DRAFT UPDATED 3/12/10
A Glossary of
Strategies & Activities
Compiled from multiple sources by Donnette Fernandez & Karen Streich-Rodgers
3-2-1 - Students jot down 3 ideas, concepts, or issues presented.
Students jot down 2 examples or uses of idea or concept.
Students write down 1 unresolved question or a possible confusion.
A-B-C Summarize - A form of review in which each student in a class is assigned a different letter of the alphabet and they must select a word starting with that letter that is related to the topic being studied. VARIATION: Conduct as a Whip Around where subsequent students have to say a key idea that starts with the next letter of the alphabet (e.g.; Student #1 states an idea starting with A , student #2 states an idea starting with B, etc…)
Acting Out a Problem -- Students can act out mathematical, scientific, or social problems to improve their comprehension.
Affinity -- A brainstorming approach that encourages less verbal members of a group to participate. First, all members of the group write responses to the problem or question on separate cards, then the cards are silently grouped by each member while the others observe. After a discussion, the agreed upon arrangement is recorded as an outline or diagram.
Agreement Circles -- Used to explore opinions. As students stand in a circle, facing each other, the teacher makes a statement. Students who agree with the statement step into the circle.
Alternative Assessments – There are many alternatives to the traditional pencil-and-paper tests. Some ideas:
• Group assessments
• Performance assessments
Anticipatory Chart - Before reading a selection, hearing a selection or viewing a video students are asked to complete the first two sections of the chart-"What I already know about ...." and "What I would like to find out about ...." After the information has been presented students complete the "What I learned..." section. Responses are shared with a partner. This is also known as a KWL Chart
Anticipatory Guide - Students are given a series of statements that relate to a reading selection, lecture, or video. Students indicate AGREE or DISAGREE. After the information has been presented, students check to see if they were correct. EXTEND: Have students write correction in their own words.
Brainstorming - Students work as a whole group with the teacher, or in small groups. Begin
with a stimulus such as a word, phrase, picture, or object and record all responses to that stimulus
without prejudgment. The students give ideas on a topic while a recorder writes them down. The students should be working under time pressure to create as many ideas as possible. All ideas count; everything is recorded. More ideas can be built on the ideas of others.
Bookmarks – Section off paper. Students keep track of unknown words and page numbers. Leads to class discussion of vocabulary.
Card Games – Another way to provide lots of practice with newly taught language is to play card games with picture or word card that target grammatical forms or use of new vocabulary words. Games with simple rules, such as Go Fish, are best.
Materials for every 3 to 4 students:
• Set of about 40-50 cards
• Cards are in pairs: two of each target vocabulary word or picture, OR grammatical form you are targeting (e.g. present/past, contraction/non-contraction, singular/plural, synonyms, antonyms)
• Language pattern on chart, whiteboard, or pocket chart, for Go Fish post:
o Do you have _ ?
▪ Yes, I do. • No I don’t. Go fish.
Directions: One player distributes 5 card to each player. The rest of the cards are in a pile, face down between the players.
1. The first player asks any other player, “ _ , do you have _ ?”
2. If they have the requested card, they answer, “Yes, I have a/the _ .” Give the card to
the first player and the first player gets another turn.
3. If they don’t, the say, “No, I don’t have a/the _ . Go fish.” The first player draws a
card from the pile. The player to the left takes his or her turn.
4. The object of the game is to get rid of your cards by getting the match to each card in
5. When a player gets a matching pair (go/went, child/children, enormous/gigantic,
upset/content), he or she puts the pair down and uses each word in a sentence.
Materials for every 3 to 4 students:
• Set of about 35-40 cards
• Cards are in pairs: two of each target vocabulary word or picture, OR grammatical
form you are targeting.
• Language pattern on chart, whiteboard, or pocket chart:
o Whose _ is this? Whose _ are these?
- They’re mine.
It’s not mine.
- They’re not mine.
Category Sorts – In this game, students are asked to sort cards according to set categories (closed sort) or to categorize them, then name the category (open sort). For example, students can sort food, community workers, modes of transportation, physical attributes (shape), etc.
Materials for every 3 to 4 students:
▪ Set of about 35-40 cards (vocabulary, pictures, etc…)
▪ Lay picture cards face up on the table
▪ As students pick up a card, have them name it and then place it in a category.
▪ Once the students have placed all the cards into a category, they should be able to state
the name of category in a complete sentence. For intermediate and above students, they should be able to state the category and give a reason.
▪ Language patterns on chart, whiteboard, or pocket chart:
▪ These are _ .
▪ These are _ because _ .
Carousel - This activity encourages all students to interact through reading and writing.
▪ Write different but related questions or prompts on chart paper and post the papers
around the room.
▪ Students move around the room either freely or in small groups and write ideas or
answers on each paper. Alternately, you can have them record the ideas on sticky notes at their desks ahead of time and then post the notes on the appropriate papers.
▪ Share and process the ideas with the whole group with a gallery walk (students silently move from poster to poster, reading and noting important ideas) small group to whole
group presentations or some other technique.
A carousel uses wait time for planning and a degree of anonymity in answering to create a non-
threatening atmosphere in which all students have an equal chance share their ideas.
Carousel Brainstorming - Each small group has a poster with a title related to the topic of the lesson. Each group uses a different colored marker to write 4 to 5 strategies/activities that relate to their topic. Students rotate to all the other posters, reading them and adding 2 to 3 more strategies. Students discuss the results. VARIATION: for Review: Person A tells what they know and Person B checks notes and fills in the blanks.
Character Matrix - In groups, students create a grid, which lists the characters horizontally on the left and character traits vertically across the top. The students determine the traits used. Group members decide if each character possesses each of the traits and writes "yes" or "no" in the appropriate box.
Choral Reading - Groups of students chorally present a poem, or other reading selection. One person reads the title, author, and origin. Each person says at least one line individually. Pairs of students read one or more lines. Three students read one or more lines. All students read an important line.
Circular Check- Students in groups are given a problem with a definite answer (good for math
& science). First students completes first step without contribution from others in-group and
passes it to the next student. Second student corrects any mistakes and completes next step, again with out input from the group. Problem gets passed to next student and the process continues until the group has the correct answer.
Class Vote - Present several possible answers or solutions to a question or problem and have students vote on what they think is best.
Clock Appointments – The variety of partner combinations in this activity encourages a range of interactions for practicing language. Instructions:
1. Distribute a clock face to each student with space to write at the 12, 3, 6, and 9:00 spaces.
2. Have the class walk around and make an appointment with other students for each of the four time slots. It works best if they begin at 12:00 and work clockwise. Inevitably, there will be a few students with empty slots. You may have to help ensure everyone’s appointments are full by asking whether anyone is missing a clock appointment and facilitating matching students who need appointments.
3. When it is time for students to practice with one another, announce, “Find your 12
o’clock (or 3:00, 6:00, 9:00) appointment and tell him or her three things _ . Be sure to use one of the sentence frames to share your idea.”
Cloze Sentences/Text -- Used to teach and review content vocabulary in context. PROCESS:
▪ Teacher chooses a sentence that has a strong contextual support for the vocabulary focus word
▪ Possible replacement words are brainstormed
▪ Teacher assists students in choosing correct word
▪ EX: During a _ a group of people tries to overthrow an existing government of social system. (revolution)
Cloze Exercise -- These are modified selections taken from texts and other reading materials your students will use in your class. They are used to assess reading comprehension, and may also be useful as tests of overall language ability. Two variations are commonly used:
▪ Regular Cloze: This is made by leaving the first sentence intact and then by replacing every seventh word (excluding proper nouns) with a blank space. A number of blanks easily converted to a percentage (10, 20, 25) is recommended. Students are then asked to fill in the blanks without looking at the original text.
▪ Modified Cloze: This is constructed the same way as a is a regular Cloze exercise, but a multiple choice format is used.
The results will tell you if the text is at an appropriate reading level for your students.
% correct Reading Level
Ways to score a regular Cloze exercise:
• Exact word method – only the exact word from the original text is accepted
• Any reasonable word method – any word making sense is accepted
Clustering/Webbing/Mapping - Students, in a large group, small groups, or individually, begin with a word circled in the center, then connect the word to related ideas, images, and feelings which are also circled.
