper Review, about the similarities between gifted children and third culture kids, who spend at least part of their young lives growing up in a culture not their own, thus "making" a third culture that encompasses aspects of both cultures they know.  The presentation will include curricular recommendations on how to increase global awareness and sensitivities of all children, and recommendations of study abroad programs for high school students. 

Wenda Sheard
 is an attorney, teacher, and mother of three gifted children, now adults ages 19-27. After practicing law for nearly twenty years, she learned a Ph.D. in political science with an emphasis on education policy. From 2004-2006, Dr. Sheard lived in Hangzhou, China and taught international students. She currently works as an educational policy researcher where she lives in Connecticut outside New York City. Her volunteer work includes serving as Vice President of the national group SENG, Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted.

Social Development in Highly Gifted, Homeschooled Children
We will review normal developmental milestones for typically developing school age and adolescent children. We will then address common deviations from these patterns in HG+ children. Finally, we will discuss strategies in facilitating successful negotiation of these milestones for children who are homeschooled.

Melinda Stewart
 Currently the Director of Counseling at Groton School in Groton, MA, Ms. Stewart has worked with gifted children and adolescents in a variety of settings over the last 28 years.  She is the founder and former director of Voyagers, Inc., and has been on the staffs of the Stone Center at Wellesley College and McLean Hospital.  She is the mother of two PG children, one currently in college and one currently homeschooled. 

Depression and Self-Injury in Gifted Youth (and Adults)
The folk wisdom that with great genius often comes great emotional distress has been borne out in scientific research about the incidence of depression and other mental disorders in gifted youths and adults.  At the same time, the gifted may be better at hiding their distress from their family and peers.  They may well also feel less able to ask for help after achieving many other things so easily on their own.  And even once help is obtained, they may have a harder time responding to typical psychological techniques than the average client.  This session will begin with a brief discussion of the presenter's experiences with depression as a "gifted youth", some key points in research/writings on the topic, and open to discussion.

Zoë Thorkildsen's primary interest in giftedness springs from her own experiences in the standard, and the not-so-standard, educational system as a student labeled "gifted".  She moved through the public school system's gifted program, and also involved herself in summer programs geared towards gifted students, and eventually tumbled into college as a formerly-gifted youth (older, but hoping to remain gifted!)  She currently studies economics in the Ph.D. program at University of Maryland, but continues to pursue the issues of pedagogy, psychology, and general well-being of gifted students in her (not terribly ample) spare time.
The Neurobiological Roots of Creativity  Creativity has two rather different components, which might be called “prolificacy” (the drive to produce the new) and “apprehension” (the ability to see hidden patterns in what already exists, and hence make the new meaningful).  This talk explains the basis of the latter and explores why the former is much harder to pin down.

Eric Van 
entered Harvard in 1972 as one of future Nobel Laureate Sheldon Glashow's particle physics tutees and graduated in 1978 as one of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop's students. He has spent the last six years back at Harvard, as a Special Student affiliated with the Graduate Department of Psychology, taking 20 undergraduate courses in the field in preparation for an eventual Ph.D. He lives in Watertown, Mass.

When Imagination is More Important than Knowledge...The nature and needs of the creative mind in various domains. 

Albert Einstein is famous for espousing that "Imagination is more important than knowledge", and that is true, if you are Albert Einstein or any other person who is driven by creativity. Those who are inspired by the tiniest amount of input to spin their their own creations of theory, invention, art, of imagination. For many highly gifted, highly creative people this over-riding passion begins before they are two years old. "My mind has a mind of its own", said one such third grader, as she stared out the window, creating poetry during a timed, math fact test. Her paper was blank, though she had known these fcts since the age of two and one half. In this workshop, which will be, in part, experiential, we will cover the nature and need of such people.

Maddi Wallach M.A. is a former vice-president and hot-line counslor for the Hollingworth Center (a support organization for parents and teachers of highly gifted children). She has two highly gifted, highly creative children, ages 24 and 17. She has been working as an expressive arts therapist for 28 years and is a person who learns through creativity.

Children's Program

How to Combat Global Warming: Creating a Community Campaign (9-12) In this workshop, participants will learn about global warming; how to assess and reduce their own “carbon footprints”; and how to start local campaigns to encourage their towns’ residents, businesses and governments to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. This is a great project for home-schooled teens.

Colin Carlson

Improvisation Games (6-9)
Play some games that are guaranteed to make you think fast and crack up! Improvisation is the art of acting without a script, and the only limit is your own imagination. The improv games we’ll be playing are designed to make you (and your audience) laugh out loud. We’ll also prove that necessity really is the mother of invention; you’ll be amazed by what you can come up with.

Arika Cohen is delighted to be teaching and learning for the third time at Beyond I.Q.!  Arika spends her other 363 days teaching middle school drama at the Cambridge Friends School and living the lenten life of a graduate student.  Joyously, Arika will receive her Ed. M. from the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry/Harvard Graduate School of Education this June. Arika’s dearest post-graduate ambitions include becoming a published poet, conjuring a full-fledged Patronus, and getting a full night’s sleep.

Spellbinding Public Speaking, Scary Storytelling (6-9)
Learn some techniques that will increase your effectiveness as a public speaker and help you feel more confident in front of an audience. We’ll be telling scary stories and figuring out what makes these stories so scary. We’ll also explore how a storyteller can use public speaking techniques to enthrall (and scare the socks off of) his or her audience.

Without Conflict, There Can Be No Drama (9-12)
Would there be theatre in a perfect world? Probably not. Without conflict, there can be no resolution, and drama would cease to exist. If you like a little drama in your life, give this class a try! We’ll create scenes that exemplify different types of conflict and play acting games that delight in friction, discord, contention, and strife.

