Academic Action Plan: Best Instructional Practices Handbook

Contributed by:
Jonathan James
The highlights are:

1. Gradual release of instructions
2. Objectives and standards
3. Procedures and learning climate
4. Literacy strategies across content areas
5. Mathematics
6. Rigor
7. Engagement
8. Differentiation
2. 2. Coaching 3. Data Use
Each building will select five (from below) to be-  First Semester—an average of ten coaching visits  Formative, interim, and summative student assess-
come their school-wide practices. per week will be completed by building leadership. ment results will be analyzed and used to identify
 Second semester—an average of five coaching visits the areas of success and challenges needing focus.
1) Hand Raising without call outs or talk overs
per week will be completed by building leadership.
2) Attention Getting and Non-Verbal Techniques  Appropriate strategies aligned to the identified focus
 Five-Minute Feedback—going deeper with dialogue,
3) Giving Directions Explicitly and Visually areas will be identified, implemented, and monitored
should be the focus of coaching feedback to teach-
4) 2 x 10 Positive Connections to ensure continuous improvement for all students.
ers. Five-Minute Feedback always includes a reflec-
5) Repeat the Request / Delayed Response tive question.  Short and long term goals will be established to
6) Engagement Techniques ensure identified strategies are implemented and
 Document weekly coaching visits using the new
7) Transitions Every 20 Minutes digital coaching tool in Office 365. effective.
 Principals should focus on the following Best Instruc-  Additional data will be examined to understand its
8) Teach and Pause
tional Practice Handbook Priorities during coaching: relationship to academic outcomes.
9) Finished Early Activities
1. The OPS Instructional Framework:  Gradual Release of Instruction
10) Readiness Wall
 Procedures and Routines
GRADUAL RELEASE OF INSTRUCTION *MTSS-B schools should continue using their schoolwide
 Literacy/Numeracy Strategies Tools to Support the
 Engagement
To be used daily in all classrooms. Behavioral Matrix. Academic Action Plan
 Coaching visits are optional for teachers during an
 Modeled: Teacher explains and models the strat- appraisal year.
egy and content indicating how it relates to current  No coaching visits provided for teachers on plans of
Find all of these resources in
learning needs and prior knowledge. Students are in LITERACY STRATEGIES ACROSS support. the Instructional Leadership
whole group or small groups.
THE CONTENT AREAS  Nationally, high performing principals spend 50% of Share Point Site on Office 365:
 Shared: Teacher encourages student participation by their time in classrooms.
using engagement activities (response cards, white The following are high yield literacy strategies that increase  Principals will create time in their coaching schedule
 Best Instructional Practices Handbook
boards, clickers) and by asking questions to check for student achievement in all subject areas and grade levels. for monthly leadership team calibration by visiting  Coaching Tools
mastery. Students are in whole group, small group or 1) Six Step Vocabulary classrooms together for inter-rater reliability and  Professional Development Curriculum
pairs (elbow partners). Teacher checks for understanding 2) Think Alouds school wide data analysis. Instruction Support
and re-teaches as needed. 3) Reciprocal Teaching*  Principals will debrief weekly or every other week with
 School Improvement Planning tools
 Guided: Teacher provides small group instruction at 4) Note-making (Combination and Cornell)* their leadership team about coaching visits to inform
students’ instructional level so that students practice 5) Preview of Text Structures and Features and improve the building level professional develop-
using the strategies with the content. Teacher offers ment and teacher support. Click on the “waffle”
6) QAR (Question Answer Relationship)*
support by prompting, questioning and guiding with ex- 7) Comparison Matrix*
tensive descriptive feedback and re-teaching individually 8) Non-linguistic Representation
and in small group. 9) Sustained Silent Reading* NUMERACY STRATEGIES
 Independent: Students work independently applying 10) Oral Discussions/Argumentative Discourse*
what they have learned across a variety of situations. 11) Quick Writes* 1) Daily Cumulative Review
Students work with the content using the strategies to 12) Meta-cognitive Writing Prompts 2) Multiple Representations
make meaning and complete tasks without support or 13) Summary Writing* 1
3) Multiple Methods
prompting. 14) Think, Ink, Pair, Share* 4) Number Sense
15) Four Square/Step Up to Writing* 5) Literacy/Language-Rich Mathematics Classrooms
Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum 16) RAFT (Role, Audience, Format, Topic)* 6) Mathematics Embedded in Real-World Contexts
 A guaranteed and viable curriculum ensures that students 17) Analogies and Metaphors 7) Formative Assessment
receive the same content in a course or grade regardless of 18) Advance Organizers
which school they attend or who they have for a teacher. 8) Deliberate and Detailed Planning
19) Text Tagging*
9) Math Fact Fluency
 Curriculum refers to a common set of topics, concepts, and 20) Frayer Model
texts aligned with the content standards.
 This common curriculum is the material taught by teachers of *Text Dependent Analysis occurs using any of the 2
the same course or grade level. above strategies when students cite evidence. 3
Curriculum and Instruction Support
 District Pacing Guides outline what should be taught, when, and Dr. ReNae S. Kehrberg Academic
for how much time. Assistant Superintendent Action Plan
 Adherence to District Pacing Guides ensures that the intended 531-299-0243
curriculum is the taught curriculum.
