Journal of Strategies


Strategy #1: Cooperative Learning-Kagan 

Instructional Strategies:

1. Four Corners- Students are asked a question and given 4 possible answer choices. Students are given think time then asked to go to one of the 4 corners (the corner of their answer choice). After students travel to the appropriate corner, they discuss the answer they chose and why with a partner from their group. This can be done for fun-Team building or class builder and getting to know each other. It can be used to spark conversation, or a simple multiple choice quiz.


2. Rally Robin-This is a kagan Cooperative Learning structure that provides students with talking time as well as listening time. This is done in pairs. This can be done sitting or standing. This brings engagement to students and an opportunity to coach if the other student does not know the answers. This is not for long questions, but questions that are formed to make lists, or give multiple answers as it is continious and not just one time. Provides engagement, interaction, communication and a fun way of answering questions.


3. Mix Pair Share-Teacher will play music. While music is playing, students will mix around the room. When the music stops, students will find the CLOSEST person to them. The teacher will ask a question and give students think time. Both partners will answer the question. The teacher will give specific directions on who answers first. When they are done, they should cheer for the other and say goodbye. Don't forget to use a quiet signal to get attention back. You can use your hand up, which means stop talking and stop doing, focus on your teacher, signal classmates if they are still talking.


4. Quiz Quiz Trade-The teacher will pick a task to do. This can be done for any subject. Each student will have a task card. Students will walk around with hand up and find a partner. Partners will high five. Partner 1 asks Partner 2 the question on their card. The process switches. If either students doesn't know, the other partner can coach them. After both have been asked, the partners switch cards and find a new partner as the process will continue. You can use this for math, ELA, sight words, anything. Make sure questions are not higher-level thinking as QQT is better with DOK 1 or 2.              


Strategy #2: Student Goal Setting-Marzano 

Instructional Strategies:

1. SMART GOALS-A fun way to teach SMART goals with students is an activity that allows them to understand the words specific, measurable, achieveable, relevent, and time. SPECIFIC-Have all students stand up.  As you go through each letter of the S.M.A.R.T. goals acronym, have students sit down when their goal does not meet the exact criteria.  Begin with S (specific).  Ask students if their goal is specific.  Is it fine tuned, and do they really understand what they are trying to achieve? Use running as an example.  Setting a goal to become a better runner is vague, but setting a goal to run a mile within a certain amount of time is specific. Have students sit if the goal they wrote down is not specific. MEASURABLE-Move on to M (measurable).  Let students know that their goals must be measurable.  How will they know that they have achieved their goal? Is there benchmarks they can hit along the way? For example, running a faster mile is specific, but not measurable.  Indicators of progress toward a faster mile might mean decreasing the time in ten second increments.  Have students sit down if their goal is not measurable. ACHIEVABLE/ATTAINABLE-The next letter in the S.M.A.R.T. goals acronym is A (attainable).  An attainable goal is something that can be achieved with current skills and abilities.  Continue to use the running goal as an example.  If the goal setter does not currently have the ability to run a complete mile, improving the mile time is not an achievable goal.  Another great example of this is the goal to become a professional athlete.  While a valid dream or ambition, it is not a S.M.A.R.T. goal because the student does not currently possess the skill and ability required of a professional athlete.  Have students sit down if their goal is not attainable. RELEVANT-The R in S.M.A.R.T. goals stands for relevant.  If a goal is relevant, it is meaningful and important.  Go back to the running goal example.  Why is it important for the runner to improve their mile time by twenty seconds?  Maybe they are trying to make the track team or get a better grade in gym class.  Either way, the goal has importance.  Have students sit down if their goal is not meaningful. TIME-the T stands for timely.  It is critical that the goal have time constraints.  There is no urgency created by an open-ended goal.  For example, the runner will decrease his or her mile time by twenty seconds within six months.  Putting a sixth month deadline on the goal will create a sense of urgency.  If any remaining students are still standing, have them sit down if their goal is not timely.  Click HERE for a SMART Goal Planning Template.


2. Recognize the Effort, not the outcome-This strategy takes away from being smart to working hard. Praise of effort focuses on commending students for the processes they use – engagement, perseverance, strategies, improvement – fosters motivation, increased effort, willingness to take on new challenges, greater self-confidence, and a higher level of success. Praise the process using these questions: A. Praise the strategy (you found a really good way to do it.) B. Praise with specificity (You seem to really understand fractions.) C. Praise effort (I can tell you've been practicing.). Also-keep it real. Don't say it's good when it's not.  Be sincere. Praising poor performance is not good for kids and can see fake praise as failure. Give authentic praise for real achievements. Instead of praising instantly, observe, comment, ask questions. Evaluate with statements.Click HERE for a great article! Praise the action of the effort along the way.


