Here are some of the topics I have spoken on. If there are some not here that you would like, I can tailor a presentation to fit your needs:


  • Finding a New Carrot

    • For years, schools have used grades as the carrot to try and get kids to play the game of school. We hold these in front of them, making them compliant under threat of taking away the carrot by giving them poor grades. This worked well for the child who cared about grades, but what about those who do not? How do we get them excited about learning? We cannot subscribe to a one-size fits all education where we teach a certain way and expect kids to fall in line. Instead of dangling this single carrot, we need to think of education as being ‘a la carte, where students have choice in how and what they are learning. We need to approach school as though every student has a different carrot and it is our job to figure out what that carrot is, and how to provide it for them.

  • Tired of SMART Goals, Try Some DUMB Ones

    • According the Pathways for Prosperity, when employers from around the world were asked what attributes they seek in employees, they listed leadership, teamwork, and initiative as their top skills. The problem of course is that because it is difficult to measure or put a grade on such skills, we marginalize them in favor of content standards. We should be focusing on these DUMB (Discipline/professional skills Used to Make students Balanced) goals instead of the easy to measure content that meets the requirements of a SMART goal, but does not necessarily prepare our children for the real world. This will create people that can not only survive in the work force, but thrive because they possess skills that many of their contemporaries do not.

  • Gamechangers: The Power of Authentic Learning

    • Engagement levels of students goes down the longer they are in school. What if schools were a place students go to love learning? What if you could empower every student in your classroom through authentic learning? We need to make the learning experiences our students have be more authentic. This means having authentic lessons with authentic outcomes. Most importantly, it means being an authentic teacher who engages students. Authentic learning can be a very powerful way to educate students. It can change the way students learn as well as the way you teach.

  • The Unopened Gift

    • Some children are born with gifts but for one reason or another, choose not to develop them. Some of these reasons might be peers, social and emotional issues, home life, fear of standing out, or too much pressure to live up to the expectations. When these gifts go unused some students risk losing their ability to use them. Why do some children choose not to use their gifts? What can be done to identify these students who are not using their gifts? How can we help them to see the value in using their gifts? These are the questions that will be explored in this keynote.


Hooray for Diffendoofer Day

This keynote takes the educational philosophy from the Dr. Seuss book, Hooray for Diffendoofer Day, where students are taught not just content and material, but how to think. This is something we need to be doing with our gifted students in the classroom. Rather than having them memorize content and spit it back out, they should be encouraged to think and as a result, learn for themselves. This is all very well and good in theory, but what does it look like in practice? Specific strategies and examples will be provided such as project-based learning, critical thinking, problem solving, evaluation, and debate.


Can work one-on-one, with small groups, or an entire staff. Workshops are typically half to a full day PD.

Topics for workshops

  • Project-Based Learning

  • Case-Based Learning

  • Authentic Learning

  • Rubrics

  • STEM/PBL Process

  • Developing higher level questions

  • Underachievement

General Gifted Topics

  • Myths of Gifted Children

    • There are many myths associated with gifted children such as they love school and get great grades, they will succeed in life no matter what, and have trouble socially fitting in. This presentation seeks to demystify some of these myths and get a truer picture of these children. It also will look at the social/emotional impact a lot of these myths have on students and what can be done to help them deal with it.

  • Gifted Programming: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

    • There are a lot of different ways to offer gifted programming in a district. Rather than approaching it from a one size fits all, you need to assess the needs of your district as well as individual buildings and offer services that address the specific talents of the gifted population as well as the district's resources. The most important thing is getting the best service for the resource. This session will look at examples of how this has been done effectively as well as not so great fits. 

  • The Gifted Magnet Program

    • Should there be a separate program for students who are identified as gifted or as the naysayers claim, is it elitist? This session makes a case for the great benefits of placing gifted students in magnet programs both academically and socially/emotionally. Will look at specific magnet programs, their set up, and their long-term success. 

