Tag Archives: Testing

Skills Needed By Gifted Children

Building on what I posted the other day, I thought that if teachers begin to create activities and assignments that have rigor, then there are some skills that gifted children will need to know. Just because these children are gifted, doesn’t mean that they have acquired skills to meet those rigorous activities and assignments.

Many gifted children as they go through elementary school unchallenged, and they don’t learn skills most of their peers learn through struggling. Once they hit middle or high school the classes get more challenging, and they don’t have any coping skills to deal with the challenges. Here is just a few things I believe every gifted child in elementary and middle school should be taught.  (This isn’t a complete list, just a few.)

john-clow-stressed-out**Teachers don’t assume gifted students have these skills just because they are brilliant. These skills are essential not only in school, but also in real life beyond college and in to a career.

Study Skills: 

Before a teacher starts to use strategies that will help challenge their gifted children they should review different ways to study material. They should know how to organize information in ways in witch will meet their personality. Some students do better color coding material. Using different colored pens to match the material they are studying.

Gifted children should be taught how to use a planner. In today’s world everyone has a cell phone, or uses Google products. Both a calendar, and can be personalized to meet their needs. Having this tool at their disposal is great, but they need to know how to use it to get the benefit from it. (Some students need to use the paper version of a calendar or planner which is also alright.)

Since gifted children learn quickly, and retain huge amounts of material they don’t often learn to study for a test. Teach them strategies on how to study for a test. There are many materials on how to study for the SAT, or ACT. Use some of these ideas to help see why these skills are needed. Many of the skills needed to do well on these tests can use transferred to other tests and tasks that may take in the future.

Research/Note Taking Skills:

Many of our gifted children begin taking college level classes in middle and high school, and some wait until after high school. Regardless of when they begin taking this level of classes gifted children need to know how to research effectively. They should know how to use the library effectively. They need to know how to use the reference department, and other facets of the library.

They also need to know how to use the internet effectively. Checking on sources, knowing what is fake or not, and which sites are credible to use are important skills. Teaching our gifted children to recognize bias on different sites is also an important skill.

There are a variety of ways to take notes. Finding the system they are most comfortable with that will work for them is important. One great way that can be personalized in many different ways is the use of Cornell Notes.

I know that all students will benefit from knowing these skills.  Many teachers are under the assumption that gifted children can automatically do these skills because they are smart. Having these skills is important. For gifted students to use these skills effectively they have to be challenged and struggle. They only way that is going to happen is when teachers create activities and projects that are challenging, have stretch and complexity, and are rigorous.

If our gifted children are learning this while they are in college, or after we have failed them.

What skills do you think gifted children should know to help make them successful in and beyond school?


Getting it Right

One aspect of Gifted Education is to find, identify, and service children who are gifted. To follow the mentioned sequence gifted intervention specialists need to work with classroom teachers to to get as much input on a student as possible.

Gifted intervention specialists should look to classroom teachers to help with finding talent, and to help with the placement of students. I was reading Dr. Jim Delisle’s book When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers, and he gives 3 tips for successful placements of gifted children:

  1. All placements in a gifted program should be considered tentative, with the fit between the child’s needs and the program’s offerings being the bottom line criterion for continued placement. Bad match? Look for something better.
  2. All placements in a gifted program should be considered voluntary.  No one should have to act gifted if they don’t want to.
  3. The names of students selected for a gifted program should be shared with the students’ teachers, who should be asked if they know of any other children who might be considered for placement. Teachers cannot remove a student’s name from this list, since this is a sure way to eliminate perceived underachievers and troublemakers.

My personal feeling is that this is correct. I believe that we have to be an advocate for gifted children. Not all gifted children will benefit from a pullout program, or a placement in a full grade or subject acceleration. We need to be flexible, and looking out for the best placement for the success of gifted children.

Once the placement process is complete, we need to make sure we are supportive of the student. When a student is in a pullout program the student will miss some classroom instruction. It doesn’t help when classroom teachers dump all the work that a student missed while in a pull out program. Teachers both Regular Education and Gifted Education need to come up with a common sense solution to help gifted students not get over whelmed with the a ton of extra work. When students are in a pull out program classroom teachers may need to readjust when they plan to take tests or quizzes. I would also suggest the use of pre-tests to see what material all students have mastered. This may help with some curriculum compacting for gifted students during a unit the teacher is covering.

