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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in rigor


Posted by on in Carroll CSC Blog Posts
Lately, we have had great conversations about grit, rigor, tenacity, and academic stamina and how our students benefit greatly from having these life skills. What exactly does this mean? How do we help our students tackle large tasks and see them through to the end without getting frustrated and giving up? Grit is courage, resolve, strength of character and determination. Encouraging students to be courageous and take risks is key if we expect to make academic gains. Many times students are afraid to take a risk for fear of failure. It is our job as educators to scaffold our students learning and ensure that they are prepared to be risk takers while taking on rigorous tasks. An excellent example of a rigorous task and a challenge for our students to increase their stamina would be to enroll in an Advanced Placement (AP) course. 

Students who are taking an Advanced Placement course at Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School are required to take the AP exam at the end of the course. They must also meet the requirements and standards of an AP course. Due to the rigor of Advanced Placement courses, students get the benefits of these courses being weighted on their transcripts. 

I would encourage students to take a risk and have the tenacity to complete an AP course during their high school career. If we are focused on having our student's college and career ready as they leave Carroll Jr.-Sr. High School, they need to be encouraged to take risks and move outside of their comfort zones. Students will reap great benefits from the challenges of Advanced Placement courses. 

                                                                            Continue reading
Tagged in: CJSHS rigor
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Curriculum Maps

Posted by on in Carroll CSC Blog Posts
Dear Parents,

I wanted to update you on a major project our teachers have been working hard on for over a year.   We knew with all the new tests coming from the State we would need to update our curriculum.  The first step to updating and aligning the curriculum to the new tests would be to document the curriculum.  The teachers have been working on producing a product called a curriculum map.  It is a basic roadmap of the major concepts that will be taught each nine weeks of the school year by subject.  It is similar to a syllabus or a pacing guide, but it is less specific about page numbers in a book and more about what standards and concepts will be taught. 

As the State shares more information about the new tests, we will have to change our curriculum maps to align with what the State is pushing down.  The State will tell us what percent of each test will be loosely based on what standards.   The process of changing curriculum and aligning to a new summative test could take two to three years minimum.  

We are in the process of loading these curriculum maps on our school website.   We will load them underneath the teacher’s name on their respective web page. This will take some time.  We started the project first at the CJSHS, so their maps will be loaded first.  As teachers change the curriculum maps to align with the new tests, we’ll load the updated maps to our website.   Our goal here is to document what our curriculum actually is and make it visible for public review.  I have attached a sample copy of a 9th-gradecurriculum map, so you can have an understanding of what a curriculum map looks like.  These will also be helpful to students as they select courses.  It will give them more information about the class.      

Any questions, feel free to ask, 
Chris Lagoni

9th-grade-English-Curriculum-Map-CJSHS-2015_20151203-140923_1.pdf Continue reading
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Deeper Learning

Posted by on in Carroll CSC Blog Posts
One way to summarize the skills and knowledge that students need in 21st century jobs and civic life is called “Deeper Learning”.  Below are the six basic areas of Deeper Learning.

1. Master core academic content
2. Think critically and solve complex problems
3. Work collaboratively
4. Communicate effectively – written and oral
5. Learn how to learn
6. Develop academic mindsets (attitudes and beliefs that lead to perseverance and motivation)

As our classrooms change to prepare students for what is expected of them, we have to consider how students will react.  How will students respond?  The complete answer is dependent on the specific student, but we can expect some commonalities. 

When students are challenged to think critically and solve problems, many will feel uncomfortable and unprepared.  They will want to quit and look for excuses.  They will beg for a worksheet with one word answers, not because it will prepare them better for what is expected of them, but because it is familiar and appears easier.  When students are challenged to think deeply about a concept and consider multiple approaches to a solution, we can expect resistance.  Students will ask for the one “right answer”.  Students can’t learn problem solving skills unless they encounter problems.   That is why “Learning how to learn” and “Developing academic mindsets” are part of the process.  We must teach students to persist and believe in their abilities. Students must take responsibility for their learning and reflect on their thinking.  Teachers must become intentional about teaching these success mindsets.  Reading and thinking strategies must be modeled in all subject areas. 

Parents and community members can help students by anticipating their need for productive struggling through the problem solving process and encouraging them to persist.  Have students write out their questions and roadblocks.  Tell them to look for “clues” to a solution.  As students learn to ask productive questions they will find solutions more quickly.  The student engagement will lead to improved motivation to learn and increased learning.  To find out more about deeper learning, watch the video found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpzJgOyiH7g Continue reading
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Rigor and Relevance

Posted by on in Carroll CSC Blog Posts
Rigor and Relevance are the mantra of today’s education.  Schools have received clear communication from the Indiana Department of Education our new ISTEP + test will be a more rigorous test.  The test will focus on our new standards along with the federal mandate for college and career readiness.   It will ask the students to pick multiple correct answers, solve complicated multi-step problems, provide examples from what they read, and form opinions based on facts in the sample readings.  We know there will be a slow process to integrate more and more technology enhanced questions into the test.  Eventually through these technology enhanced questions students will be able to demonstrate skill and ability in creating specific work or products within the testing sessions. 

According to a College and Career Readiness Standards presentation to the State Board of Education, College and Career Readiness means, “The individual has the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in post-secondary education and economically-viable career opportunities.”   This definition leads to the idea student feedback and documentation of readiness will require more than just nine out of ten on a subject area test.

As I analyze this definition, the words “skills” and “abilities” stand out.  In the past standards primarily measured knowledge alone.  I asked our team at Carroll if we provide feedback to students and parents on skills and abilities.   What skills and abilities are needed to be successful: process skills, writing skills, problem solving skills, social skills, or technology abilities?  I am interested in measuring one that influences all the rest… resiliency.   We have had many discussions on what it takes to tackle difficult problems.  Having background knowledge about the problem is not enough.  The students need to be able to push through the difficult problems.  Education researchers such as Dr. Joseph Renzulli  from the University of Connecticut  label this as task commitment.    In order to work on something which is difficult to solve a student or a person needs a certain amount of “stick-with-it-ness”.    This is a skill all future employers desire too.

Our analysis of the most recent ISTEP tests show students across the state are skipping or not completing the more difficult applied skills or essay questions.   There were multiple questions on the 8th grade ISTEP+ test in 2014 where thirty-one to forty-four percent of the students across the state scored a zero out of a possible three points.  A zero means the student didn’t attempt the problem or showed little evidence of attempting to solve the problem.    The students are not demonstrating high ability or skills in task completion. 

Why is this?  Perhaps maturity, lack of background knowledge, or time limits of the test?  That is what we want to find out.  Tests of knowledge will not show this.  I contend we will need to start giving students more feedback about their resiliency or ability to show task commitment.  Figuring out how to measure it and provide feedback are the initial challenge.   Teaching students more about a concept and building their background knowledge is not enough.  The students have to be forced to use the knowledge and apply it in multiple real world problems.  Once students are constantly challenged with more difficult tasks, we can start to measure task commitment and provide concrete feedback.   In order to achieve individual college and career readiness students will require more robust feedback than just documenting knowledge of a subject.   This will also support students as they transition to more and more rigorous curriculum. Continue reading
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