lesson planning: enrichment vs. rigor

In my state, the department of education plans for grades 3-8 to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the fall. In response to this timeline, my district developed a transition plan to shift our curriculum. There have been a few glitches along the way...but isn't that to be expected with change of any magnitude? The bottom line as I see it is that states, districts, and even individual schools can create a plan...they can even mandate said plan...but the teachers are the ones who implement the plan to make the shift to new standards benefit our students. Together we're building better students!

Which brings me to my latest revelation...rigor. If you've been in any discussion regarding CCSS, then I'm certain you have heard the standards described as rigorous. These standards require our students to have a deep understanding of the content. And if you have studied your grade level standards, then you know that is a true statement. For example, no longer will Algebra 1 students mindlessly use the quadratic formula to solve a quadratic equation. Instead they will first derive the quadratic formula by completing the square...which will enable them to know why this crazy formula with three variables truly does find the solutions for the variable x located in a quadratic equation.

Perhaps the community of educators has a misconception that rigor is equivalent to enrichment. Why might we be confused? Simply because enrichment is something we already do...it is familiar. However, enrichment extends procedural understanding...can the student move further with the concept? While rigor calls the student to a deeper conceptual understanding...does the student know the depth of the concept? Enrichment adds to the end of your lesson plan and requires additional time. Rigor changes your entire approach to the lesson but does not require additional time. I spy that CCSS have tackled process vs. concept teaching. In an effort to meet the standards we must implement concept teaching that reveals the process. I'm game! How about you?

Have a great weekend...make it count!


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  2. Our district has been pushing for more rigor as well, which is fine with me because I teach Pre-AP and IB Biology, so the expectancy is that there should be rigor! It is a different mindset for the students as well as the teacher. No longer can you just tell the student what you know about the topic...but must figure out ways (ie questioning) to get them to discover the knowledge. It can be a challenge (even for a 1st year teacher!!), but it causes the classroom to be student-centered. That's a good thing! :)