For students who are not in pullout programs,but in an accelerated placement classroom teachers need to monitor the academic progress of the student for several weeks. How the student fits in emotionally also needs to be monitored. If it seems the student isn’t mature enough of handle the new accelerated class placement, then a new placement will need to be provided as an alternative.

What we need to remember that if the placement doesn’t fit we need to change it right away. Success of the student in a placement that will challenge the student is what is important.

Not all Gifted Children Test Well

istock_000042615630_large_redford_new_sat-jpg-736x0_q85The beginning of the  school year is always busy for me. This is the time of year many parents contact me to test their child to see if they qualify for gifted services. Many parents tell me their child is gifted, but tests don’t always show it. I always try to reassure parents that I try to create a peaceful and stress free environment. After testing and scoring, I come to the same result as the parent. The child didn’t test well. So I have to use more than just one instrument to see if a child is gifted or not.

But, how can a child who is gifted not test well? There are several ideas as to why a child doesn’t test well. Parents and teachers know some students don’t test well, but know they are smarter than the test results.

If you know a child is gifted, and isn’t a great test taker here are some ideas as to why they may not test well.

  1. Motivation. Some students have motivation and some don’t. If a student has a lack of motivation then doing well on a test is the last thing the child will do well on.
  2. Intra-Stress. Sometimes a student will not test well, because inside they are too stressed out. It doesn’t matter that the environment is peaceful and stress-free, some students will still battle their own stress.
  3. Perfectionism. Some students feel they need to be perfect in everything. This particularly comes out during timed testing. Children who suffer from perfectionism want to answer every question correctly sometimes will not test well. They get stuck on a question and can’t move on.
  4. Over-thinking. Gifted children are smart, but sometimes they overthink things. Students who overthink on tests don’t do well on multiple choice tests (which most gifted tests are). Gifted children make connections differently. When they can’t use their thinking skills to create something unique, they struggle.


To help children overcome these aspects teachers and parents need to help them overcome these shortfalls. When dealing with motivation or lack thereof, try to spark intrinsic motivation. Use their hobbies and passions to your advantage. Use the idea that doing well now will help them in the future to get into a college or university they are interested in going to.

To help a student who has stress issues teach them techniques that will help them center themselves. Help them to recognize when the internal stress is creeping up, and how to control it.

A student who has an issue with perfectionism needs to understand that making mistakes isn’t a big of deal they perceived it to be. To help them understand this place the student in simulations that they will make mistakes or fail. They will see and feel that they survived. This idea isn’t just with tests. This is an aspect of life. Children who suffer with perfectionism need to know at some point they will make mistakes in life. It matters how they handle the mistake and move on.

For students who  just overthink things on tests help them understand they don’t have to fish for an answer. Most multiple choice tests are straightforward. Just as in life, somethings are just that…straightforward. Once the test is over students will look back, and realize not fishing for a unique answer was the best decision.

As the school year goes on, and you begin to see some of the aspects listed above I hope that you can give these children, and parents some help.

What are some other aspects do you find in students who don’t test well.

For this post, I used the awesome resource Parenting Gifted Children by Jennifer L. Jolly, Ph.D., Donald J. Treffinger, Ph.D., Tracy Ford Inman, and Joan Franklin Smutny, Ph.D.

Creativity: The Art Lost to Testing

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a few of my colleagues here at school about the amount this article of testing that goes on that the State is requiring. We received our list of testing dates to give the PARCC test which is from the Common Core. I was amazed at home many more dates and hours teachers have to give up to testing. I read an article from the Columbus Dispatch the several weeks ago that talked about reducing the amount of testing hours. You can see from this article from the Dispatch some of the recommendations for the reduction of testing from nearly 20 hours down to 16 in the 2015-16 school year. As you read it you see most of the reduction happens to the early elementary students, not so much the middle and high school students.

So this year students will be testing nearly 20 hours. That doesn’t include all the practice testing, and sample questions given to students to practice in and outside of the classroom.

With all this testing, where is the creativity? Where is the idea that students should be tought how to think divergently? The PARCC tests don’t enforce this kind of thinking. Teachers know that test scores are what administrators look at, and care about. Don’t get me wrong, I think testing is fine. I just have a problem with the amount of testing.