  • How to Use Extra-Curricular Activities to Meet the Needs of Your Gifted Population

    • Learning does not just need to occur within the school day or in the classroom. There are tons of authentic experiences students can have by participating in extra-curriculars geared toward challenging the minds of gifted students. For instance, students participating in Model United Nations not only learn how to form an argument and defend it through public speaking, they gain a global awareness as well. Chess teaches kids logic in the form of strategy as well as critical thinking and problem solving. Future City Builders allows students to be creative about what they envision cities of the future might look like and how they can best utilize technology to make it more environmentally friendly. This session will look at the benefits of such programs and offer plenty of choices to match the right program with the right level of kid.

  • The Difference Between Gifted and Bright

    • We often lump the terms gifted and bright together. There are certainly bright students who are gifted, and gifted students who are bright. But these two do not go hand in hand. There is a distinction between the two which is important to understand when figuring out ways to best challenge these students. This session will provide an overview as to the different between gifted and bright and what you can do to try to achieve both of these qualities in your gifted students. 

Social/Emotional Education

  • Using Advisory Groups and Town Hall Meetings to Meet the Social/ Emotional Needs of Gifted Students

    • As schools we often address the academic needs of our students, but how well are we meeting the social/emotional needs of our gifted students? It can be argued that this sometimes is more important than the academic, and yet schools sometimes do not put into place a space for students to do this. I will be talking about how our gifted team called the Gateway Program has used town hall meetings and advisory groups to address these needs for our students.

  • The Social/Emotional Causes of Underachievement

    • Underachievement affects anywhere from 10 to 50% of gifted students. This session will look at the social/emotional causes of underachievement such as peers, fear of failure, home life, low frustration levels, a lack of impulse control, perfectionism, and obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as provide strategies that teachers and parents can use to help students to have these needs met so they can achieve to the level of their potential.

  • Underachievement Amongst Gifted Students

    • Many gifted students do not perform at the level they are capable. Why is this? What can be done to help them? Like most things, there is no one answer. This presentation will look at ten causes of underachievement amongst gifted students and strategies that can be used to combat it. Will begin by looking at the picture book The Unopened Gift. In it, a student is presented with a gift but offers many excuses why he cannot open it. This will spark a discussion about why a student underachieves. After this, we will look at ten causes of underachievement amongst gifted students. Each strategy will be discussed as well as three strategies for how to overcome this problem.

  • Profiles of Underachievement

    • This session would involve looking at the profiles of gifted underachieving students and the causes for their underachievement. Included in these profiles would be multiple strategies that could be employed to help the student overcome the underachievement. This would be a session for gifted teachers of all grade levels since underachievement can affect even the youngest of children.

Project-Based Learning

  • Project-Based Learning in the Gifted Classroom

    • Taken from the book of the same name, will look at the basic tenets of Project-Based Learning including ways to vary the structure of a project including teacher vs. student-led, the frequency used in the classroom, one subject area vs. integration, individual vs. collaborative work, and curriculum vs. inquiry based. Also includes the three Rs of project-based learning which are readiness, responsibility, and relevance. 

  • The Power of Project-Based Learning

    • Give a basic overview of Project-Based Learning including why one would use project-based learning in the classroom and the benefits for students. Then provides a specific example for how one would set up a project to allow people to see what this looks like in the classroom. Teachers will also learn and receive templates for the basic tools that set up a project including a contract, calendar, and a rubric.

  • Using Projects to Build Capacity

    • Projects put students in a real-world setting and ask them to complete a task meeting the requirements as laid out by the project. Projects teach students how to learn for themselves. It also has other advantages such as collaboration, public speaking, and organization, all 21st century skills that would benefit any student. By using projects in your classroom you will be building maximum capacity to the point that you will have 30 teachers in the classroom rather than 30 students. This session will look at how to set up projects for the classroom following an example to illustrate, as well as how to manage it once students have begun.

