Clarifying and Personalizing a Definition of Rigor What is rigor?We’ve heard it’s what the Common Core State Standards have imbedded in their performance objectives. We know it’s what our principal and site administrators have told us that’s what they’re looking for when they come to observe our classroom. We know it’s the type of teaching we need to provide and kind of learning our students need to demonstrate and communicate. We're constantly reminded to incorporate and increase rigor when we plan and provide our instruction.However, what exactly does this rigor look like, and how do we know if we’re providing it appropriately, effectively, and as expected? If you look up the definition of rigor on dictionary.com, you will find the following definitions:< !--[if !supportLists]-->1. <!--[endif]-->strictness, severity, or harshness, as in dealing with people2. the full of extreme severity of rules, laws, etc.3. severity of living conditions; hardship; austerity< !--[if !supportLists]-->4. <!--[endif]-->a severe or harsh act, circumstance, etc.< !--[if !supportLists]-->5. <!--[endif]-->scrupulous or inflexible accuracy or adherenceThis last definition also give an example: the logical rigor of mathematics, which many of us educators – particular math teachers – may understand. However, what exactly is that logical rigor of mathematics? Or science? Or English language arts? Or history? Or social studies? Or even art, music, or physical education? What does rigor in that context even mean or even imply?
"You can't teach with rigor if you don't know what it means!!! How can you teach with rigor if you don't know what it means?!!"
If you search for synonyms, you will find words such as inflexibility, stringent, harsh, difficulty, and even cruel. Is this what marks a rigorous ? Is being inflexible counterproductive if we want our students to think critically and creatively about what is being taught and learned? How can our students express their own original arguments, claims, conclusions, and ideas supported by the data, evidence, and facts they have acquired if we are stringentabout our expectations? What about the words harsh and cruel? Those words harken images of the schoolteacher in Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”and that we have to instruct our class like Professor Snape from the Harry Potter novels. What about the synonym, difficulty? Does that define rigor? If so, then we must already be implementing the rigor in our classroom. Difficulty is generally defined as easy and hard based upon amount and effort. We generally increase difficulty by asking and providing more – more work, more time, more effort, more responsibility. We work our kids harder to get more out of them. We give them time to work in class from bell to bell and extend the learning by giving them more work to do at home. We extend the school day or the school year to give them more time to learn all the stuffthey need to know, understand, and be able to do by the end of the school year. We figure the more they know, understand, and are able to do, the more they have learned.Is teaching and learning for difficulty a bad thing? Of course not, and if anyone tells you that we should not have our students doing hard work or even more workalso does not have a clear understanding of what rigor means. Hard work and more work are a good thing. However, as the old adage goes, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.Is providing more time to teach and learn the wrong approach? Again, no. However, how exactly are we using the time allotted? Are we just giving our students more questions to answer, more problems to solve, and more tasks to complete, and is the more work we providing truly helping our students develop deeper knowledge, understanding, and awareness?Rigor is more synonymous with depth –specifically, depth of knowledge. understanding, and awareness. Education – and society as a whole – expects us teachers and our students to go deeperwith what is being taught and learned. It’s not about how many questions a student can answer, problems a student can solve, or tasks they cam complete but rather how clearly they can explain their thought process and establish connections between academics and the real world. Answers, responses, and solutions are now both quantified and qualified as correct, incorrect, or those that can be defended or justified. It’s not only about what students need to know, understand, and be able to do but also how they can use what they have learned to think critically, creatively, and strategically – or deeply – to answer questions, solve problems, and complete tasks. Knowing what addition is and using it to add two plus to two used to be acceptable. However, our students must now be able to analyze why the answer is 4; evaluate why the answer is not 3, 5, or any other number; and create a real world scenario in which they can use a number of addition algorithms to attain a sum of 4.This concept of rigor follows the definition stated by Barbara Blackburn in her bookRigor Is NOT a Four-Letter Word (2008):Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels; each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels.Blackburn provides us educators a more teacher-applicable and even student-centered definition of rigor we educators can understand and use to base our planning, instruction, assessment, and instruction. She also does an excellent job clarifying what she means. We need to establish a learning environment in which our students learn at high levels, which suggests have them think deeper. We need to support students as they think deeper through facilitation and guidance. We need to set high expectations for our students to demonstrate and communicate their deeper knowledge, understanding, and awareness. If we need further help, Blackburn provides us with a plethora of strategies and tools to help us implement and increase the rigor in our classroom. We can work with this definition!However, it still leaves much for interpretation – which, again, is not a bad or wrong. Every classroom is unique. Every student responds to teaching and learning differently. Every teacher’s approach and expertise varies. What may be rigorous for one child or group or children may not be for another.So how do we implement rigor in our teaching and learning, and how do we continuously increase the rigor to challenge and engage our students? Does it mean increasing the level of difficulty or deepening the learning experience by providing questions, problems, and tasks that are more abstract, complex, and intricate?Perhaps rigor is not something that can be defined universally. Perhaps rigor is more of a personal philosophy or perspective than a standard. Perhaps it is more individualized than standardized. Perhaps in order to for us to truly clarify what is rigor we need to come up with own criteria for what qualifies as rigor by considering the following questions:
What kind of thinking and action are students expected to demonstrate in order to answer a question, solve a problem, or complete a task? (higher order thinking)
How deeply does a student need to know, understand, and be aware of a concept, idea, subject, or topic in order to answer the question, solve the problem, or complete the task accurately, appropriately, and effectively? (depth of knowledge)
By considering these questions as we plan and provide teaching and learning, we can come up with our criteria for rigor, which can be simply explained as the following:Rigor is marked by the student’s ability to demonstrate higher order thinking and depth of knowledge, understanding, and awareness of what is being taught and learned in order to answer a question, solve a problem, or complete a task.This provides us not a definition but rather a frame of reference that will help us educators in planning and providing instruction. We can look to Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy to define the level of thinking students must demonstrate and the knowledge they must develop. We can look to Webb’s Depth of Knowledge to determine how deeply they need to know, understand, and be aware of what they are learning in order to answer the question, solve the problem, or complete the task.
