HOT TIP: Teaching Your Favorite Strategies!
Judy offers a great idea on how to help your students learn your favorite classroom strategies early in the year.
Each student in the classroom reads a different piece of text (You can have as few as nine different pieces of text, with some students reading the same thing). On the 1-2-3 Special Graphic Organizer, they write the three most important ideas they read; then they underline only FOUR WORDS in each of their three ideas. Next students form groups of three, with each person having read a different piece of text. They record the other students' three important ideas--writing only the FOUR WORDS. From the nine ideas they now have, the group will narrow down to the top three. Finally, the group’s mix and form new groups of three, where none of the discussed texts are the same. These students record each other's top three ideas. If you'd like, you can add one more narrowing down to three from this set of nine. Clear as mud? Watch the video!
- Start with individual reading without mentioning they will work in groups
- Student reads text and lists three interesting/important things
- Now tell them to meet with two other students (figure out how to match them up)
- Meet with two students who read different texts and share the three things
- As a triad choose three things of the nine
- Find two new people to share the three items with (figure out how to match them up)
- Continue as desired
This is an easy strategy to help students learn the basics of summarizing. Instruct students to trace their hand on a blank sheet of paper. In this way they create their OWN graphic organizer! Using a reading, or a presentation, students should write the MAIN IDEAS in the fingers. These do not have to be in complete sentences! After finishing the reading/presentation and their notes, students use their main ideas (in the fingers!) to write a summary in the palm of the hand. Depending on the level of your class, the summary could be one or two sentences or even a five-sentence paragraph. Tweak as you'd like!
- Draw a hand on the paper
- Read a text or listen to a presentation
- List a main idea in each of the fingers and thumb
- Using the main ideas, write a summary in the palm
- Some teachers label the five fingers with "Who, What, Where, When, Why"
This is a fast "game" strategy in which you give students 90-seconds to list something--Founding Fathers, State Capitals, or Important Documents. It’s a simple and fun way to review material and also to help students process what they have learned.
- Give the students a topic
- Give them 90 seconds to list as much as they know about that topic
- They can share with a partner and then choose one or two ideas to share with class
This is a graphic organizer made of 26 boxes, with a letter of the alphabet in each box. It can be used to access schema (write something you know about the topic we will be studying that starts with each letter), as a note-taking guide (write down an important idea or vocab word for each letter), or as a review sheet (write something you think will be on the test that starts with each letter). This assignment could be done individually, or have students move around the room and share ideas with class members (i.e. Give One, Get One)
- Use a graphic organizer with boxes with a letter of the alphabet in each box
- Using a topic, write a word or phrase about the topic starting with each letter of the alphabet
- Have them share either class wide or in small groups
A simple strategy to help integrate social studies with your Utah Language Arts Core Standards and help students process their learning. Give students the beginning of a simile that connects with their Social Studies content, and have them finish it and explain it. For example, "The United States is like (a kitchen appliance) because "or "President Lincoln is like a (choose an object) because _"
- Define and give examples of similes (using like or as)
- Give the students the beginning of a simile using a historical example
- The "because" portion would be the important part
"An Anticipation Guide is a series of statements to which students must respond individually before reading the text. Their value lies in the discussion that takes place after the exercise." (Vacca and Vacca) The sentences should be short "agree/disagree" opinion statements or facts for students to predict; the best ones are those that are a little controversial and will get students debating. After the discussion, read the piece of text, then revisit the statements on the anticipation guide. Some teachers include a column for students to record whether the author would agree or disagree with each statement--helping students stay focused during the reading. These can be done as an individual reading, or a read-aloud.