      Available at GT Ignite at

  • Using the STEM Process in Your Project-Based Learning

    • The STEM design process involves asking, imagining, planning, creating, and revising. This cycle fits nicely into the model of project-based learning where students are creating an authentic product to show what they have learned. This shows you how you can incorporate the STEM design process into your projects to ensure maximize learning can take place. Part of this is creating a safe classroom environment where students are permitted to take risks. By doing this, you are giving students permission to fail, which is where the most learning takes place.

  • How Projects Lend Themselves to Teaching Creativity

    • We all want students to develop their creativity but how can they do this in today's day and age of curriculum, content standards, and testing? The simple answer is projects. Projects allow for students to have a lot of choice in the content, product, and pace, allowing them opportunities to be creative and to think outside of the box. Also goes over what creative thinking is and is not, how to foster this in the PBL classroom, and using the combination of logic and imagination to create something creative. 

  • Coaching in the Classroom

    • In the project-based learning classroom the role of the teacher looks very different than a traditional classroom. No longer are you the sage from the stage, rather you become the guide from the side. Your main job is to observe from a distance but let the students do most of the heavy lifting. But what does this look like? How do you achieve a classroom environment where you are tapping into the vast intelligence of your gifted students without having to spoon feed them the information? The answer; by coaching them in the classroom. This session will give teachers pointers on how to coach in the classroom rather than teach when working on projects. Strategies that will be talking about will be setting up the classroom. conferencing, managing stress, group work, and giving students space.

Teaching Strategies for Gifted Students

  • How to Ask Higher Level Questions

    • Questioning is the most powerful tool in a teaching repertoire. Being able to ask higher-level questions is a good way to differentiate in your class and challenge students. Using Bloom’s teachers can ask or write higher-level questions that will open up all sorts of avenues for rich dialogue, deep responses, and challenge your gifted students. It is more than just asking the right questions. It is about setting the culture in your classroom

  • Using Rubrics in the Classroom

    • Rubrics are a valuable way for teachers to assess students in non-traditional, performance-based assessments, many of which require students to employ 21stcentury skills. The argument some people make against them though is that rubrics are often subjective because they are based on the teacher’s opinion rather than an objective multiple-choice question where there is a single correct answer. What if you could create rubrics that are objective, evaluating students on a consistent basis? What if you could create rubrics that are tailormade to the skills students will be demonstrating in the performance-assessment? This session will show you step-by-step how to create objective rubrics that can be used to evaluate student performance. This way the rubrics you are using to evaluate students are specific to their understanding rather than just a general one that does not always apply or leaves too much room for subjectivity. 

  • Five Simple Strategies for Working with Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom

    • Looks at five specific strategies. that tend to work well at getting gifted students thinking and reaching their potential. Higher level thinking, flexible grouping, differentiated centers, teaching interactively, and high expectations/rigor are all looked at in depth with examples for what this might look like in the classroom. 

  • Effective Feedback

    • John Hattie’s Visible Learning showed that effective feedback can be one of the best ways to grow a student. Often times though we give a student back their grade and yet they have no idea why they received what they did. We need to be more purposeful in the feedback we provide to students, both in written and oral form. This session will show what effective feedback looks like as well as providing strategies for doing so with your students.

  • Blooms 101

    • An in-depth overview of what Bloom's Taxonomy is, and more importantly, how it can be used to challenge gifted students. Looks specifically at how the levels of analyze, evaluate, and create can be utilized to make students think more and how this manifests itself in the classroom. Will show teachers how to balance the lower Bloom's with the higher in order to have a lesson that is both informative and rigorous. 

  • Toolbox for Working with Gifted Students

    • There is more than one way to work with gifted students. It is best for teachers to develop a toolbox of strategies for working with gifted students that both fits the need of the student and the capability of the teacher. This session will look at ten of these strategies, ranging from pre-assessment and in-class enrichment options, to outside learning experiences and academic competitions, as well as how involved each of these strategies will be to the overall classroom. 

