Rigor is a word used often in teaching, but many don't quite understand what rigor means. Rigorous learning is not a measure of the quantity of material covered or the number of times it is covered. Rigor is an element of the learning environment that promotes an in-depth, active, and engaged learning process for students. Teachers should attempt to incorporate rigor into as many of their teachings as possible. Rigor creates excitement and enthusiasm for learning that students can get in few other places.
Teach an overview of new information and decide where you would like to focus your studies of the subject. These areas of the course will be learned rigorously. If a science teacher wishes to dissect frogs and pay special attention to the anatomy of the heart, an overview of the frog should be given with several classes dedicated to the study of the heart prior to actual dissection.
Ask students to summarize what they have learned through homework so you know they have a full understanding of the content. Make homework interesting and engaging by implementing creative ways to summarize information. Ask students to find things in their own lives that relate to the given information and how it relates to the lesson. An example for a history teacher would be to have students explain the similarities and differences between the war in Iraq and the Vietnam War.
Analyze the learned information by applying it to new studies. By relating learned information to new information, you add emphasis to the lesson while engaging in new activities and encouraging students to use what they have learned. Math teachers relate learned information while building on new elements in their lessons. If a science teacher wishes to study the anatomy of other animals after the dissection of the frog, the class may study the heart in even more detail, as the students have already learned about the anatomy of a heart in the previous lesson.
Review for exams by evaluating lessons in real-world situations. The easiest way to understand complex theories is to see them applied. If students are having trouble understanding the context of Shakespearean literature, explain what the situation is an have them act out a scene as if it occurred in present day. "The Taming of the Shrew," for example, involves two sisters and an overbearing father. That scenario could easily be translated to a modern-day family dynamic. If students are having trouble understanding Newton's laws, test the laws in class to show students how they actually work.
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