- Hand out an Anticipation Guide prepared as indicated above
- Have students agree or disagree with statements under the "YOU" column
- Discuss with partner which ones they agreed or disagreed with
- Read or listen to text
- Indicate on Anticipation Guide whether the author agreed or disagreed with the statements
- Discuss with class what was learned from the Anticipation Guide
Viewing art as a representation of historical events allows students to increase their understanding of not only the factual information of an event, but also the emotion tied into history. Helping students analyze paintings, sculpture, etc. will increase their ability to empathize with the historical characters we study. It is also important to be able to make connections between art and text (i.e. Grant Wood's painting of
Paul Revere's ride and Longfellow's poem)
- Choose an art piece that represents a historical event
- Choose a text that represents the same event
- Compare/contrast the art's representation with the text
- Use a graphic organizer or discussion to implement these ideas
Blow the Roof Off
This is a great strategy to introduce a new unit and/or review material at the end. The game involves a series of cards that ask the students todo certain actions (for example, run to the front of the room and spin in a circle), at certain times (cards must be completed in sequence), and share important content information as they do. The students race against the clock to see how quickly they can complete the entire sequence of cards. This strategy can be adapted to any content. Consider a set to introduce the Revolutionary War unit, to go over key events in a novel, or to review important events from an entire year of study. (See the ready-to-use Template on our Resources page!)
(Click on link and go down watching the left navigational bar).
- Make a set of cards (enough for one per student)
- Be sure cards are numbered to maintain the order
- Each card should have action and content information
- If you have more cards than students, some students can do two cards
- Starting with card #1, the students do the action and give the information
- Time how long it takes to do all the cards
- Repeat another day and see if it can be done faster
This activity encourages students to talk about books they are reading and gives students a change to receive book recommendations from their peers.
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
Book in an Hour
In this activity a novel, a textbook chapter, or other large piece of text is broken into chunks. Each student or group of students reads one chunk and reports on that chunk to the rest of the class. Consider setting parameters like, "Each student must present a 20-word statement." There are various ways to report, from writing or drawing on an overhead to making a poster or picture book page. You can also use the jigsaw strategy to have the students share in smaller groups. Using this strategy, you can literally read an entire novel in a class period!
- Start with individual reading without mentioning they will work in groups or make a poster
- Students read assigned material
- Then model how the poster should be made
- Now divide them into groups to discuss what to put on the poster
- In groups prepare a poster with the following (each student should put something on the poster)
- 3-5 Events or ideas
- Minimal writing
- Readable from distance
- Present poster
- Each person gives 18-20 word statement
Brainstorming is a procedure that quickly allows students to generate what they know about a key concept. In brainstorming, the students can access their prior knowledge in relation to the target concept. Brainstorming involves two basic steps that can be adapted easily to content objectives: 1.The teacher identifies a key concept that reflects one of the main topics to be studied, and 2. Students work in small groups or individually to generate a list of words or ideas related to the concept in a given number of seconds. Brainstorming could be
done as a whole class on a board or with a graphic organizer such as a word web.
- Introduce Brainstorming as a discussion form In which students can give answers without raising hands
- Identify a key concept
- Have students respond by giving words or answers
- Decide if the responses would be verbal or written (and where would they be written)
- This can be done in large class or small group format
This is a good reading strategy. Have the students all read the same piece of text--either individually or as a Shared Reading. After reading, students will be given Sticky notes in various colors. Each color represents a type of CONNECTION the student should make--Text to Self, Text to Text, or Text to World. In a Text to Self-Connection, students connect something they read to something in their own life. A Text to Text Connection requires them to connect what they read in this piece of text to something else they have read. And a Text to World Connection asks the student to connect what they read with something happening in the world today. On each color of sticky, students should make that particular type of connection. Sticky notes can then be compiled at the board or somewhere else and shared with the class.
