Where does rigor fit?
I am so tired of hearing the words rigor and relevance! Those words are completely misunderstood and overused by so many people outside of the classroom. I loved this section because it really hit home with me that rigor is not something that the text has. I think so many many teachers understand that but administration and district personnel do not! How we interact with the text- the attention and energy we give to the text itself creates the rigor. I think that good teachers can make almost any book rigorous by her selection of activities and conversations she chooses to have with her students. But, I think we have to be careful and not overdo it. Just like everything we read doesn't have to be a close reading, everything we read does not necessarily need to be done with rigor. There's a time and a place for this type of reading and we need to be careful not to kill the love of reading if everything is done as close read or everything is done with rigor. Sometimes we need to just enjoy a book and not kill the joy by overanalyzing every little bit of it. My son's 5th grade teacher this year kind of killed his love of reading because everything they did was either close reading or vocabulary. Like the book mentioned, it ended up not being rigor but more like rigor mortis for him.
What do we mean by intellectual communities?
I really wish that the purpose of our schools was to create "intellectual communities where students are encouraged to be risk takers, to be curious, to be willing to try and fail, and to be more interested in asking questions than providing answers." I want to teach in a place like that. Unfortunately, high stakes testing (and standards, teacher evaluation systems, administrators, district board members, parents, etc...) get in the way of this goal.
I love this- "New standards, without addressing old problems, won't change anything." So true!
I don't see my school as an intellectual community... I wish I did but we are all so scattered and we don't really have conversations about important things. We have people talk at us about what we should be doing, but we don't have conversations to find out what people are already doing and how we can find some common ground in this mess we call common core, high stakes testing, etc...
My goal is for my classroom to be an intellectual community, and I think in some ways these last few years in Kindergarten it was (as much as a kindergarten classroom can be). I am inspired, but frustrated by this section. I am inspired because I really want our school to be a place where "people come together to think, explore, question, try, and create." I see it happening in my classroom and other classrooms around the school. But, I am frustrated because I don't think that everyone can embrace this idea- and if everyone across the grade levels doesn't feel that their classrooms need to be intellectual communities- then it doesn't work. Students go from one grade level where it's important to think, explore, be interested in asking questions and trying new ideas- to a grade level where it's all worksheets and looking up vocabulary definition. But, I need to think small and think about the little changes that I can make- in my classroom, with my teammates, with some other teachers that I know are on board with this. All of us making small changes, might cause the bigger changes that we need.