Tag Archives: Culture of Achievement

Driving for Daily Rigor in the Humanities

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):

ERC

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!

  1. The Rigor/Relevance Framework
  2. Using Your Summative
  3. 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:
Framework

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:

Picture2

Want some examples of lesson plans and videos that drive towards these higher levels? Check ’em out below!

 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:

  1. Invest students in the idea that they will have an opportunity to show their growth on an End of Year assessment.
  2. Assessing the degree to which your students are prepared to meet this rigorous bar.
  3. 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!

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An Independent Study in Sharing Data with Students

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Hey All!

This week, my time for writing an extended blog post has been limited, so I thought I would actually connect you with a resource that could be really helpful for your classroom, but that someone else on the TFA Mississippi Team created… Shout out to Sarah Blackburn for putting an awesome Independent Study for Sharing Data with students together!

Plus, some of you DID say you wished the Culture Specialist and the Humanities Specialist would collaborate some more… Well, here is the start of it!

NOTE: You will need to ask your TLD Coach if it aligns with your development priorities first, but once you do, you can complete this independent study on your own (obviously), and then use it to share data authentically with your students. You will get a tailored credit as a result! Let me know if you are interested!

To help you with this, this blog post contains:

  • How this aligns to our Humanities Priorities
  • The Link to the Independent Study
  • More Resources for Sharing Data in the Humanities

How this aligns to our Humanities Priorities

This Independent Study is perfectly aligned with our 3rd Priority for this Quarter:

Students are invested in their Humanities-content goals because they see their success as critical to their future leadership, and because they are aware of their progress. This is because teachers are invested in their end-of-year goals and what they represent for students, and thus measuring and sharing progress towards goals with students and stakeholders.

At the end of the day, I simply believe that it is our students’ right to know – with subtlety and beyond the simple “you got a B+” – where they stand in relation to their goals. It’s a question of equity and leveling out the power differential in the classroom. Students should know where they stand and what they can do to change it!

The good news? As a Humanities team, we are in a really strong position to share data with our students. According to the latest information I collected from the Program Tracker, the Humanities Team is actually the strongest content team for data! And this is a first! Historically, we have been one of the furthest behind.

Check out some of the data break-down below, which also indicates that our students are well on their way to reaching their academic goals! There is always room to grow, and for that reason, we should be sharing the data so our students can use it to focus their learning, grown in confidence, and feel celebrated!

Progress Known

Has the teacher submitted valid and accurate data? Do we know where students are in terms of their progress towards goals?

Progress Known? Social Studies The Arts World Languages All Humanities
YES 75% 81% 86% 81%
NO 25% 19% 14% 19%

%Benchmark Achieved

Given our data, what percentage of progress towards goals do we see? (Note: we were not measuring this last semester)

Content: %BA
Science 19.1
Math 30.7
Humanities 38.5
Elementary 29.8
ELA 38.0

The link to the Independent Study

Okay, here it is! The moment you have all been waiting for. The link to the Independent Study is here. Remember to ask your TLD Coach if this is the right development for you before you start!

More Resources for Sharing Data in the Humanities

Enjoy!