Saturday, January 16, 2016

Rigor for All~Providing Student Support

This year, our supervisory union, has taken on the topic of "rigor" as part of our ongoing professional development.  During district wide inservice days, we've been reading and discussing chapters of the book, Rigor for Students with Special Needs by Barbara Blackburn and Bradley Witzel (2013).  This ongoing work is focused on promoting rigor for all  of our students.

On January 18th, we will concentrate on Chapter 4-Providing Support and Chapter 5-Demonstration of Student Learning (Assessment).  Today, I prepped for the inservice by reading these two chapters. Although the reading did not provide me with brand new learning, I believe it met its intent.  It required me to reflect and consider my practice and be prepared to respond to thoughts that will be presented and discussed in small groups on Monday.  Here is my list of key points in Chapter 4.  They may help others reflect as well.

Chapter 4~Providing Support

Seven Types of Support
1. Scaffold:  Apply supports and strategies to help students achieve.

  • Scaffolding is typically ineffective if students are not show how to use it and if it is not faded as the student improves.
  • Example of four key elements of scaffolded instruction:  Chunking instruction, cycles of repeated instruction, modeling for support, use of visuals.

2. Model:  Students need models to know what they should aim to do, and why.

  • Model, model, model-model thinking, model what you want students to do, model practice.
  • SLANT-Sit up, Lean forward, Act attentive, Name the big ideas, Track the speaker.
  • 3 Step process of modeling-I do it, we do it, you do it.

3.  Think Aloud:  Teachers verbalize their thoughts and reasoning while teaching.

  • When teachers think-aloud it provides students an opportunity to crack codes and understand thought processes.
  • Remember students in the think-aloud process, don't generalize or skip steps.

4.  Provide Guides and Graphic Organizers: Visuals should be used throughout every lesson to support comprehension, and stimulate learning.

  • Help students create mental images to better organize their learning
  • Examples: Maps, T-charts, Venn diagrams, number and timelines, lists, think bubbles, sketches, charts, tables, etc. 

5.  Use CRA Models:  Concrete-Representational-Abstract~students choose a method that works for them, then move to the next level.

  • A Bloom's Taxonomy of support of sorts!  
  • Gradual sequence that moves from hands-on learning to pictorial representations to abstract reasoning.

6.  Teach Community Skills:  Teach students how to support each other.

  • There is a great rubric included in this section "Student Cooperative Learning Rubric" (p. 53)

Me:  Teacher models
We:  Teacher uses think alouds to help students verbalize steps.
Two:  Students verbalize reasoning, understanding and thought processes in small groups
You:  Students work independently


Students are given think time
Students pair up and share their thinking
Students share with the entire group
Higher level-students share their partner's thoughts, ideas, answers.

7.  Apply Modifications and Accommodations:  They are not the same, nor interchangeable.  A modification is a change in the content of the standard.  An accommodation is a tool to help a student reach the standard.

"Keep in mind that using accommodations does not mean that you are lessening rigor.  A key part of the definition of rigor is that appropriate scaffolding is used so that students can be successful at higher levels of learning.  Accommodations are simply another type of scaffolding." (p. 56).


  • Changes are made to what a student is expected to learn.
  • The standard or concept is changed from general educational expectations.
  • Change the nature of what is being tested. 
  • The more modifications, the less likely a student will be prepared for an unmodified assessment.
  • Content modifications can change what the test measures.

Examples:  deleting certain items, changing constructed response to multiple choice, altered grading, different assignments, different assessments, use of calculators for math fluency, different reading assignments if reading is being assessed


  • Changes that are made in regard to how the student is instructed or assessed

Examples:  changes in instructional methods and materials, assignments and assessments, changes in environment, extra time, scribe, shortened assignments where all objectives are still covered, one-on-one assistance, visual organizers, homework reminders, weekly progress reports, etc.

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