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).

Monday, April 4, 2011

Responding to Tony Wagner's Rigor Redefined

This is a piece I wrote for Eye on Education...excerpted here with a link at the bottom for the full article and downloadable project sheet.  

In the October 2008 issue of Educational Leadership, Tony Wagner described the skills students will need to be successful in the 21st century in an article titled “Rigor Redefined.” Barbara R. Blackburn, author of Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word, responds to Dr. Wagner’s article and offers practical ideas for rigorous projects for your students.

In his article “Rigor Redefined,” Tony Wagner describes the skills students will need in the future in order to have successful careers and be good citizens.  The skills move beyond memorization of content for a test and shift the focus to a higher level of learning.   As I reviewed his list, which includes critical thinking, problem solving, initiative, collaboration, adaptability, accessing information, and effective communication, I was reminded of a comment my dad made several years ago.  He said, “The purpose of education is for students to be able to figure out what to do when they don’t know what to do.” Most of the skills Dr. Wagner describes are needed to achieve that.  

Many teachers I talk with agree with his recommendations.  We all know we should not limit our instruction to “the test.”  I firmly believe preparation for a standardized test should be the floor of our instruction, not the ceiling.  And we can incorporate these skills as we teach content.  As you can see from the sample projects below, these activities provide the opportunity for students to engage in critical thinking and problem solving, to demonstrate collaboration, leadership, initiative, entrepreneurialism, and curiosity, to access and analyze information, and to effectively communicate with others.

The rest of the posting and the PDF/project sheet are located here!

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