3. Data Binder-A student data binder can be used to track all progress throughout the year. This can be done in many ways. One way is to track all assessments done regulary such as anything used for progress monitoring that is student specific. Track data each time the assessment is given. Set goals and use a bar graph to track (visual) how students are doing. This is a great way for students to set their own goals. Students can use SMART goals to help and goal setting can be as easy as students setting a goal by putting a Star or a circle around where they want to score the next time. Keep it simple. Track a little at a time until you are comfortable. This is student led. As soon as a student is assessed, pull out the binder, have them walk through what they scored, where they scored last time, did they meet their goal or not, and what is there new goal. Once that is done, have students decide how they will meet their goal and write it down somewhere for students to see. Organizing Student Data Binder Video-Click HERE!



4. Student Reflection-Once you build a growth mindset and learn to goal set, students must also be able to reflect on their growth and process. Ask students to reflect on a deeper level (Refer to Levels of Reflection Poster) Model your own reflection by pointing out your own mistakes and expressing what you learned from this. Reflect 'N' Sketch is an activity that lets students draw their reflections. Make reflecting on your growth or lack of growth a normal conversation. Make reflection and recognizing when growth is and is not made a key piece to learning. Student Reflection Video-Click HERE!



Strategy #3: Growth Mindset-Dweck 

Instructional Strategies:

1. Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset-The best way to use this instructional strategy is to teach students that knowledge is not fixed. With the right amount of effort, anything can be learned. Teaching both growth and fixed is important for student in their search for the pathway to their success in learning. Use the framework for both, because at some point having both mindsets is a good thing. Growth mindset is when people believe abilities can be developed by hard work. Fixed mindset is when people believe basic qualities are fixed and that talent alone builds success. In the classroom-always make a fixed vs growth mindset poster. Refer to it when possible. Let every conversation go back to the concept of the two: I give up vs. I can do this. I can't vs. I can. Teach and model this daily! Click HERE for video on DWECK!


2. Embrace the Power of Yet-This instructional strategy allows teachers to help re-train the brain to think of everything as yet...By adding the word yet, it suggests they may get there with some hard work and resilience.  Just the words ‘yet’ or ‘not yet,’ we're finding, give kids greater confidence, give them a path into the future that creates greater persistence. I can't do this, yet! I'm not good at this, yet! The word YET gives students the power to beleive they can improve and not stay stagnant in their learning or lack of learning. This must be taught explicitly and used daily by teacher and students.

Check out this TED TAlk by DWECK, HERE!


3. Coping Skills-For some students, they struggle with coping in certain situations. This then causes them to stay fixed and set on a specific problem or feeling. When we teach them strategies and skills to help with coping, it lets students learn how to manage difficult emotions that help in gaining resilience. This helps them continue to grow and face other problematic situations and fosters a growth mindset.


4. Develop Stamina-Learning can be challenging and it can take time. Sometimes when something seems difficult and is taking a long time, students want to give up. If we can foster and build upon student stamina, we can teach them the desire and need to finish the task at hand. Ways to do this-work on a project a little each day, but build the time up each day. By increasing the amount of work you put into something it helps with stamina. Another way is to read silently for 1 minute a day, then 2 minutes. Now do 3 minutes and so on until students have read silently for 15-30 minutes. Build stamina to support growth mindset and confidence. Developing stamina is an instructional tool that fosters learning, growth, mindset, and confidence.



Strategy #4: Movement-Tate 

Instructional Strategies:

1. Gallary Walks-Students rotate within a small group to look at other students or groups work. The teacher writes questions on 4-6 posters.  Group students into the same number of groups. Begin by letting students rotate to each station. At the station students will discuss the question and record either on the poster paper or on their own piece of paper. I like to give each group a different color and record on the poster. Rotate and continue the process. Teacher walks around and monitors the groups. Have students finish up by going to their first station and discuss what others had said. You can also have each student with their own paper for better accountability. Gallary Walk Video---Click HERE!


