Chapters 3 & 4 focus on two of the problems we face in education: memory & rigor.
Our students' work gives us feedback and evidence of our teaching. However, our students are faced with a barrage of new learning every day. This new learning may happen every 42 minutes! Our goal here is to help students remember what they have been taught; as long as it is not something they could look up in a book. We are not necessarily teaching rote memorization, we are teaching our students ways to hold on to learning that will help them enjoy the work they do now, transfer into other areas of their coursework, and become part of themselves.
I like how Maggie and Kate explained how each tool could benefit students in different ways with regard to memory.
- A chart is a quick way to list strategies they could try.
- A bookmark makes it more personable.
- A micro-progression can help students see which skills are the most essential in each unit to remember.
- A demonstration notebook helps students see the how, not just the what.
Many times I feel that the last bullet is where students break down. They know the what, but don't understand the how. This is where small-group work with demonstration notebooks would be very powerful.
Remember, as many highly regarded educators have said before us, "If we had really taught it, then the kids would be able to do it. They would have learned." (p. 51)
Rigor, not rigormortis, is such a hot topic in education. I appreciate the stance Maggie and Kate chose to focus on, which is "a description of a behavior rather than a task," (p. 54). We must change our mindset about kids when they do not do the work. This does not make them lazy or unmotivated. It could possibly mean they might not be ready to perform the work we taught, they might not know exactly what is being asked of them, or they may not know the steps to take to get them there. I see this way too often in our middle school classrooms. Staff can be quick to say the students are lazy when after a given mini-lesson, work is not done as rigorously as expected. Here is where we, as educators, need to keep an open mind and pull those few students together to more explicitly explain, or demonstrate again, our expectations for the task.
- Micro-progressions can explicitly show the depth of work we expect of our students.
- Demonstration notebooks can be used to push students farther who are ready for that challenge.
- Charts can be a shorthand method of explaining clear steps,once they are aware of what rigorous work is.
- Bookmarks can help with goal setting, as "rigor comes in all sorts of paces-some slower, some faster," (p. 66)
I am really enjoying close reading this book again. I am finding new ways to share with staff and am excited to share my learning more with the educators I work with.