A List of 107 Effective Classroom Teaching Strategies (2019)

list of teaching strategies

When I was training to be a teacher I had to write a lot of lesson plans.

For each lesson plan I was expected to include clear examples of teaching strategies.

I always wished I had a list of instructional strategies I could go to whenever I needed it.

As a teacher I still need to provide evidence of my teaching strategies for my teaching portfolio.

So, I decided it was time I made a list of teaching strategies for everyone to use!

Use this list of 107 instructional strategies to fill-in that lesson plan or teaching portfolio with some high quality teaching strategies.

Or, try some of these strategies out when you’re low on ideas and looking for a fresh way to teach in the classroom!

Tip: Bookmark this page so you can come back to it every time you need some new teaching strategies!

1. Flipped Instruction

Description

Flipped classrooms involve asking students to complete the reading, preparation and introductory work at home. Then, during class time, the students do practice questions that they would traditionally do for homework.

Benefits

  • Flipped instruction enables the teacher to offload the direct instruction elements of education like Introductions to homework. This enables teachers to spend more time on student-centered differentiated support.

Challenges

  • Students may not complete their assigned pre-class homework, which will undermine the lesson.

Theoretical Link

Social Constructivism / Socio-Cultural Theory: The teacher can spend more time supporting students in a student-centered environment.

Example

  1. Assign a video introducing a concept for homework.
  2. Spend the first 10 minutes of the lesson assessing students’ comprehension of the video
  3. Jump straight into student-centered practice tasks
  4. Walk around the class helping students who need additional support for the rest of the lesson

For More

See my full article on Flipped Classrooms Pros and Cons.

2. Play based learning

Description

Students learn cognitive, social, and physical skills during play tasks. Tasks can be teacher-led with specific goals (e.g. volume transfer in a sandpit) or unstructured student-led play.

Benefits

  • Engagement: students may be more engaged during active play-based learning compared to teacher-centered instruction.
  • Cognition: students get the opportunity to learn through discovery and trial-and-error, helping to build neural pathways
  • Social: students play together, developing communication, groupwork, and negotiation skills.
  • Physical: play engages fine and gross motor functions, helping to improve physical abilities.

Challenges

  • Many traditionalist, including many parents and potentially your head teacher, may consider play to have no educational or academic benefit.
  • Parents may frown upon this method for older students, despite its benefits across age groups.
  • Many people consider that the risks of injury during play-based learning are too high.

Theoretical Link

Social Constructivism. Students learn through social interaction and building knowledge in their minds through trial and error.

Play is also encouraged in all 5 Contemporary Early Childhood Perspectives (Froebel, Reggio Emilia, Forest Schools, Steiner-Waldorf Schools, and Montessori).

Example

  1. Use modelled instruction to show students how to play with developmentally appropriate resource-rich toys and puzzles. Consider puzzles that require mathematical skills that link to current curriculum outcomes.
  2. Provide students with the puzzles and allow free unstructured play time
  3. Mingle with the students, helping them with prompting and guiding questions
  4. End the lesson with a whole group discussion of what they learned during the lesson.

For More

See my full article on Play Based Learning Pros and Cons.

3. Project-based learning (PBL)

Definition

Project-based learning requires students to spend an extended period of time (e.g. a week or more) on a single project to gain in-depth knowledge about the task. The projects should be personally meaningful and give students freedom to go in-depth on areas of interest.

Benefits

  • Students have the opportunity to become ‘experts’ on topics. By going deep on a topic, students may become very knowledgeable and feel empowered.
  • A balance is struck between ensuring students focus on curriculum-linked projects and giving students the freedom to explore the details of a topic that are of personal interest.

Challenges

  • Students tend to have increased freedom using this approach. So, students need to learn self-regulation skills before beginning the task.

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: Students work independently using their own intellect and resources to learn. By doing personal research, students ‘construct’ knowledge in their minds and apply that knowledge to the project to demonstrate their knowledge.

Example

  1. Teacher assigns students a research question, such as “What are the key characteristics of mammals?”
  2. Students work in small groups to come up with an idea for a poster, diagram, or presentation project on the topic.
  3. Teacher approves or asks for amendments of students’ proposed projects.
  4. Students are provided a series of lessons over a 2-week period in computer labs and in resource-rich classrooms to complete their project.
  5. Teacher checks-in intermittently to ensure standards are upheld and to stimulate students to improve upon their projects.
  6. The project concludes with students presenting their project to their parents.

4. Authentic Learning

Definition

Authentic learning involves having students learn about concepts in real-life (or near real-life) environments.

Benefits

  • By learning a task within its context, a student will understand its value for them outside of the classroom.
  • Engagement: students may be more engaged in a task if they understand its practical application rather than just its theoretical purpose.
  • Cognition and Memory: Students may find it easier to recall information if they can reflect on an instance in which they applied the knowledge to a real-life task.

Challenges

  • Authentic learning tasks are difficult to set-up from within a classroom.
  • It is debatable whether so-called ‘authentic’ environments are genuinely authentic. A mock supermarket experience for practicing counting money, for example, lacks the potential for environmental distractions of a real-life situation.
  • Some information is by its very nature academic and theoretical rather than practical, and this information is still of value to students.

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: Authentic learning environments are designed for students to be active learners who ‘construct’ knowledge through personal experience.

Example

  1. An ESL teacher provides students with a set of conversational tasks to complete during a day’s field trip to the city.
  2. Students complete the tasks in the ‘real world’ by walking around the city asking for directions, buying lunch, etc.
  3. Class comes together at the end of the day to discuss and reflect on their experiences of applying their knowledge in the ‘real world’.

5. Discovery Learning

Definition

Discovery learning involves allowing students maximum freedom within a resource-rich environment to ‘discover’ answers to challenges. It requires students to build upon prior knowledge and use resources available in the environment to increase their own knowledge. 

Discovery learning is often held in contrast to teacher-centered approaches, as students are not ‘told’ information; instead, they must discover knowledge for themselves..

Benefits

  • Students generate knowledge for themselves rather than being told what is right and wrong.
  • By discovering truths, students will have a firmer understanding for the reasoning behind why something is true.

Challenges

  • Too much student freedom may distract students from the learning outcomes.
  • This can be a time-consuming technique as students discover information at their own pace. It can therefore be difficult to implement in education systems that are packed with curriculum outcomes that must be met.

Theoretical Link

Construcitivism: Students generate their own knowledge through engagement with their environment rather than having truths ‘told’ to them by an authority figure.

Example

  1. Teacher places the appropriate resources in the classroom to allow students to discover truths themselves. These resources may include science experiment stations, newspaper articles, etc.
  2. Teacher transparently presents the lesson objectives to the students, i.e. “What is heavier – sand or water?”
  3. Students are given minimal guidance, but sent to the learning stations to try to answer the prompt themselves.
  4. Teacher provides minimal guidance, recognizing that making mistakes and trying the ‘wrong thing’ is also a part of the discovery experience.
  5. Students get together at the end of the class to discuss what they ‘discovered’.

6. High Expectations

Definition

Setting high expectation involves requiring students to put in maximum effort during their lessons. HIgh expectations does not mean expecting all students to meet a certain standard. Rather, it means expecting each student to try to beat their own personal best.

Benefits

  • High expectations are necessary to ensure students continue to strive for improvement. Without high expectations in the classroom, students can become lazy and lose respect for education.

Challenges

  • Teachers need to be aware that sometimes students have ‘off days’ where they cannot succeed at their normal level. This may be due to health, hunger, or environmental factors. 
  • Teachers need to balance high expectations with compassion for their students. Try not to let burnout occur due to strenuous demands.

Example

  1. Measure students’ prior knowledge to ascertain their current developmental level.
  2. Have students aim to achieve at or above their current ability in a given task.
  3. If students underperform, provide formative feedback and insist they readdress their work to make edits and improvements.
  4. Allow students to progress to subsequent tasks only when their work has met or exceeded the minimum standard you set for that individual.

For More

See my full article on High Expectations in the Classroom.

7. Parent and Community Engagement

Definition

Parent and community engagement involves bringing students together with their community. It can involve bringing parents and community members into the classroom, or bringing students out into the community on field trips.

Benefits

  • By engaging with the community, students come to see themselves as a member of their community. 
  • It can help students to get to know important members of their community to give them a sense of belonging, and help them see (and, in the future, seek) support networks.
  • By bringing role models into the classroom (especially minority and female role models), students can come to see that they could potentially become female firefighters, politicians of color, etc.
  • Students can learn from more than just one teacher to get a variety of perspectives.

Challenges

  • Safety concerns often require teachers and community members to fill-in forms and complete background checks before community engagement can occur.
  • Finding members of the community willing to work with teachers can be difficult.

Theoretical Link

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory: Students learn within family and community contexts (children’s ‘first teachers’) in order to respect and carry-on culturally engaged learning.

Example

  1. Teacher does networking to find community members willing to come into the classroom.
  2. Teacher finds relevant curriculum links that community members can help them teach about.
  3. Teacher and community members meet to discuss a lesson idea.
  4. Community members and teachers team-teach in the classroom.
  5. Students are given the opportunity for one-on-one time with community members.
  6. Students present the results of their lesson to community members before community members leave.

8. Unconditional Positive Regard

Definition

Unconditional positive regard involves teachers to consistently and unconditionally view students as capable and competent. When students make mistakes, fail, or misbehave, it is the teacher’s role to continue to let students know that they believe in the student and their abilities.

Benefits

  • Empowering: when students are given unconditional positive regard, they know that their teacher believes in their ability to constantly do better.
  • Shows Empathy and builds Trust: children come to learn to respect and trust their teacher when they know their teacher is always on ‘their side’.

Challenges

  • Teachers need to ensure that they still let students know that inappropriate behavior or lack of effort is unacceptable. The teacher should follow-up their discipline with comments about positive regard.

Theoretical Link

Humanist theory of Education: Humanist Carl Rogers invented this approach. He believed unconditional positive regard was necessary for building students’ self-confidence.

Example

  1. “Even though you did not do well today, I expect that you will come to school doing better tomorrow.”
  2. “The quality of your work does not match your potential. Let’s talk about some strategies for improvement before you go away and do it again.”

For More

See my full post on the Humanist approach to Education.

9. Modelled Teaching 

Definition

Modelled teaching is an instructional strategy that involves the teacher ‘showing’ students how to do a task. The teacher shows the task while also breaking it down into small steps. This helps students to see how to complete the task.

Benefits

  • A very effective way to introduce new topics.
  • The teacher maintains control when introducing a new idea to ensure students have appropriate understanding and safety knowledge before tying for themselves.
  • Shows that learning can occur passively – students can learn simply by watching.

Challenges

  • Not appropriate as a standalone strategy. Students need to eventually try things alone to show competency. Therefore, consider matching modelled teaching up with the I Do, We Do, You Do method

Theoretical Link

Bandura’s Behaviorism: Bandura blends behaviorism with constructivism by showing that learning can occur through observation only.

For More

See my full post on Behaviorism in Education, which has a segment on Bandura’s modelled instruction approach.

10. I Do We Do You Do Method

Definition

The I Do, We Do, You Do method is a scaffolding strategy that provides gradual release of responsibility from the teacher to the student. It involves three steps: (1) I Do: Teacher models the task; (2) We Do: Student and teacher do the task together; (3) You Do: Student attempts to complete the task alone.

Benefits

  • Students are provided an appropriate balance of support and freedom.
  • Teacher has ample time to assess students’ abilities to make adjustments to their pedagogy as they move through the 3 steps (particularly in step 2)

Challenges

  • In large groups, students may fall behind at Steps 2 and 3.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural Theory: Students learn through social interaction with a more knowledgeable other (see: Lev Vygotsky).