  • Using Technology with Gifted Students

Authentic Learning

  • Authentic Learning – Methods that Engage Students in the Classroom

    • This session will discuss how authentic learning engages students and makes them more connected to what they are learning. This is especially pertinent with gifted students who are more likely to become bored with what is going on in the classroom and shutting down as a result. 

  • Case-Based Learning

    • Session looks at case-based learning and how it can be used to create an authentic classroom where students look at real-world problems. This falls under the umbrella of inquiry learning which is perfect for gifted students because it allows them to be curious and explore their thoughts and ideas. 

  • Problem-Based Learning

    • Problem-based learning is one of the tenants of authentic learning. It looks at a real-world problem and then turns young student minds on ways they can solve it. What could be more authentic than that? This session will show teachers how they can use this valuable strategy in the classroom.

  • Capstones

    • Will discuss the rationale for using capstones and how to identify when one might be a good thing for a class and/or student. Discuss the benefits of a capstone for students learning and achievement and how it can be used on a SLO for teachers to show growth. Will be looking at several examples of various capstones to give teachers and students choice in how it might look in their classroom. Why this is a good vehicle for showing growth amongst gifted and other higher achieving students. Also acts as a showcase for your classroom.

21st Century Skills

  • The Importance of 21st Century Skills in the Classroom

    • With the focus on SMART goals where we look at data and measurable growth in education, we have turned our back on some of the hard to measure skills that we once taught regularly. As a result, students are not learning the valuable 21st century skills that will allow them to be successful later in life. Skills such as public speaking, working in groups, leadership, creativity, critical thinking, and adaptability. How valuable are these skills.

  • Student Learning Conferences

    • In a gifted classroom the process is almost if not more important than the product that students complete to demonstrate mastery. The question is how do you evaluate this process? One way is using student learning conferences. In these conferences the role of the teacher is as facilitator, allowing students to do most of the talking. Through these teachers discover obstacles, successes, and methods of how the students are learning

  • Performance-Based Assessment

    • There are several reasons performance-based assessment is important to implement in the classroom. Many performance-based assessments teach valuable 21st century skills that employers are looking for. It also helps with enduring understanding so that students are not just memorizing facts for the test that will soon be forgotten but instead are learning a life-long skill that will make them valuable in the workforce. Teachers will walk away from this session with a general understanding of performance-based assessment and how they can use them in the classroom to help gifted students achieve exponential growth.

  • The Use of Independent Studies in the Gifted Classroom

    • Many times gifted students are able to race through the tasks teachers have set out before them or already have a good understanding of a topic so have no need to stay with the rest of the class to learn. What if they were able to expand their understanding by working on an independent study instead? This session shows teachers how to set up independent studies using student contracts, calendars, and rubrics. 

  • Using Project Management to Create 21st Century Classrooms

    • What if teachers managed their classrooms like a business, providing students projects much like an employer would? This presentation shows teachers how to create such projects for students including writing memos, running meetings, performance reviews, and other such business strategies to create 21st century learners.

  • Guiding Students to Successful Collaboration

    • Having trouble getting students to work successfully in groups? Want to learn strategies for helping your students to do so? Being able to work in groups and collaborate with peers is a valuable 21st century skill. This session with provide tools for facilitating this and give concrete examples to work from.


