Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Discussion Question 2


Discussion Question 2:
The above site provides an additional perspective on rigor.  After reading Close Reading of Informational Texts, Notice and Note, or even some of the additional close reading resources you have found on the internet, how has your definition of rigor changed?  How can you increase rigor in your classroom?  Give examples.


  1. My initial concept of rigor in the classroom was being able to meet all the learning objectives that were planned for the lesson. Decided to go to my favorite place for definitions, Wikipedia, and discovered that there was abroad range of meanings to the word rigor. Wikipedia did have one definition/discussion that was listed as "rigor in the classroom" and it essentially was a summary of what was in "Question 3 - Where does rigor fit?" of Notice and Note. The Wikipedia entry was the following: "Rigor in the classroom is commonly referred to as rigorous instruction. It is instruction that requires students to construct meaning for themselves, impose structure on information, integrate individual skills into processes, operate within but at the outer edge of their abilities, and apply what they learn in more than one context and to unpredictable situations." My take away from this and the Note and Notice discussion is that rigor in the classroom (in terms of reading) is fully engaging the minds of the students in what they were reading. I have been successful in accomplishing this in my small group reading sessions by helping to build connections between the students' backgrounds and curiosities and the content of what they are reading and the author who wrote the material. The key I believe is helping them imagine what it would be like if they were part of the story or were there watching what was happening.

  2. I am reading Note and Notice and a line that I especially like regarding rigor is "The essence of rigor is engagement and commitment". This really changed my original perspective on rigor. Originally, I always thought that the higher level text or more difficult the language and vocabulary, I would increase student rigor and therefore result in growth of reading ability and fluency. After reading, I realize that rigor needs to be accomplished slowly and while still "captivating" them with a good book! Students need to be engaged in deep thinking that is both challenging and meaningful. Simply having students read a really hard book that they struggle through is not productive work. Rigor is the energy and attention that students put into the text, not the text itself. (pgs 22-23)
    I feel that we have become more focused as a school on comprehension and students truly showing an understanding for what they read. This has, in way, lent to an increase in rigor. I find myself asking more "out of the box" , higher level thinking questions now than ever before. Graphic organizers are a great way to expand on this...especially with second graders. I feel that I am successful with this in small group, modeling to the class and in planning Daily 5 Work stations for students to complete independently, each with their own text; however after watching different vides online, I need to begin using close reading as a whole group lesson. In the past I've been apprehensive to print a text and use the same level text for all my students...I always envisioned it going poorly, with some students bored, others frustrated and a few following along right at their level. Now, I see that all students can "work through" a common text (with teacher guidance). Some may be working more "deeply" with the text than others, however ultimately all students will be working at a pace and rigor that is right for them. Another thing I've realized in thinking about rigor, is using the same book for a few days, really "picking it apart" verses reading a book, showing mastery of comprehension and main idea and then moving on to a new text. This changes the way I think about planning and teaching reading...which hopefully will change the way my students think about reading when they open a book!

  3. I honestly did not think that K students were able to work on rigor. I had thought of rigor as working on challenging books with difficult words. Most K students are not on that level of reading. However, after reading Notice and Note, I have been focusing on using rigor in the classroom. I am asking more challenging questions of our read aloud books we've read in class, and asking students to relate this book to the previous book read. For example, I have found that the Magic tree House Series has allowed rigorous questions that we can also go back and make connections to previous texts. I have noticed that the children are more attentive and thoughtful with their answers.
    The books that many of my students are reading are repetitive, yet many are more thoughtful and "read" more into the text as we have our discussions.
    I hope that with continued practice the children will have better comprehension skills and will excel as each grade continues to increase rigor in the classrooms.

  4. I also like the quote Jordan found- that rigor is "engagement and commitment." I think the general understand of rigor is bigger words, longer books, complex sentence structure, and lots of background knowledge. Now I believe that rigor almost solely refers to comprehension and connection to a text. Having a student understand the motivation behind a character's actions or being able to draw conclusions able the story are rigorous skills. I also like #10 in the picture- having students take and defend their positions.Students have to really study and understand the text to be able to defend a position.

