Readers send me the darndest things:

  • Continuing our blogged quest for ways to measure creativity, Suzanne Aurilio says the solution is “peer and community-based assessments.” It actually sounds pretty fun — like science fair for creative projects. The process would be interactive and social, Aurilio writes:

    Think of rating systems on YouTube or in Amazon.com. What compels people to rate and post? With the same kind of mechanisms, (i.e. rating systems and comments) but with clearly spelled out guides for ratings, via rubrics, the task of measuring is spread across interested community members and peers. How is interest generated? When partnerships are local, family members, teachers, friends, pastors, etc are all made aware of the program and encouraged to participate.

    Also worth noting: Aurilio has the terrific title of “Assistant Director, People, Information and Communication Technologies” at San Diego State University.

  • After reading about grade boosts for acing standardized tests in Grossmont, parent activist Sally Smith e-mailed me an article from the California Educator about a court case that forced Ceres Unified School District to backtrack on changing students’ grades when they excel on standardized tests. 

    One important difference here: Teachers at the Grossmont schools say they opted to offer the bonuses, while Ceres seems to have gotten in trouble for forcing teachers to do it schoolwide. But the case underscores some of the same discomfort that parents in Grossmont have had with the grade boosting policy, even as they recognize the challenge of motivating kids for the test.

  • And Bill Madigan, a teacher at Steele Canyon Charter, has more thoughts on why creativity and critical thinking is so important in the first place: 

    Medicine, journalism, law and the ever growing competition with China and India REQUIRE that we teach problem solving and resiliency. The Chinese are now redirecting their educational focus away from math and science (they already do much better than we as they only teach 16 central concepts in algebra and we teach 45) and more towards problem solving.

    He touted one Steele Canyon project: Building a concrete canoe to race against others. “The success of their project is the assessment of their creativity, both in product and process,” Madigan wrote.

— EMILY ALPERT

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