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Upcoming Gifted Education Institutes

Experience institutes that will help you grow as a professional and learn to address contemporary issues in gifted education.

Registration now open! 

Summer 2024 Teaching for Learning Institute

Resources and Strategies that Promote Differentiation and Talent Development for HiCap Learners

HiCap students need advanced instruction matched to their strengths and levels of understanding in order to learn and grow. In this engaging and practical three-day institute we will focus on providing the latest research, resources and strategies that respond to the following questions: How do you differentiate instruction in ways that develop students’ talents and strengths? What evidence-supported curriculum resources and instructional strategies encourage student learning? How do you identify HiCap students and assess their growth? What psychosocial skills do your students need to maximize learning? And, how do we support equitable instruction and identification for all students, particularly those from culturally, linguistically and economically different backgrounds?

  • COLLABORATE with others in the field of gifted education.
  • CREATE new lessons, units and program designs based on evidence-supported frameworks and strategies.
  • CONTRIBUTE your ideas and successes in serving gifted students.


  • Dates: June 26-28, 2024
  • Location: On campus
    Whitworth University
    300 W. Hawthorne Road
    Spokane, WA 99251
  • Time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Cost: $399* per person (includes lunch)
    *School-based teams that register together will receive every sixth registration free; Whitworth University is a Washington state-approved clock hour provider.

Join us for three days of engaging sessions focused on ways we can use or adapt curriculum resources, identify strengths, differentiate instruction and support psychosocial skill development. Each day includes a keynote, breakout session, an in-depth multi-day strand, as well as opportunities to share your ideas and network with others around specific topics of interest. 

Click each link to learn more about our breakout sessions and strand topics, featured speakers and more. Keynote speakers and session descriptions are still being added! 

Daily Schedule

Time Activity
9-10:15 a.m.

Welcome & Keynote Presentation

10:30-11:30 a.m. Daily Breakout Session (choose a different one each day)
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Lunch (provided)

12:45-2:45 p.m.*

Session Strands (choose one strand to attend all three days)

*On Friday, June 28, the session strands will end at 2 p.m. and there will be no roundtables. This allows individuals ample time to travel home. 

3-4 p.m.*

Roundtables, Networking & Reflection

Keynote Sessions

  • Remaining Open: Why Openness to Experience Is Important to Gifted Education – Shelagh Gallagher 
    Advocates often justify gifted education based on the need for future innovators and problem solvers; in other words, for creative experts. One attribute that is increasingly recognized in the psychological literature as essential for creative expertise is the personality attribute of "openness to experiences." The research on openness to experiences raises interesting and potentially challenging questions for identification, curriculum and daily instruction in gifted programs – if cultivating creative expertise is really our aim. In this presentation, we will go from research to practice as we consider the relationship between openness to experience, intelligence, achievement, creativity and a desire for deep, meaning-filled learning. 
  • Advancing Equity in Rural Gifted Education – Amy Azano
    Context influences school funding, curricular options and opportunities for young people; yet rarely does educational practice or policy account for these contextual differences. This keynote presentation will provide an overview of the salient challenges related to rural education, with a focus on equity issues in gifted education, ways to disrupt harmful stereotypes and deficit ideologies, and innovative programs designed to invest in rural students, teachers, schools and communities.
  • Setting and Achieving Realistic and Research-Informed Goals – Matt Makel 
    What do educators want to know before taking action? The need for information can range from conceptions of giftedness, student characteristics and identification practices to expectations for services provided. Making "research-informed" decisions is often praised. But what if relevant research has not been done? Or what if the research was done in a different setting, with different students, in a different time? When can it still be useful? When can it mostly be ignored? This keynote attempts to answer all these questions.