Comprehension Check - The teacher or students read the selection aloud. Intermittently, the teacher asks for verbal and nonverbal comprehension checks ("raise your hand", "thumbs up for
'yes' ", "thumbs down for 'no'." The teacher uses a variety of question types: Right There, Think
and Search, On My Own (See QAR, Day One.)
Concentration (Vocabulary) –
Step 1: Print a copy of the word cards.
Step 2: Print a copy of the definition cards. Step 3: Print a copy of the answers.
Directions: Print a copy of all of the items in Steps 1 - 3. Get with a partner and take turns matching the definitions to the correct words. One partner should check the answers as the other
partner matches them.
Concept Definition Maps – Structured word webs used to explore more complex concepts. The center circle may be a broad concept such as “habitat” and spokes leading off the circle may be organized to respond to questions such as “What is it?”, “What are some examples?” and “Why is it important?”
Concept Mapping - Explain/ model a concept map. After lecture, explanation, or reading, have students fill in concept map (partner or individually). Report out.
Concept Sketches – (different from concept maps) are sketches or diagrams that are concisely annotated with short statements that describe the processes, concepts, and interrelationships shown in the sketch. Having students generate their own concept sketches is a powerful way for students to process concepts and convey them to others. Concept sketches can be used as preparation for class, as an in-class activity, in the field or lab, or as an assessment tool. (http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/coursedesign/tutorial/strategies.html)
Contextualizing Vocabulary – choose several vocabulary words that are essential to understanding the lessons’ most important concepts and present the definitions in context, not just using dictionaries that might offer multiple meanings. Process
- Introduce and define terms simply and concretely.
- Demonstrate how terms are used in context.
- Explain use of synonyms, or cognates to convey meaning.
Co-op Co-op - Students work in teams to complete a project. The steps are: student-centered class discussion, selection of student study teams, team building and skill development, team topic selection, mini-topic selection, mini-topic preparation, mini-topic presentations, preparation of team presentations, team presentations, evaluation.
Cooperative Dialogue -
1. Students number off one through four.
2. Each student pairs with another student from a different group who has the same number.
3. Following the timeline from the article that was previously read each pair writes a dialogue between two characters in the passage.
4. Pairs are selected to present dialogues in chronological order to the class. Activity is designed to be a text "re-presentation."
Cooperative Graphing - This activity involves graphing information based on a survey. Each group of four will take a survey of how many countries each has visited (or other teacher- determined information). A bar graph is then developed. Each person in the group is responsible for one aspect of the graph, and signs his/her name on the chart along with their area of responsibility. Jobs are: survey group members and record results, construct the graph, write names and numbers on the graph, write title and assist with graph construction. Each person in the group describes his/her part of the graph to the class.
Cornell Notes – Reach for the “STARs” – First introduce to students how to take Cornell Notes as they read my modeling the STARS strategy and then practice with the entire class. Students can then work in groups or with partners to gain more experience in notetaking.
• S = Set up the format/paper. Name, class, date in upper right-hand corner. Add a title.
Draw line one third of the way in.
• T = Take Notes. Paraphrase lecture/text in right hand column. Use abbreviations.
• A = After Class. Reread, edit, revise. Highlight key points. Fill in left column with questions, icons/symbols, and memory keys
• R = Review Notes Regularly. After class, weekly, before test. Cover right column and rewrite. Paraphrase. Rewrite.
Corners - Cooperative activity used to introduce a topic. The teacher poses a question or topic along with four choices. On a 3x5 card, students write their choice and the reasons for it. Students go to the corner of the room representing their choice. In their corner, students pair up and share their reasons for selecting that corner. The topic is discussed. For example, the corners could be labeled cone, cube, pyramid, and sphere with information about each figure provided. Students go to the corner, learn about the figure, and return to teach other team members.
Dictogloss -- A way to assess oral comprehension as well as review key content concepts.
1. Choose a paragraph from your content area that has important information for your
2. Use pictures to enhance comprehension for lower proficiency levels. Prior to the listening
activity, try brainstorming vocabulary to describe the picture
3. Read the chosen text once. Ask students to listen without writing. After the first listening,
give them about 2 minutes to write down the main idea of the paragraph. After students have written their rendition of the main idea, have them share their contributions with a partner. Then elicit contributions to be shared with everyone.
4. Next, have read the passage again. Have students take notes of important information,
details, and example during (and after) the second listening.
5. Give students time to reconstruct the paragraph quietly alone.
6. When students finish, have them share their reconstructions with a partner of small group of 4 to 6.
7. Have each pair/group decide on a best version and have them write their best effort on a transparency for the whole class.
8. Take all the transparencies and show them to the class. Read each aloud and see if there are errors that the class can identify and correct.
9. List the rule, the error, the correction, and a grammar/writing reference page numbers for practice and further development of the particular item.
Diner Menu – A way to differentiate instruction. DIRECTIONS: Students skim pieces of text
and select a task from a DINER MENU they wish to complete. DINER MENU graphic organizer
includes the following choices (examples are included):
• APPETIZER (Everyone Shares)
o Write the chemical equation for photosynthesis
• ENTRÉE (Select One)
o Draw a picture that shows what happens during photosynthesis
o Write two paragraphs about what happens during photosynthesis
o Create a rap or song that explains what happens during photosynthesis.
• SIDE DISHES (Select at Least Two)
o Define respiration, in writing
o Compare photosynthesis to respiration using a Venn diagram
o Write a journal entry from the point of view of a green plant
o With a partner, create and perform a skit to show the differences between
photosynthesis and respiration.
• DESSERT (Optional)
o Create a test to assess the teacher’s knowledge of photosynthesis.
Dinner Party - In this activity, students create a guest list for a dinner party according to a specific theme (e.g., famous scientists). Students have to decide who they would invite to their fictional dinner party and why, what order in which they would seat them and why, and what they would talk about. The students then act out the dinner party scene in a role play.
Directed Reading-Thinking Activity This is a group activity to get students to think about the content of a fiction or non-fiction reading selection. The steps are 1) Students predict what they will read and set purposes for reading. 2) Students read the material. 3) Students discover if their predictions and hypotheses are confirmed.
Expectation Outline -- A pre-reading activity in which students skim the assigned reading, then write down some questions they expect to be able to answer, or key concepts they expect to learn about, as the result of completing the reading.
Famous Person Mystery - The name of a famous person, living or deceased is placed on the back of each student. Without looking, students try to guess who the person is by asking questions that require only yes/no answers.
Fan and Pick – Participants have a set of question cards and are in teams of four. Person number two picks a card and reads the question. Person three answers the question. Then person four paraphrases and praises the answer or offers help. Then a new person takes the cards and
becomes the “fanner”.
Find Someone Who -- A variation of the Human Scavenger Hunt. Usually this activity is used to encourage students to seek out the students in class who know the answers to specific content questions. This works most effectively if each student is an "expert" on a different topic or sub- topic than the others in the class.
Find the Fib - Team activity where groups of students write two true statements and one false statement, then challenge other teams (or the teacher) to "Find the Fib."
Fishbowl – This is used to model or demonstrate a new activity.
1. Set up a small inner circle of students to demonstrate an activity for the class. Have all other students form a larger outer circle around the inner circle (fishbowl group) of students.
2. The inner circle (fishbowl) listens carefully to teacher directions and then demonstrates
the activity to the rest of the class.
3. As necessary, clarify and correct the activity steps with the fishbowl group.
4. Debrief with the entire class the steps that all groups will follow.
VARIATION: The fishbowl can also be used as a type of Socratic seminar, where the inner circle
students participate in a discussion and the outer circle students listen and take notes. Later, the outer circle students can comment on the discussion, using their notes.
Flash Cards - After 10 minutes into a lecture or concept presentation, have students create a flash card that contains the key concept or idea. Toward the end of the class, have students work in pairs to exchange ideas and review the material.
Four Corners – You can use this activity to introduce a topic or let students share their prior knowledge. Choose a topic that has four possible dimensions (e.g., Topic: food resources. Dimensions: cleared land, forest, river, ocean).