    I have found that novels that require background knowledge or that present totally new concepts seem to be the most rigorous for my fourth graders. Many of my ACE students had excellent accuracy and fluency while reading "Number the Stars," but we had to have a lot of discussions about World War II in order for them to truly understand the characters and their motivations. By being exposed to different and new ideas, students were truly challenged and learned more than just new vocabulary.

  5. One thing that many people have misunderstood about rigor is that is often associated with having your students “do more”. Create activities and lessons for your students to be challenged and become hard workers, stretching them beyond to “get more” out of the lesson or activity. As stated in the example of Note and Notice book, teachers choose tough texts (example from the story was Beowulf) for their students so that the story will not be too enjoyable and interesting, that way they will “intellectually tougher.” The problem with this is it often students who are being stretched beyond their Zone of Proximal Development will become frustrated and will not become interested in the text or how it could possibly relate to them or anything else they are going to learn about. What I love about close reading is that it has redefined rigor in a way that doesn’t mean doing more to get more out of it. In fact, rigor is created through interest in the text and discussions that have students analyzing text unknowingly because it has become a part of their learning process, increasing rigor in the classroom. Through modeling and discussing the signpost and generalizable language the teacher can create an environment of interested learners who are constantly looking for those signpost and are able to transfer of understanding from one text to another, one topic to another and even one subject to another. I can really see me increasing rigor in my classroom, particularly during small reading groups, using the generalizable language and anchor questions help students delve into their texts that to them are seemingly shallow in depth. I believe that when they are able to get a deeper understanding of a text they may surprise themselves and want to continue to dive deeper into the text.

  6. Ever since "rigor" became such a buzz-word in education, it has conjured up images of more work and harder work and more SOLs. I knew that it was not really about doing more, but that is how it has come across in its implementation with our Virginia Standards of Learning. In section I of Notice and Note, they give good examples of what rigor should be versus what it looks like in some classrooms (the Beowulf example that Courtney mentions). It was refreshing to read that you could use a fairly simple text and make the activity rigorous based on what you are doing with it. I am seeing that more in my classroom as I recently have been using some simpler text but we have looked at it more closely and are doing more with it. My students read biographies and really looked for important information about the person's life and accomplishments. When we were first working on this, I was thinking they needed to have a book on their independent level. I was having difficulty matching this up with books that interested them -- most wanted a book below their independent level. As we have done this, it has become clear that this was actually better because they were able to more independently pick out the information. Plus each student was interested in the topic. This is an ongoing project and we are doing some writing and then a presentation with it. In hindsight, it is clear to me that the rigor is there because of what we are doing with the content (rather than the actual content).

  7. I meant to add that some students could not find all the information they needed in their first source so they ended up with a 2nd biography. They then looked for their missing information. This was a great way for them to begin to see the importance of multiple sources. We were able to have some conversations (initiated by students) about the similarities and differences between the two texts as well.

  8. After reading about rigor in Notice & Note, I felt motivated to seek out more engaging activities and dig deeper into books. I was inspired by the quote, "The purpose of schools ought to be to create intellectual communities where students are encouraged to be risk takers, to be curious, to be willing to try and fail, and to be more interested in asking questions than providing answers. The profit for that purpose -that goal -ought to be satisfaction in creating places where we all want to work and students want to attend; places where engagement is high and rigor results from students wanting to know more; where work is challenging because the attempt -the challenge- won't penalize you with a low test score; where work is relevant and so attendance goes up, discipline problems decline, and as a result of all that, test scores climb." (p.24-25).

    This finally made more sense to me than all the other times the word "rigor" has been mentioned in conversation. Beforehand, it seemed as if we were being told to increase rigor, challenge students, teach them more, because they need to learn harder concepts. While it may be true that students will learn harder concepts, it seems clear now that with engagement and high-interest levels, students can dive deeper in to concepts. Even better, they want to.

