Workshops and Individual School Support


When you want a workshop for your whole staff or for a department or faculty or for a teacher network in your region or for a parent evening, we can often help as we do travel to different locations within New Zealand. As part of our work in supporting both teachers and parents, REACH Education provides a wide range of workshops on various aspects of catering for gifted learners.

All REACH workshops focus very directly on effective practical strategies. All are grounded in the research in this field and draw on years of intensive practical experience. They reflect an in-depth understanding of gifted learners and how to cater for their needs. They are realistic in their awareness of the available time and energies of both educators and parents.

The titles given below indicate the range of topics we can cover. They can be delivered individually or combined in different ways to meet your needs. We are also open to discussing with you other topics relevant for you.

Please email us to discuss possibilities, or ring director Rosemary Cathcart on 07 347 2135.

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1. Who are they? Getting practical about identifying gifted learners
There is an idea out there that gifted learners all live in big cities, are Pakeha, and have rich, pushy parents. Not true! Research shows us gifted learners are found everywhere – but that they’re often surprisingly hard to spot. Even though we may feel confident we can always recognise the gifted learner, in reality many, many gifted children remain unidentified at school. Their learning potential may be lost or muted as a result, and they may suffer years of unhappiness, with permanent damage to self-confidence and relationship skills. This should be unacceptable for any child as an outcome of going to school. As a teaching community, we surely need to get very much better at recognising our gifted learners. We also need to think about the loss to our community of what these bright minds and imaginations might have been able to offer. So – how can you find out whether there are any undiscovered gifted learners in your school? This workshop introduces you to some effective practical tools any classroom teacher can use, and draws on anecdotal material to help you relate this to your own experience. It provides a basis for building a sensible school-wide procedure and ideas you can share with colleagues.
Target audience: Adaptable for different levels of schooling.
Suggested time frame: 2 hours.

2. The REACH Model Keys to understanding the needs of gifted learners
What really makes gifted learners different from other children? Why do they need help if they’re gifted? These are essential and very justifiable questions for any teacher who finds they have to work with a gifted learner.
The REACH model was developed in New Zealand in the 1980’s by Rosemary Cathcart as a response to exactly these questions. The model has four key concepts. Each represents a specific area of need for the gifted learner. Collectively they give us an insight into the world of the gifted child, and a framework for building an effective learning programme for them, whether in the classroom or in a specialised group situation.
The model served as the basis of both the popular teachers’ manual, They’re Not Bringing My Brain Out, and the successful One Day School programme, has been taught in numerous workshops for both in-service and pre-service teachers, and now serves also as part of our online course. This workshop takes you step by step through the four key concepts, with examples of how to implement it in your own planning for you to try.
Supporting text: They’re Not Bringing My Brain Out, 3rd edn. R. Cathcart, 2005, Hodder Education. ISBN 1-86971-038-X.
Target audience: Adaptable from school entry up to junior secondary.
Suggested time frame: 3.5 hours.

3. Making it different… Differentiation made sensible
Adapt your planning for gifted learners – and change the learning experience for everyone – including you!
Let’s face it, many of us jib at the very idea of differentiation, just because it seems so daunting. Most explanations about how to make it work involve long lists of principles to be followed. For busy teachers, all that extra planning, perhaps for just one student, can seem an impossible ask.
However, as in so many instances in life, the best solutions are often surprisingly simple. This workshop presents a genuinely innovative, genuinely teacher-friendly approach to this perennial problem, based on just three questions.
Three questions which will give you a new insight into your own perception of whatever topic you are teaching and generate fresh and lively lesson ideas, with intriguing outcomes for everyone involved, children of all levels of ability – and the teacher. Accompanied by a simple practical framework for your actual lesson plan.
A background note: Drawing both on the research into how gifted children think and learn and on intensive experience directly with gifted learners themselves, the approach taught in this workshop represents a major step forward in helping schools meet the needs of these children. It has evolved from years of working with teachers, recognising the issues for them, and seeking realistic solutions to those issues.
Supporting text: Differentiation Made Practical. R. Cathcart, 2010, Essential Resources. ISBN 9768-1-877536-40-3.
Target audience: Adaptable from school entry up to junior secondary.
Suggested time frame: 2.5 hours.

4. The gifted learner as researcher
Literacy is the cornerstone of all learning - but what does literacy really mean for a child who perhaps could read even before starting school? For the nine-year-old with an adult-level vocabulary, a wicked mastery of puns and a fondness for reading scientific journals? For the adolescent who’s already working on a fully-fledged novel?
Explore some intriguing answers to this usually un-asked question! We begin with a thought-provoking re-definition of literacy, construct a framework for language enrichment, and discover a wide-ranging network of lively and high-interest strategies to support gifted learners in their literacy development.
NB: This workshop can be combined with Nos. 5 & 6 below. (Recommended).
Target audience: from primary through to junior secondary.
Suggested time frame: 2 hours. When combined: 3.5 hours.

5. Comprehension Goes Unconventional!
Comprehension work is a significant learning tool, used by teachers at almost every level of schooling to check children’s understanding of what they’ve read. That’s true for gifted learners too – despite their ability, teachers still need to check their grasp of what’s been read.
But for gifted learners, usually way ahead of their peers in reading and understanding and often in knowledge of the topic, comprehension work is all too often boring and pointless, yet another turn-off from schoolwork.
This workshop recognises that we need to use less traditional strategies if we are to make comprehension meaningful and productive for gifted learners. It presents “unconventional comprehension”, a strategy which takes a thoroughly different look at this age-old tool, demonstrates along the way that comprehension work can be relevant in many more curriculum areas than we sometimes realise – and has a lot of fun in the process!
And as is so often the case with material developed for gifted learners, some of this can also be used to add interest for children of more average ability, making it doubly useful.
Target audience: Primary and intermediate teachers.
Suggested time frame: 1.5 hours.

