Friday, November 1, 2013

What is rigor?

Rigor isn’t throwing students in the deep end of the pool and hoping they don’t drown. Rigor is leading the development of each student so that they become incrementally stronger and stronger.  - Reading Without Limits by Maddie Witter

I freely admit that my ability to teach reading is an area where I have a lot of potential to grow! For the past 9 years I have worked with students who had yet to learn to decode. So, I am very good at teaching decoding. Give me a 12 year old child who can barely read CVC words, and I can teach that child to decode.

This is my first year working at a school where the majority of my students can actually decode and comprehend prior to entering my classroom! What a gift and a challenge.

My test scores show that my students do consistently make over a years worth of gains. So, while they are not bad, I still do not feel they are good enough. I would like to consistently see ALL my students make 1.5 years gain in reading class.

My lowest students do make these gains. But not my average and high performing students. They tend to make 1.0 gains. I have identified that my weakness is in the area of higher level comprehension skills. I need to add more rigor to my instruction in this area.

So, it an effort to become a better reading teacher myself, I am reading a phenomenal book called Reading Without Limits. This quote above really spoke to me. Both for my growth as a teacher and for my expectations for my students.

If I am to move from being an excellent decoding teacher and teacher of basic vocabulary and comprehension strategies to a full-rounded teacher who is also comfortable with a variety of comprehension strategies, I am going to need support. I am going to need to incrementally learn new techniques.

How do you learn new reading comprehension strategies? What do you find works well with your high level readers? Do you have any suggestions for me?