Nod at your computer screen if this sounds familiar. You have just finished a profound conversation with your class that had each student completely engaged, and you ask the thought-provoking question that when answered, will tie everything you have been doing in that unit together. You do as you have been trained to do and allow for some wait time so each student has some time to ponder the question and formulate a response. The wait is killing you, but finally you ask the class, “So, who would like to share their answer with the class?” And then, crickets... Now panic is setting in. You begin to question whether or not your instruction was proficient enough. You wonder if anyone was really paying attention during the last two weeks of class. You think maybe the question was misunderstood, so you ask again only to get the same response. If you have been in teaching long enough, this has happened to you.
What you need to remember is that as much anxiety that you are feeling as the teacher, the students themselves are feeling it twice as badly. In these particular situations, most, if not all, students might have the answer; they just might be too timid to share their response publicly in fear of what the response of classmates might be. In some classes, this is never a problem. In these classes, we have what Fred Jones calls the helpless hand-raisers that want to answer every question asked. Regardless of your class makeup, there are a couple of back-channeling tools I would like to share with you that will help both the students that are nervous to share out and the students whose arms are always in the air.
For more information on using back channel tools in the classroom, please click on read more below.
Imagine yourself as a student on a beautiful spring day. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you are practically shaking in your seat with the urge to bolt outside. All day, your teachers have been oblivious to the situation, and all you can do is sit in your seat and watch the clock as minute after agonizing minute ticks by. As the teacher in this situation, you would face multiple problems: How can you redirect the energy buzzing in the room? How can you refocus your students on the learning that needs to happen? How can that happen in a productive, controlled manner?
Research has shown that having your students up and moving about can improve your students' cognitive and affective engagement. Movement can help direct your students' energy and focus them on the task at hand. However, having students moving around the room in high-energy situations without clear guidelines can lead to a chaotic, unproductive learning environment. The Appointment strategy an effective tool in these situation because it allows your students to move around, but in a specific, well-controlled fashion.
For more information on how to use this strategy in the classroom, click on read more below.
On their own, assessments do not help students learn. Instead, the feedback and reflection that goes with an assessment is what drives student learning. This strategy for breaking down assessment questions is one way to provide an opportunity for feedback and reflection after students have completed either a formative or summative assessment. The goal is to get the students and teacher to process through the specifics in each assessment question and its answers. This process requires students to justify their understanding of how questions are written and what answers are correct or incorrect and why. The specific information provided in the students' answers will not only help the teacher gauge students’ understanding of learning , but also provide specific information regarding the effectiveness of the assessment.
For more information on breaking down assessment questions, please click on read more below.
When I was young, the neighborhood my family lived in was extremely flat, so when it snowed, we had to improvise if we wanted to go sledding. I remember one occasion where I was staring down our long, narrow backyard, hunkered down on a plastic political sign we had found, as my father and older brother each grabbed an arm and prepared to fling me down the yard. The tense anticipation I felt as I waited to either sail across the snow on my sign or fall face first in the snow without it is one of my most vivid childhood memories.
Much like my improvised sled, a well-chosen and well-told story can be the vehicle to carry a lesson forward. It can build excitement and enthusiasm for the lesson's learning, increase cognitive and affective engagement, motivate new learning, communicate important ideas, and anchor abstract ideas to a concrete situation. Perhaps most importantly, telling a story about yourself shares a small piece of your life with your students, which helps make connections and build relationships in your classroom.
For more information on how to use this strategy in your classroom, click on read more below.
Differentiated instruction has been a buzz word in education for a long time. In fact, a search for "differentiated instruction" on the Google Ngram Viewer shows the term has been used since before 1920. However, despite all of the discussions about differentiated instruction, or DI, and all of the efforts of teachers, the mythical "Differentiated Classroom" often remains an elusive goal shimmering in the distance like a mirage. The truth is, every classroom is already differentiated to one degree or another. Think of DI as a continuum that ranges from meeting the needs of very few students to meeting the needs of every student.
Every classroom falls on this continuum someplace, so the question for teachers shouldn't be, "How can I create the Differentiated Classroom?" but rather, "How do I shift to the right on the DI continuum to allow me to meet the needs of more and more of my students?" In that light, DI becomes a much more realistic, achievable goal. In the book How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms, Carol Ann Tomlinson looks at how to differentiate based on content, process, and product.
Every student is expected to reach high levels of learning the classroom, but not every student begins at the same point. Differentiating based on content means varying the degree of complexity in the material based on a student's readiness, interest, or learning style while holding the end goal constant for all students. Some ways to differentiate by content include:
Differentiating process involves varying how students make sense of new learning, typically through a classroom activity. Tomlinson points out that a good differentiated activity must first be a good activity that engages student interest, expects students to think at a high level, and focuses student learning on the essential learning. Some ways to help student process and make sense of new learning include:
An effective product reinforces, applies, and extends students' learning, and by differentiating that product, teachers gives their students flexibility in how they demonstrate their learning. An effective product also focuses on the learning, not the product itself, by having clear learning expectations for students to meet. Some ways to differentiate for product include:
To be clear, differentiated instruction does not mean that a teacher should design an individualized learning plan for every student every day. Instead, the goal for every teacher should be to be responsive to their students' needs and help the broadest range of students access the content, process it, and demonstrate their learning.
For more information about DI, check out Tomlinson's book, How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms and join the conversation on Twitter under the #edchat hashtag.
Tony Harman | High School Instructional Coach
Unit of Instruction Support: How can we become more strategic in our lesson planning to incorporate instructional strategies?
While we all have a toolkit full of instructional strategies that we feel comfortable with or that seem to fit with our daily lessons, are we taking the time to make sure these instructional strategies align to our objective and assessments being taught. Through some weekend reading, I stumbled across an article, The Power of Strategy Instruction written by Stephen D. Luke, Ed.D. Below is a small snippet of the article that seemed to lend itself nicely to the importance of planning instructional strategies.
“If you’ve ever played the game of chess, chances are you used a fairly unsophisticated approach when first making your way around the board. It’s also likely that basic tactics quickly emerged after just a few games-moves that were at first aimless and erratic became much more planned and organized. You may have even found yourself thinking several moves ahead, beginning to develop a strategy. Some obvious strategies may have easily become part of your regular chess-playing arsenal. Other, more advanced strategies, however, may not develop without additional training or lots of practice. It’s always a good idea to have a plan of attack-and not just for chess. When it comes to teaching and learning, having a plan-or strategy- is definitely the way to go.”
Planning weekly lesson plans, or units, challenge us as educators to incorporate sound instructional strategies that will engage our students in what we are teaching. We know that a student learns best when they are engaged in the material or content and think that it relates to the real-world. Below are some resources for finding instructional strategies along with both Marzano and Knight’s instructional strategies. These can be resources and tools throughout unit and daily lesson planning.
Staff Development & Instructional Strategies by OETC Professional Learning Communities
Glossary of Instructional Strategies
Intel’s Instructional Strategies
Mathwire Instructional Strategies
Resources for Teachers – Instructional Strategies
Post by: Jessica Broadbent | Westview Instructional Coach
This will be a resource built by the staff for the staff to encourage integration of 21st century skills into every student's learning.