Questioning and Rigor Basics

5th Grade November 18th

Rigor in the Classroom
Example of Rigor in the Classroom

In The Global Achievement Gap, Tony Wagner writes, “In today’s world, it’s no longer how much you know that matters; it’s what you can do with what you know.”

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How is the Academic Vocabulary and Critical Verbs instruction going?

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Let's sort our question audit results!

Pick one question to turn into a higher level question.

Questioning Stems and Effective Questioning Strategies- Handouts

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Strategies for Implementing Rigor and Questioning in the Classroom

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from Make It Real: Strategies for Success with Informational Text by Linda Hoyt, Heinemann, 2002

In this strategy, students work in small groups to read short passages, stopping often to generate questions about the text. Their job is to read carefully and then generate questions on the topic that the teacher has to answer!

While students are reading and writing their questions, the teacher also reads the passages, stopping often to write his or her own questions about the text.

When the time allocated for reading and question development has elapsed, the teacher takes a seat at the front of the room and students begin to ask questions about the text.

Their goal is to ask a question the teacher can’‛t answer about the assigned reading. The students love this and are highly motivated to read carefully!


- Every time the teacher answers a question correctly the students have to try to answer a teacher question.
- Give points for correct answers with the class and the teacher competing against each other.

Hurry up and Wait Strategy

For many of us, wait time is not a new idea, but it plays a vital role in the retention of information. Research shows that many teachers ask questions at the rate of two or three per minute. Only one second would pass before the questions were repeated or restated or before the teacher called on someone else.

Offering students the opportunity to have just a few seconds to respond can give them enough time to access prior knowledge, evaluate what has been said, and formulate an appropriate response. When wait time is increased to three seconds, remarkable changes occur for the students. The positive effects of longer wait time include:

*responses change from a single word to a whole statement;

*self-confidence increases;
*guessing decreases;
*students piggyback on each other’‛s ideas;

*responses by slower students increase;

*students ask more questions; and

*student achievement improves.

In addition to increasing wait time, two verbal responses by the teacher can be used to keep students thinking about a concept or idea. The first is, “What else?” This question conveys that there may be other acceptable answers and to keep trying. The other statement is, “Tell me more.” This request cues the students to do more in-depth thinking, to dig for details, and to synthesize information.

Source: How to Teach So Students Remember, by Marilee Sprenger, ASCD, 2005.

Inspiring Peers to Learn at a Higher Level

After you teach a concept to the whole class, use group challenges as one way to help students on the road to mastery. Here's a sample plan:

  1. Divide students into small groups of three or four.

  2. Give students a challenge. For example: Find ways to help everyone in your group learn the definitions for the social studies test.

  3. Offer students ideas, and if necessary, materials to carry out ideas. For example: Make flashcards with words and pictures of the definitions. Quiz each other and award one point to group members for correct answers. See who can earn the most points.

  4. Encourage students to be creative. The first time your create groups for group challenges, students will probably use one or more ideas you've supplied. But after the second or third time, you should see them coming up with their own ideas for learning material writing stories, drawing cartoons, or making up songs, poems, and raps.

  5. Monitor group progress. At times, a group may not work well. You may have to step in, give specific ideas, or even assign members to other groups. On the other hand, some groups will latch onto an idea and run with it. You will be able to see the student's enthusiasm and watch learning occur. When you see a group like this, ask them to share their methods with the whole class.


Tired of the same old chalk and talk lesson format? Add a little SPLASH to your lessons:

Before the lesson

  1. Identify key words or phrases connected to the lesson.

  2. Write each word or phrase on a file card.

  3. Put all the cards in a container.

  4. Spill the cards accidently.

  5. Ask the students to gather up the cards and help you organize them for the lesson.

  6. Have students arrange the cards in a way that shows their connections to each other.

  7. Conduct the lesson.

Following the lesson

  1. Ask students to organize the cards in logical order again, using new insights.

  2. Ask them to use the words or phrases to summarize what they have learned that


  3. Have them use their splash words to write a paragraph summarizing the


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What is one way you will you increase rigor in your classrom?

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When creating your lesson plans this next 6 weeks, we want you to focus on questioning and rigor. Think about your essential question for the lesson... What are you wanting students to learn? Now, purposefully write higher order thinking questions in your lesson plan. Questioning doesn't always come easy. Writing out some of the questions you need to ask will help you during instruction time. BUT REMEMBER... do not accept low level answers from your students. Ask them to add to their answer, to give you evidence, to justify, etc.
Bring a copy of your lesson plans to the next meeting on December 9th. We will be meeting after school at 3:30 in the Library.

Bring a copy of those plans to our next meeting.

Don't forget to turn in your entry form for a class of free furniture by Dec. 5th!

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Switching Gears!!

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