- As a text is read, think of connections you can make with that text
- Text-to-Self connections connect what you are reading with yourself--this is the best one to start with
- Text-to-World connections connect what you are reading with what is going on in the world today
- Text-to-Text connections connect what you are reading with another text--usually students are not well read so it is good to introduce them to several texts so they can make text-to-text connections
- You might even have a text-to-media connection to connect with movies to keep text-to-text based on texts read
- Have the students record a number of connections in some way--they can do it on sticky notes as explained above
- The first time you introduce connections it is good to start with just text-to-self; the second time add text-to-world; then later text-to-text
Cause and Effect Time Line (See Living Cause and Effect Time Line)
DBQ--Document Based Question
In a Document Based Question, students are given a series of primary sources--letters, photographs, newspaper articles, speeches, etc.--that will help them answer a broad question. (i.e. "Evaluate the validity of the statement "Slavery caused the Civil War" using the documents and your knowledge of Civil War History") Scaffolding is required in using this strategy. Start by having students analyze individual documents before moving on to writing about them. Also teach how to write a five-paragraph essay. At the elementary level the first step in writing
could be a paragraph. Build up to the point that students can write a paper incorporating both the documents and their content knowledge, and reasoning out an answer to the question. See the following handout How to Teach DBQ
- Students need to analyze several primary sources before introducing the document-based question
- Students need to be able to write a five-paragraph historical essay
- Give students the question of the DBQ. Brainstorm what they already know about the topic
- Write an answer to the question
- Write a topic (thesis) sentence and outline the essay
- Then have students look at documents and tie them into the outline
- If they look at documents earlier they tend to just describe the documents
- They can change outline if documents do not cover what they have
- Write the essay
A good strategy to help students compare and contrast. Use content from myriad sources and have part of the class study one person/viewpoint/topic and the other part of the class look at the opposing view. Students will find nouns, adjectives and participles (they end in -ing!) to describe their assigned person/viewpoint/topic. Then working with a partner, and using a Diamante Frame, students will compare their two sides.
- Have students read a text
- Work with opposing partner to fill out Diamante Frame to compare the two sides
- Students need basic understanding of nouns, adjectives, and participles
A fast way to have students share an opinion, respond to a topic, or think about what they are learning. An exit/entrance slip asks students to respond to a question or series of questions as they leave or enter class. You could have students tell you their thoughts about how class is going, tell you one thing they learned in class that day, or even predict what class will be about tomorrow. The exit slip is also a great
strategy to use at the end of class when you have just a little bit of time left over.
- Students fill out card answering a prompt and give it to you as they enter or exit the classroom
- This gives them a chance to reflect and write about what they have learned
- This is a quick assessment to determine what students need next for their learning
A jigsaw can be used anytime you have more than one piece of text you'd like to teach, but you are limited by time. Put students in groups and have each group read a different piece of text. You can have them talk about the most important ideas in their piece of text. A graphic organizer is also helpful for them to take notes as they read and discuss. Then students create new groups with one member from each old group (i.e. Number off in their original "expert" groups). The students become the expert on their piece of text from the reading and then
they share it with those who did not read the same piece of text.
- Give them the text to read before telling them they will work in groups
- Have them use graphic organizers to take notes if you want
- Then put them in groups who read the same thing; they discuss to become experts
- Then put them in jigsaw groups where everyone read something different
- Give time limits for the speakers
- Start with speaker number one; at end of time go to speaker number two; etc.
- Do not move to new speaker until teacher indicates
Hints for jigsaw if the number of students is not even:
- Choose one student to do his/her part in two groups. Be the first speaker in the first group and then move to the second group.
- If one or more jigsaw groups are missing one, have someone present the ideas at the end to the entire class.
- Have a group that has fewer students' model information for everyone before you jigsaw.
This strategy is a great way to get students out of their desks and moving, and allows students to partner with peers they may not usually work with. Have the class form one long, straight line. Then you literally "fold" the line by having the last student in line "fold up"--with other students following behind--and partner with the person at the other end of the line. Once each student is facing a partner, they can
share their ideas or content you are working on at the time. After talking with one partner, one side of the line will move down three students and meet with a new partner. You can do this multiple times so students have a chance to share their ideas with multiple people, and hear ideas from a variety of other students too.
- Have students write something short to share
- Line up students in one long line
- Fold the line so the student at one end will face the student at the other end
- If odd number of students, the teacher can fill in
- Have one side read to the person they are facing; then the other side reads to the partner
- Move the line down three people to make new partners
- Repeat the reading process
- Move the line down three more people to make new partners
- Repeat the reading process
This is a fun strategy to get students up and out of their seats and get them thinking about their own learning. Label four corners in your classroom with "Topics" or big ideas (i.e. Four causes of the Civil War--slavery, economy, Lincoln's election, States' Rights). Instruct students to move into one of the corners and then discuss that particular topic with the students in their corner (i.e. Why did you pick this corner?). You could also have students write about the corner they are in. Have students move to another corner and discuss another idea.