    In my classroom, I have found it enjoyable to increase rigor in my higher level guided reading groups. It may take us longer to dissect a book, but we are becoming more interested in the content and context of the book, the characters' feelings, and starting to touch upon sign posts. With my students in the lower reading group, we spend much of our time focusing on skills to become better readers, but I am trying to find some texts that could be used in our small group that would focus on sign posts. I am really pleased that Notice & Note provides a starting point on p. 87 for the primary classrooms. Before reading that, I admit that I was more apprehensive about using the sign posts in a first grade classroom. Now I realize that they're in many children's books, the reader just has to be aware of what he/she is looking for.

    I found a great article for those interested to read: Differentiating Instruction to Promote Rigor and Engagement for Advanced and Gifted Students, by Dr. Bertie Kingore. She has an acrostic poem for rigor: http://www.bertiekingore.com/rigor.htm

    Recognize realistic and relevant high-level expectations
    Integrate complexity, breadth, and depth in content, process, and product
    Generate cognitive skills
    Orchestrate support systems and scaffolding for success
    Refine assessments to guide instruction and benefit learners

  9. I agree with Catherine, and others, that my initial definition of rigor was how hard something was and it often translated itself into "more work". It wasn't the definition I wanted to have, but it seemed to be one most used. It was definitely quantity over quality. I really like the definition of rigor found in "Notice and Note". It says "Rigor resides in the energy and attention given to the text, not in the text itself." It doesn't matter how hard the text is, its what you do with it that counts. When students aren't struggling with reading the words (example Beowulf) they have the energy to give attention to the deeper things that appear in literature.

  10. I believe when we first began discussing “increased rigor” in the classroom the common misconception was that it meant giving more work to students or only applying it to higher performing students. Rigor is not just for a select group of students. It is a way to provide all students with opportunities to demonstrate learning at high levels. Close Reading of Information Texts shows ways to provide students with more opportunities to demonstrate that they have truly mastered the learning by increased student engagement. Students are given opportunities to revisit reading passages independently, with partners and with the teacher in order to truly master the concepts being taught. I found an article by educator Barbara Blackburn in which she wrote, “Student engagement is a key aspect of rigor. In too many classrooms, most of the instruction consists of the teacher-centered large group instruction.” This model does not provide students with enough practice independently to master the skill being taught. I have enjoyed using the strategies offered in the text with my students using our Virginia Studies textbook. Students seem to delve deeper into the content when they have more opportunities to express their understanding of the subject

  11. Rigor, Rigor, Rigor....
    The catch word that has so many different understandings of the word. We have always looked at it as more work, longer passages, more, more, more. Now we know, we need to take a different approach when it comes to rigor.

  12. A teacher should be the role model in the educational learning world. The teacher should be the one that demonstrates the expectations of learning. This is certainly the case when increasing rigor in a kindergarten classroom. The book nods to the fact that rigor is found, “in the energy and attention given to the text”. Students should be shown enthusiasm and excitement when it comes to reading, whether it be a fiction or non-fiction text. Interest can be intrigued by relating the book to something that has happened within the teacher's life, giving a story before the story. Once the teacher engages the students in the beginning of the story it allows for a more in-tune audience. While reading, questions can be posed upon discovering a word that is unknown to the students. A 'what does this word mean?' discussion can take place, allowing for all students to become active participants. Once their answers have been heard the teacher can go back and re-read the text with the word in question, give the definition, have the students repeat the word and definition, and again, re-read the text with the new knowledge gained. Questions can also be posed that keep up the level of engagement; comparing and contrasting, relative, or simple re-call questions. This engagement works well in a large or small group setting. I have had several fun, and lengthy discussions with the students, all learning from each other from a single book. The book states, “the essential element in rigor is engagement”. As a young student learning to read, they also have to be taught how to comprehend what they read. Rigor can be modeled by the teacher asking insightful questions and demonstrating enthusiasm and excitement while reading.