The thing that stood out to me the most in these two chapters was how student centric Kate and Maggie were both in the way they suggest we make assessments as to what we need to teach and how, as well as in the way we think about rigor and its purpose in our classrooms. I am also in the middle of reading Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris’ Who’s Doing The Work? and re-reading Gravity Goldberg’s Mindsets and Moves and am discovering so many interesting parallels between these three books. Adding to this mix of learning are the Tweets shared from ILA 16, these in particular:
All in all, this summer’s PD is leading me to rethink some of my teaching assumptions, and reexamine the dynamics of my classroom life.
Chapters 3 and 4 were especially thought provoking; here are some of the places where I stopped, jotted notes, and am still thinking through:
Often when students write or read, they default to what feels most comfortable. They rely on a strategy they found success with at one point in their schooling, or they grab onto whatever first comes to mind, especially when working independently.
This was something I have long suspected, but needed validation from Kate and Maggie to feel its truth. I’m sorry to have to admit this, but I am rarely inclined to give my kids the repetition of instruction the authors feel our kids need for information to stick. This book has me reflecting upon this tendency and figuring out how I can build a habit of constant reflection so that there are authentic opportunities for repetition – the “how to do this” on page 43 is a wonderful model upon which to build this practice. I love the way Kate and Maggie demonstrated how to create tools for this specific purpose.
*book marks: “Having students make bookmarks-personalized lists of things that will help them to remember past teaching-will allow your class to decide which lessons, which tips and strategies and ideas, they most want to remember.” My students keep our minilessons and strategies at the back of their reading and writing notebooks, but this sort of personalized quick reference will be used far more consistently (and effectively).
*microprogressions: “If we treat each new lesson or skill as equally important as all the others, it is difficult for students to prioritize what is being taught and what to remember. Instead, we can help students hold onto our teaching by deciding which reading or writing skills in each unit are the most essential for students to learn.” Creating microprogressions for these skills, as described in this chapter, will help my kids immensely.
*demonstration notebooks: “Following a lesson using a demonstration notebook…writers leave with tangible reminders of the lesson, as well as a written intention of future practice.” Once again, the idea is to remind kids of what they know and lead them to make it stick with practice.
I thought that reframing the meaning and teaching intent behind the word rigor was powerful:
…we focus on …rigor as a description of a behavior rather than a description of a task. Rigor is performative – it is a stance, an action, a state of being that is taken to move through the world, tackle tasks, or work toward a goal.
…we can focus on how to teach and support kids in their quest to nurture their inner confidence and become harder workers. That is, we can create a learning climate where students see the steps needed to tackle the tasks in front of them rigorously and believe that they can have success along the way – a learning climate that clearly shows what is gained by putting in the hard work to tackle something challenging and achieve something great.
To truly support students in working harder, we will have to offer them a clear vision for what that rigorous work looks like, each step of the way.
I loved the way this chapter honored students – I know that the kids I have taught have always risen to every challenge when I have given them the support they needed, when they needed it, and how they needed it. They were happy to work hard (well, mostly happy and that was at the end of the task!) if the task was worth their while and meaningful. If it was worth all that hard work.
I found the “Fostering a Culture of Rigor” section on pages 61 and 62 so helpful – this is such a powerful and positive way in which to approach the idea of trying to help build intrinsic motivation in our kids – a gift that will keep giving long after they have left our classrooms.