Instructional Strategies That Improve Student Achievement

These are my reflections and notes from Fran Prolman, an educational consultant from the US. The workshop took place on March 18, 2010 as part of the CEESA conference in Tallinn, Estonia.

What will I take back to Belgrade?

10 – 2 Rule: For every ten minutes of teacher centered talk, there must be 2 minutes of student talk.

These are the strategies to get the students talking.

  • “Paired Verbal Fluency” – Take what you heard and put it to long-term memory. Important to shift from teacher to talk and more for the students to talk.
  • Think Pair Share – teacher assigns a question,  students solve it.
  • Journal Entry on Blog –
  • Graphic Organizer

Collegiality versus Congeniality – everyone brings food/sunshine club, which is nice, but schools need to have professional learning community.

Five Behaviors for a Highly Collegial School

1)      Talk concretely, precisely about teaching and learning

2)      Planning and making materials together (not planning in isolation) it is easier

3)      Observing each other’s classroom – Go on an strategy hunt

4)      Teachers share their expertise – faculty meetings take place in various teacher classrooms

5)      Teachers are asking questions and providing assistance to one another

Another idea was to get a sub for the teacher and have them follow a student for a day.

The average number of pages in a textbook in the USA is 800 pages.

She loves the standards AERO because they are geared to international schools.

M.A.P. has a good correlation to the AERO standards.  

What are the indicators for a Standards-Based School?

Published criteria, posted work , students are able to tell you what they did and what

Shift from focus on teaching to learning.

Shift from a coverage mentality to a mastery mentality.

Engage teams in building shared knowledge with documents

Teams help looking rubrics at “rater reliability” –

Beginning the Lesson – Frame the Learning for your students

  • Standard, mastery objective, essential questions, – tell the students what they will learn – remember, no secrets
  • Activators – relate the material to what the students have already learned or know
  • Rubrics; free easy site for teachers to do rubrics quickly and easily
  • Word Splash (this is an activator) – splash words on a page that the students will be learning – have the students make predictive statements on how the terms are related – this is a good web site for creating word splashes,

  • K / W / L –


Confusers – ex) having latitude and longitude in the same lesson 

Examplars are great for kids – for example a good lab report with arrows pointing to points in the rubric

Middle of the Lesson – Checking for Understanding

  • White boards (mini slate) for each student – ask a question to one student, and only one student is understanding – quiet ones demonstrate  (content check)
  • Signal Cards – red/yellow/green (thumbs up / thumbs down /thumbs sideways
  • Sentence Stems – put these on 3by5 cards and it can be used by the index cards
  • Descriptive Feedback –

Important to have detailed feedback for the student – Ex) Your L look like the letter Y instead of sloppy

Do a re-write so you can incorporate it in the text.

Teachers do not put a final grade on the paper instead have the students judge themselves.

Good feedback tells me how to improve, non-judgmental, limited focus, specific, based on the standards,

The “stand up and talk” dialogue and the movement really helps the students to focus. Big sitting down is less oxygen in the brain – many people think better when they are running.

Walk – Talk – This is a good kinestetic strategy, we read an article about feedback and then walked and talked about it.

Personal Relationship Building is a spoke on the umbrella and class climate is the umbrella. Respect, courtesy, fairness, honesty, realness, humor, (Much like the IB Learner Profile)

Pouring on praise on a student actually shuts down thinking and conversation. It makes teacher’s pets, and creates a competitive environment. (Arthur Casta – says not to put a value on it, no student gets a judgment. )

Performance Goal  – Don’t take risks, wants to maintain the seven.

Learning Goal – With great feedback, this becomes front and center instead of the performance goal.

How to Train Students to Think Creativity

E. Paul Torrance / Alex Osbourne

1) Elaboration (not a new idea, take a basic idea and elaborate)

2) Fluency – Mental stamina,

3) Flexibility – mental, move your brain to different ideas smoothly

4) Originality

The End of the class: Evidence of Student Learning

“The Important Thing” (summarizer)

I like the term, SELF ADJUSTMENT.

3 thoughts on “Instructional Strategies That Improve Student Achievement

  • I enjoyed reading your notes and reflecting on my own years of teaching. I was teaching computer software, to working adults mostly, and found that if I could lead them to relax and listen to what the software was telling them about how it worked, they learned more easily. Your comment about over-praising students is apt. You don’t have to praise — attention is reward. So give attention to each in turn and reward inquiry as well as answers.

    Now I do volunteer teaching with seniors (average ages 70-75) and it is more fun. They like telling the teacher what they already know.

  • I enjoyed reading your notes. I’m writing a paper Action Research Planning and Curriculum Package and I think there are some useful pointers for deeper thoughts. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s