Example

  1. Teacher asks all students to sit on a mat at the front of the class.
  2. Teacher models the steps required to complete the day’s task (I Do).
  3. Teacher re-does the task. This time, instead of telling the students the steps, the teacher asks students to raise their hand and tell the teacher what to do next (We Do)
  4. Teacher asks students to complete the task in small groups. Teacher walks around providing support (We Do)
  5. Students complete the lesson by doing the task alone. Teacher only intervenes for the few students who are still struggling (You Do)

For More

See my full guide on implementing the I Do, We Do, You Do method.

11. Guided Practice / Cognitive Apprenticeship

Definition

Students follow along with their teacher as an ‘apprentice’. By working side-by-side, they learn the subtle little things (‘tacit knowledge’) required to know in order to master a skill.

Benefits

  • Students get very close one-to-one interaction with an expert, helping them learn.
  • By learning-by-doing, the student learns not only the theory but also the skills required to complete tasks.

Challenges

  • An approach predominantly used for young children in Indigenous communities, which is not applicable on a wide scale in Western mass education systems.
  • Requires one-to-one support, which is not often available.

Theoretical Link

Socio-Cultural Theory: Rogoff studied Guatemalan Indigenous teaching methods to come up with this approach. It fits under the socio-cultural theory because its emphasis is on social interaction between master and apprentice.

Example

Common in trade schools for students studying to be mechanics, engineers, etc.

For More

See my full guide on the Guided Practice teaching strategy.

12. Scaffolding

Definition

Scaffolding involves providing support to students while they cannot complete a task alone. Then, when the student can complete the task alone, the teacher withdraws their support.

Benefits

  • Students feel supported while learning tasks that are just outside of their grasp at the present time.
  • A clear way of guiding students towards new skills.

Challenges

  • May require a lot of one-to-one support, which can be difficult to provide in a classroom environment.

Theoretical Link

Socio-Cultural Theory: Scaffolding was invented by Jerome Bruner (not Vygotsky).

Example

  1. The teacher models a task before students try it themselves.
  2. The teacher provides the student with a visual aid (the scaffold, in this instance) that breaks the task down into small parts.
  3. After 15 minutes of practice with the visual aid, the aid is withdrawn and the students try the task alone.

13. Direct Instruction (a.k.a Explicit Teaching)

Definition

Direct instruction (also known as explicit teaching) is a teacher-centered approach that involves the teacher using simple straightforward language to explain concepts to students.

Benefits

  • Provides clear and direct knowledge to students
  • Is sometimes the only way to teach something, particularly when introducing a new idea.

Challenges

  • Students cannot consolidate their knowledge with direct instruction alone. Explicit teaching should be followed-up with other teaching strategies that involve more active learning so students can practice and demonstrate their knowledge.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Traditionally, direct instruction was embraced by behaviorists who believed in teacher-centered teaching. Today, it is used in most teaching approaches.

14. Repetition (Rote Learning)

Definition

Repetition involves giving students time to retry tasks over and over again until it is consolidated in their minds. The information should be safely in a student’s long-term memory before moving on.

Benefits

  • Repetition commits information to memory, and is often one of the only ways to ensure something is truly remembered long-term.

Challenges

  • Repetitive rote learning that lacks contextual background is hard to remember. Sometimes, giving context through doing tasks through real-life scenarios can be better for memory long-term.
  • Repetition can disengage students and demotivate them.
  • Doesn’t account for social and cognitive aspects of learning.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Repetition is central to a behaviorist approach. Pavlov, a famous behaviorist found that he could teach his dog through repetitively associating a bell with food. The dog came to learn through repetition that the bell meant ‘food’.

For More

See my full post on Behaviorism in Education.

15. Spaced Repetition

Definition

Spaced repetition builds on simple repetition. Spaced repetition involves gradually increasing the space between times you repeat something. Repetition of a task should be very common. Over time, the task should be re-examined less and less often.

The idea behind spaced repetition is that the concept being learned is re-engaged with just before it is forgotten so that it is consistently recalled into memory and gradually sedimented into long-term memory.

Benefits

  • Provides long-term support to ensure students remember information over a sustained period of time.
  • Perfect for revision and standardized test preparation.

Challenges

  • Can be disengaging and boring for students who tend to prefer active learning.
  • Doesn’t account for social and cognitive aspects of learning.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Spaced repetition was invented by behaviorist theorist Ebbinghaus in 1885.

Example

  1. Provide students with a sprinkle of review tasks as a part of their weekly homework.
  2. Start lessons (or set aside some time each week) with revision of tasks from months previously to jog students’ memory.

16. Prompting

Definition

Prompting involves providing students with nudges, guides and questions that will help them to move closer towards an answer. A prompt is a suggestion to a student that they pay attention to a particular aspect of a task that will help them get closer to the answer.

Benefits

  • Prompts are used regularly by teachers to get beyond blocks in student learning. Without prompts, students may never develop or improve.

Challenges

  • It is hard to know exactly how much prompting to give and at what stage. Students need time to think things through and make mistakes. Too much prompting too soon can prevent students from thinking for themselves.

Theoretical Link

Social Constructivism: Social constructivists believe teachers have a role in helping students to build knowledge in their minds. Teachers’ interventions can help spur knowledge development.

Examples

  1. A teacher might ask a question to get the student to look at the task from a different perspective.
  2. A teacher may point at a section of a diagram and ask them about that section.
  3. A teacher might start a sentence and ask a student to finish it.
  4. Etc.

17. Differentiation

Definition

Differentiation is a teaching strategy that requires teachers to change their teaching styles and educational materials to meet the diverse needs of students within a classroom. It generally involves grouping students into several sub-groups in the classroom based on ability, skillset or learning preferences.

Benefits

  • Enables the teacher to more effectively address the diverse needs of students in a large classroom.
  • Ensures learning is more personalized in the hope that no child will be left behind in a lesson.

Challenges

  • Differentiation is often used as an excuse to dumb down a task – differentiated instruction should be paired with high expectations to ensure all students are working to their maximum potential.

Theoretical Link

Socio-cultural Theory: This approach acknowledges that all students have different social and cultural backgrounds. Therefore, each student requires a personalized learning approach. It realizes that one size fits all will not work because all students are different.

Examples

  1. Separate students into three ability groups: Advanced, Middle, and Lower. The advanced students can be provided with project-based learning tasks to complete while the teacher works with the middle and lower groups to provide additional support.
  2. Provide students with a range of tasks that addresses the same learning outcome. Students can choose between different tasks depending on their learning preferences.

18. Manipulatives

Definition

Manipulatives are physical educational toys (or: ‘tools’) which are used to support learning. Providing students with physical manipulatives during learning enables them to visualize their learning in a 3D space.

Benefits

  • Students can learn more actively when they have manipulatives than when learning through teacher-centered direct instruction methods.
  • Helps students who need to visualize information to learn.
  • Creation of physical models helps students to form mental models (‘cognitive schemata’).

Challenges

  • It can be expensive to gather enough materials for all students in a classroom.
  • Providing students with toys can distract them from the task. Strong classroom management skills are required.

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: Constructivists including Freidrich Froebel and Maria Montessori have advocated for the use of educational toys to help students to explore and discover in student-led active learning contexts.

Examples

  1. Base Tens ‘Dienes Cubes’ are cubes that can be bunched into singles, groups of ten, groups of 100, and groups of 1000 to help students visualize the decimal system of counting.
  2. Colored beads can be used to help students in early childhood learn to recognize patterns.
  3. Froebel’s Gifts are 9 manipulative toys that students can use to solve developmentally appropriate puzzles.

19. Prior Knowledge Assessment

Definition

Prior knowledge assessment entails assessing students’ knowledge at the beginning of a unit of work in order to teach students at an appropriate level. If prior knowledge does not take place, teachers may teach content at a level that is either above or below a class’s optimal learning level.

Benefits

  • Ensures the content being taught is at an appropriate level.
  • Respects the fact that students come into the classroom with pre-existing knowledge.
  • Identifies misconceptions students may have about a topic.
  • Enables teachers to take into account students’ cultural knowledge when preparing a unit of work.

Challenges

  • Ensure you assess prior knowledge well in advance so you can plan lessons based on prior knowledge. I’ve assessed prior knowledge at the start of a class before and realized the lesson I planned was completely useless!

20. Student-Teacher Conference

Definition

A student-teacher conference is a one-on-one discussion between a student and a teacher to take stock of a student’s needs. The conference usually involves a discussion of both strengths as well as areas for improvement. The conference should conclude with a list of goals for the teacher and student to mutually strive toward.

Benefits

  • An opportunity for both the teacher and student to express concerns and anxieties
  • Helps students to feel ‘seen’, valued and cared for by the teacher

Challenges

  • Hard to achieve in every lesson. Teachers could consider systematically conferring with one or two students per lesson until all students are met with.
  • There is a power imbalance in the student-teacher relationship which may prevent students from speaking candidly.

Theoretical Link

Socio-Cultural Theory: Interactions between teachers and students are important to learning within the socio-cultural approach.

Example

  1. Print a list of your students with a column for ‘achievements’, ‘goals’ and ‘struggles’. Over the course of a week, meet up with your students and discuss with them what they’ve achieved in the current unit of work, what their goals are, and what the barriers are to achieving those goals.

21. Fill-In the Gaps (Cloze Passages)

Definition

A simple teaching strategy that involves asking students to fill-in an incomplete piece of text. This can happen verbally (starting a paragraph and asking students to complete it) and in writing (a traditional cloze passage).

Benefits

  • Helps students to jog their own memories by prompting them slightly.
  • Enables teachers to quickly assess students’ knowledge (just-in-time assessment).

Challenges

  • Cannot be a consistently used strategy as students also need to learn through more challenging approaches such as discovery learning and project-based learning.

Examples

  1. Paper cloze passages involving a story in which the key phrases are removed.
  2. Prompting questions like: “Can you finish this sentence? The first king of England was …”

22. Peer Assisted Learning (PAL)

Definition

Has the teacher step aside and allows students to take charge of the learning environment. 

Benefits

  • Students can often explain concepts to one another in a clear way because they’re on the same level and closer in their learning journey than the teacher, who probably learned the content years ago!

Challenges

  • Peer assisted learning is not the same as the students doing the teaching. Students should continue to view each others as partners in learning.

Theoretical Link

Socio-Cultural Theory: students learning through collaborative discussion fits firmly into the sociocultural theory of education.

Example

  1. Invite students from a grade level above to come into the classroom and act as moderators of discussions on topics of interest.
  2. Pair stronger students with weaker students. Have the stronger students demonstrate their knowledge by supporting the weaker students. I find this works really well because children can often explain things in a clear language that other children can understand.

23. Poster Presentations

Definition

A poster presentation is a great way to demonstrate knowledge at the end of a lesson or unit of work. Provide the students with posters, pens, and printing materials if required. 

Benefits

  • A fast, effective way of presenting knowledge to the class.
  • Allows students to practice demonstration skills.
  • Ends up with a physical product that can be photographed and added to the student’s portfolio to prove that outcomes have been met.

Challenges

  • Can be a lazy way to achieve presentation of knowledge. Ensure the focus remains on the content and not the coloring-in or drawing pretty pictures.
  • Not useful for all lessons: when students can create a working model, diagram, etc. this would be preferred.

Example

  1. Have students work in groups to write up their knowledge in a visually engaging way. 
  2. Then, have each group verbally present their poster to the class.

24. Two-Minute Presentation

Definition

Two Minute verbal presentations, like posters, are an effective way of having students demonstrate their knowledge at the end of a lesson or unit of work. Each student gets two minutes to present their knowledge on a topic to the rest of the class.

Benefits

  • An effective, fast way of doing summative assessment.

Challenges

  • It is an inefficient use of other students’ time having them listen to 20 other two-minute presentations when they could be engaging in higher-order learning during that time. Students find it very boring and frustrating to sit through the assessment of other students.

Example

  1. Use the two-minute presentation method for the final lesson in a series of lessons on one topic.
  2. Have students read over their notes from previous classes and write a summary of the top 10 points.
  3. Have students prepare their two-minute presentations by adding the notes to palm cards. With 10 points, students have about 12 second per point!
  4. Ensure students have time to practice with one another and instruct them on how to take additional notes on their palm cards for points they forgot during practice.
  5. If each student has a different topic or angle to present engagement may be enhanced during the class presentations.