Breakout Sessions & Roundtables

Wednesday, June 26

Breakout Sessions
  • Aligning Domain, Level and Dose – Matt Makel
    Full implementation of local norms in identification may lead to students with a wider variety of learning needs being identified for services. In this session, we talk through a range of services (e.g., in-class differentiation, grouping, acceleration) that can be provided to match the range of learning needs students have. 
  • Place-Based CLEAR Curriculum – Amy Azano
    Based on best practices in gifted education, the CLEAR Curriculum offers teachers a framework for gifted learners. This session will provide an overview of the CLEAR Curriculum and how researchers have incorporated place-based pedagogies in language arts units across several unique contexts. 
  • Hexagonal Thinking – Kristi Stroyan 
    Hexagonal thinking is a strategy that facilitates group discussion and deep connections within content. During this breakout session you will have time to try out the strategy, identify where you can use it, create your own set of terms, and share tips and tricks for implementation as you get students thinking about relationships, connections and new ideas within content areas. 
  • Developing Effective Choice Activities – Reby Parsley
    This session will focus on how to meet the academic needs of highly capable students through the use of choice menus. Participants will explore high-impact teaching strategies (HITS) and engage with current research to better meet the diverse needs of their highly capable students through choice menus. Participants will learn how to use Bloom’s Taxonomy, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, and grade-level and content standards to create intellectually challenging choice menus that extend and enrich students’ classroom experiences. Participants will have the opportunity to collaborate, share and develop activities for choice menus that can be used in their instructional setting. Participants will leave this session with the tools and resources necessary to create choice menus. This session is applicable for all K-12 educators.
  • Add a Problem, a Concept or a Relationship: Three Ways to Differentiate – Tamra Stambaugh 
    This session highlights various ways teachers can differentiate instruction by adding problems and issues with multiple perspectives (depth), concepts and generalizations (abstractness), and relationships, among different content variables (complexity) to differentiate instruction and adjust learning prompts within the general and gifted classroom. 
  • Rural Reflections: Advocacy – Amy Azano
    Let’s brainstorm the various ways we can become advocates and change agents in our rural communities and small towns! 
  • Curriculum Resources Review – Shelagh Gallagher  
    What resources have been kid-tested and teacher-approved in gifted education? Take time to review curriculum resources and to discuss patterns across curriculum resources that have been found effective in supporting gifted student achievement.
  • Using Research to Inform Practice – Matt Makel
    Research is often hidden behind paywalls, written in language that is difficult to understand, and often uses data that looks nothing like the students/schools/communities we engage with every day. Does that mean it should just be ignored? In this roundtable, we'll discuss strategies for if/when/how to help make research more understandable and actionable. 
  • Program Reviews: Frameworks and Structures – Tamra Stambaugh  
    Review tools and frameworks like the NAGC programming standards and CASA as well as other resources to guide decision-making around identification and services.
  • Get Involved in WETAG! – Reby Parsley  
    Learn about state-level advocacy, learning opportunities, and ways to get involved at the local and state level! Meet others in the state and share ideas. Find your people.