Here are some of the venues where I am or have presented:

December 2019 OAGC Coordinators’ Conference

“Raising the Rigor with Higher-Level Questioning”

December 2019 Texas Association for Gifted and Talented Fall Conference - San Antonio, Texas

Workshop Using the STEM Process in Your Project-Based Learning

November 2019 Trumbull County ESC - Trumbull County, Ohio

Innovation Day

“Creating Rubrics for Hard to Measure Skills”

“Making a Case for Case-Based Learning”

“Hooray for Diffendoofer Day: Creating Thinkers in Your Classroom”

October 2019 Ohio Association for Gifted Children Fall Conference - Columbus, Ohio

“Using Rubrics to Grade Hard to Assess Skills”

October 2019 Mercer County ESC - Celina, Ohio

“The Difference Between Bright and Gifted”

“Using Rubrics to Grade Hard to Assess Skills”

“Profiles of an Underachiever”


October 2019 Katy Independent School District - Katy, Texas

“Toolbox for Working with Gifted Students

Workshop on creating authentic learning strategies

September 2019 WCOAGC - Cox Arboretum, Montgomery County, Ohio

“Raising the Rigor with Higher-Level Questioning”

September 2019 Hancock ESC - Hancock County, Ohio

Workshop on creating STEM Project-Based Learning

August 2019 Lisbon Exempted Village Schools - Lisbon, Ohio

The Social and Emotional Causes of Underachievement in Gifted Learners”

“Authentic Learning – Methods that Engage Students in the Classroom”

August 2019 Circleville City Schools - Circleville, Ohio

Workshop with middle school staff on writing rigorous short-cycled assessments


July 2019 World Council for Gifted and Talented Children Conference - Nashville, Tennessee

“Underachievement Amongst Gifted Students: How to Diagnose and Cure It”

“Engaging Our Gifted Students Using Authentic Learning”

June 2019 Ohio Leadership Training Conference - Columbus, Ohio

“Qualities of True Leadership”

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May 2019 Hawker Brownlow Thinking and Learning Conference - Melbourne, Australia

 “Authentic Learning to Create Real-World Experiences for 21st-Century Learners

 “What Does Problem-Based Learning Look Like in the Authentic Classroom?

 “What Does Case-Based Learning Look Like in the Authentic Classroom

How to Measure 21st-Century Skills, Creating DUMB Goals for Students

March 2019        Butler Country ESC

“Enriching the Creative Thinker”


March 2019        North Point ESC– Sandusky, Ohio

“Using Project-Based Learning in the Classroom” Workshop


February 2019    OAGC Teacher’s Academy– Columbus, Ohio

“The Use of Independent Studies in the Gifted Classroom”                 

January 2019      Pickerington Innovation Conference - Pickerington, Ohio

Workshops on project-based learning and the creation of rubrics

December 2018   Indiana Association for Gifted– Indianapolis, Indiana  

 “Using the STEM Design Process in Your Project-Based Learning”


December 2018   Ohio Association for Gifted Children Coordinator’s Workshop– Worthington, Ohio

 “The Social and Emotional Causes of Underachievement in Gifted Learners”



November 2018   Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Institutes – Fort Worth, Texas

“Project-Based Learning Workshop”

“Authentic Learning Strategies Workshop”

“The Myths of Gifted Children”

“Tired of SMART goals, Try Some DUMB Ones”



November 2018   National Association for Gifted Children Annual Conference – Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Authentic Learning: Methods for Engaging Gifted Students in the Classroom”

“The Right Tool for the Job: Technology to Promote Curiosity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Problem Solving” (co-presenting)

October 2018      Ohio Association for Gifted Children Fall Conference – Columbus, Ohio

“Authentic Learning – Methods that Engage Students in the Classroom”


September 2018   CSE Ohio High Schools That Work Principal and Site Coordinator Forum– Columbus, Ohio

Provided the keynote “Finding Their Carrot” about how to motivate students.

August 2018        Tri-Village Schools – New Madison, Ohio

Introduction to the book “When Smart Kids Underachieve” which staff is reading as professional development.


