A Shameless Holiday Unplug

One of the most powerful units we ever worked on in our 11th grade English coursework was the Transcendentalists' Unit. Through Emerson and Thoreau, we gained some powerful insights into our sense of self , our "hobgoblins", and what living deliberately is all about.

After reading Thoreau's Walden, we took on personal projects in which we chose a way to "Simplify." The choice was up to the individual. Some gave up their cell phones for 24 hours, some for a week. One student opted not to speak for a month, instead choosing only to listen. Another student abandoned video games and television for a weekend. Still another only sat on the floor or stood.

Then, they wrote about their experiences.

Many of them noted an increased awareness of not only themselves but of others. All noticed an increase in productivity in coursework because, as one student put it, "I didn't have anything else to distract me, so I just did my homework."

As adults, we may smile indulgently and probably with a hint of superiority at this. "Of course you get more done when you don't sit there on that computer all night! Tsk."

Tsk, indeed.

What are we doing? Are we not also iTethered? Are we not also pinning, tweeting, posting, liking and commenting as though our lives depended on it?

I'll be unplugging for the holidays.

No Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no blogging, no emails. No educational videos on YouTube, no TED Talks, no Google Hangouts, and no checking stats or replying to comments on this blog (at least not for a week or so, please still comment!).

I'm a little freaked, and I haven't even started. : /  Come January, I'll let you know what happened.

In the meantime, I wish you all peace and ease of stress. I wish you joy. I wish you happiness and health. But most of all, I wish you contentment--a commodity so much harder to come by.

Oh, (here's the "shameless" part) and if you get a chance, please Like our Facebook page: Transparent Teaching of Adolescents. Even better, if you've read the book, please consider rating/reviewing it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Get the word out that there is a way to work happily with teenagers!


Rights, Responsibilities, and Teaching

Always Prepped, (@alwaysprepped), an awesome ed tech site, recently tweeted this question to followers “Why do you teach?”  This is my response.

I can tell you that I did not become a high school English teacher because I love children. I do love children, but that’s not the reason why I do it. Nonetheless, it’s a solid reason, and I’m very glad some teachers have it—children, particularly teens, need to feel that love. Nor did I become a teacher because I love my subject. I do love reading and writing, but that’s not it either.

Maybe the question is too poignant in light of the tragedy in Newtown because I keep returning to thoughts of responsibilities and rights.

I teach because I feel that it is my duty to help people, particularly young people, become aware of unrealized potential, to share a perhaps previously unconsidered perspective with them, and to let them know that they are accepted (tattoos, piercings, zits, silliness, weirdness, and all). 

Sometimes, it seems like a one-way street, though, this teaching gig.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m shouting into an abyss (not unlike blogging, really). That’s why I try to make sure that whatever I’m shouting is worthy because it might just “stick”.

For example, Einstein reminds us that “We must realize that we cannot simultaneously plan for war and peace.” 

That’s a discussion worth having with the next generation of leaders. It’s also an analogy worth dissecting. 

Planning for war seems to be something our country does well. Can we even plan for peace? How? Why? What does it look like?  What do our rights have to do with peace and war? Are our rights inherent or bestowed? Who decides? Why? Where do they end and begin? We have the right to go to war, but what is our responsibility for doing so? What is the criteria? Why? If it is our right to have peace, then what is our responsibility for doing so?

Where does a 'right' end and a 'responsibility' begin?  

It was Mrs. Lanza’s right to own a gun and her responsibility to use it wisely and teach her son how to use it wisely. In that, it can be said that she met her legal and ethical responsibilities, her end of the deal. She taught well. Adam, her student, tragically, did not do the same.

But what was she planning for? 

I teach because I want to hear my students' answers and thoughts.

 Reference: Albert Einstein in an interview with Michael Amrine.  Published in Decision magazine and The New York Times Magazine in 1946

Mindy and some of her former students recently published Transparent Teaching of Adolescents, a discussion of effective teaching strategies for high school. 


The Unfairness of "A"

As I sit here, waiting on my essay to be returned from the online writing lab before submitting my final project, I'm struck by the unfairness of my grade in my higher-ed course. Oh, I've got an A coming, but that grade is solely due to the fact that I have a great deal of a precious resource at my disposal:  time.

