Rigor – What Does It Mean?

“When are we ever going to use this stuff?”

The most frequently asked question in a math classroom is actually asking for rigor.

What does this mean?  We need to be taking math education much deeper than we have in the past.  Our math classrooms have been centered around the students acquiring knowledge, memorizing algorithms and processes.  This is important, but it is time to go further into understanding and using the knowledge.

Math is truly used in real life, and in just concentrating on gaining math skills we have neglected the “what do we do with it?” question.  Rigor is referencing the Depth of Knowledge that students gain through doing and using mathematics.  The lowest levels ask students to recall or apply a formula.  They may even ask students to do a basic application of the skill.  Higher levels are more concerned with having students explain their thinking, justify their conclusions  and use reasoning to apply the skills they have learned.  The highest level asks students  to think outside the box.

Lower levels

Example 1:

Big Ideas Math Red pg72

Example 2:

Big Ideas Math Blue pg284



Higher levels

Example 3:Big Ideas Math Green pg18

Example 4:Big Ideas Math Algebra 1 pg131

We are educating today’s students for jobs that don’t exist yet.  We must help students gain the skill of applying what they have learned to totally different situations.  Adding rigor to the classroom helps the students, think, learn and understand.

Students can handle the challenge and even welcome when they ask, “When are we going to use this stuff?”

(Problems: 1.  Red page 72; 2.  Blue page 284; 3.  Green page 19; 4.  Purple page 131)