March 23, 2009

2009 PARIS SPELLING BEE For more information on the bee, visit the new blog:

March 8, 2009

March 7, 2009
They say that we are better educated than our parents' generation.
What they mean is that we go to school longer. It is not the same thing.
~ Richard Yates-

Dear Friends,

This newsletter is full of news, so please take a few minutes to read through it:


  • Executive Function and Gifted Children, with guest speaker Zara Harris. (We still have room for few more parents)
    • Thursday March 12 19h30-22h00. RSVP Mandatory. Subject: Executive Function
  • GiF Membership Dues: Save 10€ on your family membership before April 1.
  • Gifted 101: March 17, 09h30-12h30 Coffee and DVD presentation.
  • Science and Invention Kudos to three parents: Karen Kyker, Ted Lazo, Pablo Martinez Diaz!!


  • 2009 Spelling Bee Registration deadline is April 1 and
  • Preliminary Written Test for those who are registered is April 4.
  • Invention and Problem Solving : March 22, 14h30h-17h00.What did a captured WWII soldier do when he was cut off from communicating with his family and fellow prisoners? Location: Near St. Germain-en-Laye.
  • Science and Invention Day: May 16, will be scaled back to a smaller event due to budget constraints.
  • 2009 Spelling Bee Oral Finals: June 7, for final contestants.

Thursday March 12, 2009 19h30-22h00

Guest Speaker: Zara Harris, Occupational Therapist (Her resume/CV is attached)
RSVP: Mandatory, Subject: Executive Function
Cost: 10€ euros for non-members, Free for members.
"Executive Function is the capacity to have a goal, follow it through to the completion while not being put off by distractions or competing interests. Plus, the ability to revise plans in the face of obstacles, setbacks, new information or mistakes.

Executive Function is largely the responsibility of the pre-frontal cortex in the brain, which is the last part of the brain to mature. It is not related to the thinking part of the brain therefore it is not unusual for gifted students to have weak executive functioning. In other words they know what to do but can’t do what they know. The student may do his or her homework but forget to hand it in. Their grades suffer, not because they do not know the academic content but because they are poor managers of time and organizers of their belonging, they may be described as 'The absent-minded professor.'

Zara will describe, "what executive function is, how it develops and how weak EF can interfere with a gifted child’s ability to perform academically and socially at the level of their potential." She will, "suggest strategies that parents can use to compensate for EF challenges to include time management, planning, organization, poor short term memory and self-regulation."

Please note: While on the topic of twice-exceptional children, please visit 2E's newsletter, this part is free and full of up-to-date information. And while you're surfing the net, check out Davidson Institute e-News Update, covering a host of topics on gifted education, legislation, summer camps, enrichment opportunities and gifted in the news.

The new GiF membership form is attached. Save 10€ now by mailing in your registration before April 1, 2009. Dues are 30€ before April 1, or 40€ after that date. Membership is good for one year from the payment. For the past two years, GiF has organized numerous educational meetings for parents without charging membership dues. Since we are now an official association, gaining wider recognition in France, and continuing to organize activities for both adults and children, it is imperative for us to build a budget to cover our expenses.
Thank you in advance for supporting GiF through your membership. Please take a moment to fill out the form and mail it with your check to the indicated address. If you prefer not to become a member, but wish to make a donation, any contribution would be appreciated. (If you don't see the membership form on this site, please email


Tuesday March 17, 09h30-12h30
Coffee and DVD presentation. Please join us for our educational DVDs by James T. Webb
RSVP: By March 13. Subject: Gifted 101


GiF owes many thanks to these parents: Karen Kyker, Ted Lazo, and Pablo Martinez Diaz for devoting their time, energy and expertise. They led the following activities, which were open to interested children within and outside of the GiF community.

Karen Kyker: Teaching our Budding Scientific Investigators, she led a group of children through a four-part series examining science around us. Children were encouraged to pose questions; experiment with liquids and solids; test cause and effect; and to form their own hypothesis. There were 9 young scientists who participated --regardless of rain or shine, homework or birthday parties -- four Sundays between October and February. Both Karen and the investigators are to be commended for their determination and curiosity.

Ted Lazo, Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Protection Specialist, led a discussion followed by an activity on Living With Radiation: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Through a hand-held instrument for detecting and measuring radiation, children were allowed to examine the obvious and the not-so obvious radiation-containing/radioactive objects around us. They were thrilled to have access to this unusual device. It was a great show-and-tell event, which took a difficult topic and made it understandable to the young crowd. Thank you Ted!

Pablo Martinez Diaz, whose hobby is to restore antique technology and furniture led a group of children through the amazing story of a captured Belgian WWII soldier and how he managed to communicate and give hope to other prisoners in the nearby barracks through the radio and telegraph he built from scrap. Pablo's power-point presentation, reconstructing this soldier's captivity, was coupled with the original documents that once belonged to the prisoner. Children were allowed to examine the photos, letters and diaries he kept during his imprisonment. Afterwards, Pablo helped the children build their own telegraphs and taught them about the Morse Code. A million thanks to Pablo who spent many hours preparing for this activity.