25. De Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats

Definition

De Bono’s 6 thinking hats strategy asks students to look at an issue from multiple perspectives. It can be used for groups or individuals. Depending on the hat a student is provided, they have to think from a different perspective.

The Six Hats

  1. White hat: Provide the facts.
  2. Yellow hat: Explore the positives.
  3. Black hat: Explore the negatives (devil’s advocate).
  4. Red hat: Express your feelings and intuitions. Include concerns, dislikes and likes.
  5. Green hat: Be creative. Come up with new ideas and alternatives.
  6. Blue hat: The manager who ensures all the hats are sticking to their lane.

Benefits

  • Helps students to think outside of their own perspectives.
  • Encourages students to attack an issue from many different angles.
  • Teachers group work skills if used in a group.

Challenges

  • I often find it’s hard to get groups of 6, so sometimes one student has to use two hats.

Example

  1. Introduce a contentious topic with a video or reading.
  2. Distribute hats to the students. 
  3. Have students spend some time brainstorming what they would say on the issue from their perspective. If you have a large class, group all the white hats together, red hats together, etc. to work in groups for this part.
  4. Then rearrange students into groups where there is one colored hat per group (groups of 6 is ideal, or 5 with one person taking the role of blue hat as well).
  5. At the end of the class, have a whole group discussion summing up our points and list the details of the topic on the white board. Hopefully students will see that the issue is a very complex one!

26. Pop Quiz

Definition

A pop quiz is a short test that takes place with no prior warning. The quiz can be formative or summative. Link the quiz to rewards to keep students motivated to do well and be prepared at any moment.

Benefits

  • Can be motivating for students who enjoy the challenge of competing with themselves or others.
  • Keeps students on their toes which encourages ongoing review and homework on the part of the students.

Challenges

  • May worry some students who are unprepared.

27. Democratic Vote

Definition

Taking a democratic vote is a progressive education strategy that attempts to empower students in the classroom. Have students vote on what or how they will learn within the classroom. This can be done at a small scale in a lesson plan by asking students to vote on how a lesson will progress, for example.

Benefits

  • Can empower students, giving them a sense of ownership over the classroom.
  • Can build trust and rapport between the students and the teacher.
  • Helps the teacher take the pulse of the class and understand what they want and need.

Challenges

  • Teachers may lose their power and control over the class if they overuse this approach.
  • Just because the majority supports something, it doesn’t mean it’s best. A small group of students may fall behind and have their voices drowned out by the majority.

Theoretical Link

Progressive Education: Progressive educators such as Alfie Kohn advocate for empowering students through increased democracy in the classroom.

For More

See my full post on Citizenship Education.

28. Non-Verbal Gestures

Definition

Using non-verbal gestures are powerful ways to help students learn, as well as to manage the classroom. Educators can explicitly teach signs or use gestures common in society.

Benefits

  • Teachers can give individual students instant feedback that is subtle and does not disrupt the rest of the class.
  • Students feel acknowledged when small gestures are used just for them.
  • It is a non-intrusive way of prompting students.

Challenges

  • Cultural sensitivity required. Different cultures ascribe different meanings to non-verbal gestures.

Examples

  1. Nods of approval can let a student know you have recognized their good work without disrupting the flow of the lesson.
  2. Pointing can be used to direct students’ attention toward prompts around the room or on worksheets that may help stimulate thinking.
  3. Tapping a watch can remind students to pay attention to time limitations of a lesson.

29. Environmental Manipulation

Definition

Environments have a strong impact on learning. Temperature, lighting, seating plans, colors and posters on the walls can all affect learning.

Benefits

  • A non-intrusive way of supporting learning.
  • Helps students feel more comfortable in the classroom.

Challenges

  • Your classroom has limitations which may prevent the ideal environmental settings.
  • Different students may work better in different environments (e.g. heat settings)

Theoretical Link

Humanism: Teachers pay attention to the conditions required for creating an optimal learning environment.

Classical Conditioning (Behaviorism): Students are ‘conditioned’ by cause-and-effect mechanisms that are subtle and that they aren’t even aware of.

For more, see my full post on behaviorism in education.

Example

  1. When a class is too loud, try subtly turning off the fan. It’s amazing how often this small environmental manipulation can quiet down a class.
  2. Ensure the classroom is not too dark. A dark classroom can impede reading, especially for students who do not have perfect eyesight.
  3. Heat and noise can both prevent learning.
  4. Calm colors on the walls can help students relax into the learning environment.

30. Associative Learning

Definition

Associative learning takes place when several ideas are introduced to a student that are mutually reinforcing. In the classroom, this means presenting students with several stimulus materials that help a student to recall a fact.

Benefits

  • Is very effective during revision for an exam.

Challenges

  • Has questionable long-term benefits as at this stage the concept is not yet solidly consolidated in long-term memory. The recall of information is dependant on other associated information.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism (Pavlov’s Dog): Most famously, Pavlov managed to get a dog to associate the ringing of a bell with food. The dog would salivate whenever the bell rang, whether or not there was food around.

Cognitive Constructivism: while associative learning is most commonly associated with Pavlov, constructivists also have an explanation. The more associations someone has with a topic, the more neural pathways are created connecting ideas. This helps improve memory recall.

Examples

  1. The teacher presents students with rhyming pairs to help a student associate one word with another. This can be effective in teaching vocabulary.
  2. When attempting to recall a fact, you can try to reflect on where you were and what else you were talking about when that fact was first introduced to you.

31. Cooperative Learning (Group Work)

Definition

Cooperative learning is a teaching strategy that involves having students work together rather than in competition. Usually, this takes place in small groups where the success of the group is dependant on the students working together to achieve a common goal (also known as positive interdependence).

Benefits

  • Minimizes destructive competitiveness in the classroom which may undermine a collaborative and collegial atmosphere.
  • Requires students to talk to one another which can help them learn from each other’s perspectives.

Challenges

  • Students need to be explicitly taught group work skills before participating.
  • Some students may become lazy and let others do the work for the whole group.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural Theory: Learning is stimulated when students converse with one another. They get to see others’ viewpoints which may help each student build upon or challenge their existing views.

32. Agenda Setting

Definition

The teacher presents the students with the agenda at the start of the day. The use of visual aids may be helpful here, allowing students to see a timeline of the day’s events on the board at the front of the classroom.

Benefits

  • Very effective for students with autism who often feel calmed knowing there is some structure to their day.
  • Helps relax students into a day or even a lesson by giving them certainty about what’s to come.

Challenges

  • Any benefits that may arise lack scientific backing.

Example

  1. Download a card set of images that represent different lesson types and activities. Use this card set to lay out a visual timeline for the students every morning.

33. Team Teaching

Definition

Instead of one teacher delivering a lesson to a group of students, several teachers get their classes together to teach one lesson to a larger group.

Benefits

  • Teachers can be more flexible. One teacher may take the role of presenter while the other acts as a support with students falling behind.
  • Teachers can share the workload, particularly for preparation.

Challenges

  • Large groups may lead to some students falling behind without the teachers realizing.
  • There is the potential for more noise distractions and subversive behavior in large groups.
  • Teachers need to have the same work ethic for this to be effective.
  • Large class sizes required.

Examples

  1. Consider having one teacher take the lead on all mathematics lessons and the other take the lead on all literature lessons. This enables each teacher to become more expert on their topic.

34. Directing Attention

Definition

Directing attention involves diverting students away from negative non-learning behaviors and towards positive behaviors by presenting them with engaging learning materials or ideas.

Benefits

  • Prevents negative behaviors without confrontation.
  • Focuses on creating engaging lessons.
  • Can be done multiple times in one lesson whenever a teacher sees a student is distracted.

Challenges

  • Tends to be more effective with younger children than older children.

Example

  1. Use visual aids, worksheets and manipulatives to help direct and maintain students’ attention on something physical. With adults, I use flipchart paper (also known as butcher’s paper) as the prop to direct attention.

34. Visual Aids

Definition

Visual aids are any objects used in the classroom to attract students’ eyes and therefore immerse them more into a lesson. Visual aids can have both cognitive benefits (see: cognitive tools) and engagement benefits.

Benefits

  • Engagement: students are more likely to pay attention if they have something to look at.
  • Cognition: some students may benefit from visualizing a concept to help them order ideas in their minds.
  • Visual learning: some learners prefer learning visually than aurally (see: learning styles).

Challenges

  • A visual aid needs an educational purpose. Consider why you are using the visual aid before deciding to use it.

Example

  1. Posters
  2. Graphic Organizers
  3. Mind maps
  4. Educational toys (see: Manipulatives)

35. Flexible Seating

Definition

Allowing students to sit where they choose, rather than having assigned seating, has had a resurgence in popularity in the past decade. A flexible seating classroom often has a range of differently organized workstations, allowing students to select a spot to sit that’s most comfortable for them and which best suits the style of learning that will be occuring in that lesson.

Benefits

  • Can reduce sedentary periods of time by allowing students to move around more during a lesson.
  • Enables students to sit at a table that best suits their learning (computer table, group table, individual table, on a bean bag, etc.)

Challenges

  • There is often not enough space at workstations, meaning students end up not actually sitting where they choose.
  • Often students like to have a spot they can call their own. It helps give students a sense of place and belonging.

Example

  1. This approach is very common in the Agile Learning Spaces and Flexible Classrooms movement.

For More

See my full post on the Common Classroom Seating Arrangements.

36. Formative Assessment (a.k.a Assessment for Learning)

Definition

Formative assessment involves assessing students’ learning throughout the learning process, not just at the end. Formative assessments can take place at one point in a unit of work or regularly throughout a lesson.

Benefits

  • Allows teachers to adjust their teaching if students are not quite up to where you expected, or if they are exceeding your expectations.
  • Students get feedback on their progress before the summative assessment, allowing them to adjust.
  • Gives the teacher a better understanding of their students. If a student fails a summative assessment but the teacher knows the student could do the task at the formative stage, more investigation can take place to see why there is a discrepancy.

Challenges

  • Can be time consuming to constantly assess students’ abilities.
  • Formative assessments often lack the authority of summative assessment pieces.

Examples

  1. Formative assessments can be simple stops to get feedback and ongoing questioning of students.
  2. They can also take the form of pop quizzes or student-teacher conferences.

37. Summative Assessment

Definition

Summative assessments take place at the end of a unit of work and are often the formal final / overall grading of a student’s knowledge.

Benefits

  • Summative assessments are necessary for providing a final grade for a student and are often required by school boards.
  • Summative assessments give students something to strive toward which may keep them motivated and encourage them to study.

Challenges

  • They are seen as too high-stakes and can cause stress for students.
  • If a student does poorly, the assessment is right at the end, so the teacher and student often don’t have any more time address the problems and help progress the student’s learning.

Example

  1. Standardized tests.
  2. Assessments for student portfolios.
  3. End-of-year exams.
  4. Entry exams.

38. Gamification

Definition

Gamification involves implementing elements of gameplay in your lessons. This can be as simple as creating a competition out of a mathematics quiz. 

Recently, computer software such as excel and programming languages have been used in the classroom as elements of ‘digital’ gamification.

Don’t confuse gamification with game-based learning, which is discussed next.

Benefits

  • Gamification can make boring lessons fun, thereby increasing the engagement and motivation of students. 

Challenges

  • Teachers must not lose focus on the learning outcomes that must be met. ‘Fun’ is not the goal, it is the means for achieving the goal, which is always learning.

Examples

  1. Get your students into two groups and have them compete in a trivia contest based on your lesson content.
  2. Give students table groups and reward tables with points depending oh how well they do.

For More

See my full article on the pros and cons of digital play.

39. Game-Based Learning

Definition

Not to be confused with gamification, game-based learning involves the use of actual games (board games, computer games, sports games, etc.) into a lesson.