• Assign one dimension to each corner of the room
• Students move to the corner they are interested in or knowledgeable about.
• In their corners, students pair and explain why they chose that corner and what they know about the topic.
• A student from one corner shares ideas with the whole class.
• Next, you may want to ask a student from another corner to paraphrase.
• This process continues until each corner has shared.
This activity is also a method for creating voluntary groups. After the Four Corners technique is
over, you may want the students to keep their corner groups for another group task.
VARIATION TO BRAINSTORM: Post different concepts around the room, have students travel to add information or list everything they know about it.
VARIATION TO REVIEW CONTENT: Label the four corners of the room with "Disagree, Strongly Disagree, Agree, and Strongly Agree." Read a controversial statement and have students write on a piece of paper whether they agree, disagree, strongly agree, or strongly disagree with the statement. When all are finished writing, have students go to the corner representing their point of view. All students sharing a point of view work together to collect evident and present an argument supporting their beliefs.
Four Corners Vocabulary – One page per word divided into 4 sections: Word, Picture, Word in context, Definition. Task Procedure:
1. Divide learners into groups of four. If these are homogenous language proficiency level groupings, then organize the vocabulary in step 2 below to meet the needs of beginners,
intermediates, advanced, and native speaker language proficiency levels, then arrange groups with half native speakers, half not. If there are far fewer non-native speakers, then
sprinkle them around the groups so that a peer translator/bilingual paraprofessional can be with each learner, with first priority to beginners.
2. Give each group one numbered envelope with different key vocabulary/concepts, definitions, and pictures/clip art on separate pages.
3. Students spill the contents of the envelopes on the table and are instructed to match a definition to a concept/key vocabulary and a picture in order to sort out and organize
three of the four quadrants of a 4-corners vocabulary card (or in above variation, translated concept, same concept in English, translation of definition).
4. Next, learners are asked to write a sentence that uses the concept/key vocabulary in context. If there are learners who cannot write, then include an envelop of simple
sentences that are mixed. Learners have to find the relevant one. Or prepare on sentence cut up into words that has to be sorted. (It may be wise to model steps 2-4 before giving
groups envelopes, so prepare an envelope for yourself.)
5. After that, learners paste the sections of their 4-corners vocabulary poster together (hand
out chart paper for this).
6. After that, teams hang their posters in the corners of the room on adjacent walls for team
7. Each team is given 2 minutes to read their posters. If there were four learners in each
group, then each reads a different corner of their posters. Time this with clapping.
8. Next, tell groups to write a new sentence using the concept/key vocabulary and add it to
the poster. Encourage students to peer edit. (NOTE: After it has been peer edited, the teacher notes what is still in error and corrects it. Teaching what was not correctly peer edited comes at a later date).
9. After that, ask every other group to take their poster to another corner of the room and
begin the process again. Groups have returned to the corners where they started the task.
10. The following day have pupils use their posters to play guessing games. Model this with
the whole group before dividing the class into smaller groups of 8-10 players.
11. Fold all posters so that only the picture (or translation) of each concept is visible. One
team of 4-5 players shows this to the opposing team of 4-5 players. They are given two minutes to produce the concept, definition, and a sentence using the concept. Each game has an egg timer. When time is up points are determined in each game by comparing work. Points are given as follows: finished all work on time – 10 pts; each correct item –
Gallery Walk – A cooperative learning strategy in which the instructor designs/poses several questions/problems and posts each question/problem at a different table or at a different place on the walls (hence the name "gallery"). Students form as many groups as there are questions, and each group moves from question to question (hence the name "walk"). After writing the group's response to the first question, the group rotates to the next position, adding to what is already there. At the last question, it is the group's responsibility to summarize and report to the class.
GIST – Summarization procedure assists students in “getting the gist” from extended text
1. Students and teacher read a section of text printed on a transparency
2. After reading, assist students in underlining 10 or more words or concepts that are
deemed “most important”
3. List words on the board
4. Together, write a summary statement or two using as many words as possible.
5. Write a topic sentence to precede summary sentences.
Give One, Get One – In this whole-class activity, students have a task – to give and to get information. They walk around the classroom and randomly select partners with whom to share information and get new information about an assigned topic. Instructions: Before beginning, give students quiet time to consider what they know about a particular topic, and to record a number of possible responses (sketches, words, phrases, or sentences) on a sheet designed for that purpose.
1. Pose a question that is open-ended enough to generate a range of responses or provide a
worksheet with multiple questions to discuss and respond to.
2. Point out the resources (charts, articles, books, etc.) available to help students generate
ideas or find responses. Then allow a couple of minutes for students to record their ideas.
3. Provide a set amount of time (about 6 -8 minutes) to get up and find a classmate with
whom to share ideas.
4. Partners ask for clarification about any detail not understood, comment on anything of
interest, then select one idea from the other’s list and add it to their own, with their partner’s name next to it.
5. When one exchange is completed, students move on to a new partner.
6. At the end of the exchange period, the teacher facilitates a class debriefing of ideas. A
volunteer is asked to share one new idea from a conversation partner, utilizing the language structure of reporting, such as:
• I learned from _ that _ .
• I found out from _ that _ .
• _ said (mentioned) that _ .
• My partner, _ told me (said that) _ .
7. The students whose idea has just been reported shares the next idea gleaned from another conversation partner, and the process continues.
Graphic Organizers - Graphic organizers are charts, graphs, or diagrams, which encourage students to see information as a component of systems rather than isolated facts. Students may complete these as they read or view a presentation. There are a variety of ways to use graphic organizers, including the following: semantic word map, story chart, Venn diagram, spider map, network tree, word map, and KWL chart. Other examples of graphic organizers are listed below.
• Comparison-Contrast Matrix-Students determine similarities and differences between
two people, things, solutions, organisms’ stories, ideas, or cultures.
• Branching Diagrams -Organization charts, hierarchical relationships systems, family trees
• Interval Graphs-Chronological order, bar graphs, parallel events, number value.
• Flowcharts - Sequential events, directions, decision making, writing reports, study skills.
• Matrix Diagram-Schedules, statistics, problem solving, comparisons with multiple criteria.
• Fishbone Diagram-Cause and effect, timeline.
Group Discussion, Stand Up and Share, and Roam the Room - After the teacher asks a question, students discuss and report their group findings to the class. Teams can share their best answer, perhaps on the board at the same time, or on an overhead transparency. When an individual student has something important to share with the class, he or she stands up. When
one person from each group is standing, the teacher calls on one of these students for a response. If others have a similar response, they sit down. Students move around the room to view the work of other teams. They return to their teams to Round Robin share what they have learned.
Hand Gestures – Thumbs-Up/ Thumbs-Down for Agree/ Disagree or True/ False. Teach kids sign language for letters to sign answer to multiple choice questions. “Fist to Five” where students show how well they think they understand the information (1 is low 5 is high).
Headings and Questions – A way to differentiate graphic organizers. E.g.; you may publish 4 different graphic organizers where some students get questions with sentence starters, others have just questions, others have headings only, and higher students get empty boxes.
Hot Topics - Students title a sheet "Hot Topics". This sheet is kept in an accessible place in their notebooks or portfolios. Students brainstorm with the teacher on possible topics of interest
related to the content of the course. Each student writes down at least ten Hot Topics and adds to the list throughout the year. Students occasionally choose one Hot Topic and write in depth on
the topic as a class assignment or as homework. These may be included in their portfolios.
Idea Starts -Use a prompt for writing, such as a quote, a photo, words from a vocabulary list, an article, a poem, opening lines to a story, an unusual object, a film, or a guest speaker.
Idea Wave - Each student lists 3-5 ideas about the assigned topic. One volunteer begins the “idea wave” by sharing his/her idea. The student to the right of the volunteer shares one idea; the next student to rights shares one idea. Teacher directs the idea wave until several different ideas have been shared. At the end of the formal idea wave, a few volunteers who were not included may contribute.
