Gifted Children — But Gifted in What Way?

Gifted Children — But Gifted in What Way?

Today’s Learning Curve with Roger & Virginia explores the many aspects of the ways in which children can be gifted and how you can benefit your child by knowing this; and what to do about it.

Our expert guest and friend today is Francie Alexander, the Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Scholastic Education.  This is a return appearance for Francie; her last show with us addressed how to prevent your child from losing recently learned material in what is referred to as the “summer slide.”  (Click here for our June 6, 2012 show)

Francie reveals there are many different areas in which a child can be gifted.  A parent needs to appreciate this and the various many ways in which the child can express it.

Parents can too often be concerned that their child “is not academically gifted” and fail to see what particular gifts the child has and work to facilitate and strengthen those gifts.

Is your child gifted academically, socially, physically, artistically?  If academically, what particular part or subjects?

Learn how parents should focus on their child’s strengths and enhance them; not overly fret over apparent “below expectation” levels of skill or ability.  Validating what the child does well actually lifts all other aspects of the child’s endeavors.  But stressing and fretting over the child’s apparent lesser abilities only drags down the child’s confidence and self esteem and damages their overall achievement.

Learn why and how parents should keep their gifted children engaged and moving forward.

Learn about the extensive resources available at Scholastic, Inc., for parents to use with their variously gifted children.

Be alert to the possibility that your gifted child may have difficulty collaborating with other children; and the fact that gifted children need to be taught just as much as “regular” children.  But most important: let your gifted child follow the line of interest it has its attention on.

Learn the traits of gifted children:

  • Language development
  • Questioning and probing
  • Integrating advance words into their conversation
  • Focused on the pursuit of a purpose
  • They love to learn
  • Physically, they have good eye-hand coordination
  • Love to play and excel at a sport
  • Able to take any object (crayon, pencil, clay, cloth, etc.,) and create something from it


092412 Gifted Children

Roger and Virginia at The Learning Curve


The Philadelphia School System Renaissance

The Philadelphia School System Renaissance

 In January 2012 till August 2012 Philadelphia engaged in a widespread reform of its educational system.

Dr. Leroy D. Nunery II was a major driver for that project.

Leroy is a former Acting Superintendent and CEO and Deputy Superintendent/Deputy CEO of the Philadelphia School District, so he had inside real-life experience of what had to be addressed . . . and he was able to earlier do so as an outside consultant.

Today, Leroy is the Founder and Principal of PlusUltre LLC and is an Educational Advisor to the Gilfus Education Group.

In today’s Learning Curve with Roger and Virginia you’ll hear what situations had to be addressed, what changes had to be implemented and how they affected the renaissance of the school system.

The Philadelphia School System had many “challenges” among which were:

  1. Low graduation rates
  2. Aging buildings
  3. Many changes to its curriculum

The Philadelphia Renaissance Schools initiative, under then Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, aims (and definition) for the turn-around were:

  1. Ensure every child had equitable access to resources
  2. Close facilities that were to old and too expensive to maintain
  3. Reorder the staffing in schools

Many options were explored including external management through Charter School enterprises.

Hear how Leroy navigated and handled the political delicacy of all this.

Much was learned including the point that no one single solution would work in every school district across the US.

Hear how Leroy combined and blended several other cities programs for use in Philadelphia.

Hear how parental engagement was crucial to the turn-around.

Learn why schools need to have a “customer service attitude” towards their “clients”; the parents and children.  And parents need to become informed “consumers” of the services on offer to them and their children and not accept anything less than the best.

In this broadcast of the Learning Curve you’ll hear about the changes that were introduced to upgrade and affect the renaissance of the system in Philadelphia.

One of our favorite implementations was that of “Hybrid Learning technology.”  The benefit of this system is that each child can learn at their own individual rate on a curriculum tailored to the needs of the child.

The other is the recognition that access to information is crucial for students and particularly for parents if the system is to work to the benefit of the “consumer.”

Click here to listen to Dr. Leroy Nunery: Leroy Nunery: The Philadelphia School Renaissance

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve



The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project—What a Wonderful Idea This is!

The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project—What a Wonderful Idea This is!

Wonderful results have been achieved by implementing the simple idea that if teachers visited parents in their homes, both could work together more productively to benefit the child student.

Carie Rose is the Director of The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project

This simple, wonderful idea is now a nationwide activity achieving great results.

Since 1998, the Parent/Teacher Home Visit Project non-profit members have created stronger home/school partnerships that support students and transform schools.  Home visits lead to increased parent involvement, reduced disciplinary problems, improved attendance, and increased student achievement.

Home visits also lead to trusting, respectful relationships between parents and teachers, creating the foundation for understanding and cooperation between home and school that is critical to every student’s success.

Families report greater understanding of graduation requirements, student status and available site based resources — if needed.

