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 17, 2015

Professional Development...and More Resources

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Monday, December 14, 2015

#Rigor Through Discovering Errors

Another easy way to increase rigor when beginning a lesson, ask students to discover errors.  For the topic you will be teaching today, create a webpage or blog entry that mimics an online encyclopedia entry.  Include at least four content errors.  Ask students to compare the webpage to a credible site, such as the National Geographic Channel.  Their task is to correct the mistakes.  This is a great way to build some prior knowledge and hone students’ analysis skills.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Quick #Rigor Activity to Start a Lesson

A quick way to increase rigor, while introducing a concept or topic for the day, use a picture.  Rather than showing the entire picture to students, cut the picture into multiple pieces, and show them one at a time, requiring them to discern elements and infer the topic.  You can also use technology to either show pieces or uncover pieces of the picture.  I was in a primary classroom where the teacher used a simple folder to complete this activity. On the front of the folder, a face with a smile was cut
out.  The picture was inserted inside the folder, and students determined the picture with just the portion seen through the face.  It’s a simple way to complete this activity, and a quick and easy way to add rigor to your lesson.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Standards on the Board--A Rote Activity?

Many teachers write the standard for the day on the board.  Students are then expected to either read the standard, write the standard, or the teacher reads the standard aloud.  Too often, this becomes a rote activity that carries no real meaning for students.  In order to activate learning, turn the statement into a question.  Explain to students that the focus of the day is for them to be able to answer the question at the end of the lesson.  Then, as a final activity for the day, ask them to write the answer and turn it in. It's far more rigorous than just copying the standard.  

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Real-Life Learning for #Rigor

We often talk about the importance of real-life learning in the classroom.  However, many times we have students complete application activities at the end of a lesson.  In a rigorous classroom, we want students to think at higher levels.  Jessica Guidry, one of my former students, designed an ecology unit for her science classroom that applies this principle. Her students were introduced to the unit with the following task:
You are an ecologist from Rock Hill, South Carolina. Recently, members of the United Nations have come together and decided that they must eliminate one biome to make room for the world’s growing human population. You and a group of your peers have decided to take a stand. You will each choose one biome to present to the United Nations in New York City this April. It is very important that you persuade the members of the UN to keep your chosen biome alive! The UN has asked that you write a persuasive essay to present to the audience. They also asked that you bring visuals and information about your references. You must be sure that you include how your biome benefits the world population. You need to include information about the habitats, populations, animals, plants, and food chains of your biome.

Throughout the unit, she integrated a variety of other open-ended projects, such as creating a flip book on their biome, participating in a debate, and creating food chains/webs in addition to the regular mix of lecture, guided discussion, and laboratory activities. However, since she began with the open-ended, authentic situation, her students were more engaged and challenged throughout the lessons.

Monday, November 30, 2015

High Expectations Lead to High Achievement!

Do you believe that high expectations are a precursor to high achievement?  I do.  Students live up to or down to our expectations.  If we believe a student can do something, they try to achieve it.  If we believe they can't, they will prove us right.  You may feel like you don't have control of anything these days--other people tell you what to teach, how to teach, etc.  But you do control your expectations, and only you control them.  Are your expectations high enough for your students?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015