Friday, October 16, 2009

Webinar with Dr. Deborah L. Ruf

My notes from the Oct. 8th webinar with Dr. Deborah L. Ruf (courtesy of Our Gifted Online Conferences) are pretty slim, but I'll attempt to put up something of value regardless. The webinar was very enjoyable and since I'd already read through her book (5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options) when it was previously called Losing our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind, I found it a nice review with her own voice and got extra explanations which made things more clear. I also found it nice of her to share her own experiences with her three children who are all gifted at various levels (she said level 3,4, and 5).

Here are some of my notes from the webinar with some book references:

Dr. Ruf said that the gifted programs offered shouldn't be about cutoffs (as in testing numbers), but being able to meet the needs of each child.

The levels she gives in her book are based on 78 children who she evaluated. There are 5 levels and each child may not meet all the criteria for that level, but Dr. Ruff said it is about the overall feel. So if your child is approximately in the 90-98th percentiles on standardized tests, has a measured IQ score in the 115-120's and when they start Kindergarten it is a repeat of what they already know, you have a child who is Level 1. This is described as moderately gifted in Dr. Ruf's book. (chart 1 on pg. 51) Most level 1 children can be accomodated in the public school systems or more challenging academic programs in public, private, or parochial schools.

Level 2 is a child who is approximately in the 98-99th percentiles on stand. tests, has an IQ score in the 130-135 range, and has the kindergarten skills by age 3 1/2-4. This level is described as highly gifted. What I found interesting is that Dr. Ruf said that with a Level 2 or higher child who isn't reading by the start of kindergarten, may have issues with dyslexia or vision tracking problems.

Level 3 Gifted children are approximately in the 98-99th percentiles on stand. tests, have an IQ score in the 130-140 range, and kindergarten skills down by age 2 3/4-3. This level is described as exceptionally gifted.

Level 4 gifted children are primarily in the 99th percentile on stand. tests, have an IQ score greater than 140, and are described as exceptionally to profoundly gifted.

Level 5 gifted children are in the same percentile on stand tests as level 4, have an IQ score over 145, and have the kindergarten skills mastered by age 2-2 1/2. They are also described as exceptionally or profoundly gifted.

Of course these are all brief descriptions and the book is full of the families' stories of what their children did at different ages to help in describing the levels. The book is also helpful in presenting educational options to parents when schools don't work for their children.

What I find important in Dr. Ruf's work is that all gifted kids aren't the same and shouldn't be educated as such. Just like every child in a normal public school classroom isn't the same and needs their own educational plan (ah, if only in an ideal world).

Dr. Ruf's website will be also testing an online questionaire (for lack of a better word) for parents and other people interested in checking levels of giftedness for their children. This will be low cost and a release date has not been set.

I hope this information has been helpful and feel free to leave a comment for discussion.



Saturday, October 10, 2009

Wild for Webinars!

I'm starting to think I'm becoming a webinar fanatic. So far this school year I've attended two webinars and I just registered for another later this month. What is really nice about these webinars is that they are done in the comfort of your own home and have been free! I will try to give a review of each webinar like I did last month so I can share information with families who may find it helpful.

This past Thursday I was fortunate to attend a webinar put on by a group called Our Gifted Online Conferences (see for more details on the resource). The speaker for the webinar was Dr. Deborah L. Ruf and she generously gave her time for two hours to talk about the 5 levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options (which is the new title for her book which used to be called Loosing our Minds: Gifted Children Left behind). Even though I already read her book, I still found the webinar full of great information and it helped to hear clarifications of points in the book.