 Student objectives/learning goals are based on the content Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, citizenship status, or economic status in its programs, activities
and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to address inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools,
standards which are included in the District Pacing Guides. 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (402-557-2001).
3. Table of Contents
Section 1 Gradual Release of Instruction Page 1
Section 2 Objectives/Learning Goals and Standards Page 3
Section 3 Procedures and Routines/Learning Climate Page 5-10
Section 4 Literacy Strategies Across Content Areas Page 11-17
Section 5 Mathematics Page 19-24
Section 6 Rigor Page 25-26
Section 7 Engagement Page 27-28
Section 8 Differentiation Page 29-31
Section 9 Assessment/Common Grading Practice Page 33-35
Section 10 21st Century Skills (Technology Integration) Page 37-38
Section 11 Balanced Literacy Page 39-42
Section 12 Early Childhood Page 43-62
Section 13 English Language Learners Page 63-69
Section 14 Science Page 71-77
Section 15 Lesson Planning Page 79-81
Section 16 Super 3+ and Big 6+ Research Inquiry Models Page 83-84
Color Legend
Good for all students
Good for all students; optimal strategy for culturally responsive teaching
Good for all students; optimal for students with learning needs (i.e., Special Education, English Language Learners)
4. District Coaching Models
30 Second Feedback 5 Minute Feedback with Dialogue
This is a culture builder that allows the instructional leader to provide short bursts of This a brief dialogue, accompanied by observed artifacts that identify a specific teaching
positive reinforcement that link a specific teaching practice to a specific learning practice, feedback. An open-ended reflective question, generally starting with Why…?,
outcome. This strategy works well at the beginning of the school year and with new then How…?, and concluding with What if…? These questions stems are used to initiate
staff. This feedback builds relationship and trust. the dialogue and encourage the teacher to reflect on his/her practice.
5 Minute Feedback – Going Deeper Instructional Coaching
This is 5 minute feedback with dialogue that is used to illustrate a missed opportunity – This is a proactive method for adding an element to a teacher’s future practice.
not a mistake; it is an episode of teaching that could have been even more effective by Instructional coaching should be used to teach fundamental, important concepts and
going farther in a direction the teacher was already headed. Follow up with the teacher practices, such as new pedagogical practices and/or substitute effective practices for
is a key piece of ensuring the teacher has incorporated the missed opportunity into ineffective practices. This conversation seeks to directly improve instruction by adding
his/her practice. effective practices to a teacher’s toolbox. These conversations may occur with an
individual teacher, elementary grade level team, middle school team, or high school
department. Follow up should include additional coaching visits and conversations to
increase the likelihood that the effective practice will be implemented immediately.
The Three Essential Questions (for students) during coaching:
1) What are you learning today?
2) How do you know when you are proficient?
3) What would you do if you needed help?
5. Section 1: Gradual Release of Instruction
The Gradual Release of Instruction includes: Modeled, Shared, Guided and Independent Practice. It is a flexible delivery model to be used for classroom instruction in all subjects
PreK-12. These four stages are often repeated throughout the lesson (especially the modeled and shared stages which may have several cycles during the lesson). Formative and
summative assessments are embedded throughout the Gradual Release of Instruction with reteaching as needed.
Sample Teaching Strategies
• Modeled Instruction Page 1
• Shared Instruction Page 1
• Guided Practice Page 1
• Independent Practice Page 1
Effect on Student Learning and Achievement
• Moving from modeled (lecture) to independent (assignment) actually results in a slight decrease in student achievement.
• Checking for understanding during shared instruction allows high performing teachers to adjust and reteach if needed. Reteaching immediately
corrects misunderstandings and provides another exposure to new content that increases understanding, comprehension and achievement.
• Descriptive feedback (during guided practice) informs students of what they know or don’t know and how to improve on what they may not know.
Descriptive feedback is ranked as one of the most powerful instructional best practices available to raise student achievement for learners of all
6. Reflective Question Scenarios for Missed Opportunities
Section If you see this… You could say this…
Teacher does not I noticed you were teaching new content during the modeled instruction portion of the lesson. Specifically, you used lecture to
incorporate literacy and/or present the new content. Modeled instruction should make learning visible and give students a concrete model of expected learning.
engagement strategies It may have been helpful to provide a demonstration of the strategy with the use of a think aloud or sample problem. What other
during modeled instruction strategies do you find effective and engaging when providing modeled instruction? How do you keep modeled instruction
to 5-7 minutes?
Gradual Release of Instruction
Teacher does not check for During shared instruction I observed student discussion with elbow partners. Shared instruction allows teachers to check for
understanding to help understanding so that they can re-teach immediately on student understanding. Specifically, you asked students to tell their elbow
adjust instruction partner what they learned. It may have been helpful for you to provide a more specific discussion prompt for students to discuss with
their elbow partner. This would have allowed you to move around the room checking for understanding of the concept they were
discussing, and then adjust your lesson based on their understanding. Share some ways you can check for understanding to
help you adjust your instruction.
