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, October 13, 2011

Rigor for Gifted Students

Don't we already provide rigor for gifted students?  That's the question I received from a participant in my workshop earlier this week.  I think it depends on the teacher (doesn't it always).  I have seen many teachers of gifted or honors students who provide rigor for the students.  But I've also been in similar classrooms that were not rigorous.  For example, I've observed teachers who ask very high level questions, but who accept student responses that are simplistic.  I've also reviewed assessments and assignments for gifted students.  One in particular stands out. 

It was a project for a high school Advanced Placement course.  Students were to read ten current events articles and summarize each.  In addition to the assignment, students were given how the assignment would be graded.  X number of points for the number of articles read, x number of points for putting their name in the upper right hand corner, x number of points for legibility, x number of points for summaries, x number of points for listing the references and attaching the articles. 

Do you see the problems?  First, the grading is more about completion than it is about quality. Second, is summarizing really appropriate for AP high school students?  A more rigorous activity would require students to analyze and synthesize the articles, and make connections among articles, and to other outside readings and experiences. 

I'd like to add a special thanks to @jabbacrombie on Twitter for reminding me that I haven't written specifically about gifted students lately! 

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