What is Rigor?

Rigor is…

Everyone is talking about rigor in the classroom. So what is rigor? Well, first let me tell you what rigor is not. Rigor is not unfriendly. It is not boring or fun-free. You do not have to be technology oriended. It does not mean lots of homwork, projects, rules, and it is not hard to do. As a mater of fact, rigor can be alot of fun! It can bring a smile to your students’ faces. Rigor is about helping students learn at higher levels. It’s about the student taking the knowledge they already have and applying it to new situations. It’s about teamwork and brainstorming. Rigor is fun for teachers and students!

Higher level questioning is an important part of rigor. In my district, we are using Talk Moves. Using open-ended questions or having students summarize what someone else said is a great way to start learning new questioning skills. Then ask extending questions of the students and don’t allow students to respond with low-level answers – have them explain! If the student doesn’t have an answer, ask more questions until the student/students come up with an answer even if it is a wrong answer. Wrong answers can be clarified with more questions but at least the students were thinking!

Rigor is also supporting your students. I tell my students all the time that learning to ride a bike and learning math are very much alike. You have to fall off your bike a few times before you get it right. In math, you have to get some wrong answers to learn how to get the right answer. When you create a rigorous lesson, make sure you start with what the students already know. This gives them a sense that they CAN do it! Then move the lesson to more difficult work. Your students will be more likely to try the harder work if they were able to do some of the work at the beginning of class and it is also a good review.

Finally, rigor is student engagement. Some techniques to get your students engaged is think-pair-share, thumbs up/thumbs down/thumbs sideways, writing the answer on a communicator (small white board), or maybe responding on a BYOD. These activities hold the students attention and make them responsible for their understanding.

Techniques for Adding Rigor to Your Classroom

Create an online dictionary so students can use it to decode words. (Students can create this for your class!)

Use content specific vocabulary daily.

When a student gives you an answer, expect them to support their answer through an explaination.

Use wait time! (Ask a question and wait so the students have time to think. Do not let the “quick” students yell out the answer.

Projects should require percision and skill.

Encourage your students to invent solutions that haven’t been thought of before. (Make sure they work.)

Expect your students to check their approach to a problem as well as their result. (see above)

Focus on out-of-the-box solutions not the mistakes. (Expect problem solving)

Make your classroom a safe, non-judgmental learning environment. One way to do this is to face unknown problems with a smile and an attitude that it will be FUN.

Let the students know that they are competent and capable of understanding.

Give your students time to learn through inquiry.

Challenge students to give you clear answer and explainations. If you do not understand a response do not assume – ask them to clarify or, better yet, ask a one of their classmates to clarify the explaination.

Differenciated Instruction and Rigor in Action

  • Reading Partners
  • Read and Summarize
  • Graphic Organizers/Summarizers
  • Chora Reading
  • Cornell Notes
  • Guided Notes
  • Books on Tape (audio)
  • Small Group Inquiry
  • Demonstrations by the Teacher
  • Problem Based Learning (STEM)
  • Alternative Forms of Assessment
  • Diagrams
  • Write an article or a brochure
  • Make a Timeline
  • Create a Scrapbook
  • Have a Classroom Debate using Teams
  • Create a Flow Chart
  • Classroom Mock Trial
  • Videos
  • Guest Speakers
  • Student Self Evaluations
  • Exit Tickets