Gifted Learners Reaching for the Stars

By Jenelle S. Miller, Ed.D.

Children should have the opportunity to stretch their minds and increase their capacity for learning every day. They should be allowed to follow their curiosities and encouraged to wonder. A learning environment, whether public, private, or at-home, should inspire children to reach for the stars rather than always having to wait until others catch up. Children who stand out as gifted among their peers should be given opportunities to accelerate at a pace that reflects their abilities and motivation to learn.

The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) reprinted an article by Carol Ann Thomlinson, Ed.D., of The University of Virginia titled, What it Means to Teach Gifted Learners Well. In this article, Dr. Thomlinson discussed the difference between good instruction and inappropriate instruction for gifted learners.

Article link:

Accelerated Academics' Students Tour San Diego Central Public Library

By Dr. Jenelle S. Miller

Isabel, Fabienne, and Ethan Sparks touring the Central Branch of the San Diego Public Library

Isabel, Fabienne, and Ethan Sparks touring the Central Branch of the San Diego Public Library

Yesterday (Wednesday, September 21, 2017), two of my students from Accelerated Academics and their father/teacher accompanied me to the Central Branch of the San Diego Public Library in Downtown San Diego. The purpose of our visit was for a National History Day (NHD) Orientation, which included a tour with docent David Brands as well as a topic brainstorming session with the Jayne Henn, the manager of the Denny Sanford Children’s Library. My students, Fabienne and Isabel, are gearing up to participate in this year’s NHD competition and wanted to learn how to best utilize the library for their research projects.

The tour of this brand new and very large library by the docent was fascinating and highly beneficial. In addition to learning about the history of the planning and construction of the library, we visited the special collections area, technology rooms, and the teen room; saw where we could utilize group meeting rooms; and met several skilled individuals who will be available to provide us with expert help regarding our research. We also learned that we may use the library’s multi-media technology and 3-D printers for our own projects and that we can access technology experts who are there to assist us when we need help. All of these things and more make this library one to which we definitely plan to return and utilize over the coming days, weeks, months, and years.

When talking to the girls and their father about their experience during the tour, Fabienne exclaimed, “I want to live here!” and Isabel and her father are looking forward to their next opportunity to return and conduct some research. Our docent/tour guide and the children’s librarian have definitely succeeded in inspiring my students to dive in to their research projects with passion.

There are so many purposes to use the resources at the Central Branch of the San Diego Public Library - National History Day is only one of them. We plan to utilize this great resource to its fullest extent. It has everything we could possibly need for an abundance of great educational experiences.

Happy Pi Day!

Today is Pi Day. Click on the title link to find out why Pi Day is special.

Here are a few other links for Pi Day activities from MAKE:

Celebrate Raspberry Pi’s Fourth Birthday with These 5 Pi Projects

How Far Can You Memorize Pi? Show Off Your Skills with These Memory Tricks

From other sources:

Learn about Pi Day

How to Celebrate Pi Day

Enjoy your Pi Day exploration and activities!




Securing an Appropriate Education for your 2E Student

I found a great article today that I would like to share with you. The article was written by Mark Woodsmall, Esq. to assist 2E families in pursuing and obtaining an appropriate education for your children. Please follow the link below:


Portfolios for Homeschoolers: Historical Keepsakes and Documented Evidence of Student Learning

Some states require homeschool parents to provide annual evidence of student learning by either having their children take standardized tests or by keeping a portfolio of student work that is reviewed by a certified teacher within a local school district. Student portfolios are traditionally kept by certified teachers in public schools as an alternative assessment tool to demonstrate learning. Process-oriented portfolios demonstrate the growth and improvement of a student’s skills and abilities over time during the learning process. Product-oriented portfolios showcase the selection of final products that represent a student’s best or highest quality work. How, then, do keeping and maintaining student portfolios relate to homeschoolers in the state of California?

California doesn’t require homeschoolers to take standardized tests or to keep a portfolio. Nevertheless, the California State Regulations of Private and Home Schools states that “true and accurate records regarding the courses of study must be maintained by private schools,” which includes students who are homeschooled. Section 44237. Cal. Educ. Code §33190. In addition, “students who are schooled at home in California should receive instruction in the various branches of study required in the public schools.” According to Cal. Educ. Code §51210, the following courses “must be taught to students in grades one through six: English, math, social science, science, visual and performing arts, health, and physical education.” In grades seven through twelve, the following courses “should be offered: English, social sciences; foreign languages (starting no later than seventh grade); physical education; science; mathematics; visual and performing arts; applied arts; career technical education; automobile driver education; and other studies that may be prescribed by the governing board.” Cal. Educ. Code §§51220, 51222. It is important to note, however, that homeschoolers under the Affidavit for private schools (Cal. Educ. Code §33190) have no written state or local school district curriculum requirements or guidelines because California’s grade level standards and adopted materials do not apply to students schooled at home. It is up to parents who educate their children at home to select and provide all curriculum, instruction, and materials. This seems somewhat confusing because parents need to keep “true and accurate records” of the course of study for courses that “must” or “should” be taught; however, California’s curriculum standards and materials do not apply to homeschoolers. With that in mind, how might keeping a portfolio of student work benefit homeschoolers?