Teacher does not provide Throughout my visit you were facilitating small group instruction at students’ instructional levels. The goal of guided instruction is to
descriptive feedback during provide informal, descriptive feedback to increase learning. Specifically, you asked students to practice the new strategy they
small group instruction learned earlier and then provided general feedback to the entire group at the end. It may have been helpful to provide feedback to
(guided instruction) individual students throughout the small group session so that they know specifically what they are doing correctly and incorrectly.
What are some ways that you can provide descriptive feedback to individual students during guided instruction?
Teacher does not provide For independent work I saw you give students a worksheet of practice problems. The goal of independent practice is for students to
authentic, independent apply what they learned earlier in the lesson across a variety of situations. Specifically, you asked students to complete both the
learning tasks to students front and back of a worksheet that mainly included low-level tasks. It may have been helpful to have students complete an activity
after instruction that would help them make meaning such as summary writing activities. What other types of independent work could you give
to students to help them make meaning during independent practice?
Say no to “YES, NO” questions!
7. Gradual Release of Instruction and Lesson Planning 1
Teaching Strategy Description Effect on Student Learning and Achievement
Modeled instruction Teacher explains and models the strategy and content indicating how it relates to current • When the teacher uses modeled instruction, it makes
Teacher doing the work learning needs and prior knowledge. Students are in whole groups or small groups. learning visible, gives student a concrete model of expected
Teacher provides a demonstration of a strategy or new content with examples such as: learning, and fosters meta-cognition
• think alouds • rubric review
• sample problems • chunking
• Cornell notes
Shared instruction Teacher encourages student participation by asking questions to check for understanding. • Because shared instruction allows teachers to check for
Teacher and students doing Students in whole group, small group or pairs (elbow partners). Teacher checks for understanding, teachers can re-teach immediately based on
the work together understanding and re-teaches as needed. student understanding
Teacher uses examples such as: • Nothing increases achievement more than descriptive
• extensive questioning • response cards feedback during shared and guided practice
• anticipation guide • whiteboards
• predicting • thumbs up
• skimming and scanning • A/B partners
• pair and share partners • comparison contrast matrix
• quick writes • higher level questions
Guided practice Teacher provides small group instruction at students’ instructional level, so that students • Student learning increases when the teacher provides
Students doing the work practice using the strategies with the content. Teacher offers support by prompting, informal descriptive feedback to the small groups of students
with teacher support questioning and guiding with extensive descriptive feedback and re-teaching individually and or as she or he moves about the classroom. For example,
in small group. students may be divided into three small groups so they can
Examples: rotate through stations (independent cooperative learning
station, technology or silent reading/writing station, and
• stations • reciprocal teaching teacher led “coaching”). It is ongoing, unobtrusive, formative
• cooperative learning • higher level questions assessment that provides descriptive feedback to the
• labs • games students in small groups or individually
• conferencing • word study activities
• differentiated activities • writing and discussion as appropriate
Independent practice Students work independently applying what they have learned across a variety of situations. • Successful independent application of modeled instruction is
Students doing the work Students work with the content using the strategies to make meaning and complete tasks the goal. When students are able to select from, and
without support or prompting. appropriately use varied strategies independently, they are
Teacher has the students involved in literacy strategies such as: exhibiting meta-cognitive behavior
• writing activities • oral presentations
• independent reading • homework
• lab project summaries • research
• summative assessments • exit slips
This is a flexible delivery model to be used for classroom instruction in all subjects PreK-12. These four stages are often repeated throughout the lesson (especially the modeled and shared stages
may have several cycles during the lesson). Formative and summative assessments are embedded throughout the Gradual Release of Instruction with reteaching as needed.
Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2014). Better learning through structured learning: A framework for the gradual release of responsibility. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
8. 2
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
Section 2: Objectives/Learning Goals and Standards
Content objectives are learning goals that are specifically identified. Objectives are written on the board, specifically stated and measurable, referred to in the lesson, and reflect the
content standard. The lesson aligns with the objective. The objective is the learning goal that defines what the students are learning not just what the activity is that the students may be or
will be doing. For example: The objective/learning goal is to have students define and use the steps to solve two part equations. The activity might be to write out the steps needed to solve
the two part equation followed by doing the computation to solve the equation.
Sample Teaching Strategies
• Objective learning goal written in student-friendly terms Page 3
• Objective/learning goal restated by students Page 3
• Objective learning goal referred to in the lesson Page 3
• Objective learning goal clear and measureable Page 3
• All learning activities and assignments are aligned with objective(s) and standards Page 3
• Objective/Learning Goal “Look Fors” Page 4
Effect on Student Learning and Achievement
• Student performance is enhanced when they know what is expected of them.
• It allows students to determine what knowledge is required, to understand how this information will be applied in the future and to build meta-cognitive
• Students retain up to 35% more content if it is presented first as an objective/learning goal and reinforced again during the summary of the lesson.