The next NAGC free webinar I'll be attending is on Wed., Oct. 21st from 6-7pm called Stimulating Curiosity and Creativity in Young Children. It will be conducted by Deborah Hazelton from the California Association of the Gifted. Just go to for more details and to register. Once again it is FREE! :)

If you are also interested in attending the NAGC convention in St. Louis, MO, but like me don't have the money to attend, you might want to check out their virtual convention option which is affordable and full of great sessions you can join in on via the web. The date will be Sat., Nov., 7th from 8:30am-5:45pm CT and is $79 for members or $99 for nonmembers. They also have a best value package where you get access to all sessions that will be recorded throughout the convention (from Nov. 5th-8th) for just $179/$199. Again see their website for more information (

I hope you join me for the free webinars so we can discuss them as a group!
Thanks for reading,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NAGC Wed. Parent Webinar review

I thought I better write my review of last night's NAGC Parent webinar while it is still fresh in my mind. I was very impressed by the online presentation even if there was a little plug for selling their Mile Marker Series CD-ROM, which I can purchase at a discounted price since I attended the webinar. :) Aside from that, it does sound like a great resource to have and share with parent groups, teachers, and administrators. See for more information on that series.

Robin Schader had many outstanding points to make and I'll try to outline them here: (these come from my notes and I haven't used too many quotes....I am giving credit to Robin.)
1. Be informed- find out how to use research along with experiences of others to inform one's own "Action research".
2. Think strategically- don't just go in to a teacher to say that your child is bored or needs to be challenged. Go in with a plan and suggestions.
3. Find others -one parent is considered a "nut", two parents are a nut with a friend, whereas 3 or more are on their way to making a difference and being heard. They just need to have good ideas and information.
4. When you use the word gifted, ask others what they think it is. People's perceptions and conceptions on it vary widely. An article by Razel Solow "Parents' Conceptions on Giftedness" was a recommended read.
5. Here is a fun question to ask parents or anyone : Name a person who is intelligent across time and space. Then ask them to write down someone who is gifted.
6. The State of the States in Gifted Ed. 2006-2007 was brought up to show the lack of teacher training in gifted education.
7. Starting parent groups were discussed and Robin brought up the Gifted Child Society in NJ, which was started in 1957 by one mother with an ad in the paper (perhaps I'll try that.). This group has been able to pay for gifted training for over 110 teachers in the state.
8. A handbook for starting parent groups by Arlene DeVries (from SENG) was mentioned as a good resource as well as Robin's article in NAGC's Parenting for High Potential magazine (2005) on developing advocacy groups. (looks like I have lots of homework to do) :)

The next NAGC parent webinar will be Oct. 21st from 6-7pm. The topic listed on their website is different than the one they said last night, so I'll wait to post it till closer to the date. The registration opens Oct. 8th and is FREE!

Thanks for reading and I hope this generates some discussion.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School and NAGC Webinar Wednesdays!

With most schools back in session I thought I'd give the blog entry a go again. Hope everyone is having a great school year so far...I know it is early days so perhaps you are cautiously optimistic. When I heard that phrase from a fellow parent of gifted children, I felt, yes that explains what I was feeling last year when my son skipped 2nd grade and went into a regular third grade class. This year I'm feeling a bit more optimistic for my son's placement (he is in a self contained gifted glass for 3rd/4th graders). He has a teacher who "gets" gifted kids and there are kids in there who are like him. I'm hoping for the best.

Ok, now on to the NAGC Wednesday Webinar information. The National Association of Gifted Children is having FREE, that's right!, free webinars on various topics until December of this year. They are open for members and nonmembers and you just register on their website ( two weeks or so before the event. The parent centered webinars are once a month, but you can also register for ones that are for teachers and administrators.

The first parent night is Wed., Sept. 15th at 7:00-8:00. The expert who will be running it is Robin Schader, who is the NAGC's Parent Resource Advisor. The topic is Back to School, Back to Gifted Ups and Downs.

I've registered for that one and I'll be happy to share any pearls of wisdom (yes that is my Dad's phrase) after the event.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

That time of year...2nd grade screening for gifted and talented programs

As the screening process for 2nd graders was completed last month, I thought I'd write a little bit about what approach our district uses in order to place a student in one of the G & T programs. Most of what I'm writing about came in a handbook given out at open house this past fall which I'd be happy to share more of by request.

