Guest Author - Stephanie Ferguson
Developed as a resource compendium for parents and caregivers of gifted children, the NAGC Mile Marker Series provides a plethora of information in an organized and categorized format suitable for use by anyone with an interest in gifted children and their education. This “multidimensional navigational” CD-ROM allows access to pertinent, current, practical information in the form of full-text pdf documents, direct access websites, and fully referenced book, chapter, and journal article citations most of which are annotated for ease of selection.
The format of this CD-ROM resembles a road map representing the journey upon which the user embarks when nurturing gifted children. Along the road there are five mile markers (hence the name of the series) which correspond to various stages of nurturing a gifted child: Discovering Differences – includes information about the characteristics and identification of giftedness along with some popular myths and misconceptions; Exploring the World of G/T – moves beyond the basics to specific information and guidance related to social and emotional issues, ways to appropriately challenge gifted learners, strategies to hone organizational skills, and tips on how to support high achievement both at home and in school; Asking for Directions – provides easy-to-understand advice about what to expect in school such as, programming options, methods of instruction, and educational jargon associated with giftedness; Enlisting Support – presents tips on effective communication with teachers and others involved with your gifted child as you take on the role of advocate; and Making a Difference – details resources to aid in building advocacy efforts on various levels and instructions on how to connect and communicate with stakeholders and decision-makers. These designated mile markers effectively classify the vast amount of information available and distill those resources to a manageable size.
Within each mile marker the user is provided six navigational tools to further categorize the wealth of informational resources: Getting Your Bearings – resources to answer common questions; On Ramps – links to reputable online resources; Excursions – subdivisions of the selected mile marker delving deeper into related areas; Avoiding Delays – hints on how to maneuver around possible roadblocks related to the selected mile marker; Refueling – words of encouragement, motivation and hope for when resources seem depleted; and Extended Stays – suggestions for developing a more thorough understanding by exploring in greater depth. These tools further sort the selected material to focus the user’s attention on a specific subsection. These navigation tools are easy-to-use even for a non-technophile. The user quickly develops an understanding of the classification and navigation system and can move throughout the resource with ease.
One of the most helpful features incorporated into the NAGC Mile Marker Series is the “search” function. Because much of the content contained on the CD-ROM is in Adobe Acrobat .pdf platform, the user is able to search on a particular name or term in order to locate all instances of mention within the content. This feature is extremely helpful for users who are looking for an item written by a particular author, but do not know its exact location within the five mile markers. With little to no effort, the “search” option functions as an index would in a print resource. The resources and materials contained within this CD-ROM were selected by parents and experts in the field of gifted education. The annotations included with many of the items within the series help users identify the resources most suited to address their particular needs. Another useful feature is the user’s ability to “enter” the road map at any mile marker. Although the mile markers are sequentially numbered one through five on the road map splash page, users may access information at whichever mile marker most suits a particular need or interest at any given time. This allows the maximum amount of flexibility for users.
Parents and caregivers will certainly benefit from adding this resource to their virtual libraries. The NAGC Mile Marker Series would be an excellent resource for parent groups as well. However, there are others who would find this resource practical even though its original objective was to provide a comprehensive, initial resource for parents and caregivers of gifted children. Its usefulness definitely extends beyond that objective. Possible applications include incorporation into pre-service teacher training, use with in-service workshops for regular education teachers as well as administrators and school counselors, integration into a unit on understanding giftedness for gifted students, and as a means to promote understanding and garner support for gifted education from the community at-large. The information contained in this CD-ROM may be used and reprinted for non-commercial purposes by completing the ‘Permission from NAGC to Reprint Articles’ form (contained on the CD-ROM) and submitting it to NAGC so that they may compile usage data to support national legislative efforts.
In short, this resource is well-worth the purchase price in time and effort saved from shifting through Internet ‘hits’ of questionable quality and pedigree in order to find applicable information. I highly recommend this CD-ROM for those new to the world of gifted education seeking information quickly as well as those more seasoned of us who are forever trying to lay our hands on that copy of an article we read last year about perfectionism. This resource does indeed deliver a road map to guide the user on a journey of understanding the many facets of giftedness.
Reviewed by Stephanie Ferguson, Director, Program for the Exceptionally Gifted at Mary Baldwin College, Staunton, Virginia (http://www.mbc.edu/peg), who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This review first appeared as:
Ferguson, S. (2009, Winter). Resource round-up: The NAGC mile marker series. Virginia Association for the Gifted Newsletter, 30(2).
Reprinted with permission.