Rigor and Relevance in the Classroom

rigorWe often throw around words like “rigor” and “relevance” when we discuss student programming, but what do we really mean?  Frequently rigor is summed up as “harder classes” and relevance is summed up as “real life experiences.” In the article What Do You Mean By Rigor? authors Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski provide further clarity regarding rigor and relevance as follows:

  1. Rigorous learning involves deep immersion.  Students are willing to go deep into areas of interest or passion.  Find ways to bring in their passions and interests into their learning tasks. 
  2. Rigorous learning requires extended periods of time.  Students are willing to persist in areas of interest or passion.  
  3. Rigorous learning requires connecting with individuals in the field.  Students find relevance in their learning when they connect with people in the workplace.  Develop partnerships, mentor programs, and intern opportunities with community businesses and their employees to extend student learning. 
  4. Rigorous learning involves peer and public scrutiny.  Students need opportunities to share what they are learning with peers and the public.  They need opportunities to respond to questions in order to deepen their understanding of their content. 
  5. Rigorous learning requires reflection.  Students learn by thinking about their thinking in systematic ways.  Throughout a project and upon completion of the project students should have opportunities to reflect on what they are learning and use the reflection to direct further efforts.

As you plan for the next few weeks, think about ways you can increase rigor in your classroom.  You and your students will be glad you did!

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