One of the most important shifts I’ve grown in over the years is understanding what rigor looks like in math. We talk a lot these days about rigor, but the application of it is sometimes still a struggle.
First thing to remember: When we say rigor in math, we mean students having conceptual understanding, procedural skills and fluency or application of specific skills.
In addition, not every single standard requires the same type of rigor. Here in Florida, our first unit of study is all conceptual understanding or procedural skills and fluency. No application. When we are planning a unit, we need to understand which aspects of rigor we are responsible for. This way, when we’re writing our assessments, or vetting a set of tests from someone else, we know what to look for.
I put together this quick tool to help me align the aspects of rigor to my assessments more closely. In my first unit, I am working on addition & subtraction skills and rounding. For the rounding standard (NBT 1.1), I need to make sure that the students can explain their conceptual understanding of rounding, but also that they can physically round quickly and accurately. When we work on addition and subtraction, we’re no longer working on conceptual knowledge. (NBT 1.2) We are working on actual fluency. This means lots of practice with the standard algorithm to gain accuracy. The last standard I’m doing in my first unit is arithmetic patterns (OA.4.9) The students have to have a conceptual understanding, which means they need to be able to explain or describe their understanding using the models provided.
You’ll notice the last column in my document says ‘Context/No Context’. This helps me to understand whether or not the questions I should be asking are given with ‘context’, or a word problem format. I used our item specs to determine this. This helps when vetting tests I am reviewing for class in a big way.
Understanding rigor more deeply helps me to know where to meet my students and how to help them think more deeply about the math content that I am covering. In addition to working on the aspects of rigor, I am also going to work more critically on having students utilize the content vocabulary.
My students will be using interactive notebooks in the classroom to demonstrate their conceptual knowledge, but also to have a ready made ‘study guide’ for tests and quizzes. Its going to be an exciting year for my learners in math!