11. Objectives/Learning Goals and Standards 3
Teaching Strategy Description Effect on Student Learning & Achievement
Objective/learning goal Posted objectives/learning goals are written in student friendly language and are visible to all • Allows the student to understand learning target. Student
written in student- learners. performance is enhanced when they know what is expected of
friendly terms them
Objective/learning goal Students can articulate objective/learning goal in their own words, and understand what they • It allows students to determine what knowledge is required, to
restated by students will be able to know and do.. understand how this information will be applied in the future,
and to build meta-cognitive skills
Objective/learning goal Teacher employs direct, modeled instruction of lesson objective, refers back to • Reminding students of lesson objectives/learning goals
referred to in the lesson objective/learning goal during lesson, and provides lesson summary that again references emphasizes purposeful instruction and increases retention
Objective/learning goal Use of lesson plan language: “Student will know” and “Student will be able to” – links objective • By stating both descriptive and procedural goals students
clear and measurable /learning goal to assessment and pays deliberate attention to learning intentions and success understand their learning targets
criteria. • Measurable goals allow teachers to know if students have
mastered the objective
All learning activities, Carefully planned, purposefully paced lesson aims ALL learning at lesson objective/learning • All learning aligned to lesson purpose for maximum student
assignments and goal. Classroom activity is always linked to Nebraska State Standards with Omaha Public engagement and learning
assessments are aligned Schools embedded curriculum expectations. • OPS standards are carefully sequenced to allow for student’s
with objective(s) and progression of learning. Teachers are to use the pacing
standards guides
• Lessons not aligned with the objective/learning goal and
content standard are examples of ineffective busy work
Hattie, J.A. C. (2009). Visible learning. London: Routledge.
*Please see the following page for objective/learning goal “Look Fors”.
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
12. Objectives/Learning Goals and Standards 4
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
13. Section 3: Procedures and Routines/Learning Climate
Procedures and routines support learning. Procedures are consistent. Routines are embedded to maximize instructional time. Transitions are quick and smooth. Instruction is “bell to
bell”. Procedures and routines are revisited as necessary. Two procedures per day or per period should be retaught daily.
Sample Teaching Strategies
• Hand raising Page 5
• Attention getting and non-verbal techniques Page 5-6
• Giving directions explicitly and visually Page 6
• 2x10 positive connections Page 6
• Repeat the request/delayed response Page 6
• Engagement techniques Page 7
• Transitions every 20 minutes Page 7
• Teach and pause to question Page 8
• Finished early? Page 8
• Readiness wall Page 8
• Routines for purposeful movement Page 8-9
• Routines for materials management Page 9
• Bell work/focus activity Page 9
Effect on Student Learning and Achievement
 Off-task behavior is dramatically reduced when a highly structured classroom uses consistent procedures and routines.
• Consistent procedures and routines maximize instructional time.
• If transitions are longer than 30 seconds as much as 18.5 days of instructional time can be lost in a school year.
• Consistent procedures and routines focus efforts on the learning rather than behavior.

The classroom environment is supportive of learning. Teacher shows warmth, care, respect and fairness for all students. There is evidence of strong relationships between the teacher
and students. A community of learners has been established. Overall, the room is inviting.
Sample Teaching Strategies
• Greeting students at the door Page 10
• Calling students by name Page 10
• Valuing student responses Page 10
• Student work/models displayed (relevant to standards) Page 10
• Word walls, books/visuals that reflect the cultures in the classroom Page 10
Effect on Student Learning and Achievement
• When a student’s basic needs are being met, they learn more effectively.
• A positive climate helps students believe they have a shared responsibility in developing and maintaining a warm and supportive environment.
14. Reflective Question Scenarios for Missed Opportunities
Section If you see this… You could say this…
Teacher does not repeat I noticed that several of the students continued off-task behavior after you asked them to stop. Specifically, three of the students continued
the directions after noticing talking and giggling after you stated that they needed to stop talking and open their books to the specified page. Next time try repeating
students are off-task the request with a change in tone or body language or adjust your position in the classroom for greater proximity. How could you
incorporate these, or other strategies, the next time a student is non-compliant?
Teacher does not create a When I visited your classroom, I noticed a student with disruptive behavior. Specifically, this student was continually interrupting your
personal relationship with lesson and distracting the rest of the class, even after several redirections. It may be helpful to try a 2x10 strategy where you focus on
a disruptive student your most high energy or least engaged student for two minutes each day, 10 days in a row by having a personal conversation with the
student about anything the student is interested in. Most students respond positively within five days, and you will see the behavior in your
class improve. How do you see yourself incorporating the 2x10 strategy with this student?
Procedures and Routines
Teacher does not provide I noticed you giving directions to students who later seemed confused about what they were to be doing. Specifically, you gave a list of
written directions causing three steps students were to follow, but many had to ask to have the directions repeated causing a loss of instruction time. Giving
confusion and disorder in directions visually may help. Posting the directions where students can see and going over them explicitly can be done each time a new
the classroom activity or request is given to students, and it increases their ability to respond correctly to the task given. What other ways can you
provide explicit and visual directions?
Teacher does not provide I noticed you were reviewing previously taught concepts on the whiteboard. Specifically, you were completing sample problems on the
engaging instruction and board while the students were to watch, record and listen to what you were doing. I’m not sure if you notices the number of students who
does not seem to notice were not actively engaged in your demonstration. Next time try an engagement technique such as Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, Clickers,
that students are not or individual white boards. For whole class achievement to occur, 80% of the students must be visibly engaged. How could you
visibly engaged in the incorporate one of these other engagement strategies into your lesson tomorrow?
