Essential 3: Facilitate Cognitively Demanding Tasks and Instruction

  • Why is this essential?

    To eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps every student must have the opportunity to engage with authentic, cognitively demanding tasks that are aligned to college and career readiness standards and that require them to develop and utilize 21st century skills, such as critical and creative thinking, communication, and collaboration.


    Zaretta Hammond (2016) includes the following as one of her Culturally Responsive Brain Rules: “The brain physically grows through challenge and stretch, expanding its ability to do more complex thinking and learning.”

    Every BPS student has a right to rigor.



    3.1 Educators facilitate learning experiences so that the student, rather than the educator, does the vast majority of the cognitive work of the task.

    3.2 Educators facilitate student learning through the way they frame tasks. They encourage student engagement by supporting student perseverance, posing questions that elicit student thinking, and promoting student efforts to make sense of the tasks.

    3.3 Educators appropriately consider students’ background knowledge, opportunities for collaboration, co-construction of new knowledge, and reflection on new learning when designing learning experiences.

    3.4 Educators are able to design learning experiences that ensure that every student is able to access and actively engage in tasks (in each content area) that…

    • Are cognitively demanding and standards-aligned.
    • Provide opportunities to learn that are consistent with learning trajectories within and across disciplines.
    • Provide all students with access through multiple entry points.
    • Reflect and affirm the cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the students in the room.
    • Require students to transfer and deepen skills and knowledge between contexts through discipline-specific and interdisciplinary work.

    3.5 Educators are able to design and facilitate learning experiences that require that students to grow within the four domains of language (listen, speak, read, write)

    3.6 Educators are able to design and facilitate learning experiences that require students to reason in ways that are authentic to the discipline and to reason across disciplines when appropriate.

What Does it Look Like?


    In the video below, the students will be engaged in a design task using circuit materials, science talk where they dialogue and discuss ideas and strategies, and they are to capture their processes and data in words and pictures. They will organize their ideas and data in a science notebook, where they will build an explanation and an argument using their drawings and words as evidence.  TIMECODE - 2:46-10:11


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