Open Your Focus
The fourth way to enhance rigor in your classroom is to open your focus. In other words, shift from a narrow, closed focus to a wider, more open-ended one. Rigorous questions and tasks tend to be open-ended, rather than having one simple answer. Many students can complete numerical equations until the equation is embedded in a paragraph that requires them to think about how to use mathematical knowledge to solve the problem. As you create lessons, craft activities that require students to apply what they are learning in a variety of ways. As I’ve said before, don’t ignore instruction on basic facts, but effective instruction always focuses on the use of those facts, not solely on memorization. We will look at five specific ways to open the focus of your instruction.