It's why I decided to return to grad school, actually--because I have the time. Thus, my papers and discussion posts and comments and replies are all spiffy nifty sharp and on-topic. I have fun with my assignments. I relish the reading. And, as I discovered of an online course, time = A. Time = better work, better learning, more creativity, stronger connections to the material.

My classmates, who are desperately submitting things at all hours of the night, do what they have to do simply to get it done. They meet the goals, sometimes barely under the wire, sometimes late. I can imagine they have to skim the multiple chapters from the multiple texts we've had to read each week. I came to the conclusion that my A isn't fair.

Is it fair that we will all be assessed with the same criteria, when we don't have the same amount of time at our disposal?

For that matter, is it fair that we assess our students on the same criteria, given that they are coming at any given assignment with a host of individual needs? Now, I'm not talking about the kid who doesn't have a job (although I don't know too many high schoolers without one) or the kid who has all the latest gizmo gadgets.

I'm talking about that one kid, who, if he didn't have to go to school all day and work part-time so as not to be a financial drain on his family, would be submitting creative, powerful work. Or those who lack other resources, such as family support or access to a computer. This student is submitting the bare minimum to get by. What about him?

Is it fair to assess him by the same criteria, if he doesn't have the same resources?

We could argue of my classmates that they should know what they're getting into. These classmates are full-time teachers, and how they'll ever get the time to complete our huge final project, I'll never know. It has taken me upwards of thirty hours or so, on top of the regular classwork. 

Putting myself in their shoes, I see my work as ostentatious overkill and hyper-organized. I color-coded a fifteen page template, not because I was required to, but because it looked more visually pleasing to me. (I went right-brained nuts with it is what I did.) It's feverishly detailed, but compared to those individuals who are straining simply to input the required information, I'm either setting a bar or I'm showing off. Either way, it's got to be frustrating and annoying to look at.

How does that student feel who knows that if he had the time and/or resources, he'd be doing higher-level work?

"They just need time-management," some may say. "We give them enough time to complete their work."

Do we?

Do you have thirty some-odd hours free over the course of two weeks, plus your eight-ten hour days at school, plus your regular reading and outside work to do the project you've assigned to your students?

I know we want students to be creative. I know we want them to experience success. So, how can we allot them the resources they need to level the playing field?  Or, how can we better address the inequity of resources with the assignment criteria?

I admire those who put forth effort in the midst of their maelstrom.

Mindy and some of her former students recently published Transparent Teaching of Adolescents, a discussion of effective teaching strategies for high school. Join the conversation!



Motivating Teens to do Research

Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001) found that student achievement can increase when teachers show the relationship between an increase in effort to an increase in success. However, at the adolescent stage, the explicit illustration or discussion of this topic would most likely disengage at-risk learners who deem themselves (or have been deemed as) low-achievers. The condescension of the topic is off-putting, particularly for upperclassmen. In order to avoid coming across as “preachy”—which is very unproductive with teens—the secondary educator has to think more peripherally.

In order to support an upper-level learning environment, high-school teachers must consider the foundation of what drives effort or creates it in the first place: intrinsic motivation . Without intrinsic motivation, effort is merely compliance; thus, motivation must come first. Easier said than done with a group of adolescents who’d really rather be playing video games. How does one build intrinsic motivation in teenagers, particularly in a project that spans weeks of preparation and looks suspiciously like a research paper?

Research Paper FrustrationOne way to implement the strategy may be found in ourselves as “Teachers with high self-efficacy create mastery experiences for their students. Those beset by self-doubts construct classroom environments that are likely to undermine students’ judgments of their abilities and their cognitive development” (Gibson & Dembo, 1984; Woolfolk, Rosoff, & Hoy, 1990 as cited in Pajares & Urdan, 2006, p. 11). How's your self-efficacy level these days?

In a Research Paper Unit, then, it stands to reason that I should parallel the students’ efforts, working alongside them from start to finish. I.e. Completing my own research project, warts and all. Schunk (1991) echoes this thinking: “Classroom models—teacher and peer—are important sources of vicarious efficacy information; observing others succeed can convey to observers that they too are capable” (p. 216). Determining a problem that I really want to solve and working through my analysis of what causes the problem will help them see that not all ideas work right away nor will I necessarily be successful at all I attempt. Further, watching the messiness of research and problem-solving will help undercut the strange notion that some students have that everything should be “perfect” right away. Rather, it’s the thinking that matters, first, followed by a polishing later.