- Choose four topics that are good for discussion
- Put the topic on poster; place each one in a different corner of the room
- Have students pick the corner of the one that they feel answers the prompt
- Have students discuss with others at their corner why they chose that answer
- Maybe have one student share the ideas with the entire class
- This could be followed with a writing assignment to tell why that is the answer
A gallery walk is a useful strategy when you have a product you'd like students to share with their classmates, but you are limited on time. The students can either place the products on their desks or hang them on the walls. Then the students walk around the room and look at each other's products. There are two ways to do this. You can allow all of the students to move around the room at once, asking them to move the same direction and not crowd each other. Or you can have half the students stay with their products (to explain and answer questions) and the other half walk around the room, then switch. If students worked in partners, you could send one partner around while the other stays with the product.
- This strategy has several procedures that need to be done in order
- First, give each student a text to read individually (at this point do not mention poster or working in groups)
- Students should take notes on what they read or use a graphic organizer
- Then assign groups so they work with others that read the same text
- You might print texts or graphic organizers on different colored paper to make it easy to put in groups
- Model a poster so they know what is expected
- Have groups make a poster; each person should put something on the poster
- Share poster with other students; ideas are mentioned above
- Choose the method that keeps students under control the best
- Silence is a good procedure while sharing unless you have them ask and answer questions
- Decide if students will take notes or be accountable for what they should learn
Give One, Get One
This is a great cooperative learning strategy that also gets students up and moving around the class. Students begin by working with some of their own ideas--brainstorming, taking notes from a particular piece of text, summarizing something they've learned, etc. Then students are allowed to move around the classroom meeting with other students. When they meet up they will GIVE ONE of their own ideas/notes, and they will GET ONE of the other person's ideas. Consider setting a time limit on this based on what they are sharing and discussing.
- Have students make a two-column graphic organizer: One side Give One; other side Get One
- On the Give One side make a list of something
- Discuss procedures: time limit, who they can talk to, how many sharing at one time, loudness, etc.
- Then they find someone to share; they give one and then get one which they write in Get One Column
This strategy utilizes the student’s knowledge from the book to write a quick review of the book. The students then place the reviews on a recommendation board so other students can look and find another book they may like to read.
Graffiti Cards Worksheet
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
This is a quick strategy that allows students to reflect on their content knowledge and/or process content instruction. Put a large poster on a wall of the classroom--or in the hall if you need more space--and give students opportunity to write one or two things they learned about a particular subject on the poster. Use bright colored markers! You could instruct them to "write one reason the US became a world power" or "write one idea you learned in class yesterday."
- Put large poster papers or butcher paper on the wall or in the hall
- Use several papers so they can spread out while writing
- Write a prompt or question on the paper
- Plan procedures for having students write on the paper (How many at a time, talking? etc.)
- Use brightly colored markers
- Use the finished paper to build a discussion and maybe lead to a writing piece
This strategy encourages students to talk about books they are reading and to give students a chance to receive book recommendations from their peers.
Historical Perspectives Worksheets
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
Hit the Highlights
This is a strategy that helps you cover a variety of textual pieces at once, as well as helps students find main ideas. This can be done individually or in groups with different pieces of text. The task is to HIGHLIGHT one sentence: the main idea or topic you want them to find. For example, give each group a summary of a Supreme Court case and have them highlight the main idea and/or the part of the Constitution the case was dealing with. They can then share with the class the piece they highlighted.
- Give students a piece of text
- Instruct them to highlight one sentence that gives the main idea or topic
- They can work individually or in groups
- They can then share with the class as they hit the highlights
A simple brainweb app for the iPad. Idea Sketch allow students to visually organize their ideas on content. Without an iPad, consider having your students create a graphic organizer on their own paper to brainstorm ideas and make connections about content.
- Students should graphically brainstorm ideas and make connections about content
- This can be done on their own paper or electronically
- This can be a prewrite that leads to other writing strategies
In My Words
This is a great strategy to help students comprehend the meaning of important historical and government documents. Often the language of these documents is difficult for students to understand. Using this strategy, students work in groups to rewrite a small piece of text--perhaps just a sentence--into words they understand. A great piece to use could be the Preamble to the Constitution or parts of the Declaration of Independence.