While gamification involves using elements of gameplay into lessons (points, competitions), game-based learning involves using actual games in a lesson.

Benefits

  • Students often love video games at home, so they get excited that they can play them in school as well.
  • Games can also support cognition by prompting students to complete and practice tasks to win games. See also: cognitive tools.

Challenges

  • Parents may feel playing games in the classroom is not acceptable. Make sure parents know your reasoning behind using games.
  • Ensure the focus remains on the learning outcomes, not just on ‘having fun’.

Example

  1. Minecraft is a very popular computer game that is used in classrooms.
  2. Sim City is a popular game for city design courses.
  3. Use card games to teach counting. I teach ESL students counting using the game UNO.

For More

See my full article on game-based learning as well as my explanations about how to use minecraft and sandbox games in the classroom.

40. Coaching

Definition

A coach does not stand in front of players and simply tell them what the ‘facts’ are. A coach stands behind a player. He watches the player and gives feedback on their performance. His job is to encourage, suggest adjustments and be the support network for the player.

Coaching is one of the great metaphors for teaching. A teacher who uses coaching as a strategy tried to emulate the role of the coach: observing and offering support and suggestions for adjustments.

Benefits

  • Student-centered: the student is the focus and the teacher is the supporter.
  • Personalized: each student will get unique feedback based on their performance.

Challenges

  • Sometimes the teacher needs to introduce new ideas, meaning coaching may not be as useful as another approach such as modeling or direct instruction. 

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural Theory: In sociocultural theory, teachers tend to encourage active learning and provide social support.

41. Inquiry-Based Learning

Definition

Inquiry-based learning involves the teacher presenting a problem for the students to solve by making their own inquiries. It is similar to discovery learning, but is different in that inquiry based learning generally involves the teacher setting out a puzzling problem to solve at the start of the lesson.

Benefits

  • Students ‘find’ the answers rather than being given them by teachers.
  • Answers emerge out of exploration,  problem solving and discovery, meaning students learn why something is true, not simply what is true.

Challenges

  • Significant support is required to help guide students through their inquiry. Students need to be taught how to inquire and given the right inquiry tools (such as books, appropriate websites, etc.)

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: Students learn through constructing ideas in their heads rather than being told the facts.

42. Reciprocal Teaching

Definition

Reciprocal teaching involves having students facilitate their own small group lessons. It is usually used in reading lessons. 

The teacher first models how to guide group discussions before sending students off to facilitate their own lesson. In groups of four, students usually take the roles of: questioner, clarifier, summarizer and predictor. Students read stimulus materials then self-facilitate a group discussion about the text.

Benefits

  • Students learn self-regulation learning skills which are essential for later in their lives.
  • When students are trained up, the classes work very effectively and the teacher can fade into the background.
  • Students learn group work, communication and negotiation skills. They also learn how to speak up in a group.
  • Students learn to be mature even when the teacher isn’t looking. By taking on responsibility as ‘teachers’, students should rise to the challenge.

Challenges

  • Requires a lot of pre-teaching so students have the required skills for these sorts of lessons to work.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: working in groups, communicating and sharing ideas help stimulate thinking and encourages students to challenge their own ideas in order to improve them.

Example (Modelled off the I Do, We Do, You Do approach)

  1. The teacher should model the four roles required in front of the whole class, with several volunteers to act as the demonstration group.
  2. The teacher assigns groups and the four group roles: questioner, clarifier, summarizer and predictor.
  3. When students do the activity in small groups for the first time, explicitly walk the students through the steps. Use a bell or similar audible cue to cycle students through the group work steps.
  4. Allow the students to work in independent groups – walk around and help groups who are struggling.

43. Blended Learning

Definition

Blended learning involves a mix of online instruction and face-to-face learning. This strategy can be employed by giving students part of their instruction as homework online and part of it in class. It differs from flipped learning because a flipped classroom involves at-home instruction and in-class practice. Blended learning can have both practice and instruction occuring at home and/or in class

Benefits

  • Gives the teacher flexibility to teach partially during homework time and partially in class.

Challenges

  • Students need access to technology at home unless the at-home parts are only reading and printouts.
  • Usually only suitable for university students who are short on time. Blended learning allows them to do some of the learning in their own time.

Examples

  1. Used regularly for distance learning students and rural and remote students.
  2. Used regularly at university level.
  3. If using this method, I recommend taking a look at the flipped learning model for some ideas of how to split your distance and in-class segments efficiently.

For More

See my List of 10 Pros and Cons of teaching Online.

44. Growth Mindsets

Definition

A growth mindset focuses on teaching students that they have the power to improve and succeed if they put their effort into it. The opposite would be students refusing to try because they don’t think they have the power in their own hands to succeed.

Teaching growth mindsets is all about modelling positive behaviors. Include growth mindset in your lesson plans by finding points in the lesson to discuss specific strategies to move toward success, strategies for studying, and positive thinking.

Benefits

  • Focuses on helping students see that they have ‘agency’ (in other words, they are capable of improving their lives)
  • Motivates students to improve their own lives

Challenges

  • Many students have many barriers to success. If you ignore those barriers and simply say ‘you can work harder’, this will make students feel disempowered. Teachers need to show students the pathways to success.
  • Ensure the content is actually achievable for your students.

Examples

  1. Break down tasks into manageable chunks so that students know the steps toward success. Then, use encouragement to motivate students to put in their effort.
  2. Celebrate success to show students that they are competent and capable.

45. Culturally Responsive Teaching

Definition

Culturally responsive teaching is an instructional strategy that involves ensuring students’ cultures are integrated into lessons. This includes celebrating students’ cultural backgrounds when relevant and using learning styles that are dominant within your students’ cultures.

Benefits

  • Includes children from cultures that have been traditionally marginalized within the classroom.
  • Minimizes the impact of Westernization of education.
  • May make new students from cultures that are different to the majority in the class to feel a sense of inclusion and belonging in the classroom.
  • Helps all students see the world from a variety of perspectives and learn to respect pluralism.

Challenges

  • Teachers need to be sensitive to cultures different to their own.
  • Teachers should consult parents and community members about best strategies for the cultural needs of the students in the class.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: sociocultural theory believes

Examples

  1. Have role models from minority backgrounds come into the classroom to share their backgrounds. 
  2. Consult with parents about ideal teaching methods within their culture.
  3. Avoid nonverbal gestures that have different meanings in different cultures.
  4. Another example: eye contact is considered respectful in Western cultures but acts of defiance in Indigenous Austealian culture.

46. Teaching to Mastery

Definition

Mastery learning and teaching is a strategy for ensuring all students meet a certain standard of understanding or ability before moving on.

Teachers set a benchmark of knowledge 9r ability for students to meet. Then, all assessment in this method is formative, where students are given feedback and as much time as possible to improve before progressing.

Benefits

  • Students are not left behind and gaps in their knowledge are not overlooked.
  • Students may feel less stressed or rushed with this approach.
  • There is no talk of inability or failure in this method as teachers and students keep working away at the task until success is achieved.

Challenges

  • There is not enough time in traditional school systems for this approach.
  • The difference in abilities between students means some students will get a long way ahead while others remain a long way behind.

Theoretical Link

Humanism: there are elements of unconditional positive regard in this approach (see Carl Rogers).

Examples

  1. An example.may be that all students must get 80% on a test to progress to the next unit of work.
  2. This approach is common for getting a “handwriting license” in primary / elementary school.

47. Stimulus Materials and Props

Definition

Stimulus materials are tools that a teacher provides during lessons to spur students into engaging with the lesson or thinking more deeply about the content provided. They include videos, educational toys (manipulatives), worksheets, visual prompts, objects from outside the classroom, and so on.

Without stimulus materials, the classroom feels empty and detached from real life. Bring stimulus materials into the classroom to help students make stronger connections to things going on outside.

Benefits

  • Provides something for students to focus on which can focus students’ minds.
  • Helps students to learn actively if they have the opportunity to touch and manipulate the props.
  • Can inspire and draw-in students at the start of the lesson.

Challenges

  • Stimulus materials can be very expensive.
  • Students can get distracted playing with the materials rather than listening to their peers or the teacher.
  • Students need to learn to share materials.

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: constructivists encourage the use of props so that students can ‘learn by doing’ and be ‘hands on’ in their learning.

Examples

  1. Place several props into a bag. Have the students put their hands in the bag and see whether they can guess what the props are.
  2. Place an unusual prop related to your lesson in the middle of the classroom. Get the students to guess what it is before beginning the lesson.

48. Service Learning

Definition

Service learning involves having students meet learning outcomes while contributing to and ‘giving back to’ their community. This often involves volunteer work, internships and placements within the community where assistance is needed.

Benefits

  • Students can increase their sense of belonging within the community.
  • Connections between learning and life are made explicit in this sort of learning.
  • Learning moves from the theoretical to the practical.
  • Students can come to see how they are connected to a wider ecosystem, and that they have an important part to play in serving that ecosystem for the good of all.

Challenges

  • It can be hard to place all your students in a service learning placement if there are many students to allocate.
  • It may be impractical given safety and security requirements.

Theoretical Link

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory: EST highlights that people are situated within community from whom they get their values and beliefs. By being more connected to the community, students learn who they are and how they’re connected to a society and culture that surrounds them.

Example

  1. Prepare your students in the classroom. Consider having organizers or community members come into the classroom to tell the students what to expect.
  2. Have students write preparatory notes about what the intend to learn, who they intend to speak to, and what their day-by-day goals will be whilst doing the service learning.
  3. Have students complete their service learning / voluntary work in groups or individually.
  4. Meet with the students intermittently during the service learning and have student-teacher conferences on how it is progressing. Intervene where needed.
  5. Have students come together at the end of the project to reflect on what was learnt and how their understanding of their place in the community has evolved. Discuss possible future involvement and engagement in the community to emphasize that community involvement is an ongoing project.

49. Situated Learning

Definition

Invented by Lave and Wegner, situated learning involves learning by being embedded within a professional environment and slowly picking up the ways of doing and speaking within that context. 

It has similarities to other instructional strategies outlined in this article such as service learning and cognitive apprenticeships. However, its defining feature is the slow absorption of knowledge through prolonged exposure to an authentic professional setting.

Benefits

  • Students learn the most important practical information required for a job.
  • Students learn the ways of speaking and behaving that are required within a professional situation.

Challenges

  • Not practical as a teaching strategy in classrooms. It works best as an apprenticeship model for new graduates from university.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: the situated learning approach emphasizes the importance of learning from ‘more knowledgeable others’.

50. Sixty-Second Strategy

Definition

The sixty second strategy involves having students review one another’s work in three steps which take 60 seconds each. The steps are: respond, reflect and review. This usually takes place after a student presentation where the students give a cumulative 3 minutes of feedback and reflection on the presentation. 

The goal is not just to give feedback to the presenter, but for the listeners to also think about how they would have done the presentation and what their own thoughts on the topic are.

Benefits

  • Students learn how to give feedback to others in positive and constructive ways.
  • It is a great way for students to actively engage with other students’ presentations.

Challenges

  • Students need to know how to be positive in feedback and not be hurtful.

Example

  1. Have the student who is presenting their work give their presentation.
  2. The students who watched the presentation have 60 seconds to write their thoughts on the topic that was presented. 
  3. Next, the students have 60 seconds to write down feedback on the presenter’s work. 
  4. Then the students have 60 seconds to provide positive affirmation and praise.
  5. At the end, have the students share their feedback with the presenter in small groups so that the environment is not so intimidating for the presenter.

51. Thumbs Down, Thumbs Up

Definition

Thumbs down, thumbs up is a simple strategy for getting immediate feedback from students. During a lesson, pause after each step to get instant thumbs down, thumbs up feedback on whether students understand the previous step.

If there are thumbs down, the teacher should ask those students if they have direct questions or whether they might want that section to be covered again in different language or more slowly.

Benefits

  • Enables the teacher to gauge students’ reactions in real time.
  • Gives the students an opportunity to give the teacher feedback immediately so that they don’t fall behind or become frustrated.