2. Chalk Talks-Brainstorming activity or used as a thinking activity. Can be used at a desk or walking around the room. No talking! Write down 4-6 topics, words, or questions. Group students into the same number of groups. Begin by letting students rotate to each station. At the station students will look at the topic, words, or questions and think about their personal response. Although they are walking with a group, they are working on their own. Rotate and continue the process. Teacher walks around and monitors the groups. Once all rotations are complete, students will share with their group and talk about what they had similar or different. This can be done in many ways. Chalk Talks Video (No Talking Video/Sitting in Desk Version)--Click HERE! Version that has talking--Click HERE!


3. White Board Meeting-Teacher poses a question. This can be academic or non-academic. Each student either has a white board, sticky note, or something to write on. Teacher devides students into even groups. Students can work at their desk or stand in a circle, but once all students in the same group are done, then the group simultaniously show their boards. All answers may differ, but each student must be able to defend, explain, define, and discuss their answer. This allows students to move from table to a different spot, but still yield work.


4. Mix-Mingle-Swap-This active strategy gets students up and moving as they answer questions or express their opinion on certain topics. It works like musical chairs. Pick a topic, have students number off in small groups, begin the music, then when the music stops each student must find their group members and answer the prompt.        

5. Classroom Mingle-Prepare, write a list of open-ended questions or problems based on a unit of study. Cut the paper into strips, with one question per strip, so that you have at least one question per student. Introduce, display the list of questions to explain the activity. Before passing out a question to each student, model the way students will mingle with volunteers. Distribute, hand a strip of paper to each student and ask all students to stand up and find a partner. Mingle, working in their pairs, Student A asks Student B his/her question. After answering, Student B asks Student A his/her question.  Next, they exchange strips of paper, and each one finds another member of the class who is also looking for a new partner. The process is repeated. To create a more structured mingle, the teacher can monitor the time for each interaction. After a set amount of time to share questions in pairs, music can be played. Students should move around the classroom. When the music stops, students find a new partner standing near them. Close, ask students to take a seat after the time allotted. Lead an open discussion about the questions and answers. Clasroom Mingle Video--Click HERE!



Strategy #5: Games-Tate 

Instructional Strategies:

1. Charades-Can be done for many tasks/objectives or lessons. One is Vocabulary Charades: Overview and Purpose : This will be a great way for students to burn off some energy, while learning their vocabulary words. Students are encouraged to work together and think of actions that will convey the meaning of the words. Objective: The student will be able to: figure out the vocabulary word that is being acted out by another group of students and act out a vocabulary word without speaking, so other students can guess it. Activities: Divide the students up into pairs or trios. Give each group a vocabulary word that they need to act out. They cannot speak or write the word or definition. Allow them a few minutes to plan how they will act it out. Choose a group to act out their word in front of the class. The first group to guess the correct word wins a point. To help keep the groups from shouting out random words, you can deduct a point for each incorrect guess. Doing an action that corresponds to a word is a great mnemonic tool. Students can continue their review of the vocabulary words at home by drawing two other ways they would act out the words. Give them time the next day to act the words out for the class.


2. Hot Potato-This is a fast-paced classroom game that can be used in any subject area. All students are engaged and get many repetitions in a short time frame. It is especially effective as a review activity, when preparing for assessments. Every team member gets a note card and a different colored pencil. Put 4 problems on the screen, each problem being in one of the four different colors. If it's your color, do the problem, pass the card, check the work, pass the card and so on until a solution is found. Teacher will walk around and monitor/check student work. If somebody is unsure, help your partner. As cards are completed, put them face up in middle of the table, incorrect cards are passed back. It can also be played like hot potato and whoever is holding the "potato" when the music stops has to answer the question. Both ways work, one is better for differentiation. Hot Potato Video--Click HERE!


3. Commit & Toss-This can be used with an open-ended or selected response or right/wrong question. Pose the question, have students think and then write their response on a blank paper. Tell students to explain their ideas, writing a rationale for the response to make their thinking visible to someone else. Give think and write time. Remind students NOT to write their names on the papers. When everyone is finished, instruct students to crumple their papers into a ball. Then they are to toss the “ball” to another student. Students are to keep tossing the crumpled papers until the teacher tells them to stop--enough so that nobody know whose paper they have. After the teacher calls stop, each student gathers a “ball” off the floor, unfolds, and reads the response silently. They use this opportunity to “get into another students’ head” to understand his or her thinking. Then students are grouped to discuss responses. “Four Corners” is one structure the might be used for discussion, with each response assigned a different area of the room. Each student will read the response and rationale from the paper she has caught or gathered. The groups will discuss answers and rationale and each student will have the opportunity to reaffirm, build upon, or change his/her thinking on the question. The teacher can then hold a whole-class discussion with opportunities to share from each group, listing rationale and ideas, and eventually uncovering the “right” answer or identifying questions for further exploration. Commit & Toss Video--Click HERE!