Our district uses a "matrix approach", like many others I'm sure, to screen children who were nominated by teachers or parents for placement in the programs. What this means is they use many ways to gather data to make an informed decision. Listed on a table in the handbook are the following: nomination form; academic progress as measured by standardized/normed tests like the DSTP (our state standardized test), Gates-MacGinitie reading test; a school ability test which is the OLSAT (Otis Lennon School Ability Test)- group IQ test; a grade level writing prompt; a grade level math problem set; a parent inventory of observed characteristics; and other additional data tools such as the PETS/HOTS activities used with 2nd graders in the ACT program, as well as some kind of creativity index.

Committees (staff trained to recognize and understand gifted characteristics) convene to then analyze scores and make placement recommendations. According to the handbook, "No one score or measure will exclude a student from placement in the appropriate program". As far as minimum scores on various screening instruments, there is no information listed in the handbook.

Personally I don't have experience with the matrix approach, since my son needed early intervention and we didn't go the traditional route. I'd love to hear any one's stories of how their children were screened by their district for entrance into a gifted program. I do know that I would have appreciated having the screening before my son went into kindergarten, but there are so many folks in education who believe that kids even out by 3rd grade, hence the wait until the end of 2nd grade. For those people who believe that kids even out by 3rd grade, tell me this- do you really think that a kindergartner who was found to read on a middle school level will stop progressing in his reading?

I won't even try to write more on the subject, since I believe that Laura Vanderkam's blog ( does a spectacular job on discussing the waiting until 3rd grade identification in her January 9, 2008 article. It is well worth a look!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Letter to the Editor

If you don't normally read the Dover Post letter to the editor section, I'd urge you to take a look at today's section. One of the letters titled "Gifted Students Left Wanting in Caesar Rodney District" speaks strongly to me. The letter by Lori Armstrong, a mom who has daughters in the Caesar Rodney school district, shared her concern about the lack of gifted services provided by the district. According to Lori her daughters get an after school gifted program once a week which involves creative skits which they practice for a festival. Her middle school daughter could easily skip a grade and her teachers even told Lori this, but the district won't allow it.

So here we are in the month of April when most Delaware school districts conduct their 2nd grade screening process for gifted and talented education programs and families in the Caesar Rodney district might be saying after reading Lori's letter to the editor ....why should I even bother if my child is just going to get a one day a week after school program?

We should expect more from our public schools to provide for gifted children and like Lori I urge you to contact your state representatives to express your concerns.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Advocacy for Gifted Education

I recently got an e-mail invitation from the National Association for Gifted Children to join their Legislative Action Network. I thought I'd share more about this network since I feel strongly about getting people and governments more informed about the difficulties in providing gifted students with the appropriate education they deserve.

In Delaware there is no state mandate or funding for gifted education (see for more information). We have to rely on local school districts to provide any type of program and with the state budget cuts that will be coming up this year, who knows what the districts will have to cut. Some people might say that gifted students can take care of themselves. Would you say that same thing to a student who was getting special educational services? I believe (and so does the state of Pennsylvania...well at least from what I read and have been told by people in PA) that gifted students should be given an GIEP (gifted individualized education program). The needs of gifted students can be unique and as such should be taken care of accordingly.

So how does this relate to the NAGC LAN? Well it is all about advocacy for gifted education really. This network is there to "help raise awareness of gifted children and influence federal policy decisions" says Sally Reis, committee chair. What the LAN needs are people to help write letters/e-mails to members of Congress at key times of the legislative process. If you'd like to find out more information about the network and what is involved in joining you can visit under the get involved column on their website.