Educators report greater understanding and connection to their entire school community and each student’s individual learning needs.

Studies of successful home visit pilots have documented the many benefits of home visits, including:

Home Visits Create Partnerships:

  • Increasing parental involvement
  • Developing trust and understanding among parents and teachers
  • Identifying common goals for students
  • Helping parents learn how to better help their children

Home Visits Improve School Climate:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Fewer suspensions and expulsions
  • Improved communication between home and school
  • Shared accountability

Home Visits Increase Student Achievement:

  • Improved test scores
  • Higher school-wide API scores
  • Improved accountability for students, parents, and teachers

Home visits work with schools and districts in eleven states having adopted our model.  Home visits work for parents. They work for educators. And, most importantly, they work for students.

For more information about Home Visits contact:

Carrie Rose, Director, The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project 

Or email:   Phone:  916/448-5290

Click here to Listen090312 Carrie Rose Parent-Teacher-at-Home

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve


INEQUALITY FOR ALL: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools

INEQUALITY FOR ALL:  The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools.

Why Can’t We “Get it Together”?

That’s what Virginia and I were left wondering after this interview with Dr. William Schmidt, the author of the exciting new book: INEQUALITY FOR ALL:  The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools.

No, it’s not about rich versus poor or disadvantaged versus privilege.  It’s a revelation of the fact that our schools, even within the same districts, cities and States do not have comparable curriculum content and standards on the same critical science and math subjects.  And the greatest variations are in middle-income school districts; and it happens even within the same school.

In other words there is no equivalence between classes of the same Grade on the same subjects.  And this results in many kids being short-changed or otherwise graduating with different knowledge than other kids who’ve done the “same” subject Grade classes elsewhere in the system.

Dr. Schmidt reveals that some teachers are not properly equipped or competent to deliver the math and science curriculum—and that is part of the problem.

Compared to this, the nations that are bettering us overseas have national standards of common core material that all kids are exposed to.

By “common core standard” is meant what is to be taught: not how it is to be taught.

Parents will ask: what to do?

The answer is go to the Common Core Standards website and see what their child should be learning at each grade, and take the action needed to have the material delivered to your child.

This is important because math is the language of technology and the information driven society we now live in.

Click here for more information on INEQUALITY FOR ALL:  The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools.

If that link doesn’t work go to and look in the “what’s New” section.

William H. Schmidt is University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University and co-director of theEducationPolicyCenter.


Click here to Listen: Dr. William Schmidt — INEQUALITY FOR ALL: The Challenge of Unequal Opportunity in American Schools


Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve.

Did You Know Most Kids Lose a Lot of What They Recently Learned in School While on Summer Break? Teachers Call it the “Summer Slide.”

Did You Know Most Kids Lose a Lot of What They Recently Learned in School While on Summer Break?  Teachers Call it the “Summer Slide.”

Nowhere is the adage: “If you don’t use it, you lose it” more accurate than in the case of young minds and the reason behind the “summer slide.”

In today’s Learning Curve Francie Alexander explains how you can protect your child’s learning and advancement.  Learn how you can easily prevent the “summer slide.”

Francie Alexander is Vice President and Chief Academic Officer for Scholastic Education. Francie has taught at all levels, was a district reading consultant for Pre-K through high school, and has authored professional articles for educators as well as 25 “Books Kids Can Read” for children.

In today’s Learning Curve we reveal:

  • What the “Summer Slide” is.
  • The fact that teachers typically need 4 to 6 weeks in the fall to re-teach material students have forgotten!
  • The importance of “summer reading in beating the summer slide.”
  • The wonderful treasure trove of tools and resources available at the website.

Learn of the many initiatives and tools Scholastic has made available to you so you can beat the “summer learning loss” and also help your child in everyday learning.

  • Scholastic Summer Challenge a program where students can win prizes by logging their reading minutes online or using a new mobile app. called The Scholastic Reading Timer.
  • Scholastic Reading Timer kids can set personal reading goals, using the built-in stopwatch to reach their target number of reading minutes.
  • Storia® is a free eReading app specifically designed to support kids’ reading
  • Sushi Monster, Scholastic‘s newest free math fact fluency game available on the iPad.
  • Summer book packs for all age groups.

Get tips for parents from Francie on how to keep kids learning over the summer

For teachers, the Scholastic website is an equally wonderful resource.  Their website has been set up to serve as the content and e-Commerce hub for everything a teacher needs most for use in the classroom.  Each week, more than 1.6 million visitors to access over 100,000 pages of free content and teaching resources.

This show is one of the most enjoyable Roger & Virginia has done on the Learning Curve.  And the material it makes available to parents, teachers and students is truly valuable and quite amazing.

