I'm often asked, "With increased accountability, how do you balance the pressure to teach to the test with what you feel is best for your students?"
As I work with teachers, I find there is not a simple answer. More than anything, I see teachers choosing to teach information that is related to the test, but also refusing to be limited by that. Whenever possible, they increase the rigor and engagement of activities that are test-related.
For example, one of my favorite activities is to have students write or explain a new vocabulary term in their own words. I increase rigor and engagement by asking them to write "Who Am I?" or "What Am I" riddles. By composing riddles and trying to solve them, students are excited and don't even realize they are making up original definitions to new vocabulary terms.
Since it's election season, here's a sample from Niko, Amy, Keith, Demetrius, and Cathy at Conway Middle School:
I am a college known as a party school.
My mascot changes all the time.
Popularity does not rule!
What am I?
Answer-- The electoral college!
What are some of your favorite rigorous activities to use in your classroom?