This free Information Age Education Newsletter is written by David
Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. For more information, see the end of
The previous issue of this IAE Newsletter
focused on Talented and Gifted Education. This issue also focuses on
TAG education. The specific emphasis is on some work done by Joseph
Renzulli, a long time world-class leader in TAG education.
is a thought experiment that sets the tone for this newsletter. Suppose
that a “magic IQ pill” were developed that, if taken by a women
reasonably early in a pregnancy, would lead to the doubling of her
child’s IQ. Thus, a child who would normally face life in our society
with an IQ of 70 would grow up with an IQ of 140—comparable to a child
classified as TAG in our current world.
today’s typical definitions of TAG, this child would not be classified
as TAG. Rather, this child would be viewed as cognitively challenged,
with an IQ in the bottom two percent!
This thought experiment is
one type of argument that supports the idea that we should view all
students in our schools as having considerable cognitive abilities and
being very capable of learning.
Joseph Renzulli is Professor, University of Connecticut, Neag Center
for Gifted Education and Talent Development and Director, National
Research Center on Gifted and Talented. (See http://www.tki.org.nz/r/gifted/reading/theory/renzulli_e.php
He has long been interested in creating school environments that are
appropriate to serving learning needs of the full range of students in
Renzulli is a strong supporter of project-based
learning. Consider project-based learning in which each student works
individually on a project over an extended period of time. (See http://iae-pedia.org/Project-Based_Learning
A key idea is that students are engaged in projects that they find
interesting and that are appropriately challenging to their current
levels of cognitive development, knowledge, and skills. Some students
will do both broader and deeper work than others. In a well-designed
PBL environment, all students will learn—but there will be major
differences in what and how much different students learn.
are many interesting and challenging projects that cannot be
accomplished by one student working alone in the time that is
available. A team of students is needed to carry out such projects.
Moreover, it is important for students to learn to work in a team
Some teachers shy away from allowing a team to
consist of the “best and brightest” students in a class. However, think
about the future work environments that these students will face. They
can benefit immensely by learning to work collaboratively with other
Total Talent Portfolio
One component of Renzulli’s work that I find particularly important is
called the Total Talent Portfolio. Quoting Renzulli, “The Total Talent
Portfolio is a vehicle for gathering and recording information
systematically about students' abilities, interests, and learning
styles.” See chapter 3 of my book available at my free TAG book
available at http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/13-computers-in-education-for-talented-and-gifted-students.html
basic idea is that each student is to have a personal TTP that is used
to assist the student in learning, learning to learn, and learning
about themselves as a learner. A student’s TTP is also quite useful to
the student’s teachers.
For a very young student, the teacher
develops an initial TTP for the student. This is done through an
interactive discussion with the student as well as by drawing on the
teacher’s knowledge about the student. There are some similarities
between this process and the development of an Individual Education
Program (IEP). However, developing, making use of, maintaining, and
revising a TTP can be a very informal process.
As students gain in maturity, they can assume more and more personal responsibility for their TTPs. Quoting Renzulli:
should achieve autonomy and ownership of the TTP by assuming major
responsibility in the selection of items to be included, maintaining
and regularly updating the portfolio, and setting personal goals by
making decisions about items that they would like to include in the
portfolio. Although the teacher should serve as a guide in the
portfolio review process, the ultimate goal is to create autonomy in
students by turning control for the management of the portfolio over to
There are many possible components of a TTP. Here are a
few possible main headings and subheadings in a table-like approach to
a representing a TTP:
1. Special strengths and abilities.
2. Interest areas.
3. Style preferences:
a. Instructional style preferences
b. Learning environment preferences.
c. Thinking style preferences.
d. Expression and performance style preferences.
TTP and Teacher Education
A few years ago I inserted a unit on TAG education into a preservice
elementary education course that I taught regularly. This unit of study
made use of my free TAG book available at http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/13-computers-in-education-for-talented-and-gifted-students.html.
parallel with my course, students were doing classroom field experience
work in various elementary schools. I gave an assignment that required
each of the preservice teachers in my class to select two
high-achieving students and two low-achieving students in an elementary
school. Their task was to work with these four students individually to
develop a TTP, and then to report in some detail about the process and
results. This turned out to be one of the more successful assignments
that I have given over the years that I taught the course.
and maintaining a personal TTP is a useful component of a student
learning to become in independent, self-responsible learner. The
process, along with periodic revisions and updates to the TTP, is a
good topic for student journaling. Students in their early teens may
benefit by reading my (free) book Becoming More Responsible For Your
Education available at http://i-a-e.org/downloads/doc_download/39-becoming-more-responsbile-for-your-education.htm.
About Information Age
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