Challenges

  • If the majority of students give thumbs up but only one or two give thumbs down, this is not endorsement to move on. Rather, the teacher should make sure no students fall behind.

52. Summarizing and Paraphrasing

Definition

For this teaching strategy, either the teacher or student summarizes something someone previously said in their own words in order to ensure they understanding each other without any misconceptions.

Benefits

  • In having a student repeat the teacher’s statement in their own words, the teacher can see whether students actually understand something.
  • In repeating a student’s statement in different language, the teacher can see whether they truly understand what the student means.

Challenges

  • The biggest risk here is in the teacher ‘putting words in the student’s mouth’. This may give the student a free pass.

Examples

  1. The teacher explains a concept, then asks the student to repeat it without using the same words. A pause of a few minutes between the teacher’s explanation and the student’s response can be helpful in preventing the student from directly copying the teacher’s language. As time passes, the meaning should stay but the exact words should be forgotten.
  2. Alternatively, the student makes a statement, and the teacher translates it in their own words and finishes with “Is that what you meant?”

53. Demonstration

Definition

Demonstration involves showing the students a practical example of something that is being learned in class.

The difference between demonstration and modeling is that a demonstration usually: 

  • does not involve explicit explanation of all the steps, and 
  • is usually not followed by students having a go themselves. 

Demonstration (rather than modelling) may be necessary when the concept being demonstrated is dangerous or requires expertise.

Benefits

  • Having something complex or theoretical demonstrated can be exciting to link theory to practice.

Challenges

  • Demonstrations may require expensive field trips or inviting experts and expert equipment into the classroom.

Example

  1. A demonstration could be as complex as going to watch a space rocket launch or as simple as a ranger demonstrating how to use bear spray.

54. Role Modelling

Definition

Role modelling involves demonstrating the requisite behaviors or ideal way of acting within a learning environment. Role modelling has the intention of positively influencing students into copying the teacher’s positive learning behaviors.

Benefits

  • Students are socialized into behaving and learning in socially appropriate ways.
  • A teacher who sets personal high expectations for their own learning will have those high expectations flow on toward the students.

Challenges

  • A teacher needs to be aware that all of their behaviors rub off on students. This means they need to ‘put on their happy face’ despite what’s going on in their private lives.

Theoretical Link

Bandura (Social learning theory): Albert Bandura believed that observation was important in influencing how people will behave and learn. See his famous Bobo doll experiment where children were more aggressive toward a doll when they observed an adult being aggressive toward it.

Examples

  1. Male teachers may role model positive masculinity, such as politeness and respect to all people regardless of gender.
  2. A teacher can be a role model my demonstrating engagement and volunteering within the community, insisting on respectfully welcoming guests when they enter the classroom, or having high regard and respect for reading, learning, and apologizing.

55. Predicting

Definition

Predicting involves asking students to make predictions or ‘guestimates’ before a study is undertaken. The teacher may make a prediction for the students to respond to, or ask students to make predictions themselves.

Benefits

  • It stimulates students to think about the logical flow-on effects of the things they are learning about (such as in science: gravity, momentum, etc.)
  • Students are asked to think forward rather than simply react in the learning environment.

Examples

  1. At the start of a lesson (before introducing too much information), ask students what they think will happen during the lesson.
  2. Show the students a diagram or comic strip demonstrating sequence of events with the last few events missing. Have students fill-in the gaps.

56. Intentional Mistakes

Definition

The teacher inserts intentional mistakes into their teaching materials (such as misspellings in their presentations) or their speech in order to: 

  • Check students’ depth of knowledge,
  • Make memorable teaching moments, or
  • Keep students critically engaged.

Benefits

  • It keeps students on their toes throughout the lesson, particularly during the boring parts.
  • It can make learning into a game if you let the students know to look out for the mistakes in advance. You could also offer a reward for the person who identifies the mistake.
  • It can lead to critical discussion about common mistakes that students make in a topic.

Challenges

  • You may risk having students believe you had made the mistakes intentionally.
  • Students may believe the mistakes are truths and end up believing things that are untrue.

Examples

  1. Create intentional spelling errors in your worksheets and powerpoint presentations.
  2. Mispronounce a word and see if students realize.
  3. Flip two words in a sentence and see if anyone realizes.

57. Reflection-in-Practice / Immediate Feedback

Definition

Immediate feedback is any feedback that takes place during a lesson rather than after a lesson or exam has been completed.

There are two primary types of immediate feedback: feedback from students to teachers, and feedback from teachers to students.

The feedback’s purpose should be to make impromptu changes during the lesson before it is too late.

Benefits

  • Teachers can adjust their teaching methods in the moment to ensure the lesson is a success.
  • Students can adjust the ways they are going about completing a task to ensure it is successful.

Challenges

  • In large groups, one-to-one feedback can be difficult.
  • Teachers need to be able to think on their feet to make immediate adjustments.

Theoretical Link

David Schon’s ‘Reflection in Practice’: According to Schon, successful practitioners reflect in practice rather than just on practice. Reflection in practice requires practitioners to reflect on what they’re doing while they’re doing it.

Examples

  1. Asking for a thumbs up / thumbs down from students to see if they understand something.
  2. Looking over the shoulder at children’s work to see how they’re coming to their conclusions.
  3. Accepting ‘hands up’ questions at any point during an explanation or lecture.

58. Whole Group Class Discussion (a.k.a Circle Time)

Definition

A whole group class discussion gets all students in the class talking to one another in one group. When I use this strategy, I try to get students sitting in a conversation circle. The benefits of students sitting in a circle include:

  • There is a neutral power structure with no one at the head of the discussion.
  • All students can see one another.

Benefits

  • Whole class discussions encourage all students to develop the confidence to share their own views publicly.
  • If the whole class gets into it, there can be a lot of great back-and-forth.

Challenges

  • Often, the loudest and most confident students dominate the discussion.
  • Some students are too shy to speak up.
  • It is easy to embarrass a student, so be careful to be sensitive.

Examples

  1. Use a speaking stick so only one person speaks at a time. The only person who can speak is the person with the speaking stick.
  2. Use discussion circles so that all students can see each other when talking.
  3. If conversation is slow to start, consider asking individual students direct questions.
  4. Use open-ended questioning to force students to answer in full sentences.

59. Concentric Circles

Definition

Concentric circles is a method that builds on the whole group circle time discussion. Students sit in two concentric circles with the inner circle facing the outer circle. The students in the inner circle should be paired one-to-one with a student in the outer circle (like speed dating). 

The teacher poses a question and the pairs are given 60 seconds to discuss the problem. Then, the students from the inner circle rotate one person to the right so they are facing a new partner for the next question. 

Benefits

  • Disagreements about pairing and students working with their friends are resolved because each student gets a turn working with another student.
  • Students get to learn and communicate with other students they don’t usually spend time with.
  • Discussion can help students see perspectives that they did not come up with on their own.

Challenges

  • There needs to be an even number of students in the class so each student has a partner to work with.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: students learn by interacting with others to help them test, challenge and extend their own ideas.

60. Hot Seat

Definition

One student takes the role of a character from a book, history, etc. They dit in front of the class and get interviewed by their classmates. The student must stay in character and answer the questions from the perspective of that character.

Benefits

  • Students explore topics from perspectives other than their own, helping them to develop lateral thinking skills.

Challenges

  • Students need time to research their character and brainstorm their character’s perspectives on various topics before being put in the hot seat.
  • Shy students or students who are not confident with the material may be intimidated by this instructional strategy.

Examples

  1. This strategy can be linked up with strategies like De Bono’s thinking hats where students would answer questions from a particular perspective.

61. Graphic Organizers

Definition

Graphic organizers are visual aids in the classroom designed to help students visualize and conceptualize ideas and their relationships with other ideas. Examples of graphic organizers include flowcharts, mind maps and venn diagrams. Use them to help students think more deeply about topics.

Benefits

  • Very useful for students who are visual learners.
  • Provides a framework for deeper and critical thinking.
  • Provides structure to help students who are unsure of how to proceed with critical thinking.

Challenges

  • Don’t stick to just one framework as the frameworks narrow the scope of thinking in exchange for depth. Mix up your graphic organizers.

Theoretical Link

Cognitive Constructivism: cognitive constructivists such as David Jonassen believe graphic organizers help students to share their cognitive load with the organizer, helping them to organize and sort ideas in their heads more effective.y

Examples

  1. Flow charts 
  2. Mind maps
  3. Venn diagrams
  4. Concept maps
  5. Network or family tree
  6. Spider diagram
  7. Compare-contrast matrix
  8. Continuum
  9. Series of events chain
  10. Cycle map
  11. Character charts

62. Think Pair Share

Definition

This is one of the simplest, most frequently used, but also most effective classroom teaching strategies. Students think about a topic on their own. Then, they pair up with a partner and discuss, compare and contrast their thoughts together. Thirdly, the pair share what they discussed with the whole class.

Benefits

  • Moves students from individual thinking to social thinking in a clear process.
  • Helps students to vocalize their own thoughts in small and large groups.
  • Helps students to see other people’s perspectives by encouraging communication, compare and contrast.

Challenges

  • Students need the confidence to speak up in front of the whole class. I have found some students like to have the comfort of flip chart (butcher’s) paper as a prop when presenting their discussions to the class.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: learning through conversation allows students to see diverse perspectives and therefore improve on their own perspectives.

Examples

  1. Step 1: Think. Students are given 2 minutes to think about the topic on their own and take 5 bullet points on their own.
  2. Step 2: Pair. Students get together in pairs (or groups of 3 if appropriate) to compare and contrast their own ideas. Students discuss the ideas and come up with a collective group of ideas.
  3. Step 3: Share. Each group shares their own thoughts with the whole class. As each group presents, other classmates can challenge ideas or take additional notes to add to their own group’s thoughts.

63. Group Roles

Definition

Assigning group roles when students are doing small group work is another simple instructional strategy to try. There are many group role types to be found online. I tend to use the roles of: timekeeper, moderator, notekeeper, and collector. All students should be equal discussion contributors, and this is managed by the moderator.

Benefits

  • Helps to structure the activity, give students certainty in what they are doing, and reduce the uncertainty from group work.
  • Encourages communication to get students hearing other students’ ideas and perspectives

Challenges

  • Students must be explicitly taught the group roles and need time to practice them.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural Theory: By communicating with peers, students widen their perspectives and (with more knowledgeable peers) have their knowledge scaffolded.

Example

  1. Ensure you model the group roles before beginning the activity. Consider using a fishbowl method by having a sample group sit in the middle of a circle modeling the roles to the rest of the class.
  2. For the class’s first attempt at group roles, structure it very clearly by getting the students to follow a clear step-by-step guide. Slowly release responsibility to students when they are ready.

64. Barometer

Definition

The barometer method gets a measure of students’ opinions by asking them to stand on a line from 0 to 10 (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = unsure or conflicted, 10= strongly agree).

Benefits

  • Students tend to find this a non-intimidating way of sharing their opinions.
  • Can be a good way of getting students talking. Once they stand on the line, you can ask them to explain why they stood where they did.

Challenges

  • It may be beneficial to prevent students from taking a neutral “I don’t know” stance without sufficient defence of this position.

Theoretical Link

Critical theory: The barometer could be paired with critical theory if  students critique assumptions in society with a focus on the perspectives of marginalized groups.

Examples

  1. Introduce a complex or controversial issue through a book, video or class discussion.
  2. Ask students to stand on an imaginary line from 0 to 10 representing their opinion.
  3. Place students into three groups based on their position in the line: agree, unsure and disagree. Have the three groups present their 5 best arguments to the class.

65. Cognitive Tools

Definition

Cognitive tools are educational technologies designed to promote thinking beyond what a student can do without the technology. This might include using wearable technologies to help students map out their own movements to then test their knowledge of geography, use of excel sheets to create financial estimations, etc.

Benefits

  • Educational technologies can help us do things we couldn’t do without them.
  • Can engage students who love computers and technology in learning tasks.