Scholastic, Inc., is a publishing and educational industry service company whose mission is stated as:

“The corporate mission of Scholastic is to encourage the intellectual and personal growth of all children, beginning with literacy, the cornerstone of all learning. With more than 90 years of experience supporting the learning lives of children, today Scholastic remains committed to providing quality, engaging educational content in digital and print formats for the next generation of learners, and the families and educators who guide them.”

But the big surprise to Roger is that Scholastic are also the people behind bringing the Harry Potter series to America!  So it’s not all serious academics at Scholastic.


Click her to listen to:  June 11, 2012 Francie Alexander

Roger and Virginia at The Learning Curve.


How to Repair a “Failing” Student’s Ability to Learn

The Learning Curve July 11, 2011

How to Repair a “Failing” Student’s Ability to Learn

This week’s Learning Curve is important for all parents who have children who are failing at school or who have the consideration that they are “slow,” “dull,” “can’t learn” or “learning disabled.”

Roger and Virginia take you through the process that handles and restores a student’s certainty that they can learn.  It demonstrates to the student that learning is an ability we all have; and the procedure restores to the student their certainty that they can exercise it and actually, successfully learn anything they apply their attention to.

Last week we and our guests from debunked the notion that dyslexia is a “disability.”  We showed that dyslexia is not correctly understood; and that, instead, these folks are what can be called “right brain learners” who exhibit quite remarkable abilities not enjoyed by others.

This week we take on another of the myths held by the educational establishment.

At the end of Chapter One of our book: How to Learn-How to Teach: Overcoming the Seven Barriers to Comprehension, ( we have a section dealing with how to recover the ability and certainty for your child that they can learn and succeed one-hundred percent at their school studies.

This week’s program reveals some of that important information.

For the full discussion of the material, folks who have Kindles or Nooks, can obtain the Parent’s & Student’s Edition of How to Learn-How to Teach: Overcoming the Seven Barriers to Comprehension, from either Amazon (

or Barnes & Noble (

Alternatively, you can download the Nook or Kindle application to you computer and read it there.


Click here to listen July 11, 2011 Roger & Virginia

For more information go to

send any questions you have to

Multiple Intelligence: Did You Know Your Child is Blessed With It? Do You Know How to Harness it so Your Child Wins at School and in Life?

The Learning Curve March 26, 2012

Multiple Intelligence: Did You Know Your Child is Blessed With It?  Do You Know How to Harness it so Your Child Wins at School and in Life?

Today’s guest is Jen Lilienstein, the founder of  Jen did her undergraduate senior thesis in 1994 on Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligence and its effect on self-esteem, attendance rates and love of learning.  Post graduation, she kept returning to her passion for non-traditional education.  She currently serves on the Editorial Board of the National Afterschool Association, the Publications and Platform Committees of the NAA, the Quality Committee of the CA Afterschool Network, and advocates for Afterschool for All with the Afterschool Alliance. She is also a member of BOOST and ASCD.

Jen has a wonderful headline on her website: Learning was meant to be FUN!

We concur, of course.

And her mission at Kidzmet is: To help parents, teachers, tutors and coaches understand how to make learning FUN for each unique child.

This is a fun and enlightening interview where you’ll hear a real expert reveal:

  • The limits of conventional IQ Tests.
  • What the eight intelligences are that each child is gifted with.
  • The myriad ways kids learn because of their innate multiple intelligences.
  • Why we need to acknowledge these intelligences and realize they are elastic and change.
  • The damaging affects of our schools’ standardized testing regimen on your child’s multiple intelligences—and what you can do to remedy it.
  • Jen reveals how failure to recognize and facilitate a child’s multiple intelligences sabotages their career and later life opportunities.

Kidzmet has an on-line inventory test you can use to find where your child’s attention, key intelligences and true interests lay.  And this can be used to facilitate and optimize your child’s learning and potential.

Learn why summer time activities (at school breaks) are so important . . . and much, much more.


Click here to listen March 26, 2012 Jen Lilienstein Kidzmet

Roger & Virginia at the Learning Curve


Math Made Easy by the Author of “The I Hate Mathematics! Book!”

The Learning Curve March 19, 2012  Marilyn Burns

Math Made Easy by the Author of “The I Hate Mathematics! Book!”

Mathematics is the bane of too many students; and it need not be.

Mathematics is too often a difficult subject for parents asked to help with homework: it should not be.  Today you will learn how to conquer that fear.

Today’s guest with Roger& Virginia is Marilyn Burns, the founder of Math Solutions, an organization that has been dedicated for almost 30 years to improving K–8 mathematics teaching through providing professional development and resources.

A former classroom teacher, Marilyn has written more than twenty books for teachers, including: About Teaching Mathematics and Math and Literature; and more than ten children’s books, including her first: The I Hate Mathematics! Book, and The Greedy Triangle.

