Food For Thought
by Your Colleagues At Cornerstone
Adapted from writing by Cornerstone Senior Reviewer John Bartholomew
What does rigor in the classroom look like? By rigor, we mean not more work, but more thinking. Here are some examples to consider:
- Coloring in outline drawings on ditto sheets lacks challenge. Rigor is asking younger students to do a freehand illustration for their writing and then encouraging them to add details to the picture.
- Ditto sheets where the same answer is expected from everyone are dull and do not extend thinking. Rigor means that ditto sheets should only be used when they are open ended, and every child is expected to come up with something different.
- Silencing students who are talking to each other in the classroom discourages collaborative learning. Rigor suggests that time is allowed for children to question each other about their thinking, and the working noise generated by this "accountable talk" is welcomed, not disapproved.
- Telling students to "write about what you remember from the book" does not focus their thinking or help them to improve their writing. Rigor suggests that teachers write interactively or model the writing technique they want the children to use, share vocabulary and ideas around the class, and expect individuality in the writing produced.
- Writing that is restricted to one or two sentences do not allow students to develop their writing skills. Rigor provides the time needed to write at length, and it is expected that details will be added to take the writing beyond the bare facts.
- Writing can be stymied because of lack of vocabulary or poor spelling skills. Rigor means that students have developed independent self-help skills, referring to word banks, dictionaries or other supports as they go, or just guessing while they draft.
- Questions during crafting sessions that require only single word answers are closed and do not encourage deeper thought. Rigor means that both students and teachers frame questions that require a considered reply and often lead to follow-up questions.