- Choose a text to be understood
- Divide the class into groups
- Each group gets one sentence or one phrase from the text
- The group decides how to reword that sentence or phrase in their own words
- Put the groups in order to present their words to the class in choral reading
Instagram Book Review
This is a great strategy to allow the students to review their book, but also have fun with their creative side. They take a picture of their novel and it should include artistic merit or have a connection to what the book is about.
Instagram Book Reviews Worksheets
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
The iPad Pass is similar to any strategy in which students share their work. Students find a partner to work with--or you can simply have them pass to the person on their right/left--and pass their work on to be viewed, receiving another person's work in return. Have students pass their work or exchange it as many times as you want so students get to see a variety of different pieces as well as have their work
showcased. This is a fast way to display work if you do not have time for individual presentations.
- This strategy allows students to see the work of other students
- Work can be done on paper or on the iPad
- Pass the work in a predetermined direction
- Have students pass only when you say pass
- Be careful not to allow too much time with each pass
This is a great during-reading strategy used in groups of four. Divide the text into four fairly equal parts. Assign each part a color. Write on the board the color with page numbers or subheadings of what to read. Make a graphic organizer that does the following: 1. Write four sentences that summarize what you read; Choose three key words from your reading; 3. Create one visual image to describe what you
read. Put the graphic organizer on colored paper to match the assigned colors. They look at the color of the graphic organizer they have and read the matching pages; fill out graphic organizer; and then share with group of four.
- Put students into groups of four (If one group is five assign two people same pages; if one group is three assign one student two sections)
- Divide text into four parts
- Assign each part a color; on board write color and page numbers or subheadings
- Colored graphic organizer with following parts
- Summary of four sentences
- Three key words
- Visual image
- Share with group of four
This is a three-column graphic organizer with the columns labeled K (what you know about a topic), W (what you want to know or wonder), and L (what you learned). Students can make their own graphic organizer. It is used all the way through a unit or reading of a text for pre, formative, and post assessment. You can additionally use an H which allows students to tell "how" they learned what they did
and/or a Q for questions. This helps students to think a bit more deeply and critically about their learning.
- Have students make a three-column graphic organizers labeling the column with K, W. L
- Students fill in the K column with what they already know about a topic silently
- Then share as pairs or small groups; each group chooses one to share with class
- Teacher writes these on the board under K
- Now ask what they want to know or need to know or what questions they have
- Put those in the W column
- As you read texts or do other strategies, fill in the L column of what they have learned
List Group Label
This strategy improves understanding as well as helps students make connections with different topics or pieces of historical evidence. Student are either given a list of things related to content (i.e. Amendments, Historical figures of the Civil War), or they can make the list themselves. Working with a group, students put all of those items into a number of groups. It’s usually wise to give them a minimum and a
maximum number of groups, depending on what you are working with. The students choose which group each item belongs in and then also come up with titles/labels for those groups. Encourage students to be creative in the labeling of their groups
- Generate a list of words that pertains to content
- Student can generate a list themselves
- Teacher can give the list to the students
- Working with pairs put words into groups and label the groups (creativity can count)
- Share by telling class one of the labels
- Variation: Teacher could give labels and have students put words in correct groups
For this strategy the teacher selects several pieces of text (usually novels) of varying lengths and reading levels but focused on a similar theme or topic (i.e. Westward expansion, Civil War). Five or six books usually work well. The students have some choice in which book they read. The students are then grouped according to which book they have chosen. As they read their chosen book, they meet with their
group to discuss sections. Following an expert group meeting, students will jigsaw and share the point of view they gained from their book with others in the class who read other novels/pieces of text.
