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Home of the Ruf Estimates
of Gifted Online Assessment
May 2011
In This Issue
Teaching to Ability
The Virtual Orchestra Project
Teaching Manners
Tools for Thinking
Civics Lessons
Keeping Up With Dr. Ruf

Watch for these upcoming publications:


Dr. Ruf has been invited by Michael Piechowski to write a paper for The Advanced Development Journal, a peer-reviewed publication, based on her research from her 1998 PhD dissertation, Environmental, Familial, and Personal Factors That Affect the Self-Actualization of Highly Gifted Adults: Case Studies.

Dr. Ruf recently completed an interview with Michael Shaughnessy for Gifted Education International. Click here to read a previous interview with Shaughnessy about gifted children being left behind.   


It's hard not to be aware of all the political turmoil in this country right now. One thing that worries me most is the state of education. We are seeing soaring costs and declining scores. And it seems gifted education is one of the first programs on the block when cuts must be made.

I think it behooves us all to stay informed about what is going on in our schools and to let our law makers know our thoughts.

It isn't all bleak news, however. Please continue reading to see some truly innovative ideas at work.



Kathy Hara, Editor



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Glen Rhodes, as quoted by Tara George in her article included in this newsletter about The Virtual Orchestra Project:  I believe this project serves a purpose, and we all have yet to see what it will be.  Not because the music is profound, but because the human union is consummate.  It embodies the purity of energy in us all. The candid effort made by each musician is so sincere and contains a lifetime of practice, perfection, pain and satisfaction. I see it in their faces. Some with tears running down their faces as they play, and listen to the guide track.


With the energy put forth in the art, idealism is being created. An idealism of peace through universal connection. As long as the trio of the music, the conductor, and the musicians are balanced then all there can possibly be is harmony and complete anti-conflict.  Perhaps VOP is my voice... my Voice Of Peace.

 Teaching to Ability

Here's an article from CNN online that looks at Hodgkins Elementary School in Westminster, CO, which has done away with grades and grade levels. Deb Feyerick and Dana Garrett, in School Teaches by Ability, Not Grade Level, discusses how the school has gone to "standards-based learning," which is based on every child learning in different ways and at different speeds.Teach to Ability


We at TalentIgniter and Educational Options have always believed that the best way to educate all children, no matter what their IQ Level, is to put them in the class where what they are ready to learn is already being taught. We know of a few schools in the Twin Cities that use this approach, and are encouraged to see this idea catching on elsewhere.


The Virtual Orchestra Project

VOP logoWe know that intellectually gifted people often are also gifted in the realm of music. But not everyone has an opportunity to perform in groups. Here is a new option, which is also 
another great use of technology - virtual orchestras. Our readers may want to do a simple search on YouTube to see and hear examples of this idea. Or you may want to read an article by Tara George appearing in Technology in the Arts, Behind the Scenes: The Virtual Orchestra Project. "Though you may be familiar with similar projects, like the Youtube Orchestra," she writes, "[Glen Rhodes'] Virtual Orchestra is one of the most unique and exciting examples of arts and technology collaborations to date."


The way that The Virtual Orchestra Project works is that musicians from around the world download sheet music provided for them online, then record their individual parts while following the same conductor on-screen. Then they submit their work and Rhodes pieces it all together.  


Rhodes, who is a two-time Emmy nominee for his music, is also a software developer and author. His project will be bringing together musicians to play his composition, Ancient Sands. He is still accepting submissions, and the deadline is June 1.

Teaching Manners

Here's a good article about teaching the 25 manners that every kid should know. Presented primarily as a list and therefore a quick read, there are also links for further information and ideas.



 Tools for Thinking

David Brooks starts out his article in the New York Times, Tools for Thinking, by citing a question by Harvard's Steven Pinker: What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?


It's a little hard to describe the ensuing article, but suffice it to say he discusses different ways of looking at different things.


Civics Lessons iCivics logo

I just read about the website iCivics.org in our local paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  This site was founded by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who wanted more effective tools for teaching students and preparing them for civic participation. In fact, this is very timely in the face of nationally declining scores that measure what students know about civic, legal, and political concepts. The disturbing news is that only a quarter of high school seniors are proficient in their knowledge.


So here is a way to make learning fun. Besides student and teacher forums, numerous games and activities cover such topics as Citizenship and Participation, Separation of Powers, The Constitution and Bill of Rights, The Judicial Branch, The Executive Branch, and the Legislative Branch. After learning about real Supreme Court justices, for example, the player participates in deciding some of the Court's hardest cases.


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Newsletters from Educational Options

If you like this newsletter, you may wish to subscribe to our Educational Options Newsletter, as well. Issued once a month, this newsletter contains completely different content from the TalentIgniter Newsletter. To subscribe, simply send an email to Kathy@EducationalOptions.com, and write "Subscribe to Newsletter" in the subject line.
To see visit the Educational Options Newsletter archives, visit our website at http://www.educationaloptions.com/newsletters/newsletters.php.

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TalentIgniter invites you to browse the many features offered on its website, including the following:
  • Dr. Ruf's Talent Igniter Blog 
  • The Parents' Picks section (with recommendations for parents of eager little learners, starting at infancy with more age groups added weekly!)
  • Book Recommendations for people wanting to learn more about gifts, talents, and how to develop both!
  • Detailed insider information about the Ruf Estimates of Levels of Gifted Online Assessment, the inventory parents fill out to know how to help their own young children thrive.
Keys ebook cover
Keys to Successfully Raising the Gifted Child

You know your child is gifted. But how does that impact day-to-day life and your role as a parent?

Written by Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D., and Larry A. Kuusisto, Ph.D., this ebook is for parents who are new to the idea that their children might be intellectually advanced or gifted. The book addresses important parenting issues, including what to actually tell your child about his or her giftedness, how schools approach learning differences, best ways to provide emotional support, sibling rivalry, and more.

The book delivers lots of provocative information that will lead to hours of good discussion, debate, and further investigation and research by group or class participants studying the gifted and talented.

The book is available for purchase at www.TalentIgniter.com/products.

5 Levels of Gifted

5 Levels cover5 Levels of Gifted: School Issues and Educational Options (2005) (formerly titled Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind). 5 Levels of Gifted, published by Great Potential Press, combines four years of data gathering from 50 families with nearly 30 years of research and experience in the field of giftedness, individual differences, and high intelligence. The book is aimed primarily at parents and vividly describes the upper 10 to 15 percent of the intellectual continuum in human beings from birth to adulthood as manifested in their behaviors, thoughts, accomplishments, and test scores. She introduces the concept of Levels of Giftedness and makes it very clear how many factors contribute to a person's intellectual levels and achievement.