We can use the standards, the curriculum, and the text as a basis for planning our instruction. However, we should question whether they go deep enough. Do the story problems in the math textbook show how to apply mathematical concepts and practices in a real life context or do they allow students to gain deeper knowledge, understanding, and awareness of how math is used to address a real world issue, problem, or situation? Does that author study i and the one or two examples of the author’s work featured the English Language Arts textbook provide our students with the deeper knowledge, understanding, and awareness not only of the author’s style but also their impact on literature? Does the history or social studies textbook truly provide enough facts and information about an event or culture or should our students go beyond the textbook and research and investigate further or review other perspectives? Does the science curriculum merely review theories and provide opportunities to engage students in lab experiments in a controlled environment or should we extend the learning and take our students into the field where they can observe and test these theories in the natural environment?If you are asking yourself these questions as you plan and provide teaching and learning, you have a developed deeper knowledge, understanding, and awareness of what is rigor and how is it incorporated in teaching and learning. Now your next step is for you define what is rigorous instruction in your classroom and for your students.
A recent article in The Economist quotes Bill Gates as saying at least a dozen job types will be taken over by robots and automation in the next two decades, and these jobs cover both high-paying and low-skilled workers. Some of the positions he mentioned were commercial pilots, legal work, technical writing, telemarketers, accountants, retail workers, and real estate sales agents.
Indeed, as I’ve predicted before, by 2030 over 2 billion jobs will disappear. Again, this is not a doom and gloom prediction, rather a wakeup call for the world.
You may have heard people say that the most important organ for love is the brain, not the heart. Research on the neuroscience of love has some interesting findings that might surprise you.
When love is a
Ever fallen madly in love? Researcher Helen Fisher has spent her academic life trying to figure out what's going on in the brains of those who are in the heady, butterflies-in-the-stomach throes of passionate romantic love.
A system of teacher development linked to the needs of hiring entities that awarded licenses based on demonstrated competence would provide personalized development pathways for teachers and ensure well-trained teachers for schools.
"Conveying information in a striking, concise way has never been more important, and infographics are the perfect pedagogical tool with which to do so. Below, you’ll find my experience with designing an infographic-friendly classroom research project, explained in a step-by-step process you can implement in your own classroom."
The terms 'critical' and 'reflection' are sorely misunderstood in education. Being critical is often misinterpreted as being negative. 'Reflection' is also frequently distorted to mean "reflect on what you are doing wrong". Too often the students that we teach give negative feedback when asked to be critical. So to counter act this, educators initiate strategies such as '2 stars and a wish' and SWNI (strengths, weaknesses, new ideas). These strategies are designed to make reflective practices a more positive experience for students. It teaches them that being critically reflective is not just a negative activity, that it is important to be positive and give feedback to help improve or make something better. Learn more: - http://www.scoop.it/t/21st-century-learning-and-teaching/?tag=Criticism
"The expanded availability of easy tech tools has empowered educators to rethink homework and daily instruction. Flipping the classroom with teacher-made videos allows students to self-direct their at-home learning. Many of these clips, however, still involve a one-day delivery of information, from teacher to student. Another approach is to allow children to make their own educational videos. They can enlighten their classmates with their creations, and they can teach themselves the material and the skills during the process of production."
Editor's note: This post is co-authored by Marcus Conyers (1) who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching (2) degree programs at Nova Southeastern University. They have written several books, including Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice (3).
Incorporating exercise and movement throughout the school day makes students less fidgety and more focused on learning. Improving on-task behavior and reducing classroom management challenges are among the most obvious benefits of adding physical activities to your teaching toolkit. As research continues to explore how exercise facilitates the brain's readiness and ability to learn and retain information, we recommend several strategies to use with students and to boost teachers' body and brain health.
Like "Miracle-Gro for the Brain"
Exercise may have both a physiological and developmental impact on children's brains. Physical mechanisms include:
Increased oxygen to the brain that may enhance its ability to learnAlterations to neurotransmittersStructural changes in the central nervous system
In fact, John Ratey, author of A User's Guide to the Brain, calls exercise "Miracle-Gro for the brain" because of its role in stimulating nerve growth factors.
