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, October 24, 2011

Rigor for Students with Special Needs?

From IStock Photo, compliments of a dear friend, Rachel!
When I was in Everett, Washington last week, a teacher of students with special needs came up after the presentation.  She said, "Thank you for saying that my students need rigor too.  I hope everyone heard you."

Of course rigor is for students with special needs, just like it is for gifted students, at-risk students, and everyone else.  Rigor is about helping students move beyond where they are to a higher level, and that is for each student.  To deny some students that opportunity is to say, "you aren't worth it because you can't learn."  I have only heard that phrase once from a teacher (now a former teacher).  I hope to never hear it again. 


  1. Infusing rigor into our classrooms has been a focus in my district. Any suggestions or adaptations of the templates for students who are within the borderline to deficient intelligence range?

    I recently ordered your book, and I am looking forward to its arrival!

  2. That's a tough group to work with, but I absolutely agree that all students can do rigorous work. Keep in mind that rigor is about moving to higher levels of learning, so it's not necessarily jumping four grades levels of learning at one time. Specifically about adapting activities/templates, I would take something like the math graphic organizer and simplify it. I might only have three sections: what is the question, what information is there, and what do we need to figure out (adapt that language to suit your students' needs). Keep it as simple as possible, and remember that small steps add up to big gains. Next, use strategies like the riddles. Instead of telling a student something just give an example and ask. So, I'm a pet that barks. What am I? Hope this helps, and look at Monday's post for another perspective.


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