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Analyzing The Rigor of Your Math or Science Lesson

by Model Teaching | July 6, 2017.


This summer, take a look back at the way you structured your lesson content and analyzed word problems in math and science.  We’ll review a few areas you should consider when selecting problems for your students and determining how to deliver the lesson content in an appropriate way, aligned to the required depth for the standards.   This content corresponds to page one of our math & Science Lesson Analyzer and Lesson Plan.  Continue reading to download the Lesson Analyzer & Lesson Plan.

Math & Science Lesson


Start by taking out a few lesson plans that were aligned to activities in math or math- based science lesson that you felt missed the mark, where students either found the lesson content too easy or too difficult for the class.  You will analyze the activities and problems you assigned to students and determine how you can improve your lesson next year.

STEP 2: 

After selecting your lessons, you will analyze each lesson separately.  Take your first lesson and review the activities and problems you provided to students to complete.  You will determine the rigor level of the questions you provided students and ask yourself whether the activities met the expectations you set in your class:

  1. Determine the rigor levels of each group of students in your classroom, and determine whether your lesson will meet that level of rigor or should be different depending on the needs of your students.  Rigor levels align to Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, designed by Norma Webb, and allows you to consider how to differentiate your lessons based on the level of depth you wish to provide each group of students.  You can access details on the Depth of Knowledge levels in the four content areas, provided by Mr. Norman Webb, via the link below. DOWNLOAD WEBB’S DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE LEVELS

    Webb’s Depth of Knowledge can be broken down into four areas:

    Level 1: Recall and Reproduction.  This simplest level requires basic recall of facts, concepts, rules, and procedures.
    Level 2: Skills and Concepts. This level requires an additional step to recall and reproduction, where students are now summarizing or predicting ideas about a problem.  In math and math- based science, this would look like students now applying the rules to solve the problems they just learned in class.
    Level 3: Strategic Thinking. This level requires to strategize about how to approach and solve a problem, and differs from level 2 in that the type of problem requires a few more steps to solve, or differs slightly from the examples provided in class.
    Level 4: Extended Thinking. This level corresponds to the highest level of rigor.  Here, students may be tasked with completing a problem that combines the rules from the days lesson, plus additional rules they have learned in the past, synthesizing information from various lessons.

  2. After you have identified the levels of rigor int eh problems you assigned to students, determine the freuqeny at which students work on problems for each level.
  3. Ask yourself whether the level of rigor corresponded to the level of rigor you expected for your students or group of students, and identify areas in which you could have provided more differentiation between groups.
  4. Finally, look back at the standard(s) that corresponded to the activities and work.  Did your activities match the level of rigor required by the standard? Why or why not?


Next, consider the structure and organization of the work and activities you provided to students in your lesson. How specifically was the work and activities structured to meet the rigor of the standard?  Were there any places where you missed the mark? Consider what lesson strategies you could have incorporated into the lesson to enable student success in completing the activities at the appropriate level of rigor.


Now, analyze the problem-solving activities you provided to your students in class. Go back to your analysis of your problems using Webb’s depth of knowledge and ask yourself the following about the process that was involved in completing each problem:

  1. Did you help prepare students for the task by analyzing and discussing the information that would be required to solve the various problems?
  2. Did you assist students in formulating a specific strategy to utilize when solving the problem that was consistent and could be used over time?
  3. After completing the problem, did you deeply analyze the answer choices with your students and provide a means for your students to justify the solution to their peers?
  4. Did you provide a means for evaluating the problem-solving process, where you required feedback from multiple students to discuss the steps they took to solve the problem, and any variations to the problem-solving strategy?
  5. During discussion of correct or incorrect answers, did you provide students with the opportunity to debate the solution, and to allow multiple students to provide feedback to each other to determine the correct answer, before stepping in yourself?
  6. For questions 1- 5 above, did you provide students with a model or strategies to implement to successfully perform those tasks?

Consider how you could re-structure the activities in your lesson to better meet the requirements of the above questions.


Think about the rules and vocabulary that were important for student success in solving the problem’s.  Were students given enough opportunity to master the underlying rules and vocabulary that were found in the problems before working on any activities?  Did students have access to equations or problem-solving strategies prior to beginning work?  Were the expectations for what they should know clearly outlined to them in your classroom?  If not, consider now how you could restructure your lesson plan to ensure students had access to the background knowledge required for successfully completing the problems.


Consider the foundational skills that were required for students to understand the knowledge and skills found in your activities.  What information should they have already learned before reaching your class?  Were any of the concepts you discussed in class vertically aligned to a prior grade level, and if  so, at what level of mastery did the students enter with prior grade level concepts?  Were any students deficient in a foundational skill required to complete the activity in your class, and if so, what accommodations or grouping strategies were in place to allow for student success in your classroom?  Consider now what strategies you put in place for student success, and what strategies were lacking.


Think back to the grouping methods you utilized for instruction.  Could you have grouped students differently to increase engagement and rigor?  Did you properly differentiate instruction to individual groups, or did you require students to work alone or alongside you?  How could you have restructured your classroom to allow for students to work at the appropriate pace and complete the lesson activities?


What methods of instructional delivery did you provide to students prior to completion of the problems or activities?  Did you use multiple methods of instruction?  If so, how could you have improved delivery of the lesson content?  If not, what other methods of instruction could you have incorporated into the lesson to increase engagement and understanding of the lesson content?

Categorize your methods of instruction into the following delivery models:
Lecture, Modelling or demonstration, graphic organizers or worksheets, inquiry & problem solving, questioning & discussion, discovery, peer tutoring, analysis & justification, and cooperative learning.


Revise and refine your lessons by following these guidelines to help increase rigor in your lessons and ensure that your lesson content and activities are aligned with the rigor of the standard.

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Math & Science Lesson Analyzer & Lesson Plan

Use a guide like our Math and Science Analyzer (page one of this resource (math and science lesson plan) to help.

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