August 2018       SENG Conference– Otterbein College, Ohio

“The Social/Emotional Causes of Underachievement”

“Using Advisory Groups and Town Hall Meetings to Meet the Social/ Emotional Needs of Gifted Students”


August 2018       Big Think Event – Hilliard, Ohio

“Tired of SMART Goals, Try Some DUMB Ones – The Importance of 21stCentury Skills in the Classroom” 


July 2018           Montgomery County ESC – Dayton, Ohio

“Using Project-Based Learning in the Classroom Workshop”

June 2018          Educators Connect for Success Conference– Polaris, Ohio

“Authentic Learning – Methods that Engage Students in the Classroom”


June 2018          Newark City Schools Workshop­– Newark, Ohio

“How to Create Performance-Based Projects in the Classroom”


May 2018           West Central Ohio Association for Gifted Children – Dayton, Ohio

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Discussion about the book “When Smart Kids Underachieve”


April 2018         Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Leadership Conference– Plano, Texas

Game Changers keynote address during the Opening MasterMinds Session focusing on authentic learning and its influence on building     passion and purpose in students

“Profiles of Underachievers”


February 2018    Ohio Association for Gifted Children Teacher’s Academy – Columbus, Ohio

“Profiles of an Underachiever”

 “Workshop on Project-Based Learning”



February 2018    Bloom-Carroll Schools Workshop – Bloom-Carroll, Ohio

“The Importance of 21stCentury Skills in the Classroom”


January 2018      Delaware Parent Association – Delaware, Ohio

“The Myths of Gifted Children”


January 2018      Pickerington Innovation Conference– Pickerington, Ohio

“Teaching Methods that Engage Students”

December 2017   Ohio Association for Gifted Children Coordinator’s Workshop– Worthington

“How Project-Based Learning Lends Itself to Creativity”


October 2017      Ohio Association for Gifted Children Fall Conference – Columbus, Ohio

“Underachievement Amongst Gifted Students”



September 2017   Columbus Public Schools Workshop– Columbus, Ohio

“Using Project-Based Learning in the Classroom Workshop”


June 2017          OAGC Summer Academy– Westerville, Ohio

“Application of Appropriate Technologies to Support Assessment, Planning, and Delivery” 


May 2017           Educators Connect for Success Conference– The Ohio State University

“Empowering Students Through the Use of Project Based Learning”


February 2017    Kentucky Association for Gifted Education – Lexington, Kentucky 

“Using Rubrics in the Classroom”



February 2017    Ohio Association for Gifted Children Teacher’s Academy – Columbus, Ohio

“Taking Standards to the Next Level Using Higher Level Questioning”


January 2017      Pickerington Innovation Conference– Pickerington, Ohio

“How to Ask Students Higher Level Questions”

 “Signs of Underachievement Amongst Students and Strategies for Reversing”


October 2016      Ohio Association for Gifted Children Fall Conference – Columbus, Ohio

“Using Projects to Reach Maximum Capacity in Your Gifted Classroom”


March 2016        Ohio Association for Gifted Children Teacher’s Academy – Columbus, Ohio

“How to Use Student Learning Conferences in Your Gifted Classroom”


January 2016      Pickerington Innovation Conference– Pickerington, Ohio

“Project-Based Learning”

“Performance Assessments: Breaking the Bubble”

“Capstones for Raising the Rigor in Your Class”



October 2015      Ohio Association for Gifted Children Fall Conference – Columbus, Ohio

“Using Project Management to Create 21stCentury Classrooms”


March 2015        Ohio Association for Gifted Children Teacher’s Academy – Columbus, Ohio

“Performance-Based Assessment”


March 2014        Ohio Association for Gifted Children Teacher’s Academy – Columbus, Ohio

“Guiding Students to Successful Collaboration”


March 2013        Ohio Association for Gifted Children Teacher’s Academy – Columbus, Ohio

“Coaching in the Classroom”


October 2012      Ohio Association for Gifted Children Fall Conference – Columbus, Ohio

“Using Rubrics in the Classroom”


October 2011      Ohio Association for Gifted Children Fall Conference– Columbus, Ohio

“Project-Based Learning in the Gifted Classroom”