Friday, June 15, 2012

Hip Hip Hooray! 15 Days of K! - Day 15 {LAST Day!}

Wow... Day 15 of 15 Days of Kindergarten!   Are you all ready for that hot topic that we often are SO tired of hearing about... RIGOR!  

Rigor is defined by the dictionary as strictness or harshness and so it is very reasonable in my eyes to want to resist those around you constantly asking you to increase the rigor of your instruction.  But what does that really mean in the early childhood classroom - to increase the rigor?  Do they want us to be ridiculously mean and tough with the kids?  Of course not! 
Rigor in the early childhood classroom simply means to focus on the objective taken directly from the standards and to move at a quick, engaging pace. 
Of course, people can take things to extreme!  One example is coloring.  Many administrators may believe that coloring is not a rigorous enough activity.  After all, what are they learning while they are coloring, right? 

Well… this is where I say it is your job as a trained early childhood educator to defend what you know!  In response to this question you should say drawing is an early stage of writing!  Also, how can we expect kids to add word details if they can't first add details in a drawing?  It really is scaffolding!  
So here are some easy ways to add rigor to your lessons that you and administrators will love:
1.   Watch the amount of time you are talking compared to the amount of time the kids are talking. 
2.   Watch how many students are engaged at a time.  Instead of calling on one child to answer a question, have them tell their partners.  Or have students read to partners instead of one at a time.  Partnerships help increase this number with no effort!
3.   Use "My Turn, Your Turn" at least every 10-15 minutes. 
4.   Allow students to reflect through partner sharing.  Chances are if they are talking when you are instructing, it's because they need time to reflect and get it out!  Use these fun partnership signs to designate which partner goes first... or for management... Chips get the books and Salsas get the reading rugs!
5.   Add motions to everything!  Students remember more what they do than what they hear or say.  (I have a great freebie for you listed below!)
6.   Have students move often, even if it's just a turn.  For example, we may do our letter sounds facing east, our letter names facing west, and our writing letters at our seats.  Young learners need to move, this we all know!
7.   Worksheets are considered independent work.  If you are doing a worksheet, take that time to pull a small group instead of walking around.  They can even do that same worksheet with you as a group.  Administrators love that!
8.   Have students work with partners for a worksheet (one paper, two kids.)  Being able to talk about an activity takes it to a whole different level!
9.   DEMAND participation.  While students are speaking, you should be watching their mouths and motioning to students to participate who are not.  This is during choral responses and partner talking.  Essentially, any time you are asking them to do something, you need to hold them accountable that they are doing it.  They are not going to learn if they don’t do it!
10.  Just think... more turns, more turns, more turns!  How can I make it so all students are having more turns so that they are practicing more!  Click {HERE} for a similar post on how to have MORE TURNS DURING SMALL GROUPS!   

One of my newest ways to increase rigor and thus increase the success of my students is by adding motions to our sight words.  So included in this post is a set of sight words with corresponding motions to do with them.  However, you can do whatever motions you see fit. {Click either picture to download.}

A few more effortless ways to increase rigor:
Instead of saying the alphabet chorally, have them say it with their partners with a hand game.  Left hand to right hand – A, Right hand to left hand – B, etc.  This is super great because it will have your students crossing the mid line which brain researchers will tell you increases your ability to learn!  You can also do the same thing for counting or other activities. 

Lastly, increase rigor by incorporating Cooperative Learning!  What!?! Cooperative Learning in kindergarten?  "This lady must be crazy!" is what I know you are thinking!  But it's true!  Cooperative Learning gets ALL STUDENTS up and learning and is extremely effective!  Stop by my original post at Pre K & K Sharing to see the who, what, where, when, and why!  

Need to revisit Day 1-14? Click on the picture below.
 Thank you for joining us on our 15 Days of K Celebration!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing the importance of movement and yes-cooperative learning in Kindergarten. Your class must be so much fun. As a on-line trainer of tutors I watched their lessons and noticed how much of the time the tutors were talking instead of the students who were suppose to be learning to speak English. Great point about teacher talk!!!.
    LMN Tree

  2. I love these! There are so many things that Kinders can do if nudged properly in the right direction! And I agree that mindlessly coloring coloring sheets all day isn't very rigorous, but drawing an illustration definitely is! Particularly when the student will later write about it. Great post, Jennifer! =)

  3. This is a lovely post and I totally agree about having those kids movement.... Kinesthetic learners represent the majority of our kids yet the least used way to teach..... FABULOUS!!
    Kindergarten Lifestyle

  4. Thankyou for your words of wisdom. It's important to be reminded to do these things! I started using the 'teach your partner' technique this year and found 2 things: I had to think more carefully about the language I use in my explanations and also to make sure I was doing it frequently. It made me far more conscious of how I teach, and therefore, a better teacher. I did notice too that the kids needed to be taught how to 'tell each other', which surprised me a little. I had to start with 'tell your partner "triangles have 3 sides)" before I move into "Tell your partner how many sides a triangle has." which came before "Tell your partner some facts about a triangle." But it paid off. Thankyou again:) Vivian, Australia.

  5. MARY-I also want to say a HUGE THANKYOU to you!!! What a fabulous idea! It's been great to be reminded of good teaching practices and to some learn new techniques and activities. I now have some new blogs to follow! I wish I could come to the US and do a classroom crawl-you all sound amazing! Vivian-Australia

  6. Awesome post! My school district loves the word Rigor! Thank you for making it more relevant to a kindergarten classroom!

  7. Thanks for your post. One clarification - when you are doing the right hand-left hand with partners, are they choral reciting and simply holding up a hand when they switch letters?

  8. I think you were reading my mind when you wrote this post. I do all of these things and teach pre-k ! Yes, rigor can happen in pre-k and k it's up to the teacher. You create the expectations, tier the activities for differentiation, and assess. Diagnostic teaching in conjunction with allowing the students to be completely held accountable for their learning thru partner work/teaching their partner makes a huge impact on learning! Thanks for the post!

  9. Great post! I appreciate the teacher talk vs. student talk advice. Students are the learners in the classroom and should be doing the most work. Makes sense!


Thank you for your comment!