Keeping a portfolio record of student work can be an enjoyable way for parents and their children to track the journey of their learning experiences together over time; to document what has been learned, what needs to be learned, what has worked, and the process it took to accomplish their own personalized educational goals. Such a record of student work becomes a historical family keepsake or scrapbook, verifying all of the committed effort, hard work, and fun that both parents and students invested together into the learning process. Hence, what categories of documents should be collected?

Depending upon the type or purpose of the portfolio, some suggested documents to collect are as follows, but not limited to:

  • Daily Attendance Log

  • Daily Coursework Log

  • Reading List Log

  • Project Log

  • Physical Education Log

  • Competition Log

  • Field Trip Log

  • Vacation Log

  • Math Pre-test/Post Test Samples

  • Writing Samples (First Draft and Final Paper)

  • Final Project Samples

Subsequently, how might representative artifacts and samples of student work be selected?

In a homeschool environment, it is imperative that parents and children be partners. In order for a successful educational experience, they must commit to working together as a team and set reachable learning goals. Parents are accountable for assessing their children and providing appropriate learning experiences and guidance, and students are responsible for engaging in the learning process. Therefore, the participation of both parents and students in the selection of sample work to be showcased in the portfolio is essential. By approaching portfolio development as a team, two major things are accomplished: 1) parents have the means to evaluate their teaching methods and the educational experiences they have provided by looking at what has caused student improvement what has been unsatisfactory; and 2) students have the opportunity to evaluate themselves and determine where they personally have excelled or need more work.

Over the years, portfolios have the potential to provide homeschoolers with invaluable archival records of their education. In addition, when it comes time to prepare for college, a well-documented and well-organized portfolio can help the college applicant design and write up his or her own transcript. The college portfolio then becomes a unique document and vital presentation reflecting the knowledge, skills, beliefs, and talents the student has achieved during his or her homeschool learning experience.

For more information on how to prepare a portfolio, contact Dr. Jenelle Miller at


Homeschool Portfolio Evaluations Shouldn’t Be Scary!

Homeschool Portfolios


Portfolio Types

Student Portfolios as an Assessment Tool

Student Portfolios: Classroom Uses


Homeschooling: A Beneficial Option for Gifted and Talented Students

Parents typically desire that their children receive an appropriate education that leads to a successful life. Parents of high-ability or profoundly gifted children or children who are twice-exceptional (gifted with disabilities) often struggle with school and district personnel as they advocate for a suitable differentiated education that will meet their students’ academic and socio-emotional needs. Diminished funding resources for gifted programs and the lack of teacher/administrator training and professional development are some of the major issues that negatively affect the public school experience for gifted learners and their parents.

An educational environment undertaken primarily at home for gifted students can provide an unlimited atmosphere for learning, so long as the parent is committed to the process of providing engaging and challenging learning opportunities. Parents of high-ability learners usually understand that their students have a variety of different needs, interests, and strengths. In a homeschool setting some gifted students may prefer to work one-on-one with a parent or mentor, others may thrive with independently accessed accelerated on-line courses or self-directed problem-based learning. Furthermore, the daily homeschool program can be customized to fit the needs of the learner who is highly talented in areas where they need flexible schedules to practice and compete in physical activities (i.e. dance, gymnastics, equestrian, ice skating, tennis, golf, skateboarding, etc.).

Parents who desire to take on the role of homeschooling often feel daunted by the unknown circumstances of where to begin; and they may worry that they are not qualified to teach their children. These noble parents would benefit from the support and guidance of a professional educator who is trained in gifted education and who oversees a private school satellite program (PSP) for homeschool families. This professional could help parents understand how to effectively personalize and individualize the educational experiences of their gifted children. Additionally, opportunities for parents to gain confidence by learning a variety of teaching strategies from this educator and for networking with other homeschool parents within the PSP could play a major role in the success of the overall homeschool experience.


"Homeschooling the Gifted Learner." Position Papers. California Association for the Gifted, 21 Nov. 2004. Web. 12 Jan. 2016. <>.