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, 2008).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Five Keys to Classroom Rigor

I'm often asked, "What does rigor look like in the classroom?"  Here are my five keys:

1.  There is a focus on student progress, as well as achievement.  Each small step toward higher levels of rigor is celebrated.
2.  Adult language is positive and encouraging.  Too often, we shut students down with our language (You've got to be kidding me!  You need help again?)
3.  High expectations are evidenced by higher order thinking questions, but they are also exemplified by expecting high level student responses.  For example, if a student responds to a higher order question with a one-word response, the teacher probes and asks "Why?" or "How did you come up with that answer?" or "Why do you think that is?"
4.  Appropriate support, such as modeling, chunking, use of graphic organizers, etc. is used to support student learning.
5.  Rather than students responding one at a time, each student is truly participating in learning.  Each student demonstrates their understanding throughout the lesson, either through pair-shares, clickers, or some other form of formative assessment.  In other words, all students are engaged throughout the lesson.

I hope these help create a better understanding of what a classroom environment related to rigor looks like!  Enjoy your day. 


  1. I am a pre-service teacher, and as I was reading your post, I realized that this is exactly was I have been learning about in Educational Psychology at school! We have recently learned about asking probing questions to invoke critical thinking. We have also learned about the importance of modeling, chunking, etc. It is excellent to see that a real teacher supports and uses what I have been learning in class, and that all this info that I have to memorize for a test will actually be useful someday! It is also neat to see a name put to it -- rigor.

  2. In order to facilitate rigor in the classroom, we have to renew an emphasis on not only higher order thinking skills, but increased awareness by students, parents and staff on learning as an objective in and of itself. Too often our kids, parents and teachers view learning and rigor as simply a means to an end--of better test scores, honor roll grades, admission to a university, and ultimately a high praying career.

    Learning needs to be viewed as the ultimate means to do good. Teach kids, parents, and staff not to "do well..but to do good in the world."


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