Image and Quote with Cooperative Poster - Groups of four are formed. Students read a selection. Each chooses a quote and an image that have impact for them. Round Robin share. Groups come to consensus on favorite image and quote. Each student takes one colored pen. With all members participating, and each using their chosen color, they draw the group image and write the groups quote on a piece of butcher or easel paper. Each member signs the poster with his or her pen. Posters are shared with the class.
Information Gap – These activities, which include jigsaws, problem-solving, and simulations, are set up so that each student (in a class or more generally in a group) has one or two pieces of information needed to solve the puzzle, but not all the necessary information. Students must work together, sharing information while practicing their language, negotiation strategies, and critical thinking skills.
Inside-Outside Circle - Students are arranged into two equal circles, one inside the other. Students from the smaller inside circle face those in the outer larger circle and vice versa. Students ask each other questions about a review topic. These may be either teacher or student generated. Students from one of the circles rotate to either the left or right. The teacher determines how many steps and in which direction. Another question is asked and answered. Interactions can be varied. The following are some ideas:
• Teacher posts a thoughtful question on the board, and pupils freely discuss. (1) one circle
presents thoughts, other asks more questions; or (2) one circle talks, other takes notes.
• Students share journal entries related to the topic of study. Alternatively, (1) one circle
presents entry, other circle asks questions; or (2) one presents, other circle takes notes.
• Each student has a clipboard. On the clipboard are several pages of different problems
(equal to the number of participants). Students in each circle have a different method to solve the same problem. Students cannot show their clipboard to one another. They must discuss the problem, sharing the two methods on their respective pages. Then they must identify one or two additional methods (e.g., Math: different pathways for solving the problems; Geography: different pathways to get somewhere on a map; ELA: predictions about the next event or sequence of events in a short story, novel, or play; Science: positive, negative, and null hypothesis).
Interactive Reading Guide - Working in groups, students write down everything they know about a reading selection topic. Then, they write three questions they want to have answered by the selection. Each student reads a short first section silently; then students retell the information with a partner. Next, the first _ pages (teacher's choice) are read aloud in the group, each person taking a turn to read. Then, the group predicts four things that will be discussed in the next section. The groups finish reading the chapter silently. Each person writes four thinking questions for a partner to answer. (Why do you think? Why do/did _ ? How does _ relate to your life or experiences? Compare _ to . What if _ ? Predict _ ) Papers are exchanged and answers are given to each other's questions. Finally, with a partner, a chart or diagram is drawn to illustrate the main points of the chapter.
In-Text Questions - Students answer teacher-constructed questions about a reading selection as they read it. Questions are designed to guide students through the reading and provide a purpose for reading. Students preview In-Text questions first then answer them as they read the article. Students review their answers with their small group, and then share them with the whole group.
Investigations (Science & Math) – For science inquiry, ask groups to pose research questions, design an experiment, and carry it out. They can present their results and conclusion through pictorial, written, and oral formats.
Jigsaw (Home Group/ Expert Group) - This is a strategy in which small groups of students become experts in one aspect of the larger topic being studied. They then teach this information to another group.
• Divide the class into groups of three to five students
• Each group becomes experts on one aspect of a larger topic by working with information
provided by the teacher or finding additional information. Members of the expert group engage in tasks designed to help them become familiar with the information.
• Each expert then returns to a mixed group with members of each of the other expert groups. Students in this group teach one another the information learned in the expert
The jigsaw requires the participation and cooperation of all students. It encourages interaction
since the goal is to put the pieces of the lesson together and create a whole picture of the topic being studied. Learn more about this technique from the originator of the strategy, Elliot Aronson: http://www.jigsaw.org/
Journals -Students keep questions and ideas in a journal. These may be used later to develop a formal piece of writing.
Jumbled Summary -- Teacher presents randomly ordered key words and phrases from a lesson to students. Students put the terms and phrases in a logical order to show understanding.
K-W-L – 3-column poster. Students establish what they Know, Want to know, and at the end of the lesson they tell what they Learned.
Learning Cell - Students develop questions and answers on their own (possibly using the Q- Matrix). Working in pairs the first student asks a question and the partner answers and vice versa. Each student can correct the other until a satisfactory answer is reached. (Good way to encourage students to go back to the textbook).
Learning Logs - Double-entry journals with quotes, summaries, notes on the left and responses reactions, predictions, questions, or memories on the right.
Lines of Communication— This language practice structure provides multiple opportunities for language production. Repeated practice in a low-stress situation gives shy or reluctant students more confidence to share and take risks.
1. The teacher gives a prompt or asks a question.
2. Students stand in two rows facing each other.
3. Students take turns responding to the prompt with the person standing across from them, and then discuss together for 30-seconds to one-minute.
4. At the signal (bell, musical cue, chimes, etc.) students wrap up their comments or discussion and move one position to the left. The student at the end of one of the lines
who is left without a partner moves down the center aisle to the far position of the opposite line to find a new partner.
5. The teacher finds a new prompt and the procedure continues until everyone has had a chance to share with every other member of the group, or as long as interest and focus
Line-Ups - Line-ups can be used to improve communication and to form teams. The entire class lines up according to a specific criteria (age, birthday, first letter of name, distance traveled to school, etc.). The end of the line can move to the head of the line and pair up until each person has a partner. This is called "folding the line." Teams of four members can then be formed from this line-up.
List-Group-Label – 3 step brainstorming process.
(1) Students individually brainstorm at least 6 words that have to do with _ (e.g.;
(2) Students pair up, compare lists and update together to ensure they both have 16 words
(3) Pairs combine to form groups of 4, compare words, add to lists if necessary (up to 24
words) then separate list into 4 categories (e.g. on a TREE MAP). They also need to develop headings for the categories they create.
Making Bigger Words (Word Scramble) – Using scrambled letters to create a series of larger words “making bigger words.”
Mix and Match -- Students make pairs or sets from randomly ordered objects or concepts that are listed on cards.
Mnemonic Strategies – Ideas from: http://www.fun-with-words.com/mnem_example.html
• Create hooks for the students to store new learning in the mind
• Should include visualization and/or acronyms
• Can be connected to students personally
• Can be linked to room items, number sequences, words, phrases, cartoons, tongue- twisters, alliterations, rhymes, or poems
• Mnemonics can be used to remember:
o Essay format: 1-2-3-4-5…Theme is THE MEssage
o Spelling: Parallel – the parallel lines are in the middle…Potassium = one tea, two
▪ Visual spectrum: ROY G BIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet)
= Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain
▪ Order of taxonomy in biology (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family,
genus, species) = Kids Prefer Cheese Over Fried Green Spinach
Most Important Word – Graphic organizer with key component parts to text or concept idea
Muddiest Point - Students are asked to write down the muddiest point in the lesson (up to that point, what was unclear)
Multiple Intelligences Inventory - Given a list of preference statements organized according to the eight multiple intelligences, students place checks next to those that are true for them. By totaling the number of checks per intelligence students are able to determine areas of strength and weakness.
Mystery Word – Ask for a volunteer to sit in a chair facing the class, but with his or her back to the word wall so the target vocabulary cannot be seen. Choose a word from the word’s meaing (see Read My Mind) until the student is able to guess the word.
Novel Ideas - Groups of four are formed. Each group member has a sheet of paper with the team name or number in the corner. Each person writes, "We think a story/selection entitled (insert appropriate title) might be about ..." Each person then has one minute to list what he or she
thinks the story might be about. For example, a story entitled "Eleven" might be about a football
team, roll of dice, etc. Each person draws a line. Members Round Robin share their lists. As each member shares, other members add new ideas to their lists. Groups then take turns standing in a line and reading their possible topics for the whole group. Topics may not be repeated. All students add new or "novel" ideas, not on their lists.
Numbered Heads Together – This routine is effective when students are solving problems or responding to questions that have a specific right answer. Numbered heads together uses the element of surprise (students do not know who will be called on) and encourages each student to make sure he or she knows the information well enough to answer correctly if chosen. It also holds students accountable with positive peer pressure; students will want to represent their team well (and earn points if that is part of the activity) by providing an acceptable answer.