Teacher does not provide During my visit I noticed students working on the instructional task and others who were done. Specifically, I observed that some of the
independent activities for students who had completed the assignment were off-task and did not seem to have clear direction on what they were to be doing. One
those students who finish thing that may help is to have a “Finished Early” chart with a list of independent tasks that students can refer to as a reminder of what they
their instructional task are to do when they finish an activity early. This will help maximize instructional time and help students remain engaged in learning. What
before the rest of the class are some things you would include on a “Finished Early” chart, and when could you have it up and ready for use?
Say no to “YES, NO” questions!
15. Procedures and Routines 5
Teaching Strategy Description Effect on Student Learning & Achievement
Hand raising This is the number one classroom management strategy that must be taught and re-taught • Students thrive in highly structured classrooms because they
daily and used during shared, guided, independent practice and the summary of the lesson. know what is expected and how to accomplish what is
• No call outs allowed: expected
o Wait • If students are allowed to “talk over” the teacher off task
o Repeat the hand-raising request – “I’m looking for hands raised” or “I’ll call upon you behavior will increase throughout the lesson
next time when your hand is raised” or “Remember for me to call on you, your hand • Without an all quiet signal transitions can last over 30
must be raised” seconds which can accumulate up to 18.5 days of lost
• No talking over the teacher allowed: instruction time annually
o Wait
o Re-teach the all quiet signal
o Wait
o Re-teach the all quiet signal
• Don’t ask the whole class a question without being specific. Whole class questions (that
don’t specify whom is to answer) result in shout outs. Be specific by:
o Telling them they have five seconds of think time before they can raise their hands.
Then call on someone by name
o Telling them that you want to see eight hands in the air before you call upon someone
by name
o Using response cards. Have student wait and hold up response card answers all at the
same time
Attention getting and This strategy is generally used to conclude a student discussion activity or any other time the • High performing teachers teach 1-2 procedures and routines
non-verbal techniques teacher needs it all quiet. It is used throughout the lesson. every day (Smith, 2004).
• High five and hand raised – All quiet signal • Transitions that last over 2-3 minutes waste up to 18.5 days
of instructional time annually
• Chimes – All quiet signal
• Clapping (if you can hear me clap once, …) – All quiet signal • The majority of acting out behavior occurs when students
are not structured during class time
• Tapping desks in rhythm – All quiet signal • Students feel safe in highly structured classrooms (Wong,
• Count backwards 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – All quiet signal 1998).
• We’re 50% there looking for 70%. . . great, looking for 80%. . . – All quiet signal • Low performing teachers do not use all quiet signals and
• Eyes up front – Attention getting statement then blame the students for off task behaviors
• All eyes on me – Attention getting statement • Low performing teachers shout orders such as “be quiet!”
• Heads up – Attention getting statement instead of repeatedly practicing all quiet signals (Wong,
• Timer running – Transition device that requires student practice to move between activities in 1998).
30 seconds or less • Procedures increase student engagement which increases
• Fun toys or sound devices – Transition device that usually has a timer and end noise or student retention
exclamation • Procedures allow for timed transitions which decrease
• Hands flat fingers up – Line up signal wasted instructional minutes
• Hands flat making a T (time-out) – Teacher talk / student wait signal • Procedures decrease off task or acting out behavior
• Student crosses first two fingers (“r” in sign language) – Restroom request signal • Special education and English language learners need
• Student raises hand with broken/dull pencil in it – Pencil sharpener signal consistent signals
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
16. Procedures and Routines 6
Teaching Strategy Description Effect on Student Learning & Achievement
Adults live with transition signals (e.g., lights at the crosswalk, chimes at the Orpheum) and the
more we support students on the use of transition signals, the better prepared students are for
the routines of life.
Giving directions This is done between and during modeled, shared, guided and independent practice each time • Having visual directions written down in a power point,
explicitly and visually a new activity or request is given. chalkboard, etc. increases the student’s ability to respond
• Verbal directions – at the beginning of verbal directions the teacher indicates that students correctly
do not move, talk or start until the teacher is done speaking and they hear the begin • Most students (and adults) need to see and reread
statement – “Ready, Set, Go”; “1, 2, 3, Go”; “On your mark, Get set, Go”; “Let’s rock”; then directions after hearing them
the teacher proceeds to list the directions • Only 20% of students can complete directions if only given
• Visual directions (overhead, chalkboard, LCD) auditorily. Students need written/visual directions for all
• Check for questions activities
• Student repeats back directions • Low performing and beginning teachers often only provide
• Begin statement (always use the same “begin statement”) directions orally
2x10 positive Teacher focuses on his/her most high energy or least engaged student for two minutes each • Improves the difficult student’s acting out behavior by 80% for
connections day, 10 days in a row by having a personal conversation with the student about anything the that teacher (Smith, 2004).
student is interested in. This strategy could also fit under learning climate. • Often the behavior of the rest of the class improves as well
• Most students respond positively in five days • Students who act out are frequently seeking attention and
• Most students make connections with 30 second to one minute conversations need a positive, personal connection with their teacher
• Students want a safe and structured environment in which
they can learn
Repeat the request / Teacher uses this strategy when a student is non-compliant. This is done throughout the • Students cannot engage in “verbal volleyball” with a teacher
delayed response lesson as needed. when a request is repeated
• Simply repeat the request – if a student asks a question or has a request that cannot be • Remember students will always respond negatively to the
granted at that time or does not comply with the first request prompt, “Why did you do that?”