I'd appreciate any comments you have on this post.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I have always enjoyed reading poetry (although not always understood all of the poems I've read) and had a chance to write some different types in high school for English class. My son really got into a poetry unit (learning some different styles) in his gifted pull out class and even presented us with a folder of all the poems he wrote which I'll be keeping for sure. He is into reading Jack Perlutsky and Shel Silverstein (which I highly recommend) as a result of his exposure to poetry in that 2 hour a week class. I remember a few years ago I tried to get him to read poetry and he wouldn't do it...not sure why really...perhaps it was because "mom" was suggesting it.
My husband and dad both write and have written poetry. My dad has written some recently and has been doing more since becoming retired. I'd like to direct you to a poem he wrote yesterday and posted on his blog. You can read it at It really does a great job of expressing how I've been feeling lately which is nice so I don't have to write more than I have to.
Thank you Dad,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Try it : Crayon physics

My husband and son spent a lot of time this weekend playing a really neat game called Crayon Physics so I thought I'd share it with you all. I remember seeing it mentioned on a GT discussion board, but didn't check it out. My husband told me about a guy at his work who told him about it and before you know it we had it on our computer. It starts out easy like most games and gets more difficult as you go. You use basic principles of physics to get a red ball (I think it is really Newton's apple) to hit a yellow star. There are barriers along the way and you use a crayon to draw ramps, levers, etc. to help you get to the star. I'm not much of a physical science person so I think I'm on the 7th or 8th task, but my son and husband are past the 38th one. We even laughed a bit when things didn't the ball flying a different way or a shape falling down. I know it doesn't sound funny, but just try it to see what I mean. There is a free demo version at

Friday, March 20, 2009

Additional information on March 17th meeting

Since the podcast was up from the meeting I decided to take a listen for my AMEN (which I faintly heard) as well as get more information on the direct comments made about gifted children so I can share them with you. Let me again say how pleased I was for the postive and thoughtful comments made by the educators in the room.

Mike Owens, Associate Secretary of Education, mentioned that we should make sure that gifted students (who get 4's or 5's on the DSTP) are still challenged and engaged in school.

Courtney Fox, Delaware's teacher of the year for 2008, commented that one of the barriers facing the progress of gifted education could be some schools' reluctance to loose higher end students for testing reasons. It also sounded like she was saying that these students should be recognized along with those in special education. (This idea is not new as people in PA and other states with Gifted Individual Education Programs already know.) Please feel free to go to to check out the podcast to which I'm referring.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Back to School" meeting thoughts

So I followed through with going to last night's "Back to School" meeting at the Tatnall building in Dover. I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the turnout and the discussion was quite interesting. It was an open dialogue night to give feedback on the series of ideas on the Governor's education agenda. Most of the people in the room were teachers, paras, state board of ed. people, or other folks involved with education. They ranged from southern to northern school districts which was nice.
A good part of the discussion revolved around the rewarding of educators who serve in at-risk schools. This of course won't happen until the state budget is sorted out so it is nice to have it recorded, but it could be awhile until things develop.

The DSTP was a topic I thought could have been discussed more. I totally agreed with another mom in the room who said that too much time is taken to deal with testing and that teachers were just teaching to the test. So when she commented I gave a big AMEN! I think that a lot of the teachers there didn't really agree or were just keeping their mouths shut. It would have been nice to see more of them speak up on that. Anyway the replacement test for the DSTP hasn't been purchased yet although they did indicate that some of it could be administered via computers. It also would be given at different times (like at the beginning and end of the year). The main thing is they want to check for progress over the course of the year. Gifted students were mentioned during the meeting two or three times which I thought was a major achievement. The State Teacher of 2008, Courtney Fox, who teaches 1st grade in the Brandywine School District and also teaches a self contained gifted class mentioned the needs of her students. (I have to go back to the podcast and write in more detail later).

The last topic of discussion involved cutting regulations to give schools the chance to innovate and give them more control in the decision making. With this comes the last topic of the state allowing districts and schools more funding discretion, but holding them accoutable.