Gifted in France will hold it's second annual Paris Spelling Bee for children aged 7-13. We are grateful to the American Library in Paris for hosting us and announcing the upcoming event in the recent Ex Libris newsletter.
Last year, we had 18 children participate in the final bee, which was divided into two groups: Gazelles (7-9 year-olds) and Cheetahs (10-13 year-olds).

This year we expect more children to sign up. Therefore, we will host a Spelling Bee Preliminary written exam on April 4th. After the final contestants are chosen, they will have an opportunity to attend at least one meeting where they will be invited to watch the documentary Spellbound, play scrabble and review spelling rules. They will also receive a list of words to guide them into the final bee. Thanks to the American Library, we will also host a mock-competition, in mid-May, to give the final contestants a chance to practice their oral spelling under similar conditions as the real bee
. This worked out very well last year.

Please read carefully, the following information, if your child is interested in participating in the bee

April 1, 2009

Deadline for completed and signed registration forms for the April 4th written spelling test. To receive registration forms please email:

April 4, 2009

Written Spelling Bee Test for those who've pre-registered, will be held at: The Irish Cultural Centre , on 5, rue des Irlandais 75005. Tentative time: 10h00-12h00. On this day, each age group (7-9 and 10-13 year-olds) will be given a list of words. Then about 24 children, in total, will be short-listed based on their performance on the written part and advance to the oral finals in June.

June 7, 2009

2009 Paris Spelling Bee to be held at the American Library in Paris for the finalists.


There will be a 5€ registration fee, per family, to pay for the April 4th venue and related expenses. If the child becomes a finalist, there will be another 5€ fee to cover the costs of trophies, certificates, medals and printed material.

Age requirements and limitations:

Event is open to children 7-13 years-old. Age limit: the child must not be older than 13 years-of-age before July 1, 2009. Children who are 7-9 years-old may request to participate with the 10-13 year-olds. However, it will be up to the organizers to review and approve this request.

Benefits of Spelling Bees: "Spelling bees help to promote literacy by providing children with a positive goal to work toward, and give them a forum to display the fruits of their hard work. In addition to improving spelling, the bees also aid children in learning concepts, improving comprehension and developing study skills. The benefits of spelling bees extend beyond language: Since children are required to spell words while on stage, kids also develop self-confidence, communication and public speaking skills, and the ability to thrive under pressure."
Suggested material, even if your child is not going to participate this year::

Two of my favorite tools used last year came from this link: First was a book: How to Spell Like a Champ, which includes a 75-minute interactive audio CD following a child from a classroom bee to the finals. The second was a documentary called: Spellbound. Other links, especially for older kids, include: Carolyn's Corner: (check out spelling bee participation tips) / / / /
For the younger kids, you might enjoy visiting Fry's list of words.
These links are only helpful suggestions to introducing children to some useful sites.

Problem Solving: Lessons Learned from a Captured WWII Soldier:

Sunday March 22, 14h00-17h00 Pablo Martinez Diaz, in a second part to his presentation, on the resourcefulness of a captured soldier, will show children how to build their own radios. The lesson will be, once again, drawn from the experience of the captured Belgian soldier who built telegraphs and radios to communicate critical information to his fellow prisoners. Once children finish building and testing their radios, Pablo will give them a tour of the many repaired and rebuilt inventions littering his home and backyard. His hobby and passion can be viewed on "if it's rusted it's mine:"
For children: 8-13 years-old. Priority will be given to GiF members. Members: 5€, Nonmembers: 10€
RSVP: Mandatory by March 15th,
Location: Near St. Germain-en-Laye

May 16th, (tentative date)

Due to budget limitations, GiF will scale this event back to a much smaller activity. Priority will be given to members. One option we are considering is to host an inventor's day, where we will 're-visit' notable inventors by understanding their history, examining some of their their inventions, and getting a chance to replicate some of them as a group. This is a work in progress, which will most likely be hosted by Pablo at his home outside of St. Germain-en-Laye. If you are interested, please contact me asap.
Age group: 8-13. Priority will be given to GiF members.

Mini-Mad Scientists: We need parents who are interested in hosting science-related activities for younger children (4-7 years-old). Chose a date to organize a meeting at the Palais de la Découverte, for example, and I'll pass the word in this space. Sunday mornings are nice and calm there, usually.

Finally, please consider helping GiF plan and carry out these and other activities. Join the planning team, get involved in an area that is of interest to you or your child. And, see you soon!

Kind regards,
Helen Sahin Connelly
Coordinator, GiF
info on gifted