Strategy of the Week

 Week Of 
Nov 26, 2012  TPT Hold-Ups
Hold-Ups (Click here for examples)  are interactive, formative- assessments in the form of response cards. Similar to white boards, students hold up index cards or colored paper with pre-drawn words, images, or numbers. Studies indicate that response cards:
  • increase student performance, participation, and achievement
  • improve on-task behavior 
  • promote more specific teacher feedback compared to traditional hand-raising
Dec 3, 2012 Question Stems

Question Stems see examples here are sentence starters that help students analyze and practice the different thinking levels required in class & on standardized tests. Students can use question stems to:

  • write and practice review questions.
  • analyze the "cue" words that indicate what test questions are asking.
 Dec 10, 2012  INSERT INSERT (click here for examples) is a quick note-taking strategy that students use to "code" text, video, or Powerpoints with their thinking. These quick codes can prompt collaborative student discussion after teacher instruction.
Dec 17, 2012
Dump & Clump
Dump and Clump (Click here for example) is an easy-to-prepare sorting strategy that students can use with vocabulary. Words are placed in a "dumpster" or word bank and then categorized into smaller "clumpsters."  

Dump and Clump is an activity that can be differentiated easily.  For an easier sort, teachers can label the clumpster categories; for a more difficult sort, students can determine the dumpster and/or clumpster categories themselves. One clumpster could be labeled "I don't know" for terms students still have questions about. Another category could be for "oddballs," where students can include terms that don't belong in the other categories. The "oddballs" make the task more rigorous, since students have the additional challenge of determining what doesn't belong. The "I don't knows" help teachers identify concepts needing more instruction.

Jan 7, 2013
(Student Questions for Purposeful Learning)

SQPL (Click here for examples) teaches students how to set a purpose for reading, listening, and learning. After the teacher generates a challenging statement about the material to be covered, partners generate questions.  Together, students compose a class list, marking those that appear more than once. Students are then ready to read, view, or listen with the purpose of looking for answers. (Click here for step-by-step instructions). Research indicates that student-generated questions:

  • are associated with higher levels of engagement & achievement
  • help students focus & sustain attention
  • provide practice in using the academic vocabulary used in standardized tests & texts
April 8, 2013 Learning Targets
Daily learning targets (click here for examples) are short, often "I can" statements that let students know what they are expected to do with their learning that day. Teachers who use learning targets successfully often do the following: 
  • Discuss with students the meaning of the language used in the targets
  • Return to the targets at the end of the lesson to help students assess whether or not they met the goals
  • Change and post targets daily, visible and legible to all students

Here is a 2-minute Youtube clip (funny ) on the power of daily learning targets in high school classrooms.


 April 29, 2013 Constructed Response Writing Preparation

Constructed response items (click here for examples) are short, essay-type questions included on end-of-course and common exams. Most require students to write 1-2 paragraphs addressing a prompt.

Teachers who prepare their students for this type of content writing often do the following: 

  • Model the process of "deconstructing" the prompt by highlighting key words and instructions.
  • Provide students opportunities to practice deconstructing prompts, answering questions, and evaluating with rubrics.
  • Identify and post academic language common to released items.  

Here is a website with resources for teaching constructed response writing. It includes samples, routines for practicing throughout the school year, and protocols for teaching the steps of addressing a prompt and evaluating a response.