• No arguing with the ref – explain at the beginning of teaching that non compliance after a • Students act out for a variety of reasons: they could be
couple of redirects is an additional consequence just like athletes/coaches who argue with masking academic troubles, dealing with personal issues, or
the referee lacking in the social skills necessary to deal with confrontation
• Don’t go to the land of reason – Teachers should always avoid asking “why” in the whole • Students use a non-compliant argumentative strategy
group (the why is really because they are 7, 12 or 16 years old). It sets up “verbal volleyball” because it has worked for them in the past
and the student may feel compelled to argue back in front of the whole group to save face • By repeating a request in a non-threatening manner, the
• Delayed response (if needed) – have a private conversation when time allows. Can be done teacher can diffuse a heated situation, maintain order, and
at desk, safe seat, or in the hallway keep the student in the classroom
• Teaching a redirection requires change in location, voice and body language • Non-confrontational approach de-escalates student behavior.
o Close proximity Confrontational behavior increases student defiance
o Tone lowered
o Volume softened
o Shoulders sideways (Be sure your body language is not confrontational)
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
17. Procedures and Routines 7
Teaching Strategy Description Effect on Student Learning & Achievement
Engagement techniques Used during shared or guided practice but may be used as a summary activity. • For whole class achievement gains to occur, 80% of the
• Whiteboards with markers and paper towels etc. students must be visibly engaged
• Tag board sheets in page protectors (as whiteboards) with markers and paper towels or • The 2014 OPS Strategic Plan Needs Analysis found:
socks o 49% of all OPS classrooms visited had low engagement
• Solo plates (as white boards) (0-60% of students engaged)
• Thumbs up, down, sideways o 35% were engaged (60-85% of students engaged)
o 16% had higher engagement (85-100% of students
• Response cards engaged)
• Student Response System (clickers)  Engagement by grade and school level were found to be:
• Smart Board games o Elementary primary classrooms had 55% of the students
• Stand up, sit down – used when there is no definite correct answer rather it is an opinion engaged
questions o Elementary intermediate classrooms had 30% of the
• Review games – Jeopardy, 10,000 Pyramid, Pictionary, etc. students engaged
• Student movement activities – position line up, in the manner of, Act it out, etc. o Middle school classrooms had the highest level of
• Eight hands with choral response engagement at 75% of all students engaged
o Wait for the hands of eight different students to be raised before calling on someone o High school classrooms had the lowest level of
engagement at 25% of all students engaged
• I don’t know … yet - Students use this response if they don’t know the answer … yet
o Increase student attention
o Teacher responds “I’ll come back to you.”
• Kagan Strategies
• Discussion and argumentative discourse
• Writing activities
• Reading silently with a purpose
Transitions every 20 These are signals used to cue students to move between whole group and small group during • Instructional minutes matter!
minutes modeled, shared, guided and independent instruction and practice. • Transitions that meander over several minutes result in 18.5
lost days of instruction annually
The time it takes for students to move from one activity to the next activity must be 30 seconds
or less.
• Students lose focus after 5-7 minutes of direct instruction
(modeled) and interactive activities increase engagement
• Timed – this is a must! • Chimes (Sousa, 2011).
• Music • Stand up, hands up, pair up • Students need to have increased blood flow (oxygen) to the
• Cards • Clock partners brain every 20 minutes to stay focused and alert (Sousa,
• 1,2,3,Go • Chit chat buddies 2011).
• Gentle high five • Go to partners • The brain remembers best what it learns first and last. It is
called primacy-recency. If teaching is “chunked” into 20
minute activities, it is optimal for retention of content in the
brain (Sousa, 2011).
• Gradual Release of Instruction is full of transitions as the
teacher moves from modeled to shared to guided and to
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
18. Procedures and Routines 8
Teaching Strategy Description Effect on Student Learning & Achievement
Teach and pause to During direct instruction teachers should ask questions/check for understanding every 2-3 • The brain increases engagement when a question is asked
question minutes. This may be used during modeled and is always used during shared and guided without a quick answer provided (Sousa, 2011).
practice. It is what Socrates did best! The brain always prefers the question to the answer. • The brain loses interest when the answer is just provided with
This should be higher level questioning followed by a brief activity to process an answer. Listed no question (Sousa, 2011).
below are strategies for students to use to process an answer.
• The brain always prefers higher level questions over lower
• Silent think time – just a 10-15 second pause before they can raise their hands level questions (Sousa, 2011).
• Think- Ink-Pair-Share
• Quick writes
• Elbow partner talk
• Engagement activities listed previously (white boards, response cards, etc.)