Challenges

  • Teachers must ensure technology use is focused on helping students learn more or at a higher level of critical thinking than if they didn’t have technology.

Theoretical Link

Cognitive Constructivism: this approach, invented by david Jonassen, emphasizes that computer technologies should be used to extend and promote higher-order cognition.

Examples

See my full article: Examples of Congitive Tools in Education.

66. Anticipation / Guestimation 

Definition

Anticipation and guestimation is an instructional strategy designed to get students thinking about the consequences or flow-on effects of actions. Teachers ask students to make predictions based on limited knowledge about a topic 

Benefits

  • Students often have to use mathematics and logical reasoning to succeed in this task.
  • Students are required to be resourceful and seek clues that will show them the possible consequences of action.

Challenges

  • It is important to strike a balance between giving enough information to make informed guesses and not too much information that the students can deduce the full answer. 

67. Silent Conversation

Definition

A silent conversation is a way of getting students to communicate without having them speak up in front of the class. Students write their responses to a prompt on sheets of paper but cannot speak while doing so. They should then also write responses to one another’s points so that they are ‘conversing’ through writing.

Benefits

  • Students who are shy to speak up my be more willing to participate, especially if their written response can stay anonymous.
  • It can often be easier to respond in writing than speaking because students have time to reflect and think about the wording of their response before writing it.

Challenges

  • Only one student at a time can write their response. Consider what other students will be doing during this time.
  • Students must be competent writers.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: we learn and extend our knowledge through social interaction. By seeing others’ points, we can improve or amend our own.

Examples

  1. One way to do this is to have a flip chart paper sheet (butcher’s paper) on a wall with a discussion prompt written above. Have students walk up to the paper intermittently thought a lesson to write responses to the prompt. After the first few students write their responses, the rest of the students must respond not to the prompt but to the answers written by previous students – how can they add to or challenge what someone else has already said?
  2. The second common way of having a silent conversation is to pass a piece of paper around the class and have students write their responses to conversation chains on the piece of paper. 

68. Devil’s Advocate

Definition

A devil’s advocate is someone who argues for an opposing point of view in order to stir up an argument and poke holes in other points of view. The devil’s advocate does not necessarily need to believe the points they are arguing. Either the teacher or students can be the devil’s advocate I’m this teaching strategy.

Benefits

  • Encourages students to see their own blind spots or misunderstandings.
  • Helps students to see a diversity of points of view.
  • Improves students’ debating skills.

Challenges

  • Students and parents may interpret you devil’s advocate position as an attempt to teach unsavory views in the classroom. 

Theoretical Link

Critical theory: A devil’s advocate can help students with skills desirable within critical theory, like seeing views of people who are not commonly heard in society and the capacity to critique dominant narratives in society.

Examples

  1. The teacher can note in their lesson plan moments when they believe there are opportunities to play devil’s advocate role promote debate.
  2. The teacher can give students debating points where one person acts as devil’s advocate and another as the person defending the dominant perspective.

69. Strategic Pauses

Definition

Strategic pauses are one of the most important tools in a teacher’s toolbox of teaching strategies. A strategic pause is a gap between statements to let a point sink in or linger, or to give students a moment to think about an answer before the teacher moves on.

Benefits

  •  

Challenges

  •  

Theoretical Link

Cognitive load theory: Too much information at one time can cause a student to lose track. Time is required for the mind to interpret, sort, stack, save and withdraw information in their mind (‘create cognitive schemata’).

Examples

  1. Pause after a question for 10 seconds before discussing the answer.
  2. If the class has started getting unsettled, often a pause in the teacher’s speaking is enough to settle them again and remind them to re-engage with the learning materials.
  3. Slow speech with sufficient pauses between ‘chunks’ of information (seeL ‘chunking’ strategy) can help students arrange information in their minds appropriately.

70. Chunking

Definition

Chunking involves presenting information in manageable ‘chunks’ to allow students to sufficiently process information before moving on to the next section of a lesson or task. 

Teachers should present only a manageable amount of information to students before giving them a chance to consolidate the information and practice their new knowledge.

Without giving sufficient time to consolidate information before giving new information to a student, the student will struggle to keep up with the information and old information may fall away before it is secured into their memory.

Benefits

  • Less students will be left behind, confused and disillusioned in the classroom if they are given consolidation time.

Challenges

  • There is often not enough time in a crowded school curriculum to chunk information well enough.
  • It is hard to tell how much is ‘too much’ information, and how long is long enough before knowledge is consolidated into memory.

Theoretical Link

Cognitive Overload Theory: If students are given too much information, their mind becomes ‘overloaded’ and they are unable to process more information. We only have a limited amount of working memory space in our minds. See: John Sweller’s cognitive overload theory.

Examples

  1. Only teach two or three key points per lesson.
  2. Provide a lot of discussion and practice time before moving on to presenting new information.
  3. Consistently use formative assessment and reflection in action during the lesson to see when is the ideal time to move on.

71. Snowball Discussions

Definition

Snowball discussions are another twist on the think-pair-share method. For snowball discussions, students start in pairs and share their thoughts and ideas together. Then, the pairs join up with another pair to create a group of four. These four people share thoughts together, compare notes, debate ideas, and come up with an agreed list of points on a topic. 

Then, groups join up again to make groups of eight. The groups of eight compare points and perspectives, then join up to create groups of 16, etc. until it ends up being a whole class discussion.

Benefits

  • An effective strategy for promoting discussion between students. It can be useful for getting students to compare how different groups of students approach points from different perspectives.

Challenges

  • The class group needs to be large (20+) for enough rounds of this strategy to happen.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: social interaction helps students see perspectives that are not their own and challenge their own views. This helps them pick holes in their own points and improve their misconceptions.

72. Homework: Knowledge Consolidation 

Definition

Yes, homework is a teaching strategy! A traditional approach to homework sees it as an opportunity for students to consolidate information that was taught in class. Studying for upcoming exams is often also an important part of homework.

Other homework strategies like flipped classroom are possible – see the flipped classroom discussion earlier in this article.

Benefits

  • Help students to consolidate information learned in class.
  • Ensures students have an opportunity to keep information fresh in their minds and be reminded of information learned in previous months.

Challenges

  • Excessive homework can impede students’ rights to enjoyment, sports and extracurricular activities out of school.
  • Students often do not have support at home if they get stuck.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: repetition over time helps memory retention.

73. Active Listening

Definition

Active listening involves using strategies to pay close attention to what someone is saying. Teachers can explicitly model active listening by giving students strategies like pointing their bodies at the speaker, keeping their eyes on the speaker, nodding when they agree, and putting hands up to ask questions or clarification.

Benefits

  • Active listening encourages respect in the classroom.
  • It could help students to remember better because it minimizes distractions.
  • Students may be more likely to contribute questions if they are paying more attention.

Challenges

  • Some students (such as students with autism) need stress balls, fidget toys, etc to help them concentrate. 

Examples

Examples that show active listening include:

  1. Facing the speaker square-on
  2. Eye contact
  3. Nodding
  4. Asking questions
  5. Repeating, paraphrasing or summarizing the speaker’s statement.

74. Connect, Extend, Challenge

Definition

The “connect, extend, challenge” teaching strategy is a three-step strategy designed to get student thinking about how their knowledge is progressing. 

In step 1, students ‘connect’ what they’re learning to their prior knowledge. In step 2, students think about how the new knowledge ‘extends’ what they already knew. In step 3, students reflect on what ‘challenges’ they still face: what is still confusing to them?

Benefits

  • This is a framework that gets students to explicitly think about how they are progressing in their learning.
  • The clear steps give students guidelines to help them achieve success.

Challenges

  •  

Theoretical Link

Social Constructivism: This strategy has implicit links to Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory. Students look at how their backgrounds impact their thinking, what level they are at, and what is still sitting in their ‘zone of proximal development’ (.e.g what they need to learn next).

Examples

  1. Split a piece of paper into three columns to help students in this task: one column for ‘connect’, one for ‘extend’, and one for ‘challenge’.

75. Create a Headline

Definition

While a seemingly simple activity, this instructional strategy gets students to refine the topic they’re exploring down to one simple sentence that catches the essence of the issue. 

For this strategy, have students come up with a headline for the lesson as if they’re a journalist reporting on the issue at hand. Get them to think about how it can be catchy, explain the problem at hand, and provide an engaging ‘hook’ to draw readers in.

Benefits

  • Helps students identify the key point of a lesson, forcing them to think about what is really important in the lesson.

Challenges

  • Some issues are complex and refining it down to one sentence may risk simplification.

Extension

To extend this activity, have students write a journalistic piece to go under the headline.

76. Lesson Objective Transparency

Definition

Being transparent about a lesson objective is a teaching strategy designed to help students understand the purpose of the lesson. By knowing the objective from the outset, the students are less likely to get confused about the purpose and direction of their lesson.

Benefits

  • Students are aware of the purpose of the lesson, which may make it more relevant.
  • Students can more objectively measure how successful they have been in the lesson.

Challenges

  • Lesson objectives are often worded for adults not children, so the wording may just confuse the students at times.

Examples

  1. Write your lesson objectives on the first slide of lecture slides if relevant.

77. Open-Ended Questioning

Definition

Open-ended questioning involves asking questions that require an elaboration in the response. In other words, it cannot be a question that can be answered with “yes” or “no”.

Benefits

  • Students are required to provide explanations and justifications for the points they make.
  • Teachers get a more detailed appreciation of students’ levels of knowledge.

Examples

  1. Make a habit of using open ended questions when talking to students about their work.
  2. Write all assessment tasks with open ended questions.
  3. Pose open ended questions as stimulus prompts.

78. Fishbowl

Definition

The fishbowl strategy gets a small group of students to sit in a circle in the center if the classroom with the rest of the class sitting in a circle around the group.

The students in the middle of the circle complete a discussion or task as a demonstration for the students observing.

Benefits

  • Teachers can use advanced students in the middle of the group as a way of modeling skills or behaviors for the remainder of the class.
  • More knowledgeable students can model behavior for less knowledgeable students. 
  • Students get a chance at performing in front of others.

Challenges

  • Many students will find doing a task I’m front of their peers intimidating.

Theoretical Link

Bandura’s observational learning: Bandura argues that students can learn from observing the modeling of others.

Examples

  1. Get older students from higher grades to sit in the middle of the fishbowl.
  2. Or, use the fishbowl as the “we do” step in the I do, we do, you do method.

79. Four corners

Definition

Use the four corners of the classroom as different stations for answering questions proposed by a teacher.

The stations may have answers like: strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree. Another example may be periods of time for a history exam: the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s. Or, the corners may have specific answers in the corners related to the questions being asked.

Benefits

  • This activity may be appealing for kinesthetic learners who want to move about to stay engaged.
  • Provides a visual comparison between different views of students in the class. 

Challenges

  • When students head to the corners, the teacher needs to ask students to explain their decisions to ensure depth is achieved in the lesson.

Theoretical Link

Multiple Intelligences: The lesson can help students who are kinesthetic learners.

80. Give One, Get One

Definition

This strategy involves getting students to trade ideas with one another. 

Students write down their answer or thoughts to a TEACHER’S question. Then, they pair up. The students give their answer to their partner and take their partner’s answer. They discuss the differences between and merits of each answer. 

Students then split up and find a new partner to repeat the activity. 

Benefits

  • Writing down an answer ensures all students participate and that all students provide an explicit response.
  • Seeing other people’s answers helps students get a broader perspective on a topic.

Challenges

  • Pre-plan for what to do when you don’t have an even number of students in the class.

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: students learn from their peers through discussion. Discussion can help broaden horizons and allows students to see multiple perspectives on an issue.

Examples

  1. Present a discussion topic or question to the class.
  2. Have each student write down 3 points on a piece of paper to answer the question.
  3. Pair students up to discuss their answers. Get them to consider similarities and differences as well as pros and cons of each answer.
  4. Have students break apart and trade answers in another pair.