Thursday, June 27

Breakout Sessions
  • There’s Art in Me! Using Culturally Diverse Art to Reveal Advanced Abilities in K-3 – Shelagh Gallagher 
    There’s Art In Me!  is a series of culturally relevant arts-based interdisciplinary primary lessons that encourage advanced ability. Lessons feature a diverse array of artists and artistic styles, while reinforcing higher-order thinking and core concepts in science, mathematics and literacy. Come see how Romare Bearden, Alma Thomas, Romeo Britto and Joaquin Torres-Garcia become the source of talent spotting! 
  • Scaffolding and Access to Higher Level Thinking in ELA – Kristi Stroyan 
    The Jacob’s Ladder Reading Comprehension Program is a supplemental reading program which targets reading comprehension and critical thinking skills for all learners. This reading comprehension program is an excellent way to scout for talented, advanced readers and thinkers who would benefit from advanced academic and intellectual services. The skill ladders increase in complexity, making it simple to determine a student’s thinking ability. Participants will be introduced to, learn and experience how to scaffold instruction in reading as a way to provide enriching experiences for all students and also use the model to scout for talents and strengths. 
  • Differentiation in the Classroom: Designing for Students – Jen Flo 
    Imagine a dynamic classroom where students’ needs, strengths, and interests are acknowledged and accommodated.  The teacher is fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment where students feel valued and empowered.  Differentiation is not just about academic content; it also encompasses social-emotional support and cultural responsiveness.  The classroom culture promotes collaboration, critical thinking, and positive mindsets. In this session, we will use a variety of materials to explore our core beliefs about student learning, instructional practices, and construct a model of the classroom to create a space where differentiation is working effectively: every student feels challenged, supported, and motivated to reach their full potential. 
  • The Many Ways of Local Norms Implementation – Matt Makel 
    Local norms can sound like a preset method for identification. But local norms provide numerous options and need for local decisions. This session introduces a framework for assessing identification systems, shows how different assessments can be combined for identification purposes, and gives tips on what to expect when implementing them in your community. 
  • Problem-Solving and Analysis Strategies Within and Across Disciplines   – Tamra Stambaugh 
    How can we empower gifted students to understand real world issues, develop multiple perspectives, and grasp the complexity and interconnectedness of multiple societal and scientific factors involved in solving real-world problems? Through modeling and practice, learn how to incorporate interdisciplinary thinking (ELA/social studies/science) into your lessons, providing your students the tools necessary to solve tomorrow’s problems today. 
  • Rural Reflections: Equity & Policy – Amy Azano
    Come chat about the ways we can critique education policy through an equity lens for rural schools.
  • Using Research to Inform Practice – Matt Makel
    Research is often hidden behind paywalls, written in language that is difficult to understand, and uses data that often looks nothing like students/schools/communities that people live in. Does that mean it should just be ignored? In this roundtable, we'll discuss strategies for if/when/how to help make research more understandable and actionable.
  • Videos, Music and Short Clips as a Catalyst for Social-Emotional Discussions – Tamra Stambaugh   
    Learn how to use TedTalks, video clips and favorite song lyrics to create conversations about social-emotional needs and psychosocial skills.
  • Get Involved Nationally: Info About the National Association for Gifted Children – Shelagh Gallagher  
    Do you want to extend your reach in the field of gifted education? Are you curious about what teachers and leaders in other states are doing? Learn more about what the National Association for Gifted Children provides for teachers, administrators and other leaders in the field and how you can get involved! 
  • Interested in an Endorsement in Gifted Education? – Rebecca O'Brien   
    Learn more about Whitworth’s endorsement program and online courses, cohorts and professional development opportunities. Whitworth is the only endorsement provider in the state of Washington.

Friday, June 28

Breakout Sessions
  • Summer Enrichment for Rural Learners – Amy Azano
    The Summer Enrichment Experience at Virginia Tech (SEE VT) is a residential summer camp designed for middle school students from rural communities. Campers engage in humanities, STEM and social experiences that are place-based and rural-focused. While they are on campus at SEE VT, they are also immersed in the ways we can value and sustain the rural places we love. 
  • Differentiated Concept Maps – Shelagh Gallagher 
    Formal concept maps are an effective, evidence-supported strategy to help students create hierarchies of ideas. But sometimes they seem too open-ended and hard to assess across a classroom of students. It doesn’t have to be that way! They are useful for all students but can be particularly helpful in ensuring that gifted students are challenged to stretch their conceptual thinking. In this session, we will review the basics of hierarchical concept maps and then look at how the elements of a concept map can be applied flexibly to create differentiated assignments for students of differing abilities. 
  • Universal Screening and Local Norms: Use Existing Data Wisely (and Efficiently) to Further Equity in Your Highly Capable Program – Brian Gabele & Jody Hess
    New legislation in Washington state requires universal screening for highly capable students. By using existing data efficiently, you can recognize student strength in specific domains of learning and create a diverse pool of HiCap referrals. Analysis of student data supports differentiation of instruction for advanced learners. Contextualizing student performance using local norms and student growth can further districts’ goals of proportionality in their HiCap programs. 
  • Navigating Learning: Exploring the Interplay of Differentiation and Executive Functioning – Jen Flo 
    Gifted and high-ability students demonstrate advanced cognitive abilities and engage in complex thinking and problem-solving.  Educators of high-ability students experience the asynchrony of executive functioning and differentiation. In this session, we will connect executive function skills such as cognitive flexibility, working memory, organization, task engagement, persistence and social-emotional well-being (asynchronous development can play a significant role in self-regulation and emotional control) with differentiation. Educators will consider and design learning environments to support gifted and high-ability students in navigating challenging academic content and tasks. 
  • Writing Fiction Like an Expert – Tamra Stambaugh
    How do you teach fictional writing in ways that tap into students’ creativity and talent development? Writing involves creativity but also has some form and structures that students can follow. In this session, we will learn a model, vetted by an award winning author, to help students develop characters, conflicts and voice as they create their own fictional pieces. 
No roundtables on Friday.

