Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Happy Winter Holidays

It's that time again...time for a winter break.  I hope that, whatever you celebrate during this time of year, you have a wonderful, restful break before the New Year starts.  As usual, I'll take a break with you and see you again January 5, 2015!  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Provoking Thought with Questions

I ran across this blog entry a couple of weeks ago.  It provides a good description of the different types of questions (scroll down through the initial information) and provides examples of some.  Take a look:

Low Risk Questions

These have no right or wrong answer. Examples include asking for students’ opinions about something, or simply asking what comes into their heads when you introduce an idea or concept. These types of questions are most effective in initiating discussion.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Creating Student Independence Through Projects

One way to build student independence and ownership is through projects.  While there are plenty of ideas for projects available on the web (such as this, this,and this technology-based list), I like to allow students to come up with their own projects, even if the teacher prompts it. 

Scott Bauserman, a teacher at Decatur Central High School in Indiana, asks his students to choose a topic from the social studies unit and design a game. The finished product must teach about the topic, use appropriate vocabulary and processes, and be fun to play. As he explains, “Students have to construct the game, the box, provide pieces and a board, and write the rules. I received a wide variety. One game I will always remember was about how a bill gets passed into law. We spent
time [in class] talking about all the points where a bill in Congress or the state General Assembly could be killed, pigeon-holed, or defeated. The student took a box the size of a cereal box, set up a pathway with appropriate steps along the way, constructed question/answer cards and found an array of tokens for game pieces. If a player answered a question correctly, he or she would roll a dice and move along the path to passage. But the student had cut trap doors at the points where a bill could be killed, and if a player landed on a trap door/bills topper, the player to the right could pull a string, making that player’s token disappear from the board. The player would have to start over. Not a bad game from a student who has fetal alcohol syndrome and is still struggling to pass his classes.”
If you'd like to be even more open-ended, use this list of prompts for students to design their own projects.  

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rigor for School Leaders


A quick, two minute snippet for leaders of strategies to increase rigor.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

22 Ways to Add Rigor to Your Classroom

Here's a great article about 22 Ways to Add Rigor to Your Classroom.  I appreciate that she builds her ideas off my work on rigor.

Let's start by clearing up a misconception: Rigor isn't unfriendly. Adding it to your class doesn't mean you become boring, a techie, or an overseer of a fun-free zone.  In fact, done right, rigor fills your class with Wow!, those epiphanies that bring a smile to student faces and a sense of well-being to their school day.  Rigor provides positive experiences, is an emotional high, and engenders a pervasive sense of accomplishment students will carry for years--and use as a template for future events.

For the rest of the article, click here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tips and Tricks for Surviving December!

With all the chaos during the holiday season, it can seem like you are barely making it day to day.  But here's a December Survival Guide from Scholastic that is full of tips for grades PreK-8.



Now, here's my top three tips:

1.  Remember to pause and celebrate progress in learning (and in your teaching);
2.  Try at least one new strategy that will help your struggling learners;
3.  BREATHE!!!!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving for our Students?

As you think about Thanksgiving this week, take a moment to reflect.  What are you thankful for about your teaching?  Are you thankful that a new idea you tried worked for some of your students?  Are you thankful that you took a few extra minutes to help a particular student?  Next, what makes you thankful about your students?  Try to think of one thing you are thankful for with each one of them.  Hard?  Maybe.  But worth it?  Absolutely!  Happy Thanksgiving.