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 Creative Thinker…|
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/