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Cognitive Rigor Matrix
(Combines Blooms and Depths of Knowledge)
What is the Cognitive Rigor Matrix?
The following charts combine Bloom's taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge into a single chart called Cognitive Rigor Matrix.  The charts provide a comparison of varying levels or depths of knowledge related to practices within each discipline. 
How do I use the Cognitive Rigor Matrix?
  • Use a range of Depth of Knowledge.  If you are only assessing the highest DOK level you will miss out on opportunities to know what students do and don't know.  Go for a range.
  • Planning formative assessment strategies and tools can focus on differing DOK levels.
  • Performance assessments can be offering a variety levels of DOK embedded in larger, more complex task.
Rigor Matrix Specific to Each Content:
Offering Choice: Extension Menu
What is an Extension Menu?
Allows students choice in demonstrating understanding. (example below) 
extension menu    

    extension menu
When Can an Extension Menu be Provided?
An extension menu can be provided after students have completed a lesson or tested out of a lesson, it can be provided as an independent activities for when students have "nothing to do," or as a required part of a unit.
Considerations when Creating An Extension Menu:
    • Students can select from a possible of 3-9 assignments
    • Students may be required to select more than one choice
    • Use of appropriate levels of cognitive rigor matrix (above)
    • Differentiating how students show understanding (use differentiator to come up with ideas)
    • Use of multiple intelligences 

Examples of Extension Menus:
Depth and Complexity Icons
What are Depth and Complexity Icons/Prompts?
They are instructional prompts developed by Dr. Kaplan that provides opportunities for students to conceptualize concepts.  They are thinking tools used to extend an area of study to more advanced levels.  A universal instructional approach that supports students as they begin to think deeply and create concrete connections.
What do each of the Icons Mean/Represent?
gate icon descriptions
(Click on the image above to see examples for Math, ELA, Science, or Social Studies)
Print them out as a visual for your class:  
How do I Start Using the Depth and Complexity Icons?
Introduction to the Prompt of Depth and Complexity 
(Example Clip)
Make a Connection:
Overall Flow to Introduce Icons:
  • Show students pictures of different signs and symbols
  • Ask how these signs help us
  • Then relate those signs to the symbols we use to represent the Depth and Complexity icons.
  • Explain that these symbols will help us along our path of learning in school.
Relate to Self:
frame about self
  • Introduce yourself to the class using each element of Depth and Complexity
  • Then students can relate the elements to themselves
  • Students can then frame themselves using 4 of the elements, using the frames to introduce themselves to each other.
      introduce self     student introduces self
Relate to Text/discipline:
  • Look at a simple story in a more sophisticated way.
  • Use a simple story, have the students identify the elements of Depth and Complexity.
  • Use it to study a discipline:
study of discipline
Other Consideration:
When can Icon-Based Questions and Prompts be Used . . . 
  • After reading assignments
  • In academic discussions
  • In lab write-ups
  • In math reviews
  • As summary activities
  • As compare-contrast activities
  • In practice of a world language
  • In reflection on learning in physical education
  • On tests
  • As essay prompts
  • As formative Assessments
What are some different Ways that Depth and Complexity Icons can be Used
Depth and Complexity & Graphic Organizers:
Icon Icon Picture Graphic Organizer:
Language language
Details details
Patterns patterns
Rules rules
Trends trends
Unanswered Questions unanswered questions
Ethics ethics
Big Idea big ideas
Relate/Change over Time relate/change over time
Multiple Perspectives multiple perspectives
Across Disciplines across disciplines
Think Like a Disciplinarian (TLAD)
What is Think Like a Disciplinarian (TLAD)?
TLAD teaches students to analyze ideas from the point of view of a specific professional or discipline.  It helps to teach language, the tools and methods of specific disciplines.  It changes students to explore advanced and sophisticated concepts while allowing students to connect learning to the real world.
What are some examples of different disciplinarians? 
 Historian, Socialist, Philosopher, Linguistic, Physiologist, Geographer, Political Scientist, Economist, 
1.  Give students an article to read and discuss.  
2.  Students are given a playing card (spade, heart, diamond, club) that corresponds to a specific discipline.  
3.  Meet with your specific disciplinarian group.  Use the chart (below) to fill out your perspective.
Depth and Complexity Resources by Grade Level:
Literature Circles
Literature Circle Overview:
Students begin by selecting a book together or passage then they are introduced to the four jobs in the Literature Circles:  Director, Literary Luminary, Vocabulary Enricher, and Checker.  The teacher and student volunteers model the task for each of the four roles, and then the students practice the strategies.  The process demonstrates the different roles and allows students to practice the technique before they are responsible for completing the task on their own.  After this introduction, students are ready to use the strategy independently, rotating the roles through four-person group as they read the book they have chosen.  
Literature Circle Roles
Socratic Seminar
What is a Socratic Seminar?
What are the Elements of Socratic Seminar?
1) Text is Chosen by Teacher
Chosen for richness, ideas, issues and values
Raises important questions
2) Students Read Text and Develop Quality Questions 
Open-ended, no right answer
Leads participants back to the text
Generates New questions
Line of inquiry evolves
See Preparation Guide in "Other Resources"
Students Prepare for Socratic Seminar by Coming up with Level 2/3 questions:
Level 1
Just look it up!
Level 2
Read between and through the lines!
Level 3
Beyond the lesson
  • Factual (right there)
  • Can be verified- answer found in text
  • Responds to 5W questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how
  • Takes the reader into the text
  • Inductive (Think and Search) (Author and You)
  • Is verifiable- answers based in the text, based on details/examples
  • Responds to why, how, and so what
  • Takes readers through the text- requires evaluation and interpretation of evidence
  • Analytical (Author and You) (On My Own)
  • Connects the text to other text, ideas or situations
  • Requires analysis
  • Responds to questions like how are these similar, different, or related?
  • Takes the readers beyond the text, allowing them to analyze the relationship between the text, other text, ideas, events, or situations.
3)Teacher Decides on the Structure
(Video Clip 45-1:35)
whole class
Inner/Outer Circle 
inner and outer circles
(Video Clip 20-1:24)
technology hybrid
tech hybrid
4) Class Reviews Guidelines and Agreements:
  • Refer to text
  • No raising hands
  • Speaking up
  • Talk to each other, not the teacher
  • Take turns
  • Be respectful
  • Listen to understand
  • Include yourself
  • Set aside judgement
  • Stay focused
5) During the Socratic Seminar
The Leader- Teacher (Coach)
  • Keeps discussions focused on the text
  • Asks follow up questions
  • Helps participants clarify positions
  • Involves reluctant participants
The Participants (Students)
  • Ask Questions
  • Keeps the Conversation Going
  • Listens and builds on each others ideas
Other Resources:
Text Rendering


When can this strategy be used?
  • Can serve as a summary for an article
Using an Article (choose one of the following)
  • Read and highlight: one sentence, one phrase, one word
  • Each person writes a sentence on a post it note.  One person in the group collects the post it notes and the group decides which order sentences will be read.
  • Each person writes a phrase on a post it note.  One person in group collects post it notes and group decides which order phrases will be read.
  • Each person writes a word on a post it note.  One person in group collects post it notes and groups decides which order words will be read.
Why is this a good strategy to be use?
text rendering strategy
Other Teacher Resources:


For resources to increase rigor in the classroom, please check out the following websites: