Get Your Lessons Diving Deep in Cognitive Rigor

#4 | Over the next 4 weeks, we will deconstruct our master resource rubric and break down all of the components of an authentic Common Core lesson. The following post was written by guest blogger and 8th grade English and History teacher, Jessica Lura. Check out parts 1234567, and 8 of the series.

The Common Core State Standards were created to ensure that all students, regardless of where they live, are offered the opportunity to engage in meaningful work and application of complex skills and knowledge. But how do you know if your lessons meet the common core expectations of cognitive rigor?

UClass Rubric #2

Bloom’s 2001 revised Taxonomy classifies which type of thinking is required to complete a task; however, just this isn’t enough to ensure students’ learning needs are being met, which is why we also must look to Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. As a tool to analyze the rigor and cognitive demand of a task, lesson, or activity, Depth of knowledge (DOK) levels provide a lens for educators to create and evaluate cognitively engaging lessons and curricula.

The complexity of a learning objective is determined by both content and task.  While Bloom’s taxonomy focuses on the verb used in a task or learning object, Webb’s DOK levels focus on what comes after the verb. There is, however, a difference between difficulty and complexity.  While complexity is the thought process the brain uses to deal with information, difficulty is the amount of effort a student must use to accomplish a task or learning objective.

For students to be college, career, and life ready, instructional materials should include a range of DOK levels. In addition, within a lesson or task, students may be asked to complete work at different DOK levels. For this reason, there are UClass lessons at all levels of DOK, and most lessons whose “ceiling” is DOK 3 or DOK 4 also include objectives or tasks that are DOK 1 or DOK 2.

So rest assured that by using UClass lessons, your students will be completing cognitively rigorous lessons and tasks. So that you can tell what DOK level a lesson reaches, UClass lesson planners have started to list the DOK ceiling of the lesson in the lesson description.

Jessica Lura
8th grade English and History teacher, Bullis Charter School

For more information on depth of knowledge and how to identify your lesson’s DOK level, watch our planning video on DOK:

DOK Video

[Direct link:]


Follow us over the next weeks as we reveal more from our Common Core resource rubric! Read our entire series of posts:

1: Our beef with the Common Core
2: Holy moly! Teachers aren’t teaching Common Core standards
3: How to not be a bad teacher
4: Get your lessons diving deep in cognitive rigor
5. Help! I Lost All of My Students!
6. How to Give Students a Voice
7. How To Be Your Students’ Favorite
8. 4 Differentiation Tips You Need to Know


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