 Session Strands (choose one to attend all three days)

  • Context Matters: Understanding Rural – Amy Azano
    This three-part “deep dive” series will focus on the ways in which context influences teaching and learning. In this first session, the presenter will provide an overview of rural education with a specific focus on rural issues in Washington. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in community asset mapping to prep for curriculum building in later sessions. In the second session, the presenter will provide an overview of place-based and critical placed pedagogies. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in several hands-on activities they can take into their classrooms. In this final session, participants will build their own place-based lesson planning for gifted learners. 
  • Problem-Based Learning for Gifted Students:  Design & Instruction – Shelagh Gallagher  
    Curious about problem-based learning (PBL)? Ready to try your own unit but don’t know where to start?  Want to pick up a unit and feel capable of getting off to a good start? This deep dive will focus on all of these. Day one will provide a general introduction and a chance to experience the beginning of a PBL unit from the student’s point of view. On day two, we will look at PBL design, and on day three, time is set aside for discussion about implementation. Come ready for lots of hands-on involvement!
  • Dynamic Strategies for Differentiating and Scaffolding Curriculum for Gifted Learners – Reby Parsley  
    In this deep dive session, learn evidence-based approaches to differentiate curriculum for high ability and high potential students. Through hands-on activities, explore instructional protocols designed to facilitate the analysis, synthesis and application of the curricular content and make connections to your district’s curriculum. Delve into protocols such as hexagonal thinking, text rendering, paired texts and analysis carousels, while also discussing scaffolding techniques suitable for diverse ability levels, providing a solid foundation for effective differentiation in all types of gifted education settings. And, best of all, you will have created lesson plans you can take with you into next school year. 
  • Cluster Grouping How-To and Other Classroom-Based Strategies for Support – Rebecca O’Brien  
    With many districts and schools re-examining how to best serve their students within the constraints of budgets and resources, many are turning to in-class strategies. Cluster grouping is often the first choice for supporting our high ability and high potential learners in the classroom. But how do we do it? What does it look like? How do we do it well? Join this three-day deep dive as we discuss cluster grouping and other strategies for classroom-based support to grow and challenge our highly capable students.
  • Developing a Strategy to Achieve Your Programmatic Goals – Matt Makel  
    This session introduces a process that aims to help attendees go from dissatisfaction with current status (e.g., little administrative support for services) to a concrete plan for achieving their desired goals. Attendees will each be able to draft and revise their goals, receive feedback on their plans, and engage with each other in a role play through potentially difficult conversations to help them prepare for their success.
This is a draft schedule and is subject to change. 

Additional Information

Academic Credit/Clock Hours

You may elect to receive one graduate-level credit from Whitworth University for an additional fee of $150. There will be additional course assignments for those receiving graduate-level credit. This credit can be used to meet the elective requirement for the Washington State Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement offered at Whitworth. One graduate-level semester credit equals 15 Washington state-approved clock hours. Registration for credit will occur during the institute.

Washington state-approved clock hours will also be available for $3 per clock hour with a total of 16 clock hours available. Contact if you have questions. Additional information will be sent regarding signing up for clock hours to all registrants prior to the conference. 

Payment Information & Cancellation/Refund Policy

Payments with credit cards can be made via the online registration form. We also accept checks and purchase orders. Please email purchase orders to or mail them to:

Whitworth University
Center for Gifted Education
300 W. Hawthorne Road
Spokane, WA 99251

All monies less $25 processing fee will be refunded if paid registrations are canceled by 5 p.m. PST on Friday, June 19, 2024. After June 19, no refund is provided. Contact the Center for Gifted Education at or 509.777.3383 to cancel your registration and request a refund.

Hotel Accommodations

Need a place to stay? Hotels near campus, with discounts, can be found here

Featured Speakers

Amy Azano, Ph.D.

