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Do you have a Rigorous Classroom?

Take this Teacher’s Academy quiz to find out if you teach with rigor.

Introduction

There’s a lot of buzz lately about integrating rigor into the classroom. There are workshops, webinars, articles and even blogs that define rigor for students and teachers. You’ve probably started to hear about rigor in your latest staff meetings, and if your state has adopted the hotly debated Common Core Standards, rigor is the new cornerstone of your lesson planning. But are you really infusing rigor into your curriculum? Are your students actually working rigorously? Take this quiz and see if you truly understand rigor in the classroom, and if your lessons and your students perform at a higher, more rigorous level!

1. Which of the following classes is an excellent example of a rigorous classroom?

a. An Honors Science class that requires a 20 page research report as their final exam.
b. An AP History class that coaches students to pass a college entrance exam.
c. An Algebra class that teaches students to use problem-solving strategies to analyze world hunger data they received in their social studies class.
d. A 4th grade class that assigns the most homework in the school.

“Rigor is the ability to solve complex problems and develop strategies to other content areas (Bogess 2007).” Since the adoption of No Child Left Behind in 2001, more attention is given to the way and the depth that teachers teach and students learn. It’s vital for us to compete in the global community, and according to test scores, the United States is falling behind. The quick fix for some teachers might be to assign more work. In the question Rigorous studentabove, all but one class focused on the amount of work the students had to endure. The correct answer is C. In the algebra class, students are using strategies taught and applying those strategies across the curriculum and to real world problems. Do you teach strategies that help students solve problems outside of your classroom? If so, you are teaching with rigor!

2. Which of the following teaching philosophies lends itself to incorporating rigor into the curriculum?

a. I believe all students can learn.
b. It is more important for students to respect than like their teacher.
c. I have high expectations for my students.
d. Fostering student effort is more important than high grades.
e. Both C and D.

High expectations are important and must include effort on the part of the learner (Wasley, Hampel and Clark , 1997). Most teachers believe all students can learn, and that’s a great teaching philosophy, but it doesn’t reflect the intent to teach with rigor. B is surprisingly a debatable topic to be discussed in another blog! The correct answer is E.students raising hands

Teaching with rigor requires the teachers to have high expectations of their students, and it requires effort on behalf of the student. It is up to the teacher to ignite that fire, so the student is compelled to work at a higher level, use more brain power, think harder and be ok with making a mistake. Do you have high expectations for your students? Do you celebrate effort over test scores? If so, you are teaching with rigor!

 3. Which of the following lessons is being taught with rigor?

a. After the science experiment, students will use primary sources to defend their findings.
b. Working collaboratively and utilizing the trends provided by NASDAQ, students will determine the best stock companies in which to invest for the next quarter.
c. After reading a passage from the classic Robinson Crusoe, students will refer to other literary texts and draw comparisons.
d. All of the above.

“Rigor would be used to say something about how an experience or activity is carried out and to what degree. Specifically, a ‘rigorous’ experience would be one that involves depth and care as, for example, in a scientific experiment or literary analysis that is done thoughtfully, deeply with sufficient depth and attention to accuracy and detail (Beane, 2001).” Memorizing facts is definitely an essential skill needed to get to deeper level thinking. Math facts, for example, must be drilled through a variety of practices until they become second nature. But this is not rigor. Once facts are established, what you and the students do with them sets the stage for rigor in the classroom. All of the lesson samples are examples of students using information that they comprehend and applying it to alternative situations. Do you give your students opportunities to deepen their understanding of basic concepts by analyzing data, comparing text or utilizing primary sources? If so, well done…that is a rigorous lesson!

 4. Which combination of classroom skills is considered “rigorous”?

a. memorize, explain, paraphrase
b. communicate, recall, comprehend
c. identify, paraphrase, solve
d. lead, collaborate, adapt

 “Rigor for the 21st century includes a focus on skills for life: critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration and leadership, agility and adaptability, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, and curiosity and imagination (Wagner 2008).” Perhaps options A, B and C look familiar to you. They were taken straight out of Bloom’s Taxonomy. As mentioned earlier, the foundational skills of learning are important, but too many students, teachers, and districts stop there. The correct answer is D. Students must be given opportunities to utilize the concepts they’ve learned and apply them to other situations. Do your students get to lead, collaborate, adapt, initiate and analyze to stimulate their curiosity? If so, you’re providing a rigorous environment.

