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Raising Rigor…AGAIN!

Rigor is my new favorite thing. It makes my life as a teacher easier- I’m not even kidding. If you caught my last post about rigor, you know what I’m talking about. A crash course review:

So rigor lives at the intersection of kids working without you telling them what to do every 5 seconds and a task that requires cognitively complex thinking. Like, actually complex. No recall, recognition, or comprehension stuff.  I’m talking analyzation, utilization, decision-making, problem-solving, and so on. The success that I had in my kindergarten class with making games was so addicting that I needed to see if I could figure out a fresh way to get more rigor in! 

I was sitting in a PD session that was all about a teaching a guaranteed and viable curriculum. One of the things that stuck with me was the phrase “teach less, learn more.” They were basically saying that many teachers spend time trying to cover everything and the students end up mastering nothing. The push was for schools to identify critical standards and master those- and then if that happens, there is room to each the other standards that weren’t identified as critical. We are in that process now and the great thing about it is that I have a laser-focused curriculum and that makes it SO easy to communicate to my students. 
One of the skills that we identified as critical came from a standard (we are not a CCSS state) that asked students to write their numbers 0-20. I had my students participate in some personal monitoring for learning and they placed a sticky note on a chart that allowed me to see how they felt about this skill. The class was almost split in half. Before my rigor work, I would have looked at that and thought that I needed to take the kids that have mastered the skill and move them to the next “thing” faster. Not anymore! I wanted to keep the class together and come up with a way for them to go deeper. I asked the students that had mastered the skill how they felt about helping the students that needed help and they were more than happy to oblige. 
So we began a peer tutoring service.

I wanted them to be able to help each other not just with this skill but with any skill that they want extra help with. I am very careful to point out that ALL students can be tutors. I give examples of students that are rocking out in math but might need to get help from a friend with sight words. 
On Mondays, they partner up. They identify the roles that they will take (so that no one is always tutoring or being tutored) for the week. This allows students to be able to get extra help in ANY subject all week long and it allows me to have a dozen extra teachers in the room! 

If the students are tutoring this week, they have to…

1. Write a lesson plan. They LOVE this part. That’s because I showed them my lesson plan book and I explained why I have to have a plan before I come to teach them. 
2. Select the activity. I have them organized into literacy and math buckets but I also leave a blank space on the lesson plan in case they have their own idea that they’d like to try.

3. Check-in with me. At this point, I review the lesson plan and I ask them to show me the activity that they’ve selected. I might even frontload them with some “what if” questions (that I am assuming will happen). That might sound like, “how will you know if they really can write their numbers without help? What if they look at the numbers on the wall? What could you do?” …things like that. 
4.  I have them put their lesson plan and activity in their “tutor tote” and it’s all ready to go whenever they are ready to work! I have lots of students that do tutoring during our gentle entry time slot but they also do it during free choice or even during instuctional time.

Once they are into the groove, I give them some options for tracking data. In KG that is as simple as a stamp or a sticker in a box for how they did, but in older grades, you could have the students actually track data with numbers. 
I also encourage them to write a success criteria statement so that they truly know when their tutee’s “got it.” I only push that part if I have a class-wide tutoring cycle (like when half knew how to write to 20 and the other half didn’t).

I have an incentives area, reflection sheets, and awards that students can give each other for a job well done!

I’ve LOVED this work. These kids are SO smart. I just walk around and watch the magic. 
This tutor came up with her own practice activity. She said, “I’ll write a number on the board and you have to count that many.”  AMAZING. 
Another student said that her dad helped her with a trick to get over those decade numbers when counting to 100. I watched her get a 100’s chart out and show her the same trick. So great. 
Outside of that, I’ve got tutors that use the iPads, make flash cards, or get extra practice with an activity that we’ve done previously at stations or centers.

I have had so much fun working with the students that have mastered a lot of the skills that they need to because they really have to do some higher level thinking when they are responsible for someone else’s learning. Their own knowledge is deepened when they are tutoring because it’s hard to teach what you don’t know! They have to:
-Process their own learning strategies in order to show someone else
-Think about a “plan B” if their lesson isn’t effective
-Reflect on how they did as a teacher
-Answer questions that they may not be prepared for
-Figure out how to assess and track progress
…and so much more! This REALLY gets those wheels turning.

The best part is that there is just a lovely sense of community when we engage in peer tutoring. 

If you’re interested in getting peer tutoring running in your classroom, click the image below!

Also, if you want to learn more about raising rigor with game making, click the image below!


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