When it comes to instruction, it has been said that “hope” is not a strategy. You cannot simply teach a lesson and “hope” students understand. Fortunately, there are proven and reliable strategies that engage students in rigorous lessons.
What is an Instructional Strategy?
Effective instructional strategies are proven ways that help students learn material and retain information. It is more than memorization and mnemonic devices; it is an approach that helps students apply concepts and deepen their understanding. It is important to note that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” instructional strategy. Some strategies are better for math, while others are better for writing.
Types of Instructional Strategies
- Project Based Learning – For many skills, students learn best when they are able to apply what they are learning. When given a real-world problem or scenario, students learn why the skills they are learning are important and how they are applicable to real-life situations. Depending on the outcome, students may be asked to work independently or collaboratively.
- Small Group Learning – Whether it is as partners or in a group of three or four students, small group learning utilizes collaboration to help students work on an activity. While building teamwork, the teacher is also able to work with each group and provide small group instruction to ensure learning is taking place, and to differentiate instruction as needed.
- Task Cards – Because students learn in different ways, it can be beneficial to provide a set of activities which provides the students the option of learning in a way that best suits each one. Task cards may be used to offer students a variety of activities with a similar end result, but allow students to choose if they want to work independently or in a small group, if they want to write a poem or a narrative, or create a word problem or complete a math chart. Giving options help reach each child.
- Active Learning – By having students take an active part in the learning process, they develop ownership for their learning. Active learning allows the students to be engaged in an activity and reflect on what was learned.
- Classroom Management – In order for students to learn in an active classroom, there needs to be an effective classroom management system in place. This could be small groups working to earn rewards based on attentiveness to the task, or individuals earning stickers on an interactive reward chart. Another effective strategy is student response, where in an organized effort to get students attention, the teacher says a phrase and the students respond with a given response and their attention. In one example, the teacher says, “One, two, three, all eyes on me.” Then students respond, “One, two, eyes on you.”
As teachers work to compete with interactive video games, cell phones and other distractions, it is important to remember that students like to be involved in the learning process. Providing a variety of strategies will keep your classroom interesting and students engaged.