5. Which of the following is true about rigor in the classroom?

a. Teaching rigor does not require supporting the students. At this level, students should be able to adapt to a rigorous lesson.
b. When students demonstrate understanding of rigorous material, they should all come to the same answer using the same methods.
c. The best way to assess rigor is through testing.
d. A student may have to sit with a problem longer than others to develop deeper understanding of applying the concepts.

In a rigorous classroom, the teacher is the support, the motivation and the key to success for students. Rigor is higher level thinking; teachers must support students and guide them through questioning and analyzing material. Therefore, the answer cannot be A. If students are being guided to come to their own conclusions, it’s highly likely that they come to their solution through different means. Rigor includes providing a variety of ways that the student can comprehend information. Therefore, the answer cannot be B. Rigor cannot be assessed through standardized tests, unless these tests offer a variety of stacked booksopportunities to demonstrate comprehension. Rigor is best assessed through creative projects, discussion, and application. Therefore, the answer cannot be C. Rigor can be taught at all levels. If a student’s mental capacity requires them to sit with a problem longer than their peer needs to, the student sitting and working through the problem is experiencing rigor. Do you support your students as they work through difficult problems? Do you teach and encourage a variety of methods that lead to the same findings? Do you vary your tests and assessment strategies to incorporate analysis? Do you encourage students to sit with a problem until they get it? If so, you’ve got a pretty rigorous classroom!

So, what have you learned about rigor and your own classroom? As a teacher and life-long student, I believe there are always areas to grow and learn. Taking a good hard look at our own teaching philosophy, curriculum, lessons and methods can only put us on the path to being a better teacher.

Do you need more ideas? Check out our professional development course Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom.  Or check out how to integrate rigor in Teaching Math using Common Core Standards and Teaching Science using Common Core Standards.

At The Teacher’s Academy, we are always updating our courses to be the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development option. Check out our entire course catalog and get started renewing your certificate right away.

The Teacher’s Academy Expands to Indiana

Professional development made easy, affordable, and relevant (finally)!

Welcome busy Indiana teachers!  The Teacher’s Academy is honored to support Indiana’s Professional Growth Plan program.  The certified teachers at The Teacher’s Academy Indiana farmlandmake maintaining professional licenses easy, affordable and convenient.  Since we are all teachers here, we understand how expensive and time consuming it can be to attend workshops or colleges for professional development hours.   We also understand how information from workshops and colleges can be outdated or not specific to your classroom needs.   At The Teacher’s Academy, teachers can quickly download a course, create materials for your classroom and earn professional development hours, without leaving your home!

 

Indiana teachers need professional development and we can help!

The Indiana Department of Education allows teachers to choose their own professional development experiences to apply to their Professional Growth Plans.

One growth point equals 1 clock hour of a professional development activity.  Indiana teachers holding an Initial Practitioner’s license need 90 Professional Growth Plan Points for license renewal.  Most of the courses at The Teacher’s Academy are 15 clock hours (equal to 15 growth points).

 

According to Indiana’s Professional Growth Experience Documentation, The Teacher’s Academy would fall under the “Professional Conference / Workshop / Institute” option.  We could also fall under the “Other” option, which allows teachers to benefit from opportunities that “improve curriculum knowledge, instructional skills, class management skills or any other professional growth experiences.”   We will supply a Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form after successful completion of the course

 

How does it work?

First, you would need to set up an online account with The Teacher’s Academy.  Having an account allows you to purchase courses, manage your course work and upload completed projects.  Next, choose from a variety of courses depending on the hours you need or interest.   Finally, place the courses in your cart and proceed through PayPal’s secure checkout with your own credit card or a PayPal account.  All of the course materials are emailed to your email address immediately after purchase. (If you don’t see them, check your spam folder!) Directions for opening and saving the course are emailed along with the course and course materials.  You can get started right away, or perhaps you want to begin a month from now. The course is yours to keep forever, but if you want your certificate, you must complete it within a year!

 

How will I get my credit for taking the course?

Within 5-7 business days of coursework completion, expect to receive a congratulations email containing the Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form.  These documents will state the hours earned for the course along with the skills mastered, and they can be submitted to your administrator for professional development hours.   We also provide a Request for Authorization Form for the convenience of any teacher needing prior approval.

 

What if I need help?

Our courses are designed to be completed autonomously, however, we understand glitches, questions and problems arise. We have a tech team and support staff ready to assist with any issues. All requests are answered within 24 hours (but usually before then)!  Our goal is to make the process as simple, meaningful and fun as possible!

 

Course Catalog…

The Teacher’s Academy has a wide variety of courses that you can choose from ranging from computer basics to next generation teaching strategies. Below are just a few of our most popular courses to date. Check out our Course Catalog for a full list of courses.