A Writer's Toolbox (9-12) Fixes, tricks, answers, sources for ideas, getting published--ways writers can get a story going, keep it going, and finding someone to sell it to when it's actually finished. Bring your own note-taking/writing implements! These are independent, but complementary, sessions. Do one, do the other, or do both! 

Lis Davies
 is a second-year student at the University of Alberta. She is active in internet fandom and passionate about using digital media to learn and connect.  She has participated in and administrated fantasy fansites and RPGs, but had an enduring interest in using the Internet to foster writers.  As well as writing, she founded the Icefall fanzine and edited early issues, and beta reads for other authors.  In 2001 she founded, a website by and for Gifted teens, and she is currently a moderator at Sheroes Central.

Tamora Pierce
 has captured the imagination of readers everywhere with her fourteen acclaimed novels set in the magical medieval realm of Tortall, as well as with her other fantasy books. She lives in New York City with her husband, Tim, and their three cats and two birds. Visit her at

Boolean Logic (9-12)
 "This title is false" and other ways to turn your head inside out with boolean logic.

Pete Gast 
has been involved in gifted education since he attended the Illinois Math and Science Academy for high school.  He is a math geek, a computer programmer, an avid fan of role-playing games, a tutor, and a consultant, all of which makes him about half a Josh, which is about of a third of Josh past his wildest expectations.

SET: The Math behind the Game (9-12) The theory behind the game SET, including magic squares, “no set” s, variations and solitaire versions - everything you wanted to know, and more... Please bring your own deck if you have one. 

Alexa K 
is a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College, double majoring in math and physics.  She also teaches math at North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Hadley, Massachusetts and is a TA for her school’s math department.

Art Trading Cards (6-9)
 Discuss trading cards, make your own out of our wealth of materials

Susan Eiseman Levitin
 comes to BIQ from a long background of art and education. This is her third year attending and presenting. Currently, she homeschools her 8, 10 and 14 year olds, and is an active member of a number of homeschooled communities.

Multimedia Art (9-12)
 Come see how artists work with a variety of non-traditional ways. Then take a crack at it yourself with a wide variety of materials. 

Origami (6-12)
Come fold paper in that ancient and not so ancient Japanese tradition. 

Geometric Egg Carton Constructions We will explore ways of combining cut up egg cartons to make polyhedral shapes. Who says paper has to be flat? No glitter, glue, googly eyes or pipe cleaners allowed.

Jeannine Mosely
 is a world famous origamist who has been reviewed in the New York Times, the LA Times and who has been profiled in Cabinet Magazine (a fine arts quarterly), More magazine and IEEE Spectrum. Her works have appeared in galleries in Manhattan and Los Angeles, at the MIngei Museum in San Diego and are currently on display at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.

Zome Tools (6-9) Hands-on and interactive discovery session utilizing Zome Tools. Zome Tools are plastic spheres and rods of varying lengths which are designed to connect at various angles. Zome is an excellent tool for enhancing learning in mathematics and science. Zome can be used to build hypercubes, buckyballs, towers, and models, snowflakes and more.

Lorel Shea is a Stay-at-Home Mom and homeschool educator. Her four PG kids range in age from toddler to teen. She lives with her family on ten acres of old New England farmland. Lorel is a gifted editor at and is an active member of various gifted and homeschool communities.

Manners for Mavericks (9-12)
 designed for students ages nine through twelve and their parents, we will explore the many ways in which gifted kids struggle to reconcile their gifts with the expectations of their peer community through a focused group inquiry. We will consider relevant questions and construct a deeper understanding of the challenges of social relationships from the collective wisdom and experiences of those present.

Danielle Shylit is currently the Dean of Studies at Sparhawk School, a progressive and joyous college preparatory independent school in Amesbury, MA. She holds a master’s degree in Critical and Creative Thinking with a concentration in Literature and Arts from the University of Massachusetts, and she obtained her B.A. from Connecticut College with a double major in Music and Cultural Anthropology. The fabric of Danielle's teaching experience has been woven from many diverse educational communities. She has experience teaching general curriculum in private, public, and parochial schools, and at music, dance, and theater arts at various camps and enrichment programs. An associate of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Danielle has directed and choreographed numerous productions for community and educational theater programs. She is also a veteran performer having worked on various professional and local stages from coast to coast. In her spare time, Danielle writes children's fiction, composes, draws, choreographs, and otherwise celebrates imagination with her daughter, Sage, and her husband, Morgan.
Architectural Structure (6-9)
We'll look at Arches, from roman to gothic, and build several of our own.  What make the keystone so important?

Internationally-known Persis Thorndike has been running Children's programming at science fiction conventions, home schooling, and gifted and talented conferences for the past 6 years, and has assisted in the activities room at the New England Folk Festival for over 10 years. Mother of a home-schooled 12-year-old, Persis draws from a broad range of interests to plan captivating and entertaining children's activities to keep kids in the 6-12 age range happy and occupied at conferences and conventions.

Children's programs designed and overseen:
 ConCertino 1999, 2003, 2006 Noreascon 4, 2004 (World Science Fiction Convention) Arisia 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Boskone 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 Learning In Our Own Way home schooling conference, August 2005 Beyond IQ conference May 2006, April 2007, May 2008.

Assisted with: Torcon 3, 2003 (World Science Fiction Convention) Beyond IQ conference May 2004 NEFFA children's activities room, 1996-2006 Maryland Fairy Festival May 2005, May 2006 LA Con IV, September 2006 

Boffer Making (6-12)
Learn the fine art of making your own practice sword or dagger. 

Free Style Costuming (6-12) Use your imagination, create a costume from our vast supply of fabrics, ribbons and trim.

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