From teaching students how to read in the lower grades to helping them construct arguments in high school, the goal is to prepare them to be highly functioning once they exit our K–12 environments. This is achieved when so many things come together for students, and a piece of this intricate puzzle is exposing them to Quad D instruction per the Rigor/Relevance Framework. Quad D learning occurs when students engage in tasks that are rigorous—addressing the high end of Bloom’s taxonomy—and relevant, giving them the opportunity to solve real-world problems.
Earlier in my career, I had the opportunity to work on staff for Teach For America. Their metro Atlanta region had received Race to the Top funds to develop a certification program for their new teachers. I was brought on board to design the program and secure state approval from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
To design a program that would meet state expectations, we had to conduct extensive research on state laws. We collaborated with regional and national staff to determine which components of our current programming could be incorporated into the new program. We also worked with local universities and certification providers to investigate how their programming satisfied state requirements and thought creatively about how we could do the same. Once the program was designed, the budget was determined, and all artifacts were housed electronically, we presented our proposal to the state and our program was ultimately approved.
Quad D Connection
Let’s dissect the aforementioned experience and reflect on how it can be used as a model for understanding how the Quad D learning approach can maintain a level of rigor and relevance necessary in classroom instruction to prepare students to successfully navigate their opportunities post high school. As highlighted in the example above, my team and I were put in a position to solve a real-world unpredictable problem (design an alternative certification program and secure its approval by the state). Through the design of this program, we used our creative license to meet state requirements and draw upon skills learned across a curriculum (English language arts, math, technology). We collaborated with others (internal staff, university partners, local education agencies) to exchange ideas and think outside the box to ensure our design would meet the needs of our new teachers. Finally, we presented our proposal to a real audience (Georgia Professional Standards Commission) and were provided with feedback (program approved with no conditions).
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