 

Once you try it, you will keep coming back for more!

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to say we have a large percentage of returning clients for several reasons.  Clients know they are getting high quality PD because the materials are current and the projects are relevant.

 

The format for every class is similar.  In other words, once you take one course, you will notice that the course layout, terminology, and submitting protocol for all TTA courses are exactly the same. Our goal is to make the process as easy and fun as possible!

 

Once you pay for the course, it is yours to keep forever!  Often times, teachers refer back to the course for websites or activities ideas long after they’ve completed the course.  Teachers can share the educational resources, activity ideas for students and cutting edge strategies with other teachers or administrators.  Even students like to see what their teachers are learning!

 

Another feature teachers appreciate is the ability to complete their PD requirements from home.  We really like the idea of working from home, and we want to share that experience with as many teachers as possible.  So now there is no reason to get in the car and drive to a workshop or college campus.  Stay at home and enjoy a few hours of learning at your own pace and creating your own materials, and you can expect your Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form in a few days.

 

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to align our courses with the high standards set by the Indiana Department of Education.   We bring excellence to the field of education and are honored to serve the teachers of Indiana.

 

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for a listing of all of our courses, and you can find information on the education requirements for Indiana teachers on our Indiana webpage.

 

Enjoy teachers!

 

 

The Teacher’s Academy Expands to Delaware

DelawareSmall

Courtesy of iStock

Professional development made easy, affordable, and relevant (finally)!

Welcome, Delaware teachers!  The Teacher’s Academy is excited to become a part of the professional development process for our amazing Delaware teachers!  We are all certified teachers at The Teacher’s Academy so we have made maintaining professional licenses easy, affordable and convenient.  No more wasting time or money with painfully boring workshops or expensive college courses.  At The Teacher’s Academy, you can quickly download a course, create materials to use in class with your students and earn professional development hours, all from the comfort of your own home!

 Delaware teachers need professional development and we can help!

Like many states in the union, Delaware has a minimum PD requirement. Teachers need 90 hours of PD every five (5) years. Many teachers can get these requirements filled through workshops, conferences, in-services or even college courses. But what if you aren’t currently working in a district?  What if you missed the in-service day or couldn’t make it to a conference? Or maybe your district doesn’t take care of your professional development and money is an issue.  Perhaps you are a sub and don’t have access to PD and need a better solution. The Teacher’s Academy was created to fill this need. We can offer Delaware teachers professional development from the comfort of their own home, or work, or wherever they choose!

The Delaware Department of Education allows a variety of activities to fulfill professional development requirements.  The Teacher’s Academy falls under the Professional Committee, Conference, Workshop, Institute or Academy section of the Education Administrative Code.  Our Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form state the contact hours teachers earned along with the skills mastered while taking the course.  Teachers receive these documents within 5-7 business days of course completion as a PDF file, via email.

How does it work?

First, you would need to set up an online account with The Teacher’s Academy.  Here, you will purchase courses, manage your course work and upload completed projects.  Next, you simply choose from a variety of courses depending on the hours you need or content of interest.  After you apply secure payment via credit card or PayPal, all of the course materials are emailed to your account. (If you don’t see them, check your spam folder!) Along with the course materials are directions for opening and saving the course, so that you can get started right away. Or, perhaps you want to begin a month from now. The course is yours to keep forever, but if you want your certificate, you must complete it within a year!

Course Catalog…

The Teacher’s Academy has a wide variety of courses that you can choose from ranging from computer basics to next generation teaching strategies. Below are just a few of our most popular courses to date. Check out our Course Catalog for a full list of courses.

How will I get my credits for taking the course?

After your coursework has been uploaded, it will take 5-7 business days for our review team (comprised of teachers) to review and process your Certificate of Completion.  Upon successful completion of the course, expect to receive a congratulations email containing the Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form.  These documents will state the hours earned for the course along with the skills mastered, and they can be submitted to your administrator for professional development hours.

 What if I need help?

Although our courses are designed to be completed autonomously, we understand glitches, questions and problems arise. We have a tech team and support staff ready to assist with any questions. All requests are answered within 24 hours (but usually before then)!  Our goal is to make the process as simple, meaningful and fun as possible!

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to align our courses with the high standards set by the Delaware Department of Education.   We bring excellence to the field of education and are honored to serve the teachers of Delaware.

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for a listing of all of our courses and information on the education requirements for Delaware teachers on our Delaware webpage.

Enjoy teachers!