Quality Instruction Every Day

As we lean in for the end of the school year, it can be tempting to be laid back with planning and management because seniors are finished, students are in and out for testing, and we’re just plain tired (especially those of us who pulled an all-nighter for prom and post-prom).  Don’t give in to those temptations to slack off; we’ve got to model for students our persistence in closing out the year strong.

Quality instruction is critical at this time of year and I would encourage each of you to revisit classroom expectations if you see students slipping.  The best remedy to itchy or unenthusiastic students is high quality, engaging instruction.  I’ll share two excerpts of articles from the Marshall Memo regarding student engagement below.  Here’s to a strong finish!

Getting High-School Students Moving – Purposefully

In this online article, Kenny McKee suggests five ways that high-school teachers can incorporate movement into daily lessons:

  • Gallery walks and chalk talks – Multiple texts can be posted around the classroom – DBQ primary or secondary documents, magazine ads with different rhetorical techniques, student-created work – with students rotating in small groups to focus on one at a time.
  • Whiteboard meetings – Students investigate a situation using a data set, work in groups to make sense of the problem, display their findings (graphs, pictures, math solutions, writing) on a large whiteboard, and present to classmates.
  • North-south continuum – One side of the room represents one idea or state of mind, the other the opposite, and students take up position according to their current view (with the in-between space representing gradations of opinion). McKee recently asked his statistics students to stand according to their level of confidence in their mastery of information in the textbook, and used what he saw to adjust his subsequent lessons.
  • Musical mingle – Students stand up, music plays, they meander around the classroom, and when the music stops, they find a partner to discuss a question the teacher has posed. The process is repeated one or more times with different questions.
  • Learning stations – These can be differentiated assignments, curriculum areas that need practice, short writing prompts, different math problems, poems to analyze, or activities with new vocabulary or concepts.

“Five Movement Strategies in the High-School Classroom” by Kenny McKee,


Back to page one

Three Ways to Engage Students and Liberate Original Thinking

(Originally titled “The Three No’s Students Want to Hear”)

In this Education Update article, New York City writing coach Rose Reissman suggests some specific messages teachers can send to get their students engaged:

  • There is NO single correct answer to this question. Accepting the first student response that’s correct shuts down discussion, says Reissman. Teachers should solicit at least four different answers that offer different approaches.
  • There is NO template or desired format for this project. Teachers can spark students’ creativity by saying there are multiple approaches to meeting goals and objectives.
  • NO spoken answer is required. Students should feel free to think about an answer in their head, write about it, or share it online or with an elbow partner rather than feeling compelled to join the verbal scrum of all-class discussions. “Not every student is a natural vocal speaker,” says Reissman, “and many fear being called on.”

“The Three No’s Students Want to Hear” by Rose Reissman in Education Update, April 2016 (Vol. 57, #4, p. 7), http://bit.ly/1GpyuOr

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