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, February 3, 2011

Can making a list be rigorous?

In her article on making lists, Abby Conner points out how list-making can actually enhance creativity.  When you are incorporating rigorous activities, I've found that making lists can lead to better, more analytical responses.  My seventh grade son is required to write extended responses for homework in his social studies class (I cannot tell you how impressed I am with his teacher...she is fabulous).  The questions are open-ended and require that he synthesize the information learned in class.  When he's in a hurry, he wants to just "write the paragraph."  Inevitably, that requires a rewrite. But when he starts by breaking down the question, making a list of possible responses to each part of the question, then writing a draft, his response is always better.  Without an extra step of support, many students never reach the next level.  Working from a more concrete activity (lists) to a more abstract one (analytical response) is a great way to support students as they reach higher levels of learning.  And that is rigorous!

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