1. In teams of four, each student numbers off from 1 to 4.
2. Ask the students to complete a task, engage in an activity, or answer questions. Students
put their heads together to discuss the answer for a set amount of time. They must make sure everyone on the team knows the answer.
3. The teacher randomly calls a number from 1 to 4 (use spinner, draw a number card, roll a die).
4. On each team, the student whose number was called writes the answer on a white board.
They may not receive any help from their team at this point. They place the response
board face down when ready.
5. When all teams are ready, have the designated student stand and hold up their response
board to show their answer. Check each team’s answer for accuracy.
Variation: Call on individual teams. The student with the selected number must stand and orally
respond for the team using a public speaking voice.
Numbered Wheels – Tag board strips (5” X 1”). Each strip is numbered 0-5 or 0-10. This
allows students to answer multiple-choice questions quickly by holding up appropriate number. 0
is a “Don’t Know” response. These are great for review before a written test.
One Minute Paper - Teacher decides what the focus of the paper should be. Ask students
“What was the most important thing you learned? What important question remains unanswered?
Set aside 5-10 minutes of next class to discuss the results. May be used in the middle of a class also.
Open Mind Diagram - Each person in a group of four uses a different colored marker to participate in the poster creation. Students draw a shape of a head and, inside the head, write words, quotes from the story, symbols and pictures. Words can be made into pictures of parts of the face.
Pairs Check - Cooperative pairs work on drill and practice activities. Students have worksheets. One student answers the first question while a second student acts as the coach. After the coach is satisfied that the answer is correct, and then roles are reversed. Then this pair can check with the other pair on the team. If all agree, then the process continues. If they do not agree, students try one more time to figure out the answer, or ask for help from the teacher.
Pantomime-A-Tale - This technique can be used with fiction or nonfiction reading selections. Divide an article into sections. Each group prepares their assigned section as a pantomime. There should be one group member who reads the section, with appropriate pauses, and three members who act it out without using words. Rehearsal is important, so allow time for it.
• Teacher poses a question (possibly for review or to take practice to application) that
requires students to generate a list
• Assign each group a different topic to brainstorm for (e.g., tissue, bones, organs, etc…)
• Students work in groups to brainstorm as many words/phrases they can think of for their topic. They list these on post-its.
• Teacher puts posters of each topic around the room. Students then place their post-its on their poster.
• Then whole class gallery-walks to read each poster. Possibly extend by asking students to add additional information to each poster.
Pass the Picture -Each person in a group has a visual of a person. A blank sheet of paper is clipped to the back. The teacher asks a question (e.g., "What is his/her name?"). Students write the answer in a complete sentence on the blank paper. Students then pass the visual and the paper to the student on the right. The teacher continues asking questions and students continue writing the answer, then passing the visual to the right for 6-8 questions. At the end, each student will have a descriptive paragraph for each visual. Each student takes a visual and shares it with the group while reading the final paragraph description.
Performance-Based Assessments – Can be one of three types:
• Products: Writing samples/essays, projects, art or photo exhibits, or portfolios
• Performances: Oral reports, skits/role-plays, demonstrations, or debates
• Process-oriented assessments: Think-alouds, self-assessment checklists or surveys, learning logs, individual or pair conferences, or teacher observations
Personal Dictionaries – Students use as an individual spelling and vocabulary resource. ELs work as individuals, in pairs or in groups, and add unknown words to their dictionary that they encounter while they read. The teacher works with each group or pair, clarifying words the students encountered.
Picture This - This activity is useful as a vocabulary or concept review. A blank paper is divided into eight sections. Students draw pictures or symbols to represent words or major concepts. Students are not to label the drawings. Students exchange papers with a partner and partners try
to correctly label each other's drawings.
Pie Graph - Using the results of the Multiple Intelligences inventory students draw a pie graph representing how they are smart on a paper plate. Students may color, make designs, or draw symbols for each section. Students can determine the size of each section by creating a fraction that represents each intelligence. The total number of checks is the denominator and the number of checks for that section is the numerator. This fraction can then be changed to a percent by dividing the numerator by the denominator.
Posters - As an APPLICATION activity students create a poster in small groups. The following list describes several types of posters that the teacher may assign:
• Illustrated Timeline Tell the plot or sequence on a timeline, with pictures that depict the events.
• Movie Poster Advertise the content from a lesson by creating a movie poster complete with ratings, pictures, actors, descriptions, and comments by a critic.
• Comic Strip Create a 6-paneled comic strip of the lesson content.
• Image and Quote Choose an image and quote from the lesson content that are
representative or important. Poster should include a title.
• Advertisement Choose an item from the lesson content and make a newspaper or
magazine ad for it.
EXTEND: Have groups travel gallery walk style, with Post its in hand, and discuss both the
highlights of each poster and a lingering question they have. Each group posts 1 Wow and 1
Wonder. Once rotations are complete, each group is to write a summary of the Wows and
Wonders on their poster and choose at least one question to address orally.
PQRST Study Strategy –
▪ Preview: Student skims the title, side headings, pictures and graphics to identify writer's
▪ Question: Student identifies questions that the writer is going to answer during the
▪ Read: Student reads to obtain answers to the questions and takes notes.
▪ Summarize: Student summarizes the information regarding each question posed.
▪ Test: Student tests the generalization against the supporting information to see if the
author has enough information to support the generalization.
Prediction - Students make a prediction about the subject they are about to read by selecting an answer to a multiple-choice question.
Predict-O-Gram – Provide a list of words students will learn in an upcoming unit of study. Then have students sort the words into a chart (or TREE MAP). SCIENCE EXAMPLE: List 12 words associated with Respiratory System. Students are to sort into one of three categories: Functions of the Respiratory System, Organs of the Respiratory System, and Diseases and Disorders of the Respiratory System.
Procedural Scaffolding –
1. Explicit teaching, modeling, and practice opportunities with others, and expectations for independent application
2. One-on-one teaching, coaching, modeling
3. Small group instruction with children practicing new strategies with another experienced
4. Partnering or grouping students for activities with more experienced readings assisting
those with less experience
Projects - Projects certainly offer opportunities for problem-posing and problem-solving. By making the topic pertain to a local issue, students are more motivated to become actively involved. Cooperative projects have broad possibilities:
• writing and illustrating a story about a problem
• scripting a scene and performing it
• making a product and developing a marketing plan for it
• producing a class newspaper or bimonthly newsletter for parents
• recording oral histories from local residents about changes in the community (e.g., how
technology has affected their lives)
• conducting research to obtain background information on a chosen topic
• creating a poster or mural to reflect a topic in history or literature
Questionnaires and Interviews - Designing questionnaires and interviewing respondents are excellent activities for heterogeneous student groups. In the design phase of the questionnaire, all students in the group can contribute and evaluate questions for inclusion, In the interview phase, the number of people each student may be expected to interview can be adjusted to the students’ ability. Also, interviews may be conducted in students’ first language, though responses must be reported in English, orally, or in writing.
Question-Answer Relationship (QAR) - This program teaches students strategies for answering questions. It also points out the sources for different kinds of questions. Here are the three types:
- Right There The answer is located directly in the reading
- Think and Search The answer is "between the lines." The reader needs to analyze, make inference and/or predict the answer based on the information in the reading.
- On My Own The answer is "beyond the lines." The reader must base the answer on his/her own experience.
Quick Class Check - Give students paper plates, index cards, whiteboard, or large sheets of paper when they enter. When asking a question have ALL students write the answer and at your signal, have ALL students hold up the plate (or whatever) so that you can see who/ how many got the answer. Discussion to elaborate can follow.
Quick-Draw - Students sketch ideas that relate to a topic.
Quick-Write - Pre-reading or pre-writing focus activity. Students are asked to respond to a question or prompt in writing for 5 minutes. Emphasis is on getting thoughts and ideas on paper. Grammar, spelling, style not important. If students get stuck they can repeat phrases over and over until a new idea comes to mind. (Assessment strategy) Student writes for 2-3 minutes about what he heard from a lecture or explanation/read/learned. Could be an open ended question from teacher.
