Designing Rigorous Instruction for ALL Students

Photo by Celia Ortega on Unsplash

The new standards require teachers to dive deeper with instruction; this means they must increase the rigor in their classrooms if students are going to meet the standards at the deepest conceptual level.

With the new standards come new assessments that put more emphasis on applying strategic and extended thinking. This means students are no longer simply required to recall facts, they must engage with tasks at DOK levels 3 and 4. These shifts present educators with some unique challenges when it comes to raising the level of rigor in the instruction they design.

We’ve identified two critical barriers teachers face in raising the level of rigor in their classrooms:

  1. Visualizing what higher levels of learning looks like for their specific classroom context. (e.g. grade, subject, and standard
  2. Designing authentic tasks that engage ALL students at the strategic and extended thinking levels (DOK 3 and 4)

Develop Deeper Understandings of the Standard and Higher Levels of Rigor

Unpacked Standards help teachers understand the core purpose of each standard as it connects to activities and assessment items. Example: Grade 3 Reading Informational Texts

Our content designers have built tools that allow teachers to gain a deeper understanding of the standards connected to the resources in Pathways. The unpacked standards feature describes the core purpose of the standard and the standard staircase shows how the standards connect from one grade level to the next.

Authentic DOK 3 and 4 Tasks that are Standard Aligned AND Rigorous

Pathways has scaffolded task progressions that move from DOK 1 to DOK 3. These tasks are aligned to the core purpose of each standard and require students to engage in higher order thinking skills. The assessment items attached to the standards offer teachers model student responses that define the criteria for success and help teachers design a strategic plan for helping students meet the standard on the deepest level. It also has projects that push students to extend their thinking.

Assessment item progressions that are scaffolded from DOK level 1 to 3 help students master content at the deepest level. Example: Grades 9–12 Reasoning with Equations and Inequalities

Examples of Item Progressions (DOK 1–3)

Grade 4 Math: Fractions as Sums of Unit Fractions
Grade 8 Math: Solve Pairs of Linear Equations
High School Math: Identify Structure to Rewrite Expressions

Engage Students in Extended Thinking

Performance tasks push students to apply math skills in novel real-world contexts to master standards at the deepest level (DOK 4). Example: Grades 9–12 Interpreting Categorical and Quantitative Data

The activities and projects within pathways offer teachers scaffolded levels of support on tasks that require students to exercise multiple skills over extended periods of time so that all students can reach the high bar with the support that they need. These projects allow students to engage in rigorous authentic practice on activities that bring in real-world scenarios that are relevant and engaging.

Examples of Tasks and Projects

Grade 5 English Mini Project: Plot Analysis- You Blog It Design 101
Grade 8 Performance Task: Pythagorean Theorem- Steph Curry’s Shot
High School Math Mini Project: Polynomial Functions- Video Game

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