Brain Blast: How to Increase Classroom Rigor
Academic rigor challenges students to deeply and creatively master skills and content. Here are 12 ways to make that happen in your classroom.
Start class with a 5-10-min. exercise, where kids write answers to questions they “struggled with on the last interim assessment.” (Source: Connie Molony)
“Expect them to use academic and domain-specific vocabulary. If they use words like ‘something,’ ‘you know,’ ‘that,’ or ‘like,’ prod them to come up with specifics. Like what? No I don't know.” (Source: Jacqui Murray)
SHOW YOUR WORK
Ask students to show their work & identify content area strengths and weaknesses.
MAKE TASKS AUTHENTIC
Engage kids in real-world problem solving & decision making. Let kids learn from mistakes and successes.
. . .For rushed, half-baked work.
INTRODUCE MESSY INQUIRY
Life isn’t as unambiguous as a bubble sheet. Have students generate questions, then answer them.
HAVE KIDS WRITE!
Writing is the most difficult thing you can ask the brain to do. (Source: Mel Levine)
Have kids “think, be flexible, change, and use a variety of tools to solve new problems.” (Source: Clay Parker, reported by Tony Wagner)
INTRODUCE ROBUST ACTIVITIES
Simulations, debates, student-led demonstrations…
ENCOURAGE HIGHER ORDER THINKING
Plan tasks that require higher order thinking.
Dramatizations allow students to try on different identities.
Have students support conclusions with evidence.
Have student rhetorically analyze and write in different genres.
EXPLORE ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
Give students time to answer essential questions individually, in teams, and as a class.
Regularly Integrate challenge questions into assessments and daily work.
SCAFFOLD COMPLEX TEXTS
Help students work though challenging texts.
SAY A FEW WORDS
Ask students to orally synthesize information.