I recently had a conversation with a few parents of gifted students about how their students’ teachers use rubrics (a means of evaluating student work) to grade all student assignments in their class. There was a wide variety of opinions about the topic of rubrics for grading, and about assignments in general. Some people thought assignments were “not as rigorous as they used to be,” a view perhaps many have when looking back at their own schooling. The question by another parent was “were assignments actually rigorous, or do you just think they were?” That’s a good point. Sometimes memory, especially of years past, has a way of smoothing over things we were not good at or thought were hard. Another person thought that the use of endless rubrics that her daughter brings home greatly limits her daughter’s ability to think and creatively complete assignments to show what she knows. Others agreed, and some disagreed.
It is true that some teachers use rubrics to evaluate and/or grade every assignment they give in their class. It is also true that some teachers do not use rubrics at all, and that still others use rubrics to evaluate only big projects. It seems that there is great diversity in how teachers evaluate student work.
For gifted students, flexibility in evaluating their work can lead to a greater understanding of the abilities of the students, and their ability to think critically, be creative, and express themselves at a deep level. Sometimes having to fit vast creative, deep, and/or critical thinking into a rubric’s confines may be upsetting or limiting for gifted students; however, it all depends on the rubric and how it is used. This is often a controversial topic, but there are ways to understand both sides of the issue of using or not using rubrics. Understanding the purpose of rubrics and how your student’s teacher uses them is a start. Below are some resources about rubrics including benefits and limitations.
Resources About Rubrics
How to Create and Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment and Grading
Utah Education Network
How Do Rubrics Help?
The Benefits & Limitations of Grading Rubrics
Etale Newsletter, Dr. Bernard Bull
Students who are gifted often have many areas of interest. Many times, their areas of interest are vast and seemingly unrelated. Students who are gifted often have different areas of interest as they grow up. Maybe they are interested in building roads out of Legos or other materials when they are 5 or 6 years old, then have great interest in collecting and learning about all different types of pine cones or rocks when they are 8 or 9 years old. In middle school they may have great interest in statistics and probability in basketball. In high school they may collect books, media, models, and formulas about the history of flight leading to the space race to Mars. Student knowledge about these topics expands with each area of interest and as they grow up. How do students show the knowledge they have about all of their interests when the learning has occurred outside of school, so they have a record of their areas of knowledge and learning over the years?
One way is by creating a portfolio that documents knowledge and activities through collections, writing, artwork, photographs, creations, and other items that are gathered and used as artifacts. In a portfolio, an artifact is an item that shows knowledge, learning, competence, or simply joy in gathering information about a topic. Students create digital portfolios for many reasons, including documenting what they know and have learned throughout their lifetime. Parents may also create a portfolio to document the growth of their child over time.
Some people think of portfolios as huge binders like pages in a scrapbook. A learning portfolio is much more than a scrapbook. Nowadays, portfolios are digital and stored online. Following are several digital platforms on which to build a digital portfolio. Some are easier to use than others, so it is beneficial to take a look at more than one option. There are also YouTube videos for some of the options below that tell more about it if you do a search online.
Enjoy creating a digital portfolio!
LiveBinder Free public binders. Has an option of a subscription that makes the portfolio private. Many portfolios to look at and use.
3 Tools for Creating Digital Portfolios: Google’s Suite for Education, Seesaw, and Book Creator
Student Portfolio Apps and Websites: 17 Tools for creating portfolios
YouTube How-to Videos
YouTube How-to Videos
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