Another approach to consider in a research unit is the integration of a reflection component of the project.  To understand their self-efficacy, teens have to figure out where they are, where they're going, and where they want to be.  Collins (1982) found that “self efficacy predicts motivation and achievement across levels of student ability” (as cited in Schunk 220). Thus, how the student judges his or her ability directly correlates to the success of the outcome and the depth of learning.

Additionally, tapping into the students’ perceptions of self-efficacy as it pertains to their projects would help them see that they are, indeed, making progress as Schunk (1991) advocates: “Motivation is enhanced when students perceive they are making progress in learning (p. 209). Identifying the more difficult performance tasks and providing a booster shot of motivation/self-efficacy right before those tasks may help offset potential issues with laziness, apathy, or dwindling self-efficacy.

Addressing failure, what I call the “elephant in the room”, connects to all of these topics of effort, motivation, and self-efficacy. Failure has a bad reputation in the classroom, and dispelling it as such may actually contribute to effort. Kapur and Bielaczyc (2012) found that under different conditions a teaching method that involves invention and productive failure is more effective than direct instruction. The method requires students to struggle to figure out how to solve novel problems before they are given the solution. In their abstract, they note:

Despite seemingly failing in their problem-solving efforts, [productive failure] students significantly outperformed [direct instruction] students on the well-structured and complex problems on the posttest. They also demonstrated greater representation flexibility in solving average speed problems involving graphical representations, a representation that was not targeted during instruction. (Kapur & Bielaczyc, 2012)

How to deal with failure or the usefulness of failure, as a discussion, as opposed to the value of effort, may engage adolescent learners more authentically. It is a life skill and, most likely, would work best right after a student reflection on initial self-efficacy and before moving into research.

Although reward for effort and recognition of effort are effective strategies, in general, I do find that with teenagers, the act of doing so is not unlike walking on a tightrope. Things may go well at first, then, the wobbling starts. What then? The weakness to the strategy is found in what it doesn’t do: help students embrace intrinsic motivation. In his powerful TED talk, The Puzzle of Motivation, Dan Pink links motivation for performance to an economic model, but his findings can easily relate to students and speak to the weakness of the strategy.

Depending on the task, Pink (2009) asserts, the incentive may not work and may cause harm. For 21st Century tasks, which require less narrow and more abstract, right brain, conceptual, creative thinking, incentive slows workers down. If/then rewards work well for simple tasks and easy rules because “rewards narrow focus and concentrate the mind” (Pink, 2009). If the person can see the goal—incentive works. For a more complex, multi-step problem, rewards as motivation narrow possibilities. Given that a research project is not a simple or narrow task, providing concrete symbols for recognition may not work and may negate the effort.

Schunk (1991) also found that performance-contingent rewards for solving a math problem resulted in enhanced motivation. However, task-contingent rewards, such as participation, didn’t (p. 219). Again, the narrowness of the task seems to make a difference in the choice to include any sort of incentive as a motivator. My goal is for students to find or arrive at a sense of self-motivation and self-recognition as well as an enhanced self-efficacy. I don’t want them to think with blinders on or to “get” the trinket (whether symbolic or tangible). I want them to recognize their own effort.

All in all, I know the strategy of recognizing effort is worthwhile. However, its application for today’s adolescents requires a bit more tact and precision than presented in Marzano et al. (2001).


Glucksberg, Sam. (1962). The influence of strength of drive on functional fixedness and perceptual recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63 (1), 36-41. doi: 10.1037/h0044683

Kapur, M. & Bielaczyc, K. (2012). Designing for Productive Failure. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 21 (1), 45-83. doi: 10.1080/10508406.2011.591717

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. (2001) Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Pajares, F. & Urdan, T. (2006). Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Pink, D. (July 2009) The puzzle of motivation. [Video file]. Retrieved from: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html

Schunk, D. H. (1991). Self-efficacy and academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 26 (3& 4), 207-231.


How much can 11th graders handle?

Phil Zimbardo's TED Talk on the psychology of evil and heroism is powerful. I'm thinking about using it for a unit on Cause and Effect as it addresses the issue of root cause as systemic or individualistic. Please watch it and let me know (via the poll above or in comments) whether you think it would work for 11th or 12th graders (17-18 yrs old)
Thank you very much!!!

