Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing

The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework: Stage 2

The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework provides the structure, skills, knowledge and resources for the most effective teaching and for accelerating all of your students’ learning. With the framework, you will plan and teach lessons you believe in!

The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework is learned in three professional development stages. The second stage, Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing, provides the resources and tools for planning purposeful, rigorous lessons that advance students through the four Levels of Learning in every lesson. Using the foundation learned in the first stage, The High Performance Learning-Focused Lesson, teachers shift their planning focus to higher level instruction, questions, learning activities, grade-level assignments, and assessments.

Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing….

  • exceeds the expectations of today’s standards by making Higher Order Thinking a main emphasis of every lesson
  • provides a blueprint for moving students through the 4 Levels of Learning
  • defines specific practices for developing rigorous, high quality assignments
  • ensures consistently high expectations for every student
  • provides a direct connection between research and application
  • is the best pathway for planning and teaching rigorous lessons for all students


Learn more about the The High Performance Learning-Focused Lesson (stage 1) and Accelerating Learning-Focused Lessons: Catching Kids Up! (stage 3)

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Distributed Professional Development

Our Distributed Professional Development model prevents teacher frustration, allows for rich job-embedded learning, and provides time for mastery of the planning process and teaching using the top learning strategies. After the initial workshop or course, teachers participate in a series of distributed MicroPD sessions that include online courses on specific strategies and practices and support meetings.  This continuous, distributed learning process provides teachers with time to develop knowledge and skills, increasing their success rate for mastery implementation.

After learning how to plan and teach High Performance Learning-Focused Lessons, it is critical for student achievement to increase the rigor of lessons by consistently challenging students with rigorous lessons driven by the high expectations of grade level standards. Exemplary schools provide their teachers with professional development, support, and an instructional framework to meet the demands of the new generation of standards and today’s educational expectations. Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing provides all schools with a framework, strategies and resources for integrating Higher Order Thinking in all lessons effectively and building achievement to become an exemplary school.


How does Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing prepare all students to be successful?

boy thinkingToday’s standards expect students to think at higher levels. Typical schools give students assignments either below grade level or give students higher level assignments but do not prepare them to successfully meet the expectations of the assignments. Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing is the key to successfully moving students through the initial level of learning (recall information) to a higher level of learning (analyze and apply information) in every lesson so they can all succeed with higher level assignments.

The demands of today’s standards and education expectations require teachers to do more than provide students with basic knowledge and skills. Now, they must deepen student understanding of what they learn, which requires teachers to know how to plan and provide lessons where students learn and use higher order thinking strategies. To be college and career ready in the 21st century, students must be able to apply higher order thinking strategies to gain new insights. It is imperative that students are taught to independently use higher order thinking strategies. Providing students the knowledge and tools to retain and use these strategies is crucial for success beyond school.

Learn More about Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing

Resources for Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing

  • Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing Book
  • Higher Order Thinking Flipchart
  • Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons Flipchart
  • Reading Comprehension Strategies Books and Flipcharts
  • Writing Books and Flipcharts
  • The School Leader’s Guide to Achieving Rigorous Lessons Book
  • Training of Trainers Institute
  • Strategies in Action Books and Courses
  • Anchor Chart Poster Sets


Professional Development is available on all resources. Call 866-955-3276 or click here for your customized quote for purchasing resources or scheduling professional development.

Once teachers are planning and teaching High Performance Learning-Focused Lessons effectively, in the Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading and Writing professional development they will gain the skills and knowledge to increase the complexity of learning as the lesson progresses, integrate higher order thinking strategies and reading comprehension strategies into their lessons to increase rigor and deepen student learning, and challenge students to critically analyze and interpret what they learn to develop new insights.

Participants Will Be Able To:

  • Describe the criteria that define rigor
  • Provide explicit instruction on Higher Order Thinking and Reading Comprehension strategies.
  • Integrate content and literacy standards in all lessons
  • Plan and use rigorous Learning Goals, Lesson Essential Questions, Assignments, and Lesson Instruction.
  • Plan lessons that build in a progression of complexity
  • Integrate Higher Order Thinking or Reading Comprehension in all lessons
  • Integrate writing to learn and writing to demonstrate learning in all lessons

Essential Question: How do you increase the rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons?

  • Criteria that Define Rigor
  • Levels of Learning: Higher Order Thinking
  • Reading Comprehension Strategies
  • Increasing Rigor with Writing
  • Planning Rigorous Lesson Curriculum
  • Planning Rigorous Lesson Assessment: Assignments
  • Planning Rigorous Lesson Instruction
  • Engaging in Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons Distributed Professional Development

MicroPD Session #1: Planning a Rigorous Learning-Focused Lesson

MicroPD Session #2: Rigorous Learning Goals and Lesson Essential Questions

MicroPD Session #3: Rigorous Assignments

MicroPD Session #4: Higher Order Thinking Strategies

MicroPD Session #5: Higher Order Thinking Processes

MicroPD Session #6: Reading Comprehension Strategies

MicroPD Session #7: Rigorous Assessment Prompts

MicroPD Session #8: Rigorous Learning Activities

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