Rigor is not a bad word! (Plus a Freebie)

Recently, I have had the opportunity to look very closely at our state science standards. Through this process I have been working with our local RESA Liason to create learning targets. Wow! This has been totally eye-opening and has helped me to pinpoint my instruction.

SIDE NOTE: In Georgia, we use the Georgia Standards of Excellence, which is closely related to the NGSS. However, it does not always match up. Especially in the middle-grades when our science standards are divided: 6th – Earth Science, 7th-Life Science and 8th- Physical Science. 

With RESA support I walked through my first standard. I looked specifically at what students needed to know and then what they needed to be able to do based on the standard. As an example I will walk you through my process with the following standard.

S6E5b Plan and carry out an investigation of the characteristics of minerals and how minerals contribute to rock composition.

Students need to know the characteristics of minerals and that they make up rocks. They also need to be able to plan and carry out an investigation – HOW do we get them there?

After combing through the standard I made check-points. Its like a check list for the standard with everything a student should know and reason. I came up with the following learning targets for the standard:


(K1) Identify and explain the terms organic and inorganic. (DCI)

(K2) List and describe the five characteristics of minerals. (DCI)

(K3) Label the six main crystal structures: cubic, hexagonal, orthorhombic, tetragonal, triclinic, and monoclinic. (DCI)

(K4) Identify mineral properties (luster, streak, hardness, color, cleavage and fracture) and explain how it is used to identify minerals. (DCI)


(R1) Explain the relationship between minerals and rock structure. (DCI, CC)

(R2) Compare and contrast rocks and minerals. (DCI)

(R3) Using a data table, analyze given minerals based on their properties. (DCI, SEP)

(R4) Compare and contrast organic and inorganic matter. (DCI)

(R5) Justify the classification of minerals into groups based on their crystal structure. (DCI, CC)

(R6) Construct a claim about whether an object is a mineral given a set of evidence. (DCI, SEP)

Through creating these targets I am now able to set specific goals for each lesson. Before I was using I can statements that were confusing for me and I never referred back to them (shame on me). Now I feel that I will be more effective because I have a check-list guiding my instruction.

I also learned a valuable lesson as a teacher. Rigor has always seemed synonymous with boring and too hard for my students. However, I have learned that if you have high expectations your students will rise to the occasion. Rigor is not a bad word!!

For my first lesson on minerals I created an exit ticket. If you would like a free copy click the image below:

What is a Mineral Exit Ticket

Do you use learning targets in your classroom? If not, what works for you?

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