Summer 2009 Bloggers :: Nadila Yusuf :: Academic Rigor

Name: Nadila Yusuf nadilayusuf
Breakthrough Site: Providence Summerbridge
Subject Teaching: Eight Grade Literacy
School Attending/Year:  Wheaton College 2011 (Norton, MA)

Define “academic rigor.” Tell a story about academic rigor in your classroom.

When I think of academic rigor I think about the teaching goals of Summerbridge/ Breakthrough.  One teaching objective at Providence Summerbridge is for the teachers to combine academic rigor and creativity within the lessons we develop. When Andrew Mallone, a formed SB teacher and a current Teach For America Corps Member, came to speak during our orientation he explained to us the tension between academic rigor and academic creativity. That is, academic rigor can be shaped around the standards in a school, or around the state education requirements; sometimes that hinders the teachers capacity to deliver a fund, exciting and engaging classroom activity. I define academic rigor as a challenging academically enforced lesson: a lesson in which the key points of the lesson like grammar and vocabulary are just taught for the reason they have to be taught.

I have already passed week 4 at Providence Summerbridge and I have learned that academic rigor is challenging to instill. I understand that concepts, vocabulary, grammar, essay skills are important and are at the core of the lessons I create with my team teacher but rigor needs to be shaped into something more then just RIGOR. At Providence I have learned that it is important to keep the rigor within the lesson but to make sure the rigor is an invisible part of the lesson and the creative piece of a lesson is on top of the academic piece. What I mean by this is when my team teacher and I taught complex, compound, and simple sentences by using a word web and a game of SB Grammar. During this lesson my team teacher taught the rules of complex, compound, and simple sentences and then he made the students create a word web of different vocabulary words from Macbeth on the board. The game worked like this: we set up teams and then passed out signs that said COMPLEX, SIMPLE, and COMPOUND. There are two pieces to this game. First, the teacher says a sentence out loud and the students need to pick whether it was a compound, complex or simple sentence.Second, the teacher asks the students to use up to three vocabulary words from word web on the board to create a complex, simple, or compound sentence. This part of our lesson was successful. The students learned how to differentiate the sentences and practices making their own sentences by using vocabulary from the text. What is interesting about this lesson is that we created a lesson that was academically rigorous and was a difficult concept to understand but we made sure our students stayed engaged and were able to understand the concepts in a creative way.


3 Responses to Summer 2009 Bloggers :: Nadila Yusuf :: Academic Rigor

  1. Donna Kerner says:


    Lots of insight in this post. Do you now appreciate your own best teachers more? It’s no mean feat to combine rigor with fun and to motivate your students to want to do more. I really admire how well you have incorporated this perspective into your teaching practice.


  2. Mathu says:

    I love this example of rigor. Educational research shows us over and over again that children learn best when they are interested. Your game adds a fun and entertaining element to an extremely important grammatical concept. Nice work, Nadila – way to be creative and rigorous, a difficult balance, as you point out so aptly in your post.

  3. Britta Han says:

    🙂 Yeah, Family 5!

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