Her most recent project has been to develop Math Reasoning Inventory (MRI), a free online assessment to help teachers find out what their students really know about mathematics. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Information about MRI, including more than 80 video clips of actual interviews with students, is available on the MRI website.

Marilyn continues to teach elementary students on a part-time basis, relying on her classroom experiences to inform her writing and speaking. In 1991, she was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Bank Street College of Education in New York. In 1996, she received the Glenn Gilbert National Leadership Award, given by the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics to one mathematics educator each year. In 1997, she received the Louise Hay Award for Contributions to Mathematics Education by the Association for Women in Mathematics.

Hear Marilyn explain how easy math is to understand along with why so many have had difficulty in “getting it.”

Hear Marilyn in what is Virginia’s favorite part of the interview: the story of The Greedy Triangle that thought it didn’t have enough sides!  It’s the plot of a kid’s book Marilyn wrote which explains that as the triangle acquired more sides, it eventually became so round, it rolled own the hill!  What a great way to excite kids about math and give them needed insights!

Math must be presented to kids in a manner that makes sense to them.

A question parents must learn to use is: “How did you get that answer?”

Start your kids early with math.  Hear Marilyn explain how a parent can teach math to a child by having them help lay a dinner table.

You’ll get the answer to what the difference is between mathematics and arithmetic.

And much, much more.


Click here to listen March 19, 2012 Marilyn Burns

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve


What is Integrated Learning? Why Are American Students Behind Other Nations in Science Education, and What can Be Done About it?

The Learning Curve March 12, 2012  Lisa Niver Rajna

What is Integrated Learning? Why Are American Students Behind Other Nations in Science Education, and What can Be Done About it?

Lisa Niver Rajna is an honest-to-goodness science teacher working in the trenches at K-6.

Lisa’s success is evident in the following:

One of her students WON an international award with OXFAM Canada in its contest on making toys out of recycled materials. Her team was the FIRST USA team in the contest in 20 years

Further she has been invited to be Geographic Awareness Editor on the site: Wandering; and most recently has been nominated for a Presidential Award as a Science Teacher.

Hear Roger & Virginia talk with Lisa about the Global Achievement Gap as revealed by Tony Wagner.

We explore with her such issues as:

  • Is there a conflict between preparing students for the world of work and teaching them about their roles as citizens?
  • What does it mean in today’s world to be an active and informed citizen, and how does a democratic society best educate for citizenship?
  • What would be involved in created the ‘challenging and rigorous curriculum’ for all students that many are now demanding? What is even meant by ‘rigor’ today and how do we get more of it in our students’ classes?
  • Are students learning how to think critically, solve problems, work collaboratively, take initiative, communicate effectively, access and analyze information, be curious and imaginative?
  • Learn how the kinds of questions students are asked and the extent to which a teacher (or parent) challenges students to explain their thinking or expand on their answers are reliable indicators of the level of intellectual rigor in a class.
  • What about our kids’ future roles as world citizens? Are we educating them for it?
  • Given that, as a society, we become good at what we measure: are we measuring the optimum things in our students?
  • Learn how Lisa excites her students and interests them in science.


Click here to listen March 12, 2012 Lisa Niver Rajna

Visit Lisa’s website at

Roger & Virginia at The Learning Curve

How Do You Recognize if Your Child is Having Difficulty in School Early Enough to Properly Help? What to Do and How Do You Find the Help You Need?

The Learning Curve March 5, 2012 Dean Larson

How Do You Recognize if Your Child is Having Difficulty in School Early Enough to Properly Help?  What to Do and How Do You Find the Help You Need?

Too often parents fail to recognize their child is having difficulty and by the time they spot it, too much damage and loss has occurred.

Even when parents are astute enough to recognize the struggling student in their child, they still have the problem of what to do to help and where to go to get proper professional help.

Today, on The Learning Curve with Roger & Virginia, we have the return of Dean Larson, Director of Access for Knowledge Learning Centers.

Dean has a wealth of experience in both preventing student difficulty in his own students and remedying the struggling conditions of students brought to him.

Hear Dean describe how you would first observe, and then proceed to handle, indications of your child having difficulty at school.

His first, critical word of advice is that a parent must stand back and examine the facts of the situation . . . don’t dub-in emotion or opinion.

Look for trends in grades and behavior; a change in friends and a change towards the family.

Write down only the facts.  Just gather data.

You must use “reflective listening” with your child—you must ask, and listen: not tell and assert your belief.

Kids don’t have enough life experience to yet be able to understand all the emotions and feelings they go through.

You’ll hear Dean explain how all this is done, and give you the key question to be asked:

  • What are the possibilities of change?
  • Are there medical conditions (hearing, eyesight, biochemical) behind the trouble?
  • What about tutoring services?  How do you evaluate the options?

Dean brilliantly and clearly answers all these questions . . . .


Click here to listen  Dean Larson 3-5-12 redo of e too large