With all of this writing, my brain is starting to hurt. So I'll leave it to you to check out the Lt. Governor's website (mentioned in a previous post) where the podcasts and notes from all of the meetings are located. Let me know if you hear the AMEN!
Thanks for reading and please share comments and concerns you have on these topics. Also note that you can make suggestions on the Lt. Gov. website ....wouldn't it be great if more voices were heard on gifted education?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Additional "Back to School" briefing

I just went to the Lt. Gov. website and on the calendar of briefings they list one on March 17th from 6:30-8:30pm which covers all four topics. I'm thinking this is the one for me. :)


Changing of the guard and education in Delaware

While reading the Delaware State News yesterday (Thurs. March 5th), I came across an article entitled Markell Lays out Education Agenda. I just wanted to share some points that I found interesting and how they could benefit gifted education. The first major point is that the state is going to scrap the current DSTP and find an alternative test that would measure progress of each child during the school year. This sounds good but I'm wondering will more time be used to administer tests since they want to check throughout the year? Will it actually allow teachers to teach and not just to the test?

The second point made in the article was wanting to give school districts more flexibility to innovate and offer teachers additiional rewards for excellence. The article didn't really go into depth on what they mean by flexibility. I guess I'm just going to have to try and attend one or more of the "Back to School" briefings with citizens to find out. I urge you to do the same and put forth your questions and concerns for your children's education.

Here are the dates and times of these briefings:
Monday, March 9th from 1-3 at the Tatnall Building, Dover
Topic: Rewarding great teachers and those who volunteer to serve in at-risk districts
Wed., March 11th from 7-9pm at the Tatnall Building, Dover
Topic: Replacing the DSTP with a better system for measuring performance
Tues., March 17th from 11-1pm at the Tatnall Building, Dover
Topic: Allowing districts and schools more funding discretion
Thurs., March 19th from 11-1pm at the Tatnall Building, Dover
Topic: Suggestions for Additions to the agenda

To make the discussion more open and accessible, the Lt. Gov. created a website where people can participate. Go to for more information.

Thank you for reading and feel free to share any comments here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Perfectionism can be an issue for many people (gifted or not). I myself am a recovering perfectionist. As I've gotten older this behavior has improved, but I still see it popping up at times. :) Do you overcommit yourself, have a hard time making choices or delegating work to others, like to be in control, are frequently dissatisfied with your work, or procrastinate? These are just a few behavioral signs of perfectionism (the more items that describe you- the more likely it is that perfectionism is a factor in your life). There is an extended checklist in a book called Freeing Our Families from Perfectionism by Thomas S. Greenspon, Ph.D. to help you see ways in which perfectionism is expressed.
Some people can be perfectionists about some things and not others. I,for example, am particular about measurements in baking and checking over things that I write for correctness, but not so much on keeping my house tidy. You can have a mild, moderate, or extreme case of perfectionism. The main thing about it is that it can affect the way you perform at work or at home (it can slow you down), it can affect the people around you, and it can affect how you feel about yourself as a human being.
There are many resources out there to help you and your family deal with perfectionism. The book which I have mentioned earlier is a major help for families (it breaks it down really well with steps on how to recognize perfectionism, how we become perfectionists, and how to work together to deal with it.
Another book by Thomas S. Greenspon for kids aged 9-13 is called What to do When "Good Enough" Isn't Good Enough: The Real Deal on Perfectionism. Miriam Adderholdt also has a book for kids called Perfectionism: What's Bad About Being Too Good?
All of these books are published by Free Spirit Publishing (
Please feel free to share your experiences and comments.
Thank you,

Friday, February 27, 2009

New location

Dear Parents,

After 5 months of organizing meetings for our group and not getting much of a turnout, it was decided to try the blog/online forum approach. I hope that we can have topics for discussion here, give support, and just give you any updates on what is happening as far as activities in our local area, and in gifted education in general.

Please feel free to comment on this new approach. We can still get together for meeting face to face (which personally I prefer), but most people who were interested in our group might find this forum easier to include in their busy schedules.

Thank you and I look forward to sharing this blog with you all,