4. Bingo-A quick and simple game which never fails to motivate students in their learning. Resources: whiteboards and pen or paper and pen/pencils, plus a list of subject-specific terms or concepts e.g. numbers, phonics, key vocabulary, scientific formulae or historical figures. Game:Ask students to draw a 6 x 6 grid on their whiteboards or pieces of paper then select 6 words or images from the given list to draw/write in their grid. You must then randomly select a word from the list to describe, and students must guess the word in order to cross it off on their grid (if present). Continue describing different words until one student successfully completes their grid and shouts ‘bingo!’ (you can also award a prize to the first student who gets 3 in a row). Alternative: Students can insert their own subject-related answers into the bingo grid, but this makes it more challenging for you due to extensive word choice and ambiguity. Also, if you have more time, then you could create your own bingo boards with specific vocabulary or concepts you are covering in that lesson (reusable). Bingo can be used for any math, counting, reading, writing, sight words, and behavior task needed. Bingo boards are easy to make and fun for all.



Strategy #6:  Setting Objectives-Marzano 

Instructional Strategies:

1. Post Learning Objectives-Post and state the objectice prior to learning and say it with kid-friendly terms so students understand objective. Conenct it to movement and pictures if possible. Share how and why this objective related to their learning. Make sure students understand why this objective is being taught and make connections to past and future learning.


2. Beginning-Middle-End-Post and state the objective prior to lesson teaching. Objective should be kid-friendly and connected to previous learning, with movement, and understanding. During the lesson, connect the learning back to the objective while teaching. Everytime learning is taught, show students how it can connect back to the objective. At the end of the lesson, restate the objective. Refer back to focus wall and always tie learning into the I can statement being used throughout the beginning, middle, and end of lesson. Students should also be given the specific, measurable, achievable, relevent, and time that connects the objective to their learning.


3. Connect Objective to Movement-Always connect the standards or objectives to motions and movements. In my classroom for teaching objectives I use the following standards and motions together:  Characters (point to self), Setting (hands up above your head and make a roof), Problem (act scared), Solution (muscles), Beginning (point to sky), Middle (point to middle of body), and End (point to the ground). With every objective given, connect it to movement so students better remember and learn the objective.



Strategy #7: Effective Feedback-Marzano 

Instructional Strategies:

1. Feedback Slips-This type of feedback is done with an assignment or lesson. This is used to point out a students positives and growth areas after you've seen the student in action. Always be specific in feedback. Tell students what they are doing good and what they are not doing good. Don't sugar coat feedback. Be specific and honest. This can be done by giving a slip that says something they did good and something they need to work on. This can also be a conversation as you go through the feedback slips together.


2. Student-Teacher Conferences-This type of feedback is a conference that is one-on-one with the student adn the teacher. Both mutually discuss concerns, feedback, and goals for growth. This can be a short meeting or a longer meeting. This can be done with any subject during the day and is best done for areas students are struggling with. This can also be a one-on-one tutoring session to help students see the error in work or to work on specific strategies. One way is after an assessment or activity. Find the positives and work specificallly on setting goals to work on. This should be done in a timely mannor. 

Article on Student-Teacher Conferences--Click HERE! Vidoe on Student-Teacher Conferences--Click HERE!


3. Peer Feedback-While feedback is good for all, it's also good for students to be able to give each other feedback while the teacher monitors the conversations. Student feedback is when another student gives honest and objective ideas about their partners work. Students can give positive feedback (allows  for encouragement and support while being specific in telling your partner how they did a good job), needs to improve feedback (allows the student to tell their partner how they can make it better or where they made the mistakes), and asking questions (allows the student to ask questions about anything they have questions about after looking at their partners work). 



Strategy #8: Music-Tate 

Instructional Strategies:

1. Transitions-Songs during transitions is a fun way to incorporate routine and procedure into your learning. Songs can be an easy way for students to recognize when they need to move. Instead of stopping the entire class to say it's time to line up, you can start the specific song for line up and students are on their way. Teaching transitions through music also allows for some students better understanding and doesn't hinder a students inability to not move in the line. Students can also sing along. Songs can be chosen from so many different places and can be searched for using time restraints as well. You can pull up a 30 second song or even a 1 minute song. You can also use songs without music and just have songs students know and sing along to.