Mindy and some of her former students recently published Transparent Teaching of Adolescents, a discussion of effective teaching strategies for high school. Join the conversation!


How Improv can Help Students Transfer Skills

Improv is one of the best ways to see the brain working-making connections and inferences, based on understandings and knowledge.

Whose Line is it Anyway? is a show that fully rests on its participants' ability to improvise scenes, characters, and plotlines. No scripts, no memorization. On Bloom's taxonomy, the results of this type of performance are indicative of the highest intellectual behaviors, namely creating, analyzing, and applying.

While there are a few regular participants on the American version of the show, most notably Colin Mochrie, Ryan Stiles, and Wayne Brady, guest participants keep things fresh. What makes this show work, though, is the fact that its primary participants have the ability to access and recall information at lightening speed. Their respective repertoires, particularly Mochrie's ability to synthesize literary and cinematic genres, Stile's ability to portray and/or mimic a character or actor, and Brady's musical adroitness, reflect a vast amount of knowledge. 

In this video excerpt, the structure, "Scenes From a Hat", finds guest Robin Williams joining the crew. As you view the video, pay particular attention to the scene "World's Worst Subject for an Interpretive Dance".

In this particular scene, participants have to make choices that convey at least three of the facets of understanding (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005,pp. 85-103) in order to satisfy the prompt: interpretation, application, and empathy.

In order to provide his interpretation, Ryan conveys his understanding of the concept of interpretive dance (a style that seeks to express human conditions or situations) and does so through his empathetic subject, diarrhea, as the expression.

He makes this choice in three seconds.

It is this ability to reach into the brain's already existent body of knowledge to express that knowledge in a new and different way that we want students to be able to do, isn't it?

The biggest issue is not that we're not teaching students the "What" of the curricula or the standards. We've got that handled! It is that we sometimes forget to teach them how to use what they know in different situations, what Wiggins & McTighe refer to as "transfer" (p. 78).

Much like the muscles in our body that we have "train", we can also train the brain to more effectively and expediently find/locate/access information already stored . And we can do it using these improv structures.

Consider also the collaborative potential, which requires acute awareness of a situation--a valuable skill for a reading passage or math problem and a standard for improv performance. Robin specifically seizes upon Ryan's choice of a body function to express a body non-function--impotence.  Most likely, he also does this in three seconds as well, but he appropriately and professionally "holds" for laughter and applause.

Then, Wayne immerses himself in the scene by acknowledging Robin's perspective as the "penis"and he, Wayne, as the "owner"--three seconds. Robin has to acknowledge the shift to one of collaboration, which he does when Wayne touches him, and the two then convey a dual connection to dance by applying a (albeit not very graceful) ballet-type exit. 

Can improv be used in the classroom? Absolutely. It may require a bit of establishment of protocol (e.g., in our Theatre classes we had the No P-Rule: No Profanity or Pornography), depending on your level of students. But imagine this:

Explaining a concept to students and creating "Scenes From a Hat" that would require them to use their knowledge of that concept. Recently, for example, I observed a Biology Class that discussed endocytosis and exocytosis. Imagine students prompted with something like, "World's Worst Cell Membrane". In order to satisfy the prompt, they'd have to access their understanding of the fluidity of the membrane and seek to do the opposite.

What I'd recommend (based on my experiences with varying degrees of student confidence at doing these sorts of things) is putting students into two or three groups and having them do a few rounds of the structure using scenes or props that you have selected. That way, the sense of "all eyes on me" isn't so profound.

Then, you can have volunteers do a few rounds for the class on the "fun" topics, followed by the "real" concepts you want to them to understand. What naturally occurs is that those observing soon turn their thinking towards the prompt as opposed to just "watching". That is, they begin to make the choices they would use IF they were performing.  What I would inevitably hear from those observing to those performing was "Why didn't you___?"

The ability to think quickly, coupled with the kinesthetics of this approach, will most certainly have all students authentically engaged, and if you develop your topics well, also conveying a depth of understanding.

"Scenes From a Hat" is only one of many structures. Taking a few moments out of your day to watch a few videos from this show will no doubt give you some more ideas!

