Scaffolding to Rigor in High School ELA

In the afternoon session for 9-12 ELA, participants examined the first unit of Grade 9 ELA Module 1 through the lens of rigor and talked about how the module supports all students to access rigorous texts.

What does rigor look like? Everybody has different definitions of rigor, so participants read three quotes about what rigor is and discussed those ideas as compared to their own ideas of what rigor looks like. Rigor is more than giving students a complex text; it is the creation of an environment that helps students to develop the capacity to understand complex content. Participants also spent some time deconstructing popular myths about what rigor means and looks like including:

  • “lots of homework”
  • “doing more”
  • “rigor is not for everyone”

Providing learning targets like “I can” statements helps students reach higher levels of rigor. According to Barbara Blackburn, supporting students so that they can learn at high levels is central to the definition of rigor.

Participants read an excerpt from “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” the first text from the ninth grade module. Participants discussed its potential for rigor including writing style, layers of meaning, and vocabulary. Consensus seemed to be that this text is an excellent selection for ninth graders. It is rigorous, accessible, and content-rich.

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