November 11, 2020
Maintaining Rigor with Eureka Math®

What does a rigorous mathematics classroom mean to you? When answering this question, many teachers think of how difficult the math is for their students. But rigor and difficulty are not the same.

So what is rigor? Rigor is about providing students with opportunities to explore and to forge a strong, authentic command of mathematical concepts. True rigor requires a high-quality curriculum and instruction that supports students’ exploration of math.

Balance conceptual learning, fluency, and application.

One way to think about rigor is as a balance of conceptual learning, fluency, and application. Eureka Math has those components built right in. Still, when it comes to instruction, part of your job as a teacher is to maintain the balance. Emphasize each of the components with equal intensity. Equal intensity doesn’t mean allocating equal time or an equal number of problems for each component. It means using the components of rigor effectively and recognizing when each component is needed to help students deepen or extend their understanding of math. And these components aren’t mutually exclusive; they’re often in play simultaneously. For instance, the stated purpose of a particular activity may be to develop fluency, but it may also give students a stronger grasp of an underlying math concept. As you plan, think about how you can incorporate conceptual learning, fluency, and application. After a topic or module, reflect on how well you balanced the components of rigor. Make adjustments to achieve an even better balance with the next topic or module.

Use the components of rigor built into Eureka Math.

In A Story of Units® (Grades K–5), the Eureka Math curriculum supports rigor by including in each lesson a section for Fluency, Concept Development, Application Problems, and a Student Debrief. While each lesson balances the components of rigor, that doesn’t necessarily mean it provides equal time for each component, as you can see in this lesson structure example from Grade 1 Module 2 Lesson 4. Each lesson distributes time differently among its sections.

This image shows a pie chart breakdown of the time spent on components of a specific K-5 lesson. The components included for this lesson are fluency practice (12 minutes), application problem (5 minutes), concept development 933 minutes) and student debrief (10 minutes) for a total of a 60 minute lesson.

In both A Story of Ratios® (Grades 6–8) and A Story of Functions® (Grades 9–12), Eureka Math provides four types of lessons that work together to create a rigorous curriculum. In the Teacher Edition, the type for each lesson is indicated with the following icons.

Image reading Problem Set Lesson: The teacher and students work through examples and complete exercises to develop or reinforce a concept. Socratic Lesson: The teacher leads students in a conversation to develop a specific concept or proof. Exploration Lesson: Students work independently or in small groups on a challenging problem followed by a debrief to clarify, expand, or develop math knowledge. Modeling Cycle Lesson: Students practice all or part of the modeling cycle with real-world or mathematical problems that are either well- or ill-defined.

When you use Eureka Math as designed, you can be assured that the curriculum provides the necessary rigor. As you plan your lessons, consider how you’ll maintain or elevate the rigor for your students.

Engage students with productive struggle to maintain rigor.

You care about your students, so it can be difficult to watch them struggle. But when the struggle is productive—when students engage in a math challenge within their reach but stretch their thinking—the struggle is good. It helps them extend and deepen their understanding of math. To maximize the benefits of the curriculum’s rigor, let your students experience productive struggle. That struggle leads to growth.

Stay rigorous and carry on!


Topics: Implementation Support