 Mindy Keller-Kyriakides is the author of Transparent Teaching of Adolescents: Defining the Ideal Class for Students and Teachers.  Become part of the conversation!

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


Leggo My Ego!

Do teachers carry some innate sense of ego or self importance?  Do we over-reach our authority, reflecting our own personal “agendas”?

I’ve struggled with these questions for the past week or so from a recent Twitter conversation. First, because it connects to my thesis on teacher identity and secondly, because I then wondered to what extent I’d allowed my own self-importance to take precedence in my choices for curriculum or coursework. Was I a complete egomaniac?  It’s taken me a while to reply because I prefer to reflect on things before replying, so here goes!

As a first year teacher, I know I did that. My choice to have students perform and produce The Tragedy of Macbeth was a rookie mistake and completely self-absorbed. I wanted to show off, basically. Annnnd I did. But not before most likely crushing a few students along the way by pushing them into something well beyond their abilities. Thankfully, it turned out beneficial (the students were proud of their work), but I hadn’t considered their input enough.

At the end of my second year, I began to see that high school students, when given options, were so much more enjoyable to work with! So, we had a brainstorming session about the upcoming work and vision of the Theatre department. We worked together to determine the best way to change the course and curriculum to better reflect their abilities (going forward) and the abilities of their classmates coming into the department.

Garnering student feedback was the single most humbling thing I ever did.

Teenagers will tell you how it is. They won’t hold back. What they wanted, they said, was more responsibility and freedom.

     “Okay…so, what do I do?” I asked them.

     “Give us the general idea, and if we have questions, we’ll ask.” They said.

Our Book! : )
As a result of giving them a bit more responsibility and freedom, we learned together how to forge a classroom that understood the power of mistakes and used failures to move forward. Oh, they did do some silly things—such as painting purple designs on the walls of the school—but overall, it was a successful endeavor. We were a risky bunch!  Plus, when their teacher made mistakes, it was hysterically funny.

One day, as we all stood around a mis-constructed set unit that was too high to be used, solely based on the teacher’s lousy (or lack of) measurements, we were silent for a moment, hands on our hips. Then, we burst into laughter borne of humility. Wiping away our tears, we moved forward as always.

My answer then, to my former Twitter-follower, is “Yes, you’re right in that we generally push our methods. However, we also have the ability to learn to do otherwise! That’s why our book is not written solely by me, but along with my students.  They were truly the authors of their class experience, so they share in its royalties.  I may have been possessed of some sort of ego at first, but they sure fixed that!
It makes sense, then, not to ram an opinion down someone’s throat without taking the time to get to know them and how they tick and what they think. The irony of this conversation and its reliance upon hasty generalization is not lost on me. Where you wished to take me, sir, may not be where I would have gone.

The Conversation:
He:  Read this. Perhaps you wld intrupt them and give a blessed assignment? Blog Link

Me (after reading article): Would endeav. to guide them into even richer experience They did gr8t but how much more could've been accomplished w/ guidance?

He:  Don't you see? The adults "guidance" has a goal. Where u wish to take them may not be
        where they wld have gone

     “Would endeav. to guide them into even richer experience." this is the adult ego/self importance I speak of.


Of Chalkboards and Laptops and Visual Literacy

This week, AnnMarie (co-author, former student, fellow educator) and I will be presenting a webinar  via UNC at Chapel Hill's SCALE Read. Write. Act. National Conference. Our focus is on achieving greater Visual Literacy through rhetorical analysis. You’re all invited, of course! We're "on" at 2pm EDT, Friday.

Because of the webinar, perhaps, my visual literacy senses are tingling painfully. Every image or video I watch, I consider its potential merit for discussion in a classroom. The image below came through on an assignment in one of my grad classes. We were to assume the role of a school improvement committee and present our plans for a technology upgrade. 

When I first looked at this image, I thought:  

        Graphically, this is a “clean” image. The colors stand out very well, and it’s easy to read. 

All noteworthy points to consider for a PowerPoint presentation. However, something about it bothered me.
It reflects an outdated mental model—that of chalkboards, chalk, and erasers. The word “technology” on a chalkboard doesn’t work. It’s contradictory. And the use of the image reflects the author’s mental model as holding desperately onto some Norman Rockwell idealistic image of teaching. 