2. Brain Breaks-Brain breaks in the classroom are much needed. Brain breaks can be tied to academics or just movement of the body and giving your brain a break. Both ways allows for students to just let loose and get their body moving. Academic brain breaks can be tied to reading, sight words, letter identification and sounds, reading sentences, phonics skills, and vowel teams. It can also be tied to math with number identification, adding, subtracting, number sense, subitizing, and counting. Brain breaks for just moving your body can be fun songs, just dance, and ways to have fun and just chill. Two websites that I use in my classroom are Fluency & Fitness (Academic) and GoNoodle (Fun/Calm) and both are so fun for the kids. 


3. Learning Material-Students love to learn, but when something is tied to music and made into a song, students have fun and lets them memorize facts for any subject. My students love when we sing songs to count, learn our abc's, doubles facts, sight words, and so many more. Concepts and Skills can be taught with songs. You can make them up or even look them up on youtube. Youtube has so many songs that help in learning key concepts and skills for any grade level, even the upper grades. Remixes are so fun and students love seeing the "fun" side of teachers. Jack Hartmann has a great Youtube Channel!



Strategy #9:  Scaffolding-Bruner 

Instructional Strategies:

1. Visuals and Realia-this strategy allows for students to see visuals or real life tangible objects in a lesson. It allows for connections and better understanding. Real life objects could be anything connected to a lesson. If you are teaching about sea animals, bringing in a shark tooth, or a piece of a coral reef would bring engagement and assist in scaffolding. When objects are not availible, you can also use visuals and find images for the lessons topic. Google is a great tool when searching for visuals for a lesson. Main focus-let students see, touch, feel, be around the object of the lesson. Make it real. Make it important. 


2. Modeling-For students, they must be shown and not just told. Modeling is one of the most important aspects of a lesson. The strategy, I do, we do, you do, comes to play. As the teacher show them how it's done with modeling of examples and use of strategies. Then do it together and continue providing support. Last, allow for independent practice. Modeling can also be used to present strategies connected to gestures. This combines well with visuals to make a lesson come to life by providing support, connection, and optimal learning.


3. Graphic Organizers-While this is a great strategy, know it doesn't work for EVERY lesson, but when needed, works wonderfully. Graphic organizers can be found pre-made and even easy enough to make your own. Graphic organizers are used as a tool to help students organize their thoughts, thinking, and responses when responding to a text. Keep them simple! The organization of thoughts, ideas, and thinking can assist students in their learnign process. Graphic organizers are also great when paired with modeling and visuals.



Strategy #10: Check for Understanding-Rosenshine 

 Instructional Strategies:

1. Exit Ticket-A quick way to assess if students know the concept or not. This can be done quickly with a few questions for any subject or grade level. This is usually done after a concept, skill, or standard-based lesson is taught. In my classroom I usually do an exit ticket as a quick end of lesson ticket to be done. This tells me if a student understands or does not understand what was taught. Sometimes I have a worksheet, but a simple sticky note can be used as well in place of a worksheet. 


2. Hand Signals-There are a variety of ways to do this. Thumbs up or down if you understand or not. You can raise your hand if you need more learning time-those who raised hands stay on the carpet and those who did not continue another activity. This is also a quick way to find out if you need to touch base with most of your class, a few, or just one.


3. Response Cards-students have pre-made cards that will answer the question. Cards can be many different options: A, B, C, D, or Yes & No, True or False, Agree or Disagree These can be as is or on a stick. Cards can be held up when a question is asked. A fun way to use this is to have students stand up and jump and turn around with their response card or do it with their eyes closed. This allows for individual responses, not looking at what others have held up.


4. 3-2-1-At the end of the lesson, students will write down 3 things they learned from the lesson, 2 things they want to know more about, and 1 question they have. This shows the teacher if students learned the skill of focus, what students are interested in learning more of, and what area students are struggling with still. This is a quick assessment that checks for understanding with all students. For students who struggle with writing, a picture can be drawn instead of writing. This can be done at the end of every lesson, end of week, end of chapter, or just a quick check-in after a lesson.


5. Journal Reflection-Students write down what they learned, what they had difficulty with, what was easy for them, what they enjoyed or didn't enjoy. This can go for any subject. This strategy gives the students a better understanding of what they took away, what they still want to learn more about, and an area they are still confused on. This helps the teacher, but also the student.