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I think that establishing a classroom culture that enables and rewards hard work and a good effort is a good place to start. This could include collecting and grading homework in a way that is efficient for you, but also gives feedback to students and earns them points towards their grade for motivation. Also, be clear and consistent with your expectations from the start of the year. Good luck!
When I think of rigour, I see students who are actively engaged in their learning. I hear students using the correct vocabulary word. I see students interacting with students in pairs or in teams. I see teacher(s) circulating the room providing support through direct teaching in combination with facilitation of a task. The teacher uses curriculum appropriate to the standard(s) being learned. In order to establish rigour, teachers and students must step out of their comfort zones. To do so may mean using tasks that goes beyond rote learning and allows students to make connections. Try this on for size for tasks that encourages rigour in math:
Here's a video in the same website:
I recommend to teachers that they start with their posted objective for the lesson. What is it that the students are expected to learn today? Then, it's helpful to do an informal assessment part way through the lesson. This should take about 3 minutes. One way to do this is with Turn and Talk. Refer to the posted objective, or have a student state it. Students work with a partner and take turns explaining what they have learned so far about the objective. Students could also use green, yellow, and red cards to signal their level of understanding at this point. As you circulate, you take note of the different levels of understanding so that you can regroup students as needed to support each other's learning. You could also ask a quick question of groups showing a red or yellow card so that you can clarify for that group or the class. Continue the instruction. At the end of the class, do another informal assessment. A short written response (Today I learned that...) or an exit ticket are both quick ways to collect information. You could even scaffold your exit tickets, so that students who are experiencing some confusion (red and yellow card students) receive one problem and the green card students receive a different problem. By building your instruction around regular discussions of the objective, both you and your students maintain a tight focus on expectations.
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