RAFT -May be used in any content area to reinforce information and check for understanding. Individuals or groups of students write about information that has been presented to them The teacher determines the role of the writer, audience, format, and topic (RAFT). For example, in a science class, students are asked to write using the following RAFT - Role of Writer Cloud; Audience Earth; Format Weather report; Topic Explanation of upcoming thunderstorms.
Ranking and Consensus Building - Students individually rank items in a list from least important to most important. Each group or pair comes to a consensus on the order.
Read Around Groups -After completing a writing assignment, students are divided into groups of equal size. A group leader collects the group's papers then, in a clockwise direction, passes them to the next group. Each member of the group receives one paper then reads it. Readers star a line they especially like. One minute is allowed for reading and marking each paper. At signal the students pass the paper to the person on the right. After reading the papers of one group, the group chooses one paper to read aloud to the class. If time allows, groups may continue to pass papers until everyone has read all the papers.
Reader Response Chart - Students draw a T-chart on their paper. On the left side they write 3 interesting quotes from the story and on the right side students respond to the quote with personal reactions, memories, questions, compare/contrast, or something to learn more about.
Reading Circles/ Book Clubs Once students choose a book from a selection of 4 to 5 titles, they form a group with those reading the same book. Students read and solve the teacher-designed activities that relate to their book. The group shares with the class what they have learned from their reading.
Reading Guide -
1. Headings Read -Around- Students take turns reading the headings of the reading
2. Prediction Chart- With their group, students choose two headings and predict what will
be discussed in those sections. Students write their answers on a prediction chart with the following labels: "Heading", "Prediction", "Yes or No".
3. In their groups, students take turns reading the first page aloud, and finish reading the selection in silence. They write "yes" or "no" on the prediction chart to indicate whether
or not their predictions were correct.
4. Thinking Questions- Students write one thinking question (Why..., How..., Compare...,
What if...), and exchange papers to answer each other's questions.
Reading Log- Students complete while reading a selection. The left-hand side contains topic headings for sections of the reading. Students are to briefly summarize each topic. On the right-- hand side students reflect on the implications of each topic.
Read My Mind – Choose a word from your word wall and give one clue to its meaning. Have students raise their hands to guess the word. (Only allow one guess per clue in order to provide as many clues as possible.) Clues can be any of the following: definition, synonym, antonym, part of speech, number of syllables, prefix means, suffix means, rhymes with _ , “fill in the blank in this sentence,” ends with this letter, begins with this letter. When a student guesses correctly, ask him or her to give the definition of the words and to use it in context. As the class becomes familiar with the various types of clues used in this activity, have individual students
take your place as clue provider. Alternatively, you could create two teams to play the “Read My
Reciprocal Teaching - Two students work together to read a passage. Each may have a text or they may share a text. Student A reads one paragraph aloud, then asks Student B one or two good questions. (See QAR below.) B answers or explains why (s)he cannot. A and B discuss questions and answers. The process is repeated in reverse.
Reel – The whole group divides into two groups. Group 1 stands in a line facing out. Group 2 stands in a line facing in. Group 1 shares their task with partner from Group 2. Partner comments. Group 2 then shares information with same partner from Group 1. Comment. Group
2 takes one step to the left so each person is facing a new partner from Group 1. (The last person in Group 2’s line moves to the other end.) Repeat the procedure.
Reflections - Students reflect, in writing, on what was learned, what was confusing, and connections of this lesson to other lessons/other content areas/real world. Students may also reflect on their progress as a student, what to do differently next time, or what was liked about the topic.
Relic Bag – Students bring relics from their lives to share.
Response Boards - Small white boards, or even cardstock in sheet protectors, can be used for group responses. Use dry-erase markers or dark crayons that can be erased easily for next answer.
Role-Play - Students can personify a concept or object of study (e.g., precipitation, liberty, inference) or a person being studied.
• Pairs of learners sit facing one another.
• Learner A personifies a concept from a content area.
• Learner B interviews Mr./Ms. concept and fills in a blank form (e.g., blank boxes for name, identifying traits, subject of study, work experience).
This activity encourages students to apply what they know about a topic in personalized and imaginative ways. The interview format encourages interaction and cooperation in the pursuit of
a common goal: communicating and recording information about the topic.
Round Robin - Cooperative learning structure in which team members share ideas verbally on a topic. Group members share in order, without interruption, comment, discussion, or questions from other members so that everyone has an opportunity to share.
Round Robin Writing - This activity works well with open-ended higher order questions and in general, with questions that have more than one possible answer.
• Pair students.
• Each pair has one sheet of paper and one pencil.
• Pose a question with multiple answers (e.g., Why do people immigrate?)
• The students pass the sheet back and forth and record as many responses as possible.
They should not talk about the answers, but record them in writing.
• Ask students to share responses with larger groups or the whole class.
VARIATION, form small groups and give each group member a paper and pencil. Each paper has a different but related question or topic on it (e.g., social reasons to immigrate; economic reasons to immigrate; political reasons to immigrate). Students write a short answer about their question or topic and pass the paper to the next student. Continue until all students have written on all papers in their group. All students stay simultaneously engaged. This activity is a way to
promote interaction among students through the written modality.
Round Table - The teacher asks a question that has many possible answers. In groups, the students make a list of possible answers by one at a time saying an answer out loud and writing it down on a piece of paper. The paper is then passed to the next student to record another answer. The process continues until the teacher tells the students to stop.
Roving Reporter – While students are doing group work, solving problems, developing opinions, generating group statements, one student from each group moves around gathering scoops, discoveries, ideas, angles, approaches, pathways, and so forth from other groups.
Same-Different - In pairs, students sit across from but different, pictures. Their job is to fill out what is the same and what is different in their pictures, without seeing what the other sees. Each student has a recording sheet. Students alternate recording the similarities and differences they find.
Send-A-Problem – This cooperative learning activity can be used with many content areas.
• Each student on a team makes up a review question and writes it on a 3x5 card (or a problem, such as a math problem, a scientific hypothesis, a historical question, or a literature prediction such as what will happen next in the story?).
• The writer asks the question of the other members of the team. When everyone agrees on
an answer it is written on the back of the card.
• The teams then send their card to another team. Teams respond by having one student
read the first question.
• Each team member writes down an answer. Team members then compare and discuss
their answers. If they agree, they turn the card over to see if they concur with the sending team. If not, they write their answer on the back of the card as an alternative answer. (OR the receiving group answers the problem and the response to give points or a grade, if desired.)
• A second student reads the next question, and so on. The stacks of cards are sent to a third, then a fourth group until all teams have had a chance to answer all questions. When the cards return to the senders, the teacher should provide an opportunity to discuss and clarify.
Signal Cards - Create cards to check for understanding. green means “I got it”, yellow means
“I’m not sure, Maybe”, and blue means “I’m lost. I have questions”
Simulations – A way to review concepts or vocabulary in a non-threatening way. Preparation: Create word cards (or concepts/phrases)
• Make groups in numbers of 3,4 or 5 (# off class 1 – 10)
• Group reads card and plans how they will simulate the situation it describes.
• No words or props allowed
• Groups present their simulation to the whole group.
Sample Content Objective: SWBAT demonstrate the 3 types of boundaries.
Sample Language Objective: SWBAT to write how they would act out each boundary.
Snowball – Write a response on paper (either to a prompt or a question) then crumple into ball shape. Teach numbers students off by 1 and 2. Then calls for all 1s to stand in one line and all 2s to stand across from them. The 1s are to throw their “snowball” across to the 2s. The 2s are to pick one up, find the originator, read the paper back to them, then describe in his or her own words what he or she thinks the originator (#1) meant. #1 either agrees or clarifies. Then repeat the process where the 2s throw and the 1 catch, read, elaborate, and seek clarification.
Speedwriting – Describes how "speedwriting" requires that all learners become actively
engaged in their own learning because, rather than generating ideas orally, students are instructed
to write down all their ideas as quickly as they can. Considers how the social engagement of discussion and the sharing of ideas during the writing phase drew even the most reluctant students into the activity.