Sep 2, 2013  Sentence Frames
Sentence frames (click here for examples). are quick-writes (not worksheets) that provide students a "structure" for how to talk or write about their content. The idea is to gradually remove the frames so that students are using academic and content language naturally, on their own.
Some example sentence frames include:
  • In order to solve ___________ we must first _________ . . . 
  • The difference between ________ and ________ is . . .
  • I believe the most significant part of the argument is ________________ because . . . .
  • The ___________  believed ____________________, while the _______________ believed ___________. The resulting conflict caused ____________.
Sentence Frames improve student learning by:
  • increasing the usage or "output" of both content material and academic language
  • encouraging students to write about the content they are learning in every class
  • facilitating student discourse
  • providing teachers with immediate formative assessment
Sentence Frames can be used during turn and talks, exit slips, journals, and other formative assessments.
 Sep 9, 2013  Read-Alouds Read-alouds (click here for examples) —or shared readings— are one of the most effective ways for young adults to hear fluent reading (Allen, 2000; Fisher, Frey, and Williams, 2013).  
In read-alouds, teachers choose a short (one or two paragraphs) selection to read and pause while reading to model their thinking aloud. Some teachers read the text aloud while students listen; other teachers read the text aloud while students read along silently. Most often, the selections are not from the textbook; instead, teachers select other interesting, timely, and relevant materials that align with current content.
Read Alouds:
  • model fluent reading and critical thinking by the expert reader in the class (the teacher)
  • expose students to important content and academic vocabulary
  • build students' background knowledge in whatever content is being taught
  • provide examples of the interesting, informative texts that adult readers encounter daily in the real world
Sep 30, 2013 Peer-Visitation Rounds Peer Visitation Rounds see more information here are also known as "Public Teaching."
In a peer visit, one or more teachers observe teaching and learning in a colleague's class. They agree ahead of time on a strategy or topic to be observed, and they meet afterwards to debrief. 
Research tells us that "... encouraging teachers within a school to observe each other, to plan together and to adopt shared teaching methods can dramatically improve teaching and learning in a school” (Pathways to the Common Core). 
Peer Rounds are:
  • grounded in a commitment to the art and science of teaching (Robert Marzano) 
  • offer a form of professional development and reflection that begins with a deep respect for teachers (Kathy Schultz)
  • build a community of trust and practice centered on students and what best supports them in learning," (Thomas Del Prete)

Oct 14, 2013  EXPLORE  EXPLORE See more information here is a reading comprehension strategy that stands for Example, Purpose, LanguageOrganizational Features, Relate, & Evaluate.
EXPLORE is also a formative assessment for teachers, who can move quickly throughout the class to monitor student thinking using this easy graphic organizer.





This is an example of what genre/author/style?




What was the author’s purpose for writing? What is my focus as I read the text?




What are the key words/names/places/lines worth remembering?


Organizational Features


What organizational features (in the text) or supports (strategies) helped me read & comprehend this text?





How can I relate to what I just read? What connections are there to prior learning or current issues?





What are my “ah-has?” What inferences have I made? What questions do I have?

 Nov 4, 2013  Save the Last Word for Me
"Save the Last Word for Me"  see more information here
 is a collaborative strategy where students think and talk about a short text, film clip, etc.
  1. Students read, view, or listen to a text and choose a significant quotation or passage.
  2. Students share their excerpt in a small group without explaining why.
  3. Students listen to their group-mates reflect on their chosen excerpt before offering their own opinion or analysis.
"Save the Last Word for Me":
  • encourages students to analyze and evaluate what they read, hear, or see
  • offers students practice in listening without interrupting
  • promotes meta-cognition (students think about their thinking)
  • defines clear roles for group interaction without chaos
Dec 2, 2013  Chalk Talk  "Chalk Talk" (see more information here) is a student writing/discussion strategy where students "talk" silently to each other by writing on the board.
Directions: (The following all done in silence)
  1. The teacher writes a relevant question in a circle on the board. (OR, project a text or image on the board with your Ben-Q).
  2. With chalk or markers, a number of students respond to the question at the same time.
  3. New students come to the board and respond either to the question or to each other, drawing arrows to distinguish discussion threads. (The "discussion" continues in silence -- expect wait time for reading and reflection before students feel the need to post more).
  4. Only If needed, the teacher can expand the discussion by adding questions, comments, or drawing connecting lines.
Benefits:  "Chalk Talk":
  • encourages students to reflect and respond to what they read, hear, or see without the need to talk out loud.
  • promotes "visible thinking" and "public discourse."
 April 7, 2014  Infographics Information Graphics, or "Infographics" are graphic visual representations of information created with the intention of presenting complex information quickly and clearly. In the classroom, infographics are being used to analyze, evaluate, and present information in every subject, by teachers and students alike.
Want more information? Want to see some samples? Check out this website:
Want a daily infographic fix? Check this out:
Challenge: Go right now to Google Images. Search for "Infographics" and "Biology." Or :World War II." Or "Heart Rate." Or "Algorithms" Or whatever it is you are teaching today. Print off a cool infographic and stick it in my mailbox. Or email it to me. I'll create a display in the mail room with what we find.

May 12, 2014 Double-Bubble Maps Double Bubbles are a type of thinking map designed to illustrate the similarities and differences between two concepts. When students create or take notes using double bubbles, they are using one of Marzano's High Yield Instructional Strategies (in fact, his number one strategy, which yields a 45 point percentile gain).
Check out the article linked above and the samples provided below. 
Inline image 1Inline image 1
 Oct 29, 2014
 Time Bomb Vocabulary
 Time Bomb Vocabulary Video