We test so much students aren’t as creative as they used to be. Teachers don’t do as many units where creativity is a factor. We structure everything we do around the State test. We have to follow the district curricula map to stay on track. When we do some of the larger projects that take days or a week to do that may put you behind in your map. So what do we do? We stop doing the large projects, and focus on small activities instead.

I grew up in the 1980’s, and graduated highschool in 1993. I had some awesome teachers, and some that challenged me through the arts, language, and yes….to be creative. We didn’t have as any tests as we do now. I had a great education, and I had a great foundation when I went off to college.

What kind of foundation are we giving our students? How to take a test? Life isn’t about taking a test. Life isn’t about trying to figure out how much space Mr. Moustache has left after putting 25 watermelons in the backseat of his car.

We need to get back to teaching our students how to figure out real life questions and issues using divergent thinking, creative thinking, and using their imaginations. I honestly believe this is becoming a lost art. This is why I love to use Project Based Learning in my classroom. It is hard to test, because just like life there isn’t always one correct answer. There are a variety of ways to answer an issue or a problem. We have to show our students how to answer the same issue or problem in multiple ways.

Testing has its place. I know that. But we have to be thinking about getting our children ready for college or real life…not just the upcoming State test.

What do you think? Is creativity a lost art?

The Final Countdown

April is almost here, and for us educators in the State of Ohio we have the Ohio Achievement Assessments. (Fortunantely, becuase of the big snow storms we had this year, our exams are the first week of May.) I know many other states also have their exams this month as well, For the next few weeks, starting today I try to give my students some strategies to do well on their exams. many of these tips that I will mention below is just common sense, but for many of my students they just need to hear it.

(I got most of these tips and strategies from here.)

During Tests
• Read and pay careful attention to all directions.
• Read each passage and accompanying questions.
• Read every possible answer–the best one could be last.
• Read and respond to items one at a time rather than thinking about the whole test.
• Reread, when necessary, the parts of a passage needed for selecting the correct answer.
• Don’t expect to find a pattern in the positions of the correct answers.
• Don’t make uneducated guesses. Try to get the correct answer by reasoning and eliminating wrong answers.
• Decide exactly what the question is asking; one response is clearly best.
• Don’t spend too much time on any one question.
• Skip difficult questions until all other questions have been answered. On scrap paper, keep a record of the unanswered items to return to, if time permits.
• Make sure to record the answer in the correct place on the answer sheet.
• Only change an answer if you are sure the first one you picked was wrong. Be sure to completely erase changed answers.
• Work as rapidly as possible with accuracy.
• After completion of the test, use any remaining time to check your answers.
• Keep a good attitude. Think positively!


Preparing for Testing
• Note test dates on your home calendar; schedule appointments on non-testing days.
• Encourage your child to take responsibility for homework and class study.
• Help you child learn how to find information independently.
• Praise your child for work done well.
• Encourage your child to ask questions at home and in class.
• Get to know your child’s teachers.
• Attend parent-teacher conferences.
• Confer with teachers on a regular basis for progress reports.
• Gather available test preparation materials.
• Assure your child knows that you value a good education.
Testing Day
• See that your child is rested and eats breakfast.
• See that your child arrives at school on time and is relaxed.
• Encourage your child to do the best work possible.
• Do not send your child to school if illness is apparent.
• Do not remove your child from school on test days for appointments.

Parent Strategies for Reducing Test Anxiety
• Discuss the test openly and in a positive way.
• Have realistic expectations of your child’s performance while encouraging his/her best efforts.
• Emphasize that the test is only one measure of academic performance.
• Emphasize that test scores do not determine a person’s worth.

I find that when I give my students more assurance, and some common sense tips and strategies they don’t feel as nervous. They know the importance of this exam. Teachers and parents know the importance of these exams. We just have to work together to help make each student comfortable and confident as possible while they take these exams.

Many of us have our on opinions about high stakes testing, and standardized testing. I am not getting to that right now. I feel that we can’t complain about the game when we knew what the rules were when we started playing. The test is here. It’s a reality to us and to our students. Our job is teach our children, not to use pass the test, but to be successful in life. The test should be starting point, not the end all be all sort of thinking.

What tips and strategies do you give your students and children to help prepare them for their exams?





http://www.aps.edu/aps/7-bar/TestTakingTop25.pdf  <—I usually copy this out for my students