How Do You Make Rigorous Instruction Relevant?
As a junior high principal 5 years ago I worked with some great teachers who took it upon themselves to make sure their students understood Bloom’s Taxonomy and how it applies to the activities each day in the classroom. Students were asked to hold the teacher accountable for making sure that homework and assessment activities applied to the top 3 layers of the taxonomy. Action phrases and verbs for each layer created a huge wall display of the taxonomy in classrooms, and conversations about why each activity in the classroom was planned for took place in the regular ebb and flow of routine. Did you hear that?!! I can honestly say that students understood the why!! You know… the “why are we doing this???” question that frustrates many-a-teacher? A commitment to being able to answer that question for every pedagogical decision we make – a true commitment to being disciplined in thought and action – is an authentic commitment to being a true professional… A real Professional Learning Community.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a great framework through which to create a common understanding of rigor and to help define how we challenge students at multiple levels of thinking. By itself however, it does not address specific instructional practices and how to the engage learners of today. Luckily we have a 21st century network of educators sharing ideas and practices about how to get after this goal along with the intellectual Rigor and Relevance framework of Bill Daggett to tap into for ideas, understanding, and real ideas for application. Really… there is no excuse anymore is there? We have the research. We have the tools. We have the ideas… all at our fingertips. We probably should be delivering learning experiences that are both rigorous and relevant… So how do the ones you create line up?