Sunday, January 15, 2012

Creativity Training for Gifted and Talented Kids

Introducing Creativity

I'm working on creativity training for Gifted and Talented preparation.   I'm working it into the vocabulary section and am going to acquire materials in the coming months for it's own Gifted and Talented test preparation series, which with all of my home schooling training, I'm making available for free on this site's curriculum pages.

I read a few research papers on meta-cognition and creativity.   It appears that creativity is not correlated at all with giftedness, but I think it is worthwhile to introduce these concepts as part of gifted and talented training, and also gifted and talented test training.

This is not based on much scientific research, but here is my reasoning.
1.  The purpose of the test is to present the child with a novel problem and have them solve it, thus demonstrating reasoning ability.  I think a child who is used to novel problems might be more comfortable with these tests.
2.  I think creativity is a learned trait, or at least one that is more conducive to nurture than nature.  I studied innovation in my MBA program (ok, I just lost academic credibility), of which creativity is a key part, and it can definitely be fostered if not taught outright.
3.  A "creativity" approach to test prep or learning is a lot more fun for the child than other approaches.
4.  A "creativity" approach to learning opens up different parts of the brain.
5.  From what I see, a GAT program requires a high degree of creativity, for the projects and writing assignments if nothing else.  

So here is an example of questions on a creativity quotient (CQ) test:  Name things that are red.   1 point for each item, 1 point if 90% of the test takers didn't mention it, 2 points if 97% didn't mention it, 3 points if 99% didn't mention it.

This is opening new doors in our preparation.   Here are some example questions along these lines:  Name things made out of glass, metal, wood.   (Science).   Name things that are round, circular, cylindrical, etc. (Math).   What are the similarities and differences between a dinning room and a car?   Name parts of the tree, or things on a tree.   What are the things that every room needs?  This last one was a lot of fun.  The answer is a ceiling, a floor, a number of walls (arguing between 1 and 4), and a door or doorway (another argument).  I like these questions because they open the doors to classification, comparison, differences, vocabulary, and other fields of learning for a small child.

My 3 year old and 1st grader are both having fun and responding to this.  I'm looking for them to transition from things they can see to things that they can't see, and also from standard answers to silly answers.  After day 1, not much yet.

Here are some other questions?  How would a tree walk?   How many ways can you get a used cup into a garbage can?  These are fun, but the above questions have dual purpose so I tend to stick with them.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Gifted and Talented Vocabulary Practice

[March 2013: After a year of research, I have settled on Saldlier-Oxfords' to tackle this issue, and started my wee one on the Red Book.  My older child is on Green.  They love it.   We start Saturday mornings with a new unit, and then I post the word list on the fridge for the week.  I'm going to be posting about this a lot.]

[Feb 2015:  A few months after Jan 2013 I went back to Vocabulary Workshop.  The kids love it, and it teaches a variety of skills that are identical to taking the SAT.   I quickly learned that vocabulary was #1 for test prep.   What was I thinking in my last update?   I think I had low credibility during this R&D stage.  We've done Vocab ever since and it is a fixture in my Supplementary At Home Schooling Curriculum.  This has paid off in a big way, probably bigger than additional math, and provides a huge benefit in all school subjects.]

Introducing Vocabulary

I'm putting together a 12 month vocabulary course for my pre-pre K kid.   Each week, 20 vocabulary words and a test format including some preclassification questions, sentence completion, and analogies.  In this post, I'm going to explain why this is priority #1 for gifted and talented preparation.

