Monday, April 27, 2015
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Rigor isn't about the content as much as it's about the ways in which students are led to engage with the content. Authentic rigor is evident when students are referring to the content to support their own observations and emerging understandings and making meaningful connections between the content with other content. Good teaching is the process of facilitating these kinds of connections.
Saturday, April 25, 2015
A Rhode Island teacher's thoughtful reflection on how she handed over the responsibility of questioning to her students and saw them engage more deeply as a result.
Questioning is an essential skill of great teachers. It's interesting to know how other professions think of the purpose for questions....
This Edutopia blog posting is a good start for thinking about what rigor looks like in action.
There are two types of challenge when it comes to desgigning rigorous instruction. The first type involves understanding exactly what it is we mean by rigor. It's worth the time and effort to clarify and level-set the school-wide definition for rigor. The second type of challenge is a function of being able to marry one's conceptual understanding of what rigor means with the kinds of instructional tools and practices that are most likely to engage students in rigorous thinking. At the elementary level, these conversations become most specific and meaningful in grade-level planning spaces,while at the secondary level, they often work best in content area teams.
The essential skill in developing rigorous instruction is the skill of questioning. Highly effective teachers plan around great questions, and they ask the right questions at the right time (with the right support) to leverage their students' engagement to increasingly higher rigor.
And the important thing to remember is that rigor is not about students' work as much as it's about students' thinking. When planning for high rigor, teachers should consider first what they want their students to think about and then what they want their students to be able to do. The work is the evidence of rigor and not the rigor itself. That way of thinking will more likely yield the richest and most engaging, rigorous learning experiences for your kiddos.
Questioning is an essential skill of instruction that facilitates rigor. Teachers' questions are the guideposts for students' thinking. When teachers do it well, it creates a classroom climate rich with dynamic and productive expectations for performance and engagement.
Questioning is going to be my central research topic for the summer of 2015. I'm looking forward to relate it directly to the themes of CRE and name specifics for how teachers do it well.
I think of this TedTalk as a statement about pedagogy from a man who was a legendary teacher in every way. Wooden's genius in teaching is a function of his ability to engage his pupils with the task of becoming successful. "Professor" Wooden defines success as "Peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you're capable," and though he doesn't use the word, the themes of equity flow through his entire discussion.
I inherited my admiration of John Wooden from my father. The coaches my father thought most highly of were Red Auerbach and John Wooden, and I think in both cases it was because of how each treated their African American future Hall of Fame star centers - Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul Jabbar - with love, respect, and dignity.
In the TedTalk given by Wooden, he reveals himself to be an equity-minded teacher and mentor. Equity-mindedness births equitable practices - and the most equitable practice of all in schools is wonderful, powerful, regularly GREAT teaching for ALL students that both tailors the instruction in meaningful ways and honors their identities and home communities. The innovation and awareness necessary to engineer rich and relevant learning experiences is a function of a passion for the craft and content as well as an astute awareness of how perceptions of race, ethnicity, class, gender, ability and any other difference we can name may impact the school experiences of young people.
It is through the intentional deliberation of practice that we are able to put these insights into action through the choices and designs of our pedagogy. That's why we can't just teach the strategies - as important as they are - because they never define powerful learning. They are tools, but not the inspiration.
Great pedagogy is simply the exercise of and instruction in these lessons of what it means to be successful.
|Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success is a masterpiece of wisdom in the canon of character studies.|
Monday, March 30, 2015
Fairness in education is more than anything else the expectation that ALL children will have access to meaningful and responsive learning opportunities. Equity isn't something we do in addition to good teaching, rather the themes of equity live in all of those good practices and guides the selection of the pedagogical tools we choose.