81. Brainstorming

Definition

Brainstorming involves asking students to come up with their initial thoughts on an issue. The thoughts do not have to be refined or correct. Instead, the students should use the brainstorming time to get their mind flowing and discussion started. Usually, this activity takes place using flip chart / butcher’s paper.

Benefits

  • A good way to start discussion among students, especially if they don’t know each other well or are shy.

Challenges

  • The students may need to assign some roles to group members. Consider rotating the role of ‘writer’ between students (usually one person writes an idea for the whole group on the brainstorming paper).

Examples

  1. A good way of doing this activity is to place students in small groups and provide them a large sheet of paper to write down all their initial thoughts.
  2. Students can then report all their thoughts back to the class.

82. Expert Jigsaw

Definition

The expert jigsaw method teaching method involves having students split into groups of ‘experts’ and then ‘topics’. 

First, each ‘expert’ group focuses on a sub-area of a topic to develop their ‘expertise’ as a group.

Once the initial group work discussion has concluded, the ‘expert groups’ split. 

The teacher then forms new ‘topic groups’ with one student from each of the original expert groups in the new groups. 

The idea is that each group in the second part of the lesson will have an ‘expert’ on a particular area of a topic. Every expert will be able to contribute their perspective to the group

For example, if the topic is dinosaurs, the initial ‘expert groups’ may get together to discuss separate issues: Group 1 will discuss extinction, Group 2 will discuss bones, Group 3 will discuss diets, and Group 4 will discuss geographical locations.

When the ‘topic groups’ converge, they should contain one expert on extinction, one expert on bones, one expert on diets and one expert on geographical locations. The topic group will therefore have a broad range of expert knowledge to discuss and share.

Benefits

  • Gives each student a sense that they have something meaningful to contribute because they will be an expert on something when converging in the ‘topic’ groups.
  • Encourages collaboration and positive interdependence in group work.

Challenges

  • Requires forethought and organization by the teacher.

Theoretical Link

Social Constructivism: social interaction helps students construct ideas in their minds. Each student gets to hear the expert perspective of another student who is a ‘more knowledgeable other’, while also acting as the more knowledgeable other when it is their turn to share their expertise.

83. KWL Charts

Definition

A KWL chart is a type of graphic organizer that can be used throughout the course of a lesson to help students keep track of their learning.

The chart can be on a simple piece of paper split into three columns: (K) What I already know; (W) What I want to know in this lesson; (K) What I learned.

At the start of the lesson the students can fill out the first two columns. The first column will help the teacher assess prior knowledge. The second column will help the teacher and students guide the lesson by outlining what they want out of it.

At the end of the lesson, the third column can be filled-in: (L) What I learned in the lesson. This helps students reflect on the lesson to show them that they did actually learn something!

Benefits

  • Students can keep track of their own learning.
  • There is physical evidence of what was learned that teachers can use in student report cards and teaching portfolios.
  • It is a good structured tool to help guide a lesson.

Challenges

  • It would be good if there was a fourth column for ‘what I still want to know’ so student can leave the lesson with more questions that can be addressed in future classes.
  • Students sometimes place topics in the (W) What I want to know column that are relevant but not covered in a pre-made lesson plan. This can require the student to get a bit creative in re-arranging their lesson on the fly.

84. SWOT analysis

Definition

A SWOT analysis is a teaching tool used to help students identify their own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

It is often used at the beginning of a term or unit of work to help students self-identify how best to proceed in their studies.

A SWOT analysis starts with a piece of paper split into four quadrants. The top-left has ‘Strengths’, top-right has ‘Weaknesses’, bottom-left has ‘Opportunities’ and the bottom-right has ‘Threats’.

There are plenty of templates online you could download also.

Students then fill out the SWOT sheet, identifying their strengths and weaknesses (e.g. ‘I am organized’ or ‘I am time poor’) and opportunities and threats (e.g. ‘I have the opportunity to work with my peers to improve’ or ‘I have an upcoming swim meet that will take up more of my time’).

Benefits

  • Students are taught to self-assess and plan ahead to avoid upcoming challenges in their lives.
  • Students can balance affirming statements about their own skills with honest recognition of their weaknesses.

Challenges

  • I often find students use generic phrases copied from their neighbors. It’s a good idea to insist on depth of engagement and thinking when doing this strategy.

85. Read Aloud

Definition

Read aloud is a strategy that involves the teacher reading a text out loud to students. The strategy relies on the teacher using strategic pauses, pitch and tone changes, pace and volume changes, and questioning and comments. These reading aloud strategies help students to become more engaged in a lesson and get more out of the reading experience.

Benefits

  • Can be more engaging than getting students to read to themselves.
  • By using strategic pauses and asking questions of students, the text can both be read and analyzed at the same time. This may improve comprehension.

Challenges

  • I’ve found many pre-service teachers get nervous doing this task. Remember that people of all ages love being read to.

86. SIT: Surprising, Interesting, Troubling

Definition

A SIT analysis asks students to list aspects of a lesson that were surprising, interesting and troubling. It is useful following the viewing of a short film or reading a book about a topic that seems bizarre or a fact that is counterintuitive.

Like a KWL chart, you could do this task by splitting paper into three columns: one for ‘surprising’, one for ‘interesting’ and one for ‘troubling’.

Benefits

  • Gets students to take a critical stance and make judgements (particularly for ‘troubling’)
  • Is a good way to take stock of students’ interests in order to create follow-up lessons based on topics the students have already demonstrated concern for.

Challenges

  • The ‘troubling’ part is often hard for students to complete – consider explicitly modeling a sample response before asking students to complete it alone.

Theoretical Link

Critical theory: students can use a SIT analysis to critique the justice or inequality issues presented in a text.

87. Higher Order Thinking

Definition

When writing a lesson plan, it’s often a very good idea to note any time you’re encouraging higher order thinking – especially if there’s a column in your lesson plan for ‘teaching strategies’. This help people reading the lesson plan to see that you’ve been intentional about promoting higher order thinking.

Following Bloom’s taxonomy, higher order thinking usually includes tasks that involve verbs like: Judge Appraise, Evaluate, Compare, Criticize, Assess, Estimate, Deduce, Hypothesize and Generalize.

Benefits

  • Helps a teacher to be more explicit in their language and to ensure a lesson is challenging for students.
  • Ensures students are practicing their critical thinking skills rather than just repeating a teacher’s ‘facts’.

Challenges

  • For higher order thinking tasks, it’s important that you don’t give students the answers. Instead, give them hints, pointers and resources that will help them to come up with the answers on their own.

Theoretical Link

Constructivism: Bloom was a constructivist who believed learning happens when students build knowledge in their mind rather than just copying facts from an authority figure in the classroom.

88. Debating

Definition

Getting students to debate an idea is a great way of getting them to build coherent and logical arguments in defence of a position. It requires them to gather, analyze and sort facts before they present them to an audience.

Benefits

  • Students learn to identify positive arguments on a topic even if they disagree with it, helping them to see things from multiple perspectives.

Challenges

  • Students may require resources to do background research to come up with strong points for or against a position.

Examples

  1. Split the class into two groups and assign each group a position for or against a statement.
  2. Give each group 15 minutes to come up with some arguments for their side of the argument. Each student in the group should have one argument to make for the team. The student writes their argument down on a piece of paper.
  3. Line the two groups of students up facing one another.
  4. Go down the lines getting each student to make their point for or against the position. Zig-zag from one group to the next as you go down the line
  5. Once the students have completed, do an anonymous poll of the class to find out which position is most convincing. For the poll, students do not have to vote for their team’s position.

89. Note Taking (Cornell Method)

Definition

Note taking involves getting students to actively listen out for key points in a speech or video and synthesize it into key points for remembering later.

A popular framework for not taking is the Cornell method. This involves splitting a page into two columns. 

The column on the left is a ‘Cue’ column. In the cue column write key words, phrases or Quotes as if they were headings or headline points to remember.

The column on the right is the note taking column. This column is larger and allows space to add detail and diagrams explaining the ‘cues’ that were written on the left in more detail.

Benefits

  • Turns passive learning during a didactic explicit instruction lesson into a more active learning environment.
  • Helps students organize and synthesize their thoughts. 
  • Helps with studying for exams later on.

Challenges

  • Teachers may talk too fast for students to take detailed notes. Remember to use strategic pauses and remind students at strategic times that they need to be taking notes.

Examples

  1. Feel free to download cornell method worksheets off the internet. Just look for them on your favorite search engine!

90. Lesson Recording

Definition

Recording a lesson involves using either video, audio or Screencast technology to save the lesson for revision later on.

Benefits

  • This method is very useful for students with learning disabilities who may require more time to process information. They can rewatch later on and make use of pause, rewind and slow functions during the revision.
  • Great for when students miss a day so they can catch up.

Challenges

  • Whenever you work with technology, be prepared for issues to arise that may delay the lesson.

Examples

  1. Use Screencasts when teaching a lesson online.
  2. Screencasts can also save your work when writing on an Interactive Whitenoard. Revision at a later date will show the steps you took in doing the ‘working out’.

91. Word Wall

Definition

Word walls are sections on the walls of a classroom where teachers and students can record new vocabulary, quotes or key terms they encounter during a unit of work.

Benefits

  • Word walls can be visible evidence of progression through a unit.
  • Students can refer to the word walls when trying to explain their points and ideas to the class.

Challenges

  • During exams, remember to cover the word walls so students can’t cheat by looking over at the answers.

Examples

  1. Word walls can be great props for refreshing students’ memories at the start of a lesson. Start the lesson by reviewing the vocabulary learned in the previous lesson.

92. Goal Setting

Definition

Goal setting involves explicitly instructing students on how to set short (within a lesson), medium (within a unit of work) and long term (through the year) personal targets for success.

The goals can be for a whole group or individual. 

Benefits

  • Goal setting gives students something to strive toward.
  • It is a way of gamifying education. Students can challenge themselves to reach their step by step goals.
  • It helps students understand where they are headed and what the purpose of the lesson is.

Challenges

  • Ensure goals are achievable lo that students do not become disillusioned. 

Examples

  1. Have students prepare their daily goals at the end of the previous day or start of the current day.
  2. Reflect on medium term goals weekly.

93. Worked Examples

Definition

A worked example is a completed piece of work that students can look to as models for their own work.

A worked example could be a sample of a completed diagram our 3D model, a completed essay or anything else that is a finished product of something the students are about to attempt.

Benefits

  • Students feel more secure knowing what they are working toward.
  • Students can get ideas from the worked sample that they can adapt for their Ken work.

Challenges

  • Sometimes students copy the sample too closely rather than using their own thinking. Consider using a sample that requires similar skills and processes but a different end product.
  • Make sure you spend time discussing the steps it takes from going from nothing to the completed product.

Examples

  1. Provide students with past examples of creative writing pieces and discuss the strategies used by the authors.
  2. Show samples that are good and poor. Get students to discuss how the poorer samples could be improved.

94. Multiple Intelligences

Definition

Students have different learning styles (or more accurately, different learning preferences).

One theory proposes that there are eight ‘intelligences’. A student may have one that is dominant and others that are weaker.

The eight intelligences are:

  • Visual-Spatial: Prefers learning through images and visual arts. Uses diagrams to model relationships between concepts. 
  • Linguistic-Verbal: Prefers learning through storytelling, reading and writing.
  • Interpersonal: Good at working in social situations, gets energy from social interaction, and can empathize with others easily. Enjoys group work.
  • Intrapersonal: An introverted person who prefers learning alone. They do a lot of thinking and reading but mostly like to think through things in their own time.
  • Logical-Mathematical: Sees patterns easily. Enjoys mathematical puzzles.
  • Musical: Enjoys learning through music, songs and rhymes.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: Learns through movement. Prefers lessons that require moving about.
  • Naturalistic: Has an affinity with nature. Learns well in calm natural environments.

A teacher can integrate different activities into a lesson plan that appeal to different people’s learning preferences. In this way, they create a more inclusive classroom for multiple different types of learners. 