First, why vocabulary as my primary focus?  A variety of reasons.
1.  From prior posts, I stumbled upon research that links high vocabulary to accelerated learning.  The more vocab words, the more tools and concepts a child has to use to explore his world.  This is why I use the term "gifted and talented preparation" above and not gifted and talented "test" preparation.
2.  I've read that girls tend to score higher than boys on these tests at an early age because girls pick up vocabulary faster in early stages of development than boys, and I have a boy.
3.  I noted in a prior post that test makers know that scores on vocabulary tests are highly correlated with scores on intelligence tests, and researchers think there is a feedback loop.  
4.  The recommendation for the WISC-IV for gifted and talented testing is only 6 subtests:  vocabulary, Similarities, Comprehension, Matrix Reasoning, Picture Concepts and Block Design.  ("Who are the Gifted Using the New WISC-IV?", Silverman, gilman, Falk.  I think you can read this on the Hogie's web site.)  It appears to me that improving vocabulary directly addresses the first 3, and indirectly addresses the next 2 subtests.
5.  "...the Verbal Knowledge subtest Vocabulary contributes half of the score to the Abbreviated Battery IQ (ABIQ)..." (Use of the SB5 in the Assessment of High Abilities, Ruf).   Some think that the SB5 ABIQ is used to test kids for entrance to Kindergarten GAT programs at the CPS.

The course I'm putting together is very simple.  Each week, I take 20 vocabulary words and create matrices, sentence completion, and pre-classification exercises.   I print this out and read the questions to my kindergartner.  My first grader gets to answer the questions after the little guy takes a shot.  The little guy gets some right, but many wrong, and I need to rephrase the analogies to help out.   So for example, I say "frog is to fly as squirrel is to ?" and he stares at me blankly.   Then I say "A frog eats flies, and a squirrel eats..."

I do this on Monday or Tuesday.  On Saturday, I use the test sheet to do this again, and during the week try to use some of the vocab.   Amazingly, he is picking up much of the vocab.  I think pictures with multiple choice answers like a real test would be easier for him, but I don't have time to create 7,000 pictures.  My goal is 1,000 words in 50 weeks, and for each word, a real test would have 3 pictures in a matrix and 4 pictures in the candidate answer set.

For vocabulary words, I've been trolling through lists of kindergarten, first grade, and second grade vocabulary and spelling lists, and tossing in some math and science concepts.  I try to pick words that are interesting in some way for critical thinking, classification, relationships, etc.   But bottom line, I'm working on that area of the brain that picks up and uses vocabulary, so I am assuming he'll begin to pick up words on his.  Choice of word is probably not critical.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More on the COGAT

It's hard to find any material on the Cogat.  So I thought I'd investigate secondary sources, which include the published material of the owner or creator of the Cogat Test, David Lohman.   His web page is on the University of Iowa site, the king of testing.   This is lots of cool stuff.

What I want to point out in particular is one page in a presentation called "Problems in using nonverbal ability tests to identify gifted students."  This is very cool stuff.   I would love to have heard the actual presentation.  I think it's based on this article:  The Role of Nonverbal Ability Tests.  Bottom line, as I've repeated before, emphasize reading.

Anyway, there are 3 sections on the COGAT, verbal, nonverbal, and quantitative.   Since CPS tests start at age 4, one would think that the nonverbal section would be heavily emphasized on this test.  Well, on a slide entitled "Disadvantages" in the referenced presentation is this bullet point:  "Large practice effect".  That's good news.

I showed my son a few of the sample questions and asked if he recognized these.  Couldn't remember.  Where there any pictures on this test?  "Bunches".

The Cogat has been updated so that the ceiling is no longer 150 but 160.  So if parents start reporting scores above 150, we may be on to something.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What is on the Gifted and Talented Test for CPS - Update

I read an old article where the group at IIT who gives the test, and maintains an impenetrable wall of secrecy, comments on the testing process.

While reading tea leaves, I noted that the director of the program made this comment (I'm paraphrasing): the best predictor of future academic success is current academic success.   I'm going to interpret that to mean that there is a correlation between the content and experience of the test and the content and experience of the gifted program.

Research consistently shows that the best statistical measure of future academic performance is current academic performance. 

In a recent post, I laid out my current strategy for Gifted and Talented test preparation.  This strategy is based squarely my theory that there is a correlation between the GAT test and the GAT program.