SQP2RS -- An instructional framework for teaching content with expository texts in these steps:
1. Surveying – scanning the text to be read for 1 – 2 minutes.
2. Questioning – having students generate questions likely to be answered by reading the text, with teacher guidance
3. Predicting – stating 1 – 3 things students think they will learn based on the questions that were generated
4. Reading – searching for answers to questions and formulating new ones for the next section of text to be read.
5. Summarizing – Orally or in writing summarizing the text’s key concepts
Startling Statements - Students are told not to look at the startling statement (question) that they have on their backs. They circulate asking five others to provide an estimate for an answer. After finding the average of the five estimates provided by others, students look at their statements (questions) and write their own estimate if they disagree with the average. Actual answers are given after the students share estimates with the whole group.
Tableau - The students form a tableau of characters or scenes or concepts. The teacher directs students regarding their positions and facial expressions. Students hold their positions in a brief tableau.
Talking Stick – This strategy is structured so that each student has the opportunity, and responsibility, to speak multiple times. Students can “pass” (decline to respond) only once. This allows reluctant speakers to hear others in their small group before having to contribute. Instructions:
1. Designate an object as the “talking stick” and have student pass it around the group – first clockwise, and later, randomly.
2. The teacher gives a prompt and indicates the number or letter of the group member to begin. The first student with the “talking stick” speaks while everyone listens. The
student then passes the object to the left. The process continues until everyone in the group has had a chance to speak or until the teacher gives a signal to stop.
3. To extend the activity, once everyone in the group has had a turn speaking, anyone in the group may ask for another turn by saying something like, “I’d like to add another
thought. Please hand me the talking stick.
Talking Chips – This is an excellent activity to both encourage reticent speakers to contribute (they have to use up their “talking chips”) and to limit the domination of those more assertive and confident (they can only contribute as much as everyone else). Instructions:
1. Each member receives the same number of chips (2 colored plastic markers, pennies,
2. Each time a member wishes to speak, he or she puts a chip in the center of the table.
3. Once individuals have used up their chips, they can no longer speak.
4. The discussion continues until all members have exhausted their supply of chips.
Talmudic Pair Work – Students pair up to read and paraphrase a passage together. One is A
and the other B. Partner
1. A reads a sentence. Stops. Partner B asks, “What does it mean?” Partner A explains in his
or her own words.
2. A&B: Have an option to continue to discuss and interpret the line. (They might
respectfully disagree with each other, request clarification, check comprehension, elaborate, share details, provide examples, and draw inferences as they bring prior knowledge of the world and language to the interpretations that emerge from the dialogic process.)
3. Partner B reads the next sentence. Stops. Partner A asks, “What does it mean?” Partner B explains. (Once again, both participants have an option to continue to discuss and interpret the line. Now they draw on past interpretations and notions and continue to develop new ones.)
4. The participants continue to alternately read aloud the text line by line. They engage in Talmudic Pair Work until they have reached the end of the text and exhausted the dialogic, hermeneutic approach.
Take Five – Give table groups five words from the word wall and allow five minutes for each group to prepare a dialogue, skit, or pantomime using the selected words. You may want to increase or decrease the number of words and the time allotted for this activity.
Take a Stand (Agree/Disagree, True/False, Yes/No) – A kinesthetic way to quickly allow students to give their answers to questions. Teacher poses a question. Students stand up if they AGREE/it’s TRUE/ for YES and sit down if they DISAGREE/ it’s FALSE/ for NO.
Tap-A-Word - Students practice pronouncing words or phrases by using a combination of claps, hitting the table, and snapping the fingers. the teacher. In Round Table style, each member uses
a word from the list, in the order given, in a sentence to create a collaborative story.
Text Identification – Read title, heading, bold-faced words, and italics. Preview questions. Preview chapter, pictures, charts, and chapter summary.
Text Recall – Highlight Key Vocabulary and concepts. List highlights. Retell using highlights as triggers. PROCESS:
1. Have students take out a highlighter or pencil and say, “Underline what I do as I read the
2. “Close your books, take a blank piece of paper, make a list that look like my list…”
Teacher writes key points that were previously highlighted. (list words, one per line)
3. “I will model for you how to retell story using the list.” Teacher paraphrases story in
student-like language following the list through the retell
4. “Look at new part of text and you underline key idea. Your words might be different than
your neighbors. That’s okay. Your list is for you – these are words that you think will trigger a recall.”
VARIATION: Give students different texts (same theme). Give students different parts of same text. Retelling is a ticket to leave at end of lesson.
Think A-loud – The think-aloud strategy asks students to say out loud what they are thinking about when reading, solving math problems, or simply responding to questions posed by teachers or other students. Effective teachers think out loud on a regular basis to model this process for students. In this way, they demonstrate practical ways of approaching difficult problems while bringing to the surface the complex thinking processes that underlie reading comprehension, mathematical problem solving, and other cognitively demanding tasks. Thinking out loud is an excellent way to teach how to estimate the number of people in a crowd, revise a paper for a specific audience, predict the outcome of a scientific experiment, use a key to decipher a map, access prior knowledge before reading a new passage, monitor comprehension while reading a difficult textbook, and so on. Getting students into the habit of thinking out loud enriches classroom discourse and gives teachers an important assessment and diagnostic tool.
Think-Pair-Share - When asked to consider an idea or answer a question, students write their ideas on paper (think). Each student turns to another student nearby and reads or tells his or her own responses (pair, share). This is an oral exchange, not a reading of each other's papers.
Think-Pair-Square – Students share with two other students after they have completed Think- Pair-Share (4-square).
Think-Write-Pair-Share – This cooperative discussion activity ensures that students are practicing academic language in partners and small groups, and can be done multiple times during a lesson. As explained earlier, structuring discussion in this way provides a brief time for students to process a response, engage in thinking with a partner, and then build on their partner discussion with a larger group. Instructions:
1. Students are lettered off (A – B – C – D) into groups of four.
2. The teacher poses a discussion prompt and models a response using the target academic language.
3. Think - Write: Students have silent think time to jot down their response.
4. At the signal, Partners A/B and C/D read their responses to each other and discuss.
• To further structure this time, you may wish to signal when it is time for each partner to share. This prevents on partner from dominating or using all of the discussion time and ensures that both partners have the opportunity to discuss their responses.
• Add additional practice by having A share with C, and B with D.
• Or have the two pairs share with each other after they have discussed their ideas with each other.
• An additional variation is to have student record their partner’s response.
5. Keep the pace brisk enough to prevent dead time. It’s better for partners to have a little
less time than they need, rather than too much.
6. Signal for the group to reconvene and invite volunteers to share their responses with the
VARIATIONS: It may be helpful to include additional parameters in the directions, such as:
1. Identify similarities and differences between your responses.
• My idea is similar to (elaborates on, is like, complements, etc.) _ ’s idea.
• We both think that _ . However, I also think _ .
2. Combine your responses to generate a more complete (compelling, accurate, etc.)
• Between the two of us, we came up with _ .
• After some discussion, we decided (agree, have come to the conclusion) that _ .
3. Generate a list of remaining questions.
4. Use these clarifying statements in your discussion:
• How did you decide that”
• In other words, you think that _ . Is that right?
• I’m not sure what you mean by _ . Can you please explain?
Think-Round Robin – Students share answers in a whole class circle either orally or on paper.
Three-Step Interview – This routine is effective when students are responding to questions that
do not have a specific right answer.
Instructions: Present an issue about which varying opinions exist and pose several questions for
the class to consider.
1. Students work in pairs. One is the interviewer; the other is the interviewee. Each
interview lasts two to three minutes.
2. At the signal, partners switch roles.
3. After each set of partners have interviewed each other, have them pair with another set of partners. Each partner shares his or her partner’s idea with the others.
VARIATION 1: Depending on your goals for the work, you may:
• Have the groups of four synthesize their ideas and list commonalities and differences on a
chart to be posted and shared orally, or as a Gallery Walk, so students can read each other’s ideas.
• Invite several students to share their own or their partner’s ideas as you chart them. As you go, have students indicate agreement with a “thumbs up”. Once you have collected a
few distinct ideas, ask whether there are any other ideas not yet reflected.
• Use these charts as a basis for asking student to write summary of the interview results.