Finished early? Teachers verbally tell students what to do when the activity is completed. It also needs to be • Consistent procedures and routines maximize instructional
visual. Students work on finished early activities upon the completion of guided practice time especially at the end of the class (Smith, 2004).
activities or independent practice. Finished early lists are always posted for students to see as • Students who have tasks waiting to be completed on their
a reminder of what to do when they are done with the classroom daily activity or station work. “Finished Early?” charts are less likely to talk and/or ask for
The key is that it is always posted and visible for all students. hall passes. They are more likely to remain engaged in
• Pocket chart (so activities can change) learning (Smith, 2004).
• Posters that are laminated so the teacher can write on them • Students who are done early may become off-task if there are
• Large whiteboard in the chalk tray no finished early tasks
• Chalkboard
• Bulletin board displays that can be changed
Readiness wall Post pictures in room of what your expectations look like using a simple rubric: 5) what it is, 3) • Procedures can be the unwritten code of a culture, and
halfway there and 1) not there yet. Discuss the pictures and show what correct procedures and knowing the procedures and routines of a classroom is a key
incorrect procedures look like. strategy for cultural proficiency
• Tardiness • One of the best things we can do for students of all
• Lining up backgrounds is to teach and re-teach the procedures of the
• Dismissal classroom for mastery rather than disciplining them for not
• Moving into groups following the procedures that they may not have mastered yet
• Lab station set up • Visual procedures are easier to provide quick re-teaching
references throughout the school year (Smith, 2004).
• Desk during testing
• Bookcase orderliness
• Others (teacher discretion)
Routines for purposeful Routines for purposeful movement are rules to tell students how to move to and from the • To occur smoothly (without a lot of student downtime or off
movement classroom as well as with in the classroom to minimize disruptions and maximize time. Many of task behavior) transitions must have procedures that are pre-
these should be included in the readiness wall. Examples are: taught, given with explicit direction and students are provided
• How to enter a classroom when returning from an absence, tardy, or with a pass extensive practice
• How to line up • Acting out behavior significantly decreases when routines are
• How to walk in the hall used for student movement
• Where and how to sit in the cafeteria • Referrals for altercations decrease
• How to return from the playground • If photo rubrics (readiness walls) are used with purposeful
• Where to wait to sharpen a pencil movements, students have a clear and easy target for
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
19. Procedures and Routines 9
Teaching Strategy Description Effect on Student Learning & Achievement
• How to go to classroom centers from small group activities
• How to leave the classroom
Routines for materials Methods to accomplish common task with classroom materials to maximize instructional time • Instructional minutes matter!
management such as: • Transitions that meander over several minutes result in 18
• Distribution and the collection of worksheets, test, and homework lost days of instruction annually
• How to sharpen pencils
• How to obtain and return equipment and or manipulative properly
• How to get a tissue
Bell work/focus activity • Bell work, as the name implies, is the schoolwork that students are doing when the bell rings. • Structuring work at the beginning of the class period
It is always the first task of the class period. When you describe bell work to your students on eliminates the problem of initial off-task behavior (Smith,
the first day of school, instruct them never to ask you whether there is Bell Work today. 2004).
There is bell work every day. It always will be posted in the same place on the chalkboard. • Bell work focuses the learner on content instead of
Tell students, "As soon as you reach your seat, look at the board for today's bell work, and conversation about hallway activities
get started." • Bell work gives teachers time for taking role (administrative
• Bell work consumes the first five minutes of the class period. Consequently, students who tasks) while engaging students in learning
arrive early might have eight or ten minutes of bell work
OPS strategic plan. (2014, March 17). Retrieved from
Smith, R. (2004). Conscious classroom management: Unlocking the secrets of great teaching. San Rafael, CA: Conscious Teacher.
Sousa, D. A. (2011). How the brain learns. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Wong, H. K. (1998). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher. Mountain View, CA: Author.
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
20. Learning Climate 10
Teaching Strategy Description Effect on Student Learning & Achievement
Greeting students at the Teacher stands at the classroom door and greets each student as they come into the room. It • Students feel welcomed to your room
door could be a simple “hello” using the student’s name; handing out materials; a casual • Students feel that you care about them personally and will
conversation. frequently do better in class
• Helps teachers make positive connections with students; you
may be the only person to say something positive to that
student that day
• Sets the tone for class
• Allows teachers to monitor hallway and classroom behavior
Calling on students by Teacher addresses students by their first name each time he/she calls on them. • Students feel that the teacher cares about them personally
name and will frequently do better in class
• Students respond and comply at a higher rate when their first
names are used
Valuing student Teacher gives wait time for students to respond. Calls on multiple students instead of the first • Students will feel more encouraged to respond and speak
responses one who raises their hand. Uses phrases like, “I’ll wait until there are eight hands raised before their ideas out loud
I call on anyone” or “Thank You” instead of “That’s Correct”, regardless of the response. Gives • More students will share their ideas without fear of
correct answer after multiple students have responded. A “Think, Ink, Pair, Share” is a good embarrassment
example of providing student wait and write time prior to responding.