Benefits

  • Inclusion: Teachers can use this theory to engage students who do not learn well in traditional lessons.
  • Attempts to be student-centered and teach in ways that are appealing to students. 

Challenges

  • In 2004, a detailed study in Scotland found no evidence or scientific toxic basis for the theory that different people have learning styles. Furthermore, it argued that the 8 styles in the multiple intelligences model were a arbitrarily contrived. Thus, learning styles may simply be learning preferences.
  • It is unclear whether a teacher should create lessons catered to a student’s learning preference or help students strengthen their skills in areas students identify as their weaknesses.
  • If students are not given a chance to practice all “styles” (not just their preferences) they may miss important skills, such as mathematical skills or literacy skills.

Theoretical Link

Howard Gardner: The theory of multiple intelligences was invented by Howard Gardner in the United States.

95. Non-Interventionism

Definition

Non-interventionism involves a teacher taking the role of ‘unobtrusive observer’ while students learn. The students are left to come to their own conclusions, face up to their own challenges, and ‘struggle’ through the lesson. 

The teacher’s intervention may come through changing what they plan for the next lesson based on what they see, or lightly intervening after the students have struggled for some time.

Other reasons for intervention may be for safety or fairness reasons.

Benefits

  • Struggling to find an answer is Important for learning. Students can make mistakes and learn why the mistakes are wrong instead of just being told what us correct. 
  • Without a teacher imposing their views, students can come up with creative and thoughtful solutions to problems that the teacher dis not foresee.
  • Students develop independent minds.

Challenges

  • Many parents and mentors watching your lesson may come away with a sense that you were lazy or did not do enough to help the students. This approach needs to be clearly explained and justified in lesson plans (I’d recommend referring to Montessori in your justification) and situations when you would go from observer to intervener should be spelled out in advance.
  • If students are struggling too much, learning may not occur – there is a limit to this approach!

Theoretical Link

Montessori Classrooms: The role of the teacher as “unobtrusive observer” was pioneered by Maria Montessori. 

Montessori argued that children learn best when placed in resource rich environments and left to explore. Our interventions may impede creativity, self-belief, autonomy and self-discovery.

96.Constructive Alignment

Definition

Constructive alignment involves explicitly linking the lesson assessment tasks to the compulsory learning outcomes in the curriculum.

This is an impressive thing to see in a lesson plan.

Use language (including verbs and nouns) from the learning outcome in the assessment task. Furthermore, make sure to provide a criteria for what constitutes pass or fail.

Benefits

  • Teachers can easily justify their lesson choices to their boss or assessor.
  • The assessment tasks are always relevant and focused.
  • Students can see the relevance of the assessment task to their learning goals.

Challenges

  • If the language of the curriculum objectives are complex or obtuse, it may just confuse students to use that language in their assessment task.

Theoretical Link

Biggs: Constructive alignment was invented by John Biggs who designed this method to ensure all lessons are relevant and move students a step closer to completing all learning outcomes.

97. Zone of Proximal Development

Definition

The ‘zone of proximal development’ is a phrase used to explain the ideal difficulty level for a lesson.

A lesson that is too easy won’t help a student progress.

A lesson that is too hard will disengage a student who just won’t be able to do the task.

But a lesson that is difficult but achievable with effort will push a student forward. These lessons that are just hard enough but not too hard are lessons in the “zone of proximal development”.

Benefits

  • Students get lessons catered to their own needs.
  • There is always catered support for any student in the class.
  • By creating lessons that are always challenging, you are setting high expectations for all students.

Challenges

  • Differentiation like this can lead to bug Differences in ability levels across the whole class.
  • You’re often under pressure to teach content that is too hard for students to meet standardized curriculum requirements 

Theoretical Link

Sociocultural theory: Lev Vygotsky, one of the most famous educational psychologists, invented this approach to help teachers provide lessons that are at the right level for progressing a student’s learning.

Examples

  1. Weave the ZDP into a lesson plan by stating that you will assess a student’s current ability then teach them the thing that is the logical next.step.
  2. Another way to do this is create three student worksheets for three different ability levels. State in your lesson plan that you will assess each student’s ability and give them the appropriate worksheet. Each worksheet should build on the previous to help students move through their ZPD one step at a time.

98. Positive Reinforcement

Definition

Positive reinforcement is the use of praise, stickers, candy or other rewards to show students that they have done a good job.

Teachers can stack positive reinforcements so students can take steps to get small, medium and large rewards to encourage students to keep on trying and working hard consistently.

Benefits

  • Students get clear signals to know when they have done well.
  • Students get encouragement to keep going and keep trying in order to get the reward.

Challenges

  • Too much positive reinforcement can come across as insincere and lose students’ respect. Furthermore, students may become desensitized to praise if it occurs too much. Praise ‘scarcity’ makes occasional praise more valuable.
  • Explicit reinforcements are extrinsic motivation. The best sort of motivation is intrinsic motivation (wanting to do something for the pleasure of doing it). For more, see my full guide on intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Positive reinforcement is believed to be beneficial for changing behavior over time. See: John Watson’s operant conditioning theory.

Examples

  1. Sticker charts
  2. Praise
  3. A subtle nod or wink
  4. Certificates and awards
  5. A smile

99. Negative Reinforcement

Definition

Negative reinforcement involves the removal of a privilege, points or tokens when a student gets an answer wrong.

This is often confused with punishments. For me, negative reinforcements should not punish but be used in limited learning scenarios as part of the learning ‘game’.

An example might be losing points in a gamified lesson so the student is less likely to win against their opponents. Students know it is part of the game and not a punishment designed to distress the student. 

Benefits

  • Provides very clear messages to students about what is correct and incorrect, helping them to learn quickly.

Challenges

  • Parents often do not like any negative reinforces, so be very careful to set clear guidelines and use this strategy in limited circumstances.
  • Be careful not to embarrass students in front of their classmates.

Theoretical Link

Behaviorism: Watson brought negative reinforcements into education, arguing that repeated use of them can change students’ behaviors.

Examples

  1. Losing points in a class contest.
  2. Failing a level in an educational computer game.

100. Drop Everything and Read

Definition

Drop everything and read (DEAR) involves getting students to stop what they are doing and read for 10 minutes.

It is a strategy that helps build students’ literacy skills (especially when students can choose their own book). However, it is also useful for helping students get more depth of knowledge on a topic being taught when you give them all an article or book to read to help them have more knowledge for subsequent parts of the lesson.

Benefits

  • An effective way of getting students to spend intense time learning about a topic.
  • Helps integrate literacy into your daily activities.

Challenges

  • There will always be a small group of students who squirm and struggle when asked to read. Consider alternatives like the Read Aloud strategy or using videos instead if DEAR doesn’t work for your class.
  • Make sure to follow up DEAR time with discussion and comprehension tasks.

Example

  1. Introduce a topic with initial information to engage the class.
  2. Set a 10 minute silent reading task based on the topic. 
  3. Discuss what was read with comprehension prompts.

101. Gallery Walk

Definition

A gallery walk involves a teacher placing stimulus questions on flip chart paper (butcher’s paper) around the walls of the classroom.

The charts the teacher has put up are stations that students will stop at during the activity.

The teacher places students into groups. If there are 5 stations around the room, the teacher will create 5 groups.

Students get a set amount of time at each station to read the prompt questions. The students can write on the chart paper with their group response and also respond to other groups who have already written their points.

Once all students have rotated through the stations, the students end up back at the station where they began. The teacher the. gives each group 3 minutes to present to the class a summary of the comments written on the paper at their station.

Benefits

  • Students get to learn from others and see other groups’ responses. 
  • The students are up and moving about which may help the concentration of bodily-kinesthetic learners. 

Challenges

  • Some students may not participate fully. Consider getting students to rotate who writes on the paper at each station to mitigate this challenge a little.

102. Metacognition

Definition

Note whenever you would encourage metacognition in a lesson within your lesson plan. This will help anyone reading it know that you’ve thought about giving students strategies for “thinking about thinking”.

Metacogntion is about thinking about how you think. Strategies include:

  • Thinking aloud
  • Writing your steps to reach an answer
  • Explaining your thought processes
  • Reflecting on your learning and considering faster ur more efficient processes

Benefits

  • Helps students understand the processes required for thinking deeply about an issue.
  • Gives students the strategies and skills to learn any task, not just the ones at hand. 

Challenges

  • Metacognition is difficult because it requires explanation of your thinking. However, it is necessary if people want to know how to think.

103. Case Studies

Definition

Case studies are in-depth examples of an issue being examined. A case study should show how an issue or theory looks in real life. Teachers can present case studies through videos, newspaper articles, magazine articles, guests coming into the classroom, etc.

Benefits

  • Case studies help students to see how theories and ideas look in real life. This can also help a student understand the relevance of the topic being studied.
  • A case study may help students make sense of a complex idea by putting it in real concrete terms.

Challenges

  • Case studies might not be representative of a generalized issue – they may be outliers or flukes. Pick your case study carefully and discuss whether it is a typical or outlier sample.

Examples

  1. A case study of city planning may be an innovative city that has recently been designed.
  2. A case study in mathematics may include looking at the mathematics underpinning a famous bridge’s construction.
  3. A case study during a unit of work on refugees might look at the experiences of one real-life refugee.

104. Mystery Making

Definition

Educators can create ‘mystery’ in their classroom by carefully structuring lessons that give ‘clues’ to a mystery that needs to be solved by the students. Ask the students to act as detectives and place clues around the classroom (like a gallery walk). Have students move around the classroom taking notes on the mystery which will reveal an answer after thorough investigation.

Benefits

  • Creates a sense of excitement in the classroom, helping students to engage.
  • Forces students to use critical, logical and lateral thinking in order to find the answer.

Challenges

  • Ensure the mystery is not too far outside a student’s zone of proximal development so that the mystery can be solved.

105. Storytelling

Definition

Storytelling in the classroom involves teaching through narrative-style stories rather than telling (‘didactic learning’). Teachers can tell stories by reading books (see: Read Aloud strategy), turning a dry explanation into an allegorical story off the cuff, or bringing people into the classroom who have an engaging personal story to tell.

Benefits

  • Stories can draw students into a topic through the creation of a sense of excitement and entertainment.

Theoretical Link

Steiner-Waldorf Schools: Rudolf Steiner called the teacher the ‘chief storyteller’ whose role is to create a sense of enchantment around learning through stories.

Examples

  1. Invite guests into the classroom who have stories to tell.
  2. Use stories that have a moral of the the story, then analyze the moralistic message.

106. Newspaper Clippings

Definition

Use newspaper clippings to link topics and theories to current affairs. Teachers can bring in recent newspapers to let students search through them for relevant stories or use old newspapers to search for how a topic was discussed in the past. Alternatively, teachers can get students to search for newspaper articles online.

Teachers could also assign reading through newspapers and bringing newspapers to class as a part of their homework.

Benefits

  • Newspaper stories can show students how the topic being discussed plays out in real life.
  • They also show students how the topic is relevant to the present-day lives of people in the community,

Challenges

  • Newspapers are increasingly uncommon – consider adjusting this to use online news sites and printing out articles from the web.
  • Some topics won’t have relevant news articles associated with them. Do a search in newspapers and online yourself for articles before using this teaching strategy.

107. Self-Paced Learning

Definition

Self-paced learning involves.letting students progress from activity to activity in their own time. For this approach, a teacher lays out a list of 10 – 20 lessons that students can work on at their own pace. Students work on the activities while the teacher walks around and gives support.

Benefits

  • Students are encouraged to reflect on their own learning development and only move on when they are confident that they have consolidated the knowledge from an assessment.
  • Less students will fall behind if the teacher doesn’t pressure them to move on.
  • Teachers have time to work one-on-one with students while students work away at student-led tasks.

Challenges

  • Fast students will need extension tasks or personal projects to complete once they have finished and are waiting for slower students.
  • There is often not enough time for slower students to finish.
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Chris Drew, PhD (aka The Helpful Professor)

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