Amy Price Azano is a professor of education and teaches doctoral and master's level courses at Virginia Tech. Her scholarship focuses on rural education and literacy research. She is the co-principal investigator of Promoting PLACE (Place, Literacy, Achievement, Community and Engagement) in Rural Schools, a five-year, 1.9 million dollar U.S. Department of Education grant designed to support gifted education programs in high-poverty rural communities. Her previous academic appointment was at the University of Virginia’s National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented where she worked as a research scientist and project manager on two federally funded grants. Azano is the elected secretary/treasurer of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Rural Education SIG, a member of the Rural Education International Research Alliance, co-director of the Rural School-Community Partnership Research Consortium, serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Research in Rural Education, and was the guest co-editor for a rural themed issue of the Journal of Advanced Academics. She regularly presents on rural education at AERA, the Literacy Research Association, most recently at the International Symposium for Innovation in Rural Education, and has been an invited speaker on rural education in England and Australia. Azano has several book chapters, a curriculum series with Prufrock Press, and over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles, including several published in top tier journals, such as Review of Research in EducationAERA OpenJournal of Research in Rural Education and American Educational Research Journal.

Shelagh A. Gallagher, Ph.D.

Shelagh Gallagher's career in gifted education spans over 30 years, with positions including classroom teacher, school administrator, founding team member for two schools for gifted students, and 13 years as a professor, researcher, writer and director of two national curriculum grants at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte). Gallagher is currently director of engaged education at UNC Charlotte, where she works with educators from Charlotte to Kazakhstan, conducting research, writing curriculum and contributing to policy initiatives. She is co-author of the national policy report "Americans Agree" and leads the North Carolina Talent Delayed/Talent Denied advocacy initiative. Gallagher has received the Distinguished Service Award and the James J. Gallagher Award for Advocacy from the North Carolina Association for Gifted and Talented, the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence from UNC Charlotte, and the Article of the Year Award from NAGC’s journal,Gifted Child Quarterly. Gallagher is an eight-time winner of the NAGC Curriculum Award for her problem-based learning curriculum. She is also the recipient of the Person of SIGnificance award from the National Society for Gifted and Talented. She is currently in her third term as U.S. delegate to the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. In September 2023, she became president-elect of the National Association for Gifted Children after serving three terms on their board of directors.  She is a reading mentor to 4th-grade students, and each summer she spends a few weeks with gifted youth at Camp Yunasa.

Matthew C. Makel, Ph.D.

Matthew Makel is professor and research chair in high abilities studies in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. His research focuses on academic talent development and open science research methods. In talent development, he investigates the equitable allocation of gifted identification and services as well as how schools can better meet student learning needs. In open science, he explores how to improve research transparency and rigor so that society can better understand the generalizability, reproducibility and replicability of research findings. He also co-edited "Toward a More Perfect Psychology: Improving Trust, Accuracy and Transparency in Research" with Jonathan Plucker (American Psychological Association) and "From Giftedness to Gifted Education: Reflecting Theory in Practice" with Jonathan Plucker and Anne Rinn (Prufrock Press). Makel has earned degrees from Duke University, Cornell University and Indiana University.

Whitworth Faculty and Washington State Speakers

Rebecca L. O'Brien, Ph.D.

Rebecca O'Brien is currently an assistant professor of gifted education in the graduate studies of education department at Whitworth University. She received her Ph.D. in educational psychology with a concentration in giftedness, creativity and talent development from the University of Connecticut. Before receiving her doctorate, she taught science, math and robotics at a middle school in Baton Rouge, La. Her research primarily focuses on characteristics and behaviors that encourage and limit the identification of high potential behaviors, particularly in students from underserved populations. Additionally, O'Brien has experience and professional interest in assessment, instrument development and teacher learning.

Tamra Stambaugh, Ph.D.

