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Rigor Redefined

Ten Teaching Habits for Surface, Deep, and Transfer Learning

By: Michael McDowell

Foreword by: John Hattie

Rigorous learning prepares students to face academic challenges and navigate the real world. Gain clear, research-supported guidance to balance the core values of teaching with a both innovative and impactful mindset and discover ways to help students take ownership of their learning and thrive academically.

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Enables students to take ownership of their learning process

High-quality teaching balances knowing, connecting, and applying core knowledge. This enables students to take ownership of their learning process. Using ten learning habits paired with practical tools and relevant templates, teachers can implement rigorous instruction in small and doable ways that drive student learning and create a lasting impact. Discover how to connect the dots between surface learning, deep learning, and transfer learning.

This book will help K–12 teachers:

  • Create a schedule for habits to ensure routines are employed often and at optimal times
  • Understand the connections among surface learning, deep learning, and transfer learning with elementary and secondary examples
  • Learn various routines for each of the ten habits—the four learner quality habits and the six learning process habits
  • Distinguish between declarative, procedural, and contextual knowledge

Related Topics

21st Century SkillsInstructionStudent EngagementTeacher Efficacy


Additional Information

Product Code: BKG193, EKF737

ISBN: 9781960574664

Published By: Solution Tree

Rigor Redefined is going to be such an invaluable resource for our district work as a professional learning community. The multitude of effective strategies and habits shared in this book can be used at any grade level and with any content. We will be able to support teachers as they make small shifts in classroom practices to ensure our students become experts of their own learning.”

Julie Moore, Assistant Superintendent for Liberty Public Schools, Missouri

“This book is a comprehensive and essential guide that provides actionable insights, protocols, sentence stems, questions, and habits that empower educators to inspire all students to apply deep learning effectively.”

Erik Youngman, Director of Teaching and Learning, Zion Elementary School District 6, Illinois

“McDowell is one of the most exciting and inspiring thinkers in education today. In Rigor Redefined, he challenges assumptions with research and provides a vision for what powerful student-centered learning can look like in every classroom. This book is valuable for every educator, and it is one that can help us re-envision what school can be in the current cultural and technological moment.”

Paul Rutishauser, EdD, Director of Secondary Education, Ceres Unified School District, California

Rigor Redefined clearly and practically outlines the impact of a well-balanced pedagogical approach with teacher agency at the center. By providing structured protocols to support students in navigating levels of complexity, McDowell drives home the importance of flexibility in instructional practices. This book provides a tangible framework for establishing small, doable habits in the classroom that yield big results.”

Christine Hanley, Instructional Coach, United Federation of Teachers, New York

“This book provides teachers with concrete instructional strategies across the surface, deep, and transfer spectrum. McDowell emphasizes the importance of balancing the development of students’ dispositional habits, like engaging metacognition and navigating challenges, with competency-based habits to build knowledge and apply conceptual understanding.”

Jenni Donohoo, Educational Consultant and Author, Collective Efficacy: How Educators' Beliefs Impact Student Learning

Rigor Redefined is perfectly timed for me to revisit and refine the teaching habits i've developed based on McDowell’s original framework. It offers the perfect opportunity to check in, adding nuances and insights that enhance my understanding and application.”

Stephanie Trott, Eighth-Grade Social Science Teacher, Redwood Middle School, Napa, California

“In Rigor Redefined, McDowell unlocks the unicorn of rigor with actionable steps. Read it today, use it tomorrow! With a practical and systemic approach, leaders can lead this work to ensure all teachers at any level can cultivate rigor in their classrooms.”

Rhonda McDonough, Director of Federal Programs and Instruction, West Ada School District, Idaho

“McDowell has written another valuable resource for the classroom teacher or school leader. Rigor Redefined breaks down the challenging task of balancing surface, deep, and transfer learning into ten manageable habits that lead to the successful implementation of rigor in the classroom. I appreciate the large number of protocols aligned with the habits that can be used as needed or as a step-by-step plan to improve student learning.”

Mike Purvines, Professional Learning Specialist and Instructional Coach, Roseville Joint Union High School District, California

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