Tuesday, September 18, 2012

High Achiever or Creative Thinker...Developing Deep Thinking?

A couple of recent publications that arrived in my Google Reader prompted my thinking regarding "defining student achievement" .With such a high focus on standardized testing and data driven evaluations these articles present a fresh perspective as to "how should we define achievement?" What type of outcome are we looking for in our classrooms? Who will find more success in our global landscape, a high achiever or a creative thinker?

Grant Wiggins recent posting on "thoughtlessness" discusses our focus on "covering content" vs. developing depth of thought. He discusses a system in which achievement is obtained by working hard, completing assignments and testing well on materials that were taught. This is a system that does not dive deep into content. The below quote summarizes this thought process.

" But teaching is not about what you will do; I am interested in what the student will be able to do of value as a result of your teaching, because that is all that matters. Thoughtful teachers don’t design backward from the content (the inputs); they design backward from worthy performance in using content (the outputs)." - Wiggins.

In many of our classrooms we focus our attention on how to address students who do not know content. The reaction to this results in differentiation, specific interventions and formative assessments. What about the student's who do know the content? What do we do to develop these students depth of knowledge? Are we providing a classroom environment that offers growth for these students?

I believe it is important to spend some time reflecting on our instruction. Can we spend less time developing pacing guides and more time discussing methods to develop high order thinking within our units of study? How can we challenge our "high achiever", "content masters" to become creative thinkers? Are we providing opportunities to solve and discuss problems, ideas and questions?

This chart published on a blog posting by Bertie Kingore, Ph.D. discusses the differences between a high achiever, gifted learner and creative thinker. As we review the descriptors we should reflect on how we are creating classroom environments that support each.

A High Achiever...

A Gifted Learner...
A Creative Thinker...

Remembers the answers.

Poses unforeseen questions.
Sees exceptions.

Is interested.

Is curious.

Is attentive.

Is selectively mentally engaged.
Daydreams; may seem off task.

Generates advanced ideas.

Generates complex, abstract ideas.
Overflows with ideas, many of which will never be developed.

Works hard to achieve.

Knows without working hard.
Plays with ideas and concepts.

Answer the questions in detail.

Ponders with depth and multiple perspectives.
Injects new possibilities.

Performs at the top of the group.

Is beyond the group.
Is in own group.

Responds with interest and opinions.

Exhibits feelings and opinions from multiple perspectives.
Shares bizarre, sometimes conflicting opinions.

Learns with ease.

Already knows.
Questions: What if...

Needs 6 to 8 repetitions to master.

Needs 1 to 3 repetitions to master.
Questions the need for mastery.

Comprehends at a high level.

Comprehends in-depth, complex ideas.
Overflows with ideas--many of which will never be developed.

Enjoys the company of age peers.

Prefers the company of intellectual peers.
Prefers the company of creative peers but often works alone.

Understands complex, abstract humor.

Creates complex, abstract humor.
Relishes wild, off-the-wall humor.

Grasps the meaning.

Infers and connects concepts.
Makes mental leaps: Aha!

Completes assignments on time.

Initiates projects and extensions of assignments.
Initiates more projects that will ever be completed.

Is receptive.

Is intense.
Is independent and unconventional.

Is accurate and complete.

Is original and continually developing.
Is original and continually developing.

Enjoys school often.

Enjoys self-directed learning.
Enjoys creating.

Absorbs information.

Manipulates information.

Is a technician with expertise in a field.

Is an expert who abstracts beyond the field.
Is an inventor and idea generator.

Memorizes well.

Guesses and infers well.
Creates and brainstorms well.

Is highly alert and observant.

Anticipates and relates observations.
Is intuitive.

Is pleased with own learning.

Is self-critical.
Is never finished with possibilities.

Gets A's.

May not be motivated by grades.
May not be motivated by grades.

Is able.

Is intellectual.
Is idiosyncratic.




Szabos, J. (1989). Bright child, gifted learner. Challenge, 34. Good Apple.

Granted - http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/thinking-about-a-lack-of-thinking/


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