Education to Save the World is one of my favorite blogs. Today, they carry an articles “Your Turn: How do you create a joyful classroom?”
I read it with interest because it is missing or understating the concept of rigor.

Rigor sounds the opposite of joy and often is.
So what is rigor and how can you integrate rigor with joy to create engaged, active learning?

Richard W. Strong (2001) defined rigor as “the goal of helping students develop the capacity to understand content that is complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally or emotionally challenging”. In her (2008) book ‘Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word’, Barbara Blackburn’ wrote that “Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels.”

In a 2012 whitepaper entitled “How do you identify rigor in the classroom?” Rick Jenkins, Jeff Goldhorn, and Mike Webb wrote: “To teach with rigor is to teach accurately and completely. In order to teach accurately, a teacher must have knowledge of both content and pedagogy. Teachers must teach their content without error and have content knowledge that is deeper than that which they teach. Teaching accurately also implies a use of pedagogy that ensures students learn content for understanding. Content knowledge without pedagogy leads to superficial and short-term learning. Pedagogy without content knowledge can result in student misconceptions and misunderstandings.”

So there’s the challenge! Joy does indeed create engagement. But high engagement may come with very low rigor.
What’s the answer?

You have to create a pedagogy/methodology incorporating the rigor integrated with resources and activities that bring the joy!

With JazzlesELA, I have extensive song–themed resources combining animated, subtitled songs, karaoke and interactive song books enhanced with interactive games and printable activity pages. Scalable lesson plans provide the fun/joy with the rigor.

The program does achieve exceptional results – broadly it halves the time to achieve Common Core Kindergarten ELA outcomes.
Here are a few of my strategies:
• The attention and memory power of music and songs.
• Coral singing to create a happy, unified optimum learning environment.
• Singing to activate a class-wide common, oral vocabulary base (song lyrics) – irrespective of the range vocabulary levels (including ESL) of children entering the class. (Diversity is the biggest challenge in public school classrooms.
• The power of ‘whole /part/ whole’ and contextual teaching for developing reading and writing skills and strategies.
• VAK engagement for optimal learning.
• Creative Visual and Performing Arts.
• Interactive technology.
• Visual Literacy.
• Multiple, fun practice strategies.
• Themed, curriculum extensions.
• Guided and independent learning.
• Pair and group interaction.
How to increase rigor and combine the joy is the real challenge!
With JazzlesELA, you have a best practice case – supported by research.

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