6. Getting gifted boys to write!
How often have you heard it? One of the commonest cries from the teachers of gifted boys – great ideas, won’t write them down, hates writing, never finishes, his book looks like he ate his breakfast on it! When so many of the world’s most famous writers are men, why is it that so many gifted boys shy away from writing like a dog shying away from a bath?
This workshop suggests some thought-provoking reasons for this common experience, and then tackles the problem with a range of high-interest strategies to get boys writing before they even notice what they’re doing…
PS: These strategies work with other reluctant writers too!
Target audience: Primary and intermediate teachers.
Suggested time frame: 1.5 hours.

7. Planning for the ethical dimension
Ethical awareness and sensitivity is very frequently a strong characteristic of the gifted learner. These are the children who protest passionately about what is “not fair” in life and who have a strong sense of justice and injustice. These are the children who simply cannot bear to hear about cruelty to animals or people, who may be deeply disturbed by what they see and hear on television, who take up causes and argue fearlessly for what they believe is right, regardless of the cost to themselves. They are inherently compassionate and caring, even when their own social skills can sometimes lack the finesse needed to express their feelings effectively.
These are powerful emotions, profoundly significant for the individual, and ultimately highly valuable for our whole community. They can also be emotions which distance the gifted child from his or her peers, making the child seem odd or weird to others who don’t share such intensity of feeling.
How can we protect the gifted child from being too damaged by others’ lack of perception? How can we nurture and encourage that blossoming ethical maturity? How can we guide the child towards his or her possible future role in the struggle for a better and fairer world for all? Is this, in fact, something teachers should be concerned with, or is it solely the responsibility of parents?
This workshop engages teachers in a discussion of this challenging and very important issue and presents some practical strategies for bringing an ethical dimension into planning in a non-partisan way.
Target audience: Primary and intermediate teachers.
Suggested time frame: 1.5 hours.

8. Coping with the parents of your gifted learners
How do you deal with the parent who insists their child is gifted when the classroom evidence says they’re not? Why do some parents of gifted children seem so pushy? How should you handle a parent like this? Conversely, why do some parents of genuinely gifted children not want their children to be identified? If a child is gifted, what can a parent reasonably expect the school to do for the child? Do parents of gifted children need any specific help or support themselves? What about the other way round – can the parents of gifted learners help teachers in any significant way? This workshop is presented by a tutor who has lived on both sides of the fence and draws on both experience and research to give some sound and practical answers on this sensitive and tricky issue.
Target audience: Adaptable for all levels of schooling.
Suggested time frame: 1 to 1.5 hours.

9. The first day ... and later ...
So you’ve been given the gifted group to teach, and next Monday is your first day! Where do you start? What will the kids expect? What should you expect? How can you make sure of getting things off on the right footing? What should you cover on this first day? What should you not do? Help!
And later on, when it’s all working well, and you’re ready to help your school develop an effective school-wide approach – what then?
This down-to-earth workshop provides some sensible answers to these and related questions, including your own queries, whether your group is a part-time withdrawal option or a full-time class.
Supporting text: Gifted Programming Made Practical. R. Cathcart, 2010, Essential Resources. ISBN 978-1-877536-41-0.
Target audience: Primary and intermediate teachers.
Suggested time frame: 1.5 hours.

10. What’s in a classroom?
Have you ever considered your classroom as one of your key teaching resources? How can four walls, one floor, one ceiling and assorted windows and doors make a difference to learning?
Change your perspective and discover what happens! The classroom as a learning resource in itself is often under-utilised. We do not always adequately consider the emotional impact and physical implications for the children of classroom design, nor how learning can be positively or negatively affected. This is significant for all children, but especially so for gifted learners with their heightened sensitivities. It has an impact on us too, on our comfort and effectiveness. We need to give as much thought and care to the interior design of our classrooms as we do to our homes. This workshop explores this idea and looks at some simple ideas that can make a remarkable difference to achieving this.
Target audience: Adaptable for all levels of schooling.
Suggested time frame: 1 hour.

11. Life after school
How can we prepare gifted learners for what happens when their schooldays are finished? There’s much more to this question that we might have considered. When should such preparation begin? Whose responsibility is it? What can the school do? What should such preparation involve? And what’s the aim? It’s often taken largely for granted that a gifted student will be heading for university. That’s not necessarily the only or the best option or the option the student wants. Even when that is the intention, there are still many other matters to be thought through. And what about the gifted student whose abilities are not in the academic sphere? This short workshop raises some relevant questions and suggests directions for finding solutions.
Target audience: High school teachers.
Suggested time frame: 1 hour.

12. Bring your questions!
An open-forum opportunity for teachers to raise questions which may not have been covered in other workshops. It can take place independently of any other workshop, or it can be incorporated as part of a day focussing on gifted education and combining two or three of the above sessions. If it’s presented independently, we suggest keeping numbers to about 25, to allow room for everyone’s questions to be raised and considered. In a larger school, this may mean working separately with individual departments or syndicates.
Target audience: Adaptable for all levels of schooling.
Suggested time frame: Usually 1 hour.

13. Clinic Day
A clinic day can provide very specific help for individual teachers. The tutor visits the school for the day and has access to an interview room or other suitable space. Teachers who wish to do so are timetabled for 20-minute slots with the tutor, either one at a time or in groups of two or three, depending on what is possible for the school.
Target audience: Adaptable for all levels of schooling.
Suggested time frame: Normally, one day.