Student work/models Teacher has examples of student work, at various levels, purposefully displayed around the • Students will feel that their work is valued and that they are
displayed room. A rubric is present and examples are labeled accordingly. part of the classroom
• Students need to see examples of what good work looks like;
they learn best from their peers
• Students should see all parts of the learning process
displayed; it helps them understand that a final product takes
time and effort
Word walls/books, Word walls are an organized collection of relevant words visibly displayed in the classroom. • Serves as a permanent model for high frequency words
visuals that reflect the The wall should be interactive, student-friendly, and part of the classroom conversation on a • Provides a reference point for students during reading and
culture in the classroom regular basis. A word wall is ineffective when it becomes wall art. writing activities
• Helps students see relationships between words and topics
• Students’ academic writing improves as a result of using word
Allen, J. (2007). Inside words: Tools for teaching academic vocabulary grades 4-12. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
Smith, R., & Mary, L. (2008). Assuming the best. Educational Leadership, 66, 16-20.
Working with defiant kids: Communication tools for teachers. (n.d.). Retrieved from Intervention Central website:
Good for all students Optimal for culturally responsive teaching Optimal for students with learning needs
Section 4: Literacy Strategies Across Content Areas
Students read and write as well as speak and listen during their learning experience. Reading, writing, speaking and listening activities are integrated in meaningful ways in lessons.
Rigorous academic vocabulary is used. Whether you teach at the pre-kindergarten, elementary or secondary level you should invest at least half of your day or period in some kind of
literacy activity with social interaction (speaking, listening, argumentative discourse, cooperative learning). (Jensen, 2013)
Top 20 Literacy Strategies
• Six-Step Vocabulary Process Page 11
• Think Aloud Page 12
• Reciprocal Teaching Page 12
• Note-Making and Graphic Organizers Page 13
• Preview of Text Structures and Text Features Page 13
• Question Answer Relationship (QAR) Page 13
• Comparison Matrix Page 14
• Non-Linguistic Representations Page 14
• Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) Page 14
• Oral Discussions Page 15
• Quick Writes Page 15
• Meta-cognitive Writing Prompt Page 15
• Summary Writing Activities Page 15-16
• Think-Ink-Pair-Share Page 16
• A Structured Writing Process: Four Square and Step Up to Writing Page 16
• Role, Audience, Format, Topic (RAFT) Page 16
• Analogies and Metaphors Page 17
• Advance Organizers Page 17
• Text Tagging Page 17
• Frayer Model Page 17
Effect on Student Learning and Achievement
• Reading and writing are the means by which we learn all subjects.
• When students have content-area literacy support, they are exposed to a wide range of texts and they are more likely to be successful at understanding them.
• Students increase their understanding of the content.
• With the right supports all students can master rigorous content.
22. Reflective Question Scenarios for Missed Opportunities
Section If you see this… You could say this…
Teacher does not utilize I noticed students reviewing academic vocabulary words. Specifically, they were rereading the descriptions of the words they had written
parts of the Six-Step in their notebook. We want students to move the meaning of these words into their long-term memory so try having students draw pictures
Vocabulary Process when to represent the words, participate in activities analyzing the words, and discuss the terms with others. These are some of the steps in the
teaching academic Six-Step Vocabulary Process that increase student engagement and have students deepen their understanding of the terms. How do you
vocabulary see yourself incorporating these, and the other steps of the Six Step Process, into future lessons? How do you ensure that
students receive the OPS Academic Vocabulary terms?
Teacher does not provide I noticed the students were reading a short article related to the lesson content. Specifically, students were reading the article
Literacy Strategies Across Content Areas
an engaging literacy independently and then writing the main idea of each section in their notebooks. I would suggest introducing a summary writing activity
strategy while reading and where students can synthesize the information from each section utilizing a summary wheel or frame. This helps students identify and
analyzing a text selection organize key ideas at a higher level of thinking. In what ways could you incorporate on of these summary writing activities?
Teacher does not use a I was able to watch you demonstrating the sample lessons on the board for students. Specifically, you calculated the problem on the
think aloud to help board for students to see. Next time, try incorporating a Think Aloud where you model your thinking process by verbalizing thoughts so
students comprehend a students understand the type of thinking necessary to work through the process. Students who can understand the type of thinking that
process takes place when solving these types of problem will be better able to solve the problems themselves. Share how you think you could
incorporate Think Alouds into future lessons.
Teacher does not utilize a I noticed you discussed the most important information from the chapter. Specifically, you worked with them to determine the key ideas to
structures note making record after you had presented the information. I think you will find it helpful to provide a note-making or graphic organizer where students
strategy to help students record their key ideas throughout the lesson instead of at the end. Students only retain about 5% of lesson content if they listen without
capture the most important taking notes. How can you incorporate a note-making or graphic organizer in future lessons?
Teacher does not provide I noticed you and students discussing the lesson content after completing the hands-on activity. Specifically, students were called on to
adequate processing time answer questions after engaging in a Think-Pair-Share activity. Many students struggled with responding to the questions in depth with
when asking questions their neighbor, and I think I know what might help. I want you to try a Think-Ink-Pair-Share activity – notice I added in the Ink portion. This
regarding lesson content. part forces students to become reflective learners and formulate a response before sharing with a neighbor. Tell me how you think this
would work in your discussions.
Say no to “YES, NO” questions!