Studies suggest that regular physical activity supports healthy child development by improving memory, concentration and positive outlook. For example, researchers found that children who had an opportunity to run 15-45 minutes before class were less distracted and more attentive to schoolwork. These positive effects lasted two to four hours after their workouts.
The connection between learning and exercise seems to be especially strong for elementary school students. Given these findings, cutting back on physical education with the aim of improving academic performance, as some districts have done or may be considering, is likely to be counterproductive.
Pump Up Your Brain with Regular Exercise
Regular physical activity is an essential component for maintaining body and brain health for people of all ages. A recent study involving 120 people found that walking briskly 30-40 minutes a day three times a week helped to "regrow" the structures of the brain linked to cognitive decline in older adults. The effect was the equivalent of stopping the brain's aging clock by one to two years. This is one of the first scientifically controlled studies showing the power of exercise in boosting brain regeneration. As we share with educators in our programs, physical activity before, during and after school is smart for your heart, body and brain. "Exercise is really for the brain, not the body," Ratey contends in a WebMD article. "It affects mood, vitality, alertness and feelings of well-being."
By incorporating movement and physical activity into the school day, you can support student learning in a variety of ways:
Start the Day with Movement
Many teachers we know start the school day with exercises such as jumping jacks, arm crosses and stretches. Kim Poore, who teaches K-5 students with behavioral and emotional disorders in South Carolina's Lancaster County Public School District, tells us that her class has led the school in a morning warm-up routine broadcast to classrooms over closed-circuit TV.
Enhance Attention During and Between Lessons
Incorporating short exercise or stretch breaks into lessons can resharpen children's focus on learning. Especially for younger students, dividing lessons into 8-20 minute "chunks" punctuated with activities that involve movement keeps their attention on learning and helps make the content more memorable. Exercise and stretch breaks also work well during transitions between lessons.
Ms. Poore says that one of her students' favorite ways to prepare for tests is with "Snowball." She writes a test review question on a piece of paper, wads it into a paper ball, and tosses it to a student who opens the paper, responds to the question and tosses it back. "It is a fresh and effective way to reach these kids," she says.
Engage the Senses
Our brains receive input from our visual, tactile, auditory and olfactory senses, allowing us to engage with the rest of the world. Incorporating activities that involve all the senses can make learning more memorable. Joe Frank Uriz, who teaches Spanish at Parsons Elementary School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, says, "Sensory experiences are an important aspect of learning."
Mr. Uriz doesn't just teach third graders the Spanish words for fruits. He introduces the tropical fruits of the Americas in a "mystery box" activity that adds tactile, smell and taste experiences to learning. And he makes the most of the power of music and movement to reinforce what students are learning with a clapping chant song called "Frutas."
Spanish teacher Joe Uriz engages students' senses with a mystery box activity.
Credit: Donna Wilson & Marcus ConyersPlay Games
Teaching lessons as active games also enhances attention and memory. How about a kinesthetic spelling bee in which teams of students spell vocabulary words by positioning their bodies in the shapes of letters?
What physical activities do you incorporate into your lessons? Please tell us about them in the comments section below.
References and Resources
Articles from the Journal of Play (4) and WebMD (5) present some of the research on exercise and learning.
This list of BrainBreaks (6) offers additional ideas on movement during the school day. For more information on the body-brain connection, see Chapter 5 of Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice (7).
"All games tell stories. Unlike other media (books, television, film), the interactivity puts the player in the role of protagonist. Writing games can be quite complex and involve more than characters and dialogue. To get a better understanding, read this article by Darby McDevitt, lead writer of Assassin's Creed. He explains the prewriting and production process. Students should be surprised (as was I!) at how sophisticated game writing is."
Most educators, policymakers, and parents agree that today's students need a mix of knowledge, skills, and dispositions to prepare them to be successful and engaged citizens. Given that students need a mix of these things, iknowledge, educators, policymakers, and parents are also askng, "How do we know if students are learning both what we are teaching and what they need to know to succeed?"
The super-digital native will be bold. The super-digital native will be fearless. The super-digital native will be equipped with best practices for engaging critically with technology for teaching and learning....
How 21st Century Thinking Is Just Different by Terry Heick This content is proudly sponsored by The Institute for the Habits of Mind, promoting the… (RT @Learning1st: How is 21st Century Thinking Different?
Sharing your scoops to your social media accounts is a must to distribute your curated content. Not only will it drive traffic and leads through your content, but it will help show your expertise with your followers.
How to integrate my topics' content to my website?
Integrating your curated content to your website or blog will allow you to increase your website visitors’ engagement, boost SEO and acquire new visitors. By redirecting your social media traffic to your website, Scoop.it will also help you generate more qualified traffic and leads from your curation work.
Distributing your curated content through a newsletter is a great way to nurture and engage your email subscribers will developing your traffic and visibility.
Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.