Click here to return to the Module Homepage. Instruction
Rigorous and Relevant Instruction
Page 1 of 1
Instruction Module

“I want you to get excited about who you are, what you have, and what can still be for you. I want to inspire you to see that you can go far beyond where you are right now.”   
                                           ~Virginia Satir

When does instruction become rigorous and 
relevant?

Examine rigorous and relevant instruction.Standards represent rigorous, high stakes academic expectations and educators challenge students to meet those expectations through relevant instruction!  Educators provide rigorous and relevant instruction by initiating standards that promote student learning well beyond content knowledge.  Remember, standards are directed toward what the student should know and be able to do.  Since the focus is on rigorous and relevant instruction, it is wise to establish what both terms mean upfront!

Rigorous Instruction
Think about it.  Relax for a moment and consider
the term rigorous.  When you think of this word,
what is the first thought that comes to your mind?
Now, think about rigorous instruction.  What do 
you think that term means? 

Type your response in the textbox below. 

 Then click “Compare Thoughts.”

Now, reflect on whether you consider your prior
knowledge of rigorous instruction as novice,
average, or expert.
When does instruction become rigorous?
From the onset of planning standards-based 
instruction, it is necessary to establish and 
provide opportunities for students to gain in-depth  
understanding of the standard.  One way is to
design instruction utilizing spiral curriculum.  
Increasing the depth and complexity of the  
learning objective while building upon prior 
experience and knowledge helps students reach 
a more comprehensive understanding of the  
specified content and skills. 
Click “Example” to view an illustration of spiraling 
curriculum within a Sunshine State Standard.

Click here.

Integrating both content knowledge and process  
skills into the instructional activity reinforces 
teaching for understanding of the learning
objective. Problem-solving activities provide  
opportunities for students to analyze and evaluate
their degree of understanding and ability to   
communicate information to the educator.

Time to reflect.
Think about an instructional activity you planned 
and whether you consider it rigorous.  With this 
thought in mind, answer the two questions below.

Time to reflect.   

 

Did you integrate both content
knowledge and process skills into
the activity?

Did you address both 
problem-solving and communication 
skills in the activity?  
Within the instructional process, educators
incorporate reading, writing, and technology skills 
at higher levels of involvement to increase the   
level of student achievement.  Educators also 
provide students with the opportunity for 
expression – asking questions, referencing  
experiences, developing rubrics, and participating 
in lessons.

Are you moving in the right direction?

Click the icon for a synopsis 
of rigorous instruction.

Are you moving in the right direction?
Relevant Instruction
Think about it.  Now consider the term relevant  
in the same manner.  When you think of this word,
what is the first thought that comes to your     
mind? Now, think about how that applies to 
instruction. What do you think relevant instruction 
means? 

Type your response in the textbox below. 

Then click “Compare Thoughts.”

Now, reflect on whether you consider your prior
knowledge of rigorous instruction as novice,
average, or expert.
When does instruction become relevant?
Think about it.  Students are extremely inquisitive
individuals.  Often their questions are not directly
related to factual knowledge. For example, two
recurring questions from students are as follows:
1.Why am I studying and learning this 
information?
2.When and how am I ever going to use it?  
Educators are always trying to provide the best  
answers possible to these questions.  Sometimes
it is helpful to answer a question with a question.  
Choosing the right question can lead learners to 
the best answers.  For example, two guiding 
questions for educators to consider while planning 
instructional activities are as follows:
1.When do students see value in what they 
are learning?
2.How does instruction support students in 
pursuing goals that they feel are important?
For instruction to be relevant, students must see  
the need for learning.  It is important for educators
to present information to students and explain  
why they need to know it and when and how   
they are going to use it.  Emphasizing that proper  
education builds knowledge and skills necessary 
for successful lifestyles in the future reinforces 
the need for relevant instruction.

 

Time to reflect.

Think about an instructional activity you developed 
and whether you view it as relevant.  With this
thought in mind, answer the two questions below.
Time to reflect.

Did you include information based
on students' prior experiences?

Did you address real-world  
situations within problem-solving 
activities?
Within the instructional process, educators
include activities that allow students to  
share and relate their own personal experiences. 
Problem-solving activities set in real-world   
situations provide opportunities for students to 
see the relevance in what they are learning.
Are you moving in the right direction?  

Click the icon for a synopsis of relevant instruction.  

Are you moving in the right direction?
Are you on target?
Having thoroughly examined the terms rigorous
and relevant within the context of 
standards-based instruction, consider the following 
classroom situation.

    

The class is Social Studies and the students are 
involved in a unit of study on ancient Egypt.
The benchmark addressed is SS.A.1.3.2.8.1.
Read each question carefully and decide if you
think the instruction is rigorous and relevant.

 

Click the box beside each instructional 

statement you consider rigorous and relevant.

Click “Compare Thoughts” to check your answers.

1. Question.  What are the names of three
kings that ruled Egypt from 3500 B.C. to
1000 B.C?

Instruction.   Students are instructed to
memorize 3 kings from 3500 B.C. to 1000
B.C.  
2. Question.  Explore causes why 
Egyptian kingdoms ended.  

Instruction.  Students work in groups
making a timeline of ancient Egypt and

explore the causes why kingdoms ended 

from 3500 B.C. to 1000 B.C.
3.  Question.  When did Queen Hatshepsut
rule Egypt?

Instruction.  Students read a timeline of
ancient Egypt and tell the span of time
that the queen ruled.  
4. Question.   Compare the cultures of 
ancient Egypt with the cultures of today.

Instruction.  Students study a timeline of 
ancient Egypt identifying wars, leaders, 
natural disasters, etc. that provide important 
clues about the character of the culture.  
Then they write a comparison to the 
cultures of today.

Click the Keys to Success  

Click here.

Summary
Considering instruction as both rigorous and 
relevant toward a specified goal guides educators 
and students to focus on both content knowledge 
and process skills.  Key components sometimes  
missing in instructional design are the fundamental
queries (the why, how, when, where of learning) 
that direct the search for knowledge and 
application.  If the direction for learning is not  
clear from the beginning, both educators and 
students move from topic to topic and never get 
anywhere.

To summarize when instruction becomes  

rigorous and relevant, review the following 
statements:

The instruction is tied to the standards.  

The instruction is supported with 
opportunities for students to demonstrate 
higher-order thinking skills.  

The instruction is directed toward   
improving students’ problem-solving  
  and communication skills.

The instruction integrates both knowledge 
content and process skills into the 
activity.  

The instruction provides activities set in
real-world context.

The instruction includes information based
on students’ prior experiences.

Time to reflect.  

Think about an instructional Time to reflect.activity you designed and whether you view it as being both rigorous and relevant.  With this thought in mind, answer the two questions below.

Did you tie the instruction to the 
standards in a meaningful way 
(real-world)?

Did you support instruction with 
opportunities for students to  
demonstrate higher-order thinking 
skills?

   

That’s not all!
Interested in connections to dynamic Websites
featuring additional information on rigorous and
relevant instruction?

    Click the Web icon

Click here.

What’s next?

What's next? With a firm understanding of when instruction becomes rigorous and relevant as well as its connection to standards, educators direct their attention toward facets of learning.  Proceed into the next component of the module focusing on the following two questions:  

 

How do educators incorporate standards 
into the instruction?
What are the basic facets for successful
instruction?
Click here to return to the top of this page. ©Copyright 2001 Beacon Learning Center Click here to open the print window for this page.