We’re back in the swing of blog posting now, and with our exciting new Q4 Humanities Priorities, I am feeling an increased urgency to drive towards rigorous outcomes for our students in the home stretch of the year.
In fact, our #1 Priority for this quarter is:
STUDENTS ARE engaged in the content because it is rigorous, compelling, aligned to a meaningful EOY assessment, and focused around essential questions that bring to light social justice issues BECAUSE TEACHERS ARE planning units and lessons that have strong visions of mastery, are aligned to a meaningful EOY summative, and that are propelled by essential questions and meaningful texts.
This is particularly critical at this juncture of the year, since we are seeing only minor shifts in our students’ Engagement with Rigorous Content since the beginning of the third quarter (want more info on how this is determined? Check out my State of the Humanities blog post):
In this blog post, you’ll find the following three “launching pads” for increasing rigor in your classroom. I want to stress that these are beginning points, as they may inspire more questions and may not present direct solutions, but hopefully will simultaneously move you to innovate and use new ideas!
- The Rigor/Relevance Framework
- Using Your Summative
- Professional Development Suggestions
Okay! Let’s have it.
1. The Rigor/Relevance Framework
As I was researching for my Q3 Session “What is Creativity?“, I came across this new frameworkk that the International Center for Leadership in Education rolled out in 2014. Check out the main graphic below:
What I love about this framework is it actually expands and refines our understanding of what rigor actually is. In some ways, it helps us grasp what Grant Wiggins (co-author of the ever-important Understanding by Design) means by his definition of rigor:
To me, rigor has (at least) 3 aspects … learners must face a novel(-seeming) question, do something with an atypically high degree of precision and skill, and both invent and double-check the approach and result … The novel (or novel-seeming) aspect to the challenge typically means that there is some new context, look and feel, changed constraint, or other superficial oddness than what happened in prior instruction.
In essence, we reach higher levels of rigor not JUST by asking for more content knowledge, but by asking for the content skills and understandings to be applied in unfamiliar contexts and situations. Consequently, we can reach high levels of application (and engagement!) even on the first day of a unit when we drive for students to apply their thinking in real-world or unexpected situations, rather than just expecting them to engage in the content in isolated ways. The following flowchart may help explain this better:
Want some examples of lesson plans and videos that drive towards these higher levels? Check ’em out below!
- check out the video on this page for a quick overview of moving from basic factual recall to higher order thinking… BUT, watch out! Does this really drive towards application of content knowledge and skills outside of the content?
- A helpful compilation of plans that drive towards application of learning in unfamiliar contexts!
- Check these out, made by yours truly!
- Yes, this video is an ELA classroom, but what is she doing to support her students in higher order thinking that is transferable to our contents?
2. Using Your Summative
Now that over 80% of us in the Humanities have at least a draft summative (check them out here!), we can really start using these meaningful End of Year measures of student academic progress to:
- Invest students in the idea that they will have an opportunity to show their growth on an End of Year assessment.
- Assessing the degree to which your students are prepared to meet this rigorous bar.
- Using those assessments and the Summative itself to plan rigorous, focused, and exciting lessons!
While more details on this are going to come with our “Working Towards an End” session (March 19th or March 31st), you can start thinking NOW about how exactly you can leverage the fact that you have a strong Summative to help your planning. Consider taking the following actions:
- Start telling your students about what the Summative will cover, and why this will be an exciting testament to the progress they have made this year.
- Start telling your students about how you planned your Sumnmative – what resources did you use? how does it align with your classroom vision?
- Start breaking down the Summative: what knowledge, skills, and understandings about your content should your students have? Which of these do you feel you still need to teach? Which do you need to remediate? What do your students need to practice in order to be confident with the Summative?
- Use your bell ringers and exit slips to familiarize your students with the structure and format and rigor of your Summative. Don’t feed them the questions directly off the Summative, but consider adapting the questions so they are relevant to the lessons you are teaching on the daily-level. Then, you can use the data you get from the exit slips (and weekly quizzes, if you like!) to consider further how you can support your students!
- Start planning projects and performance tasks that help your students build confidence in thinking about the content in new contexts and with unpredictable outcomes. Doing so will help them feel like anything on the Summative – even if they haven’t seen it before – is approachable!
There is a LOT more you can do to support your students in this… Reach out to Jacob and/or your Content Leaders to start planning for higher rigor using your Summatives.
3. Professional Development Suggestions
Don’t be like the teacher above! Get your professional development around real priorities and by working with one another (albeit mostly by WebEx)… here are the PD offerings this quarter specifically aligned to our Priority 1 for Rigor.
Interested in one of these? Sign up here.
- SOCIAL STUDIES: Writing Techniques for Students (03/17)
- If you teach Social Studies, this session is EXCELLENT for collecting methods for keeping writing engaging and scaffolded for every student in your classroom.
- Working Towards an End: Using Your Summative to Plan (03/19, 03/31)
- This session, for all Humanities contents, is going to help you in using your Summative to create daily, rigorous plans starting the next day.
- Culture and the Humanities: Planning for Rigor and Joy (03/23)
- This session, planned in collaboration with our Culture of Achievement Specialist, will be an opportunity to consider how increasing rigor and culture in the classroom go hand-in-hand.
Have questions or comments? Contact Jacob or fire off in the comments section below!