• Group participants letter off A-B-C-D. They use the following interview steps in order to share what they have written in a quick-write until they all have been read. Step 1: A interviews B C interviews D Step 2: B interviews A D interviews C Step 3:A interviews C and D about B B interviews C and D about A, C interviews A and B about D, D interviews A and B about C.
VARIATION 2: This structured interview allows student pairs to form groups.
• Assign an interview topic that relates to the unit theme (What is your favorite character in
_ and why?) and have students select partners. Or you can pair up the students.
• First, one partner interviews the other.
• Second, they reverse roles.
• As a next step, several pairs (depending on class size, the number or pairs can range from three to six) form a group and do a Round Robin to share their opinions, with each
student speaking for her to his partner.
Three Way Journal – Reflection or Preview of content: New information/ My Reaction/ Partner’s comments
Tickets to Enter/Exit - Teacher asks students a specific question about the lesson. Students
then respond on the ticket and gives to teacher, either on their way out or on their way in the next day. Teacher can then evaluate the need to re-teach or questions that need to be answered.
Transfer and Apply - Students list what they have learned and how they might apply it to their real lives. Students list interesting ideas, strategies, concepts learned in class or chunk of class. They then write some possible way to apply this learning in their lives, another class, or in their community.
Twelve Word Summary - In 12 words or less, students summarize important aspects of a particular chunk of instruction or reading.
Verbalizing -Students share with a partner ideas they have on a topic. Pre-writing or INTO
Visualization - In response to a teacher prompt, students visualize in their mind a particular time or place and concentrate on sensory images. (Tell students to "turn on the TV in their minds.")
Vocabulary Alert – Chart with key vocabulary listed and have students try to define words based upon what they already know.
Vocabulary Cards - Each student selects a difficult vocabulary word fro the story and creates a card in the following manner: The word and its definition in the front, and a drawing and the vocabulary word in a sentence in the back. These cards are shared with team members, then exchanged with other groups.
Vocabulary Games –
• Flash Cards
• Word Searches
• Crossword Puzzles
• Fast-paced Password
Vocabulary Puzzle – Group competition to try to match word to definition.
Vocabulary Self-Selection – encourages students to self-select key vocabulary that is essential to understanding the concept. Students select vocabulary as individuals, in pairs, or in small groups. After discussion and learning about the terms, the students share their lists with the entire class, which then agrees upon a class vocabulary list. This is an effective method because
students learn to trust their own judgments about which content words are most important for
them to know and seek out definitions on their own.
Vocabulary Taboo – A strategy for learning to express the vocabulary words in language other than that memorized from a dictionary definition. In this activity, students divide into teams and take turns trying to communicate the meaning of a specific vocabulary word. To play the game, you need to have a set of Vocabulary Taboo cards. The cards should each list a vocabulary word and three or four “forbidden” words. The forbidden words should be words from the dictionary definition that the students would commonly use to describe the vocabulary word. Divide the class into two teams. One team will go first. A person from the team will come and get one of the Vocabulary Taboo cards. Tell them that this has a vocabulary word form their lists on it. This person must try to get his/her team to guess the word in less than thirty seconds (you may want
to increase or decrease the time limit, depending on how long it actually takes them – the point is
to get them to succeed, but add an incentive of bearing the clock). The clue-giver will stand in from of the team and say as many clues as possible. There is one rule regarding the taboo words. These words cannot be used in any of the clues, or the team’s turn will be automatically over. Alternate turns until all of the words have been defined. Scroll down for an example of some words and how to set up the cards for the students.
What it is/ What it’s not – Definition, synonyms, and word characteristics
Whip Around – This is a good activity to summarize learning or get everyone’s voice. It is often used as a wrap-up to the day’s class. Instructions:
1. Pose a question that encourages students to reflect on a response. Have them hot down two or three possible responses utilizing frames that you have provided.
2. Whip around the room having each student share one of his or her responses using a public speaking voice.
A MORE STRUCTURED VARIATION:
1. To prepare, generate 30 questions (or enough so that there is one per student). Write two
questions on a card (#1 and #2 on a card, #2 and #3 on the next, #3 and #4 on the next and so on.)
2. Distribute one to each student and permit time for everyone to jot a response to the
FIRST question on his or her card. They may work in partners to help each other generate
3. Begin with a volunteer who reads the question and response. Then they ask, “Who has
4. The person with that question states the response and asks, “Who has the question…?”
Continue until everyone has contributed.
Word Bank (Cloze) – Use key vocabulary, parts of speech, restructuring the reading. Students keep a word bank or dictionary of new or “hard-to-read” sight-vocabulary words.
Word Generation – helps students learn review new content vocabulary through analogy. A root is provided, and students brainstorm words that include that root. The class analyzes the meaning of each brainstormed word to figure out what the root means. If they cannot determine the meaning, teachers may give hints or explain the meaning. Then students apply the meaning to the words in the list. EXAMPLE: Port “to carry” – portable, export, transport, deport…
Word Map – Word webs, graphic organizers. They're useful for helping students develop their understanding of a word. They help students think about new terms or concepts in several ways by asking the following questions:
"What is it?"
"What is it like?" and
"What are some examples?"
They help student build upon prior knowledge and visually represent new information.
1. Introduce the vocabulary word and the map to the students.
2. Teach them how to use the map by putting the target word in the central box.
3. Ask students to suggest words or phrases to put in the other boxes which answer the
following questions: "What is it?" "What is it like?" and "What are some examples?"
4. Encourage students to use synonyms, antonyms, and a picture to help illustrate the new
target word or concept.
5. Model how to write a definition using the information on the word map.
Word Splash – The board is SPLASHED with new vocabulary from the sessions. Students get into groups of 4 and are given 1 minute to look at the words. Teacher erases one of the words. The first group to raise its had and correctly say the word, spell it, and use it in a sentence wins the point.
Word Sorts – Used for students to categorize words or phrases that have been previously introduced. Words, or phrases, are written on strips or paper. The students organize the strips according to meaning, similarities in structure, derivations, sounds, words, and phrases related to a content concept or other criteria determined by the teacher.
Word Study Books – Student-made personal books that contain frequently used words and concepts. The teacher or class determines the words and definitions to include and how to organize the words (e.g., by structure, by concept).
Word Walls – are effective for displaying content words related to a particular unit or theme. Words may be added as a unit progresses and teachers should remind students to consult the wall. The word wall should be carefully maintained with regular student input to remove words (that the students have learned) to keep the number of words reasonable.
- Key words are displayed alphabetically
- Revisited frequently during lessons
- Students use words throughout unit of study
- Remove some words regularly in order to keep words displayed to a reasonable number.
Words in Context – There are three principles involved in teaching and learning vocabulary in context: practice, understand, and infer (going beyond the text). ESL vocabulary activities, read a-louds and games are all art of this vocabulary learning As a general rule of thumb, vocabulary can be taught inductively (through some process of discovery) or deductively (example: providing a picture - 'this is a _ ' ) Another general rule of thumb is that the discovery process has a general appeal to learners especially when the words have been previously taught.
Next steps: Putting learned words through context. Teachers use a listening comprehension story
to present the words in another context.
Writing Headlines—Good way to practice summarizing an activity, story or project. Suppose you have asked your student groups to read a story or an article, or you want them to describe the results of a science experiment. After having the groups discuss it among themselves, you can check on their observations and comprehension by having them write a headline or title for a book review. Students will practice their summarizing skills and, as they get more proficient,
their descriptive language skills, when writing news headlines. More advanced student may
provide most of the language, but beginning students can copy the final product, perhaps in a fancy “script.”
• Provide models of Headlines.
• Students work in pairs writing a headline for an activity.
• Pairs share out their headlines and class votes on most effective headline.
Zip Around – Review activity that uses study cards where term/phrase is on one side and the answer/definition to another card is on the back. Student #1 begins by saying, “Who has
_ ?” and waits for student who has the answer to say, “I have _ .”
Then student #2 says, “Who has _ ?”… so-on and so-forth until all students have
Zip Line – Similar to human timeline. Terms and definitions together on one card (Term on left, definition on right) and students need to stand side-by-side next to person who has matching definition.
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