Tamra Stambaugh is an associate professor and the Margo Long Endowed Chair in Gifted Education at Whitworth University. Stambaugh is the co-author/editor of several articles, monographs, book chapters, and award-winning books and curriculum units. Her research interests are focused on curriculum and instructional interventions for promoting talent development and expertise as well as strategies and systems for identifying and serving students from low income and rural settings. Stambaugh is a reviewer for several journal articles in the field and serves on the Gifted Child Quarterly advisory board, the American Educational Research Association Gifted SIG executive committee, and the National Association for Gifted Children board of directors. Prior to her role at Whitworth University, Stambaugh was the executive director of Programs for Talented Youth and an associate research professor at Vanderbilt University. She received her Ph.D. from the College of William & Mary. Prior to moving to higher education, Stambaugh was a HiCap teacher and coordinator of gifted programs at the local and regional state level.

Reby Parsley, Ed.D.

Reby Parsley earned her doctoral degree in education leadership with an emphasis in gifted education from the University of Washington. Her dissertation evaluated the impact of elementary talent development models on academic growth and identification rates of minority students for gifted education services. Prior to earning her doctorate, she earned a master's of education from the University of Washington in curriculum and instruction and a bachelor's in elementary education from Saint Martin's University. Parsley has a national board certification in early and middle childhood literacy and holds a superintendent credential. She currently works as the secondary gifted specialist in the Kent School District and as an adjunct professor at Whitworth University. In all, she has 14 years of classroom teaching experience, most being in self-contained and gifted cluster classrooms. She also serves as president of the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted.

Jen Flo

Jen Flo has been an educator for over 25 years. As a private and public school teacher, she worked in a variety of general education and gifted education programs. It was during her tenure as an enrichment teacher that she began to truly understand the unique needs of gifted and talented students. Driven by her own need to learn, she joined the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted, volunteering to train with a newly formed cadre of Washington trainers. Flo recently served as president of the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted and has served nearly a decade overall with the organization as a board member and conference presenter. She earned a master's degree in gifted and talented education at Whitworth University. Her interest in addressing the unmet needs of students led her into program evaluation, where she developed a guidebook to assist districts with internal program evaluation. Currently, she is the regional administrator for advanced learning and teacher support with Capital Region Educational Service District 113, overseeing two multi-district consortiums and supporting advanced learning and comprehensive induction support for new educators. Flo consults with districts and schools in the areas of gifted and talented education and also serves on the Washington State OSPI advisory committee for gifted education and as an adjunct instructor in gifted education at Whitworth University. 

Jody Hess

Jody Hess serves as program supervisor for highly capable at OSPI and is project director for Jacob K. Javits Project HiCapPLUSAccess and Equity online professional learning modules. A former paraprofessional, teacher, HiCap coordinator, principal and district administrator, Jody has experience using a variety of identification and service delivery models for advanced learners. She has particular interest in talent development strategies to help recognize and serve “harder to find” underserved students such as multilingual learners, students with disabilities and those affected by poverty. Jody was nominated by a former student and awarded the SDB Fellowship of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth. She was proud to be recognized by WA Association of Educators of Talented and Gifted (WAETAG) for the Kari DeMarco Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023.

Brian Gabele

Brian Gabele is the director of assessment and program evaluation at the Clover Park School District in Pierce County, Wash. He specializes in educational research with a focus on student growth and assessment processes. Gabele has worked as a K-12 administrator since 2011 and has served at Seattle Public Schools, the Kent School District and the Clover Park School District. His latest work focuses on improving proportionality in district referral processes using unique norming approaches and pre-existing academic data to identify prospective highly capable students who would not have been identified using traditional screening processes.

Kristi Stroyan

Kristi Stroyan has been in the field of gifted education since 2006. With a background in reading and literacy and a passion for gifted education, she enjoys leading educators to deepen their understanding of gifted students and develop skills to target their unique needs. She is currently teaching language arts and social studies at a highly capable program in Spokane. Stroyan fosters an environment of intellectual curiosity and supports the holistic development of her students. Through her combined roles as an educator and presenter, Stroyan is dedicated to empowering individuals to reach their full potential. 

After attending Whitworth's Institute on Differentiation last summer, I decided almost immediately that Whitworth was the best place to continue my education. The depth of knowledge, professionalism, and caring communication I saw from everyone I met there made Whitworth my clear decision.

Nick Castilleja, M.A.T., Gifted & Talented

Spring 2025 Virtual Institute

Information coming soon!