Category Archives: High School

3 Pros and 3 Cons of Teaching to a Test

In the world of gifted education, I believe that there is a general consensus that teaching to a test keeps gifted students from receiving the best education possible. When a students are taught material that is going to be on a test, students who already have grasped the material are not focused on in the way that most parents would like. However, teaching to a test is not necessarily the worst case scenario. In the following post, I am going to outline what I see are some pros and cons of teaching to a test, then you can decide which way you like the best.

Cons

1. Testing is the Be-All-End-All: When teaching to a test, there is no other way to effectively measure how much a student has learned except by how he or she performs on the test. This applies more pressure onto students as well as teachers.

2. There is no Room for Creativity: Because tests are rigid in the topics of testing, teachers are limited to how far they can deviate from the curriculum. Where as learning about marine biology may be something that leaves a permanent impression on a student, marine biology is not likely to show up on a test unless it was a specific standard. Because test are so limited in the areas that are tested, areas of interest for the teacher and the students are often put aside.

3. What About Different Learning Styles?: Tests test one basic style of learning. Those that learn by memorizing information and are good at reciting ideas and concepts taught to them. However, if you are a student who learns best by looking at pictures of concepts or even if you perform best when listening to music, you are out of luck when it comes to testing. Because teaching to a test is singular in its goal, students are crammed into a single overshadowing group that does not allow the individual to perform in the way that best enables them to score well.

Pros

1. Keeps Teachers Accountable: Testing keeps teachers from becoming placid. When students are measured by standardized testing, one can see how teachers need to improve, as well as if there are any teachers who are slacking on the job. In a perfect world all teachers would teach their students the skills that they are going to need both in the rest of their school career and out in the real world. However, it is an unfortunate truth that not all teachers perform as well as many would like. By using a measuring stick such as testing, administration can make sure that their teaching staff is performing to the best of their ability.

2. Develops Real World Skills: Testing is not conducted in education alone. In the workplace employes are tested on a regular basis to make sure that they are performing well. By using testing to make sure that students know that they are expected to perform, teachers can prepare students for the real world and future employment.

3. Allows Students to Set Goals: When measuring system such as a test is used, students are more able to set goals for themselves. When students have something to strive for, they are much more likely to achieve place-marks that have been set by administration and teachers. Because testing offers a way for students to gauge their accomplishments throughout the school year, testing can be used to give the students a sense of accomplishment.

Even though testing may not be the favorite activity of students, and even teachers. If used in the correct way, testing can offer many benefits. However, if it is not used correctly it can make students resent school and learning as a whole. Testing can become a tool to help students achieve the most that they can, and hopefully that is how schools are using it.

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7 Sure-Fire Ways to Alienate a Teacher

I have posted before about the importance of communication as well as how to approach a teacher. In this post I am going to outline phrases to avoid when speaking to teachers (or anyone else in education for that matter). These 7 phrases are almost guaranteed to make any teacher not listen to what you have to say. Just like with everyone else, teachers have a tendency to turn off if they feel that a conversation is not going anywhere. By avoiding these 7 phrases you can give yourself, and your ideas, a fighting chance to make a difference. Want to discover what not to say to a teacher. Read on to find out

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AP and IB, Good or Bad?

After a nice Holiday break, we finally get down to some new topics.

Being a high school student myself, when I first heard that my school had the available IB program (For those who do not know, the IB program or International Baccalaureate program, is an internationally recognized educational program, similar to the AP program, that allows students to get a heightened education. Upon completion of the program, the student receives a Diploma, the program can potentially have more prestige than the AP program because the IB program is recognized around the world. For more information on the IB program visit their website at IBO.org) I was delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the prestigious program. However, after going through the advocating process at my school, and trying to make my case as to why I should be allowed to pursue a distance program as a substitute for the regular English class, I have started to think about whether the IB or AP program is right for me. The pro’s and con’s of this situation have been discussed in numerous books and websites, including my most recent read The Overacheivers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids
This problem faces many of our gifted youth today, the seemingly obvious choice is to go with the AP or IB program, they will look really good on the college application; however, the AP and IB programs may not be right for every gifted child. For starters the courses are extremely rigorous. The course load is tough and the challenges that face the students in these courses are not to be scoffed at. I had to take a good look at myself and decide whether I could take the challenge, especially because I have not really experienced an extremely tough course load in the past. The AP and IB programs are not for the faint of heart, and even though many gifted students are extremely motivated, every student should ask themselves whether they are ready for the challenge. Secondly, the IB and AP courses may not offer the kind of challenge that your gifted child may want. This was and still is the big question for me. Will the AP and IB courses offer an environment that is both stimulating and challenging? Will the peers in the AP and IB courses allow me to have in-depth discussion and analysis? Will the teachers understand my gifted personality and allow me to be creative in their classroom? Your gifted student should ask themselves this, and if they are not satisfied with the answer, then maybe he or she should look into other programs such as the EPGY Online High School .

The best way to answer the previous questions is to ask. Talk to parents of students who are participating in the various programs at your school and get your gifted student to talk to other students in the programs. As you develop a sense of the programs and teachers at your school, evaluate the options available to you. For me the question that is most important is whether the students and teachers in my classes would stimulate discussion. I learn best when there is a lot of discussion, debate, and analysis. My favorite teachers have been ones that I can have an in-depth discussion with. So if the class consists of desk work and there is not much discussion, I am not likely to enjoy the class nearly as much as the one where everyone is talking and sharing ideas.

In the end, it comes down to how your gifted student learns the best and what kind of environment your gifted student thrives in. If you can determine that the IB and AP programs will provide opportunities that will stimulate and nurture your gifted student then go ahead and join the program. What I urge you not to do is just join because it will look good on the college application. Ultimately, your students happiness is much more important than the college that they get into.

Gifted Children in High School

Throughout the majority of elementary and middle school, gifted children are identified, clustered, and depending on your state, they can even be taken out of the classroom on certain days. However, when many gifted teens enter high school, most special programs that target them fall by the wayside. In their place, gifted kids participate in honors, AP, and IB classes. These classes, which are not restricted to just gifted teens, contain many different academic levels including high achieving, but not gifted students. If your gifted teen is lucky enough to be a high achieving student as well as a gifted student, then the change might very well benefit him or her. However, many gifted students fall through the cracks in such programs. Gifted teens who are gifted in the arts or another non-core subject, may not be placed in the high achieving and gifted peer group of the honors, AP, and IB courses. Also, gifted students who are not as motivated, or are twice exceptional may be left out and are not always placed with the peer group that they should.

As the high school system becomes increasingly focused on getting into college, and getting a good grade is more important than expressing your creativity, many gifted teens who were nurtured in elementary and middle school, may fall by the wayside in high school. In order for your student to get into college, it seems that they must sacrifice some of the very essence that made them exceptional in the first place.

Sometimes, the high school experience may also lack the challenge that your gifted teen needs, especially in the first two years of high school where AP and IB programs may be limited or non existent. If you find that your gifted teen is either being held back from reaching their full potential, or they are being frustrated by a lack of challenge in their classes; the best course of action is to try and meet with your gifted child’s teacher to try and arrange for a differentiated learning curriculum. Another option could be to pursue a distance program that might allow your child to interact with a more suitable peer group. Also encourage your teen to join a club or organizations at school where they might meet others with similar interests. Another way for your teen to meet others with similar interests and intellect is to have he or she participate in an extracurricular activity.

The problem that faces our gifted teens today is a problem that needs to be addressed, but in the mean time, allowing your gifted teen to branch out and be creative outside of school could very well help solve their individual problem. Keep advocating for change at your individual school and eventually the change shall occur.