Yes, the font is neat. Too neat. I can’t remember the last time my handwriting was that neat on a chalkboard. Yes, the image is clean. Too clean. My chalkboards hardly had any green on them at all as the dust from multiple erasures and changes created a funky nimbus cloud--that of a chalkboard in use. What’s the reality? Why do we strive so hard to avoid it?

This image, presented to an intended audience of teachers, ineffectively illustrates the argument of the slideshow, which was to encourage teachers to use more technology in the classroom. It doesn't work.

How are we going to get teachers to use and authentically integrate technology, if we insist on holding these images up as the ideal?  It’s cute and quaint, I grant you. On a subconscious level, which is where these visuals hit home, it says, "Not really. jk. Hold to tradition." 

Until districts and administrators understand that teachers need specific (paid!) training in how to use the available technology, and until teachers admit that they are somewhat daunted by it and holding onto familiarity, we’ll get nowhere. And our students will continue to disconnect from what we do, noting the discrepancy between the “real” world—an ironically digital one—and our static educational world, leaving us behind in a cloud of chalk dust.

Mindy Keller-Kyriakides is the author of Transparent Teaching of Adolescents: Defining the Ideal Class for Students and Teachers.  Become part of the conversation!



The best assignments are those that move students from where they are to where they could or should be, but how does the movement work? Is it akin to traveling on a road, making a series of stops, or is it more a snowball effect, creating mass? Most teachers “get” that a high-quality assignment incorporates critical thinking and standards, and that rigor equates to challenge.  However, we sometimes get caught up in creating individual challenging, rigorous lessons without determining how and where they impact the whole.  
If we consider every assignment as a singular event, we create a linear experience. The assignment may be high-quality and may even be rigorous, but if it’s developed with point A to point B thinking, we are buying into the mile-long, inch-deep approach.

However, if we consider each assignment as a connective transition, we don’t move linearly; we create an expanding sphere of knowledge and practice—a fusion of ideas that creates meaning for and from a larger whole. 

Consider the following assignment, which was part of a unit on Evil, which was part of a year-long English curriculum designed to help students contemplate the question “What makes us human?” 

They read Shelley’s Frankenstein and created collages representing their analyses of the symbolism in the novel. Use of a non-text response to a print medium is challenging on many levels, and I could have had them simply present their work and stopped there, assigning them a grade, which would’ve been an “okay” assignment. 

High quality? Sure, if you consider the multitude of standards embraced by it. Rigorous? Yes, at least according to what research has to say on this sort of thing.  

However, by understanding the idea that an assignment is a transition of thought, designed to expand thinking in connection to the next assignment (or unit), we can craft more in-depth, challenging coursework.
We created an art gallery and moved from picture to picture, discussing the works, but the artists were not permitted to speak about their own designs. They had to listen to how viewers interpreted their non-print symbolism analyses; thus, the assignment garnered analysis on two levels: from the spectator p.o.v. as well as self-reflective and evaluative levels (How well did I succeed in conveying the meaning?).
Then the students presented their intended meanings. The class took notes on the intentions, and wrote a rhetorical analysis. How and how well did the artist convey his/her argument for the symbolism in Frankenstein? 

So, for those keeping track: the students have analyzed for their own purposes (creating the collage), analyzed another’s purpose, evaluated, and self-evaluated. Here’s where we really make the biggest impact, though.

While we’d been working on these collages in-class, the students had read their next text: Dave Pelzer’s A Child Called ‘It’.  We had our standard discussion, ensuring comprehension and garnering reactions.
However, the students then had to select a poster (not their own), originally designed for Frankenstein, that they felt best represented an argument in It.  They made extremely powerful, emotional connections between Shelley and Pelzer, the Creature and David as well as Victor and Catherine, which further deepened their understanding of humanity. 

To arrive at the sort of assignment that quickens the intellect, teachers need to have the end in mind, but we also need to understand that the end isn’t a destination. It is a state of understanding that has been reached through a series of expanding, spherical layers. The destination is already inside the student, and purposefully layering assignments to help him/her attain  a personal depth of understanding is what a truly rigorous curriculum does.  
 Mindy Keller-Kyriakides is the author of Transparent Teaching of Adolescents: Defining the Ideal Class for Students and Teachers.  Become part of the conversation!