Instructional Strategies

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Effective teachers understand that all students have different strengths and needs. They design their programming based upon their insights about students. All effective teachers understand that there are some basic learning needs that are shared by all students. They are:
  • All students want to be accepted for who they are - Students need to believe that they will be accepted rather than judged. Acceptance will allow them to take risks without fear of failure and ridicule.
  • All students want to learn and be better than they are - Students have inquiring minds that need to be engaged in interesting activities. They have a thirst for new information and will be excited about new and interesting learning opportunities. Students take pride in their accomplishments and build upon their successes.
  • All students need guidance to learn and improve, both academically and socially - Both social and academic growth is possible if students are given the information they need to make smart choices. Students need guidance and support to appropriately scaffold their learning in order to move ahead academically. An effective teacher is always aware of each student's gaps in knowledge and is able to provide the next step. If a student makes a poor social choice, it can also be treated as a learning experience. This is an opportunity for you to model patience, calm and logical thinking to resolve a difficult situation. In this way, students learn to resolve problems effectively and calmly. They also learn that mistakes are not disasters, but opportunities for discovery and redirection.
  • All students learn better when they are actively involved - Research clearly indicates that students learn more when they are actively involved in the learning activity. Research also indicates that learning retention increases when students actively apply new skills, discuss new concepts with others and participate in activities that allow them to explore new ideas and demonstrate learning in their preferred style.
  • All students learn better when the material is meaningful to their lives - Students are better able to make sense of ideas that have relevance to their lives. New material can be more easily learned if the student sees how it relates to information he/she already possesses or concepts that he/she already understands.
  • All students will respond to achievable challenges - Even struggling students will become engaged in activities that they perceive to be attainable.
Meeting the common needs of students in your classroom can be accomplished by ensuring that students feel valued and by designing learning activities that ensure student engagement and the consolidation of learning. As early as the 1950s, research demonstrates which instructional strategies best consolidate learning and ensure retention of material. The following diagram illustrates which strategies are most effective.
Learning Pyramid
Learning Pyramid

The learning pyramid clearly illustrates that active participation in the learning process results in more effective consolidation and retention of learning. An effective teacher will design lessons and activities with this information in mind, and ensure students are actively engaged in the learning process.