- Have students read assigned novel/text
- Students meet in expert groups (with those who read the same) to discuss the text
- Students jigsaw to share their text with others
- Ask for first speaker to raise hands or assign first speaker with particular text
- They will move clockwise around the group
- Give each person one-two minutes to share
- State: first speaker begin
- At end of time limit stage: stop (finished or not); next speaker begin
- Be sure they wait until you indicate when the next speaker begins
- If finish early, entire group freezes
- At the end give one-two minutes for general discussion (they can say things they didn't get to earlier, ask questions, or just discuss what they learned
Living Cause & Effect Chart
This is a wonderful strategy to help visually teach the concept of Cause & Effect. It is also valuable in that it gets students up and moving around the classroom. Choose a topic you want to relate Cause & Effect--for example, World War I and World War II. Have each student read about one event that was a cause and/or effect of the topic (i.e. Zimmerman Note, Hitler Overruns Europe, etc.). You want two to three students reading about each one. Discuss the event and then together they will summarize what they learned in one sentence. To create the actual chart, one member of the partnership/group represents the event and places themselves on a "Chart"--relating his/her position to where they are standing on the "Chart." Starting at the beginning, students read their one sentence summary and go through all the events. Following the presentation of the events, the teacher should lead a discussion and talk about the events and their placement as CAUSES or EFFECTS. It is also advised that students who are NOT in the chart take notes for themselves and their partner. Then they can work together on a formative assessment (a four-square reflection/quiz, or a Progressive short answer quiz, perhaps) together about the experience.
- Select items: event(s), causes and events; put names on card stock
- Place in plastic covers to be worn around the neck with yarn tie
- Put short description of item inside plastic cover behind item
- Have students in pairs; read description and discuss
- Together summarize in one sentence; decide if it is a cause or effect or the event itself
- One of the pair puts on the item and goes to the front standing in a time line
- The other student takes notes (you might have a graphic organizer for the notes)
- Each student in the time line gives the one sentence summary and tells if cause or effect
- Pairs come together and using the notes writes a paragraph about the causes/effects of event
Living History Timeline
This is a great strategy to introduce a new time period or to review important events at the end of unit. Students are given a card with one event written in large letters on the front. The date the event occurred is written on the back of the card, but should be covered by a sticky note. Students are instructed to NOT LOOK UNDER THE STICKY NOTE! The first step is to have students arrange themselves in a "timeline"--standing in the order of how they believe their event occurred in relation to other events. They may not talk to anybody else while doing this. After placing themselves in the order they believe correct, students are allowed to look at the proper date under the post-it and realign their timeline as necessary. The third step is to have students prepare to tell the class the impact of that particular event in
history. For step three, students may talk to others in the class--those playing or those acting as audience. As the teacher, you facilitate the discussion that occurs as you go through the timeline and students share the event and its impact.
- Select events; put on card stock in large letters
- Place in plastic covers to be worn around the neck with yarn tie
- Put date on back covered by a sticky note
- Students are instructed to not look under sticky note
- Step 1: students stand in order of how they believe the event occurred in relation to other events
- They may not talk; no hint from others where they belong
- Step 2: Look at date on back and move to correct spot
- Step 3: Prepare to tell class the impact of this event in history
- Students may talk to others to determine impact
- Students share the event and its impact in order
Map Analysis--Primary Source Documents
Using Primary sources to study history is a key historian's skills. We need to teach our students to analyze and study primary sources rather than just looking at them. Analyze maps by asking key questions, looking at it piece by piece, and discussing what it can tell us about the time period it was created in.
- The first time walk through the entire procedure with the entire class. After that they can work in pairs.
- Hand out the document and/or map
- Discuss the background of the source
- Have the students look for specific things about the document/map (see National Archives and Records Administration at www.archives.gov for ideas of worksheets and ideas
- Be sure to have them make connections between the document/map and what they are currently studying
A step above simply coloring and labeling a map, Map Creation is a strategy to have students incorporate a variety of information from various graphics, maps, text, etc. into one map.
- Label continents and then use different map legends and tables to put information on the map about the Columbian Exchange or any other world event.
- Use colored paper shapes to represent the different continents, and have students put them together to make a map of the world.
- A living map: give the students colored paper of various colors (blue for water, red for volcanoes, brown for mountains, green for plant growth, gray for cities, etc.). Give them an area such as Utah or Italy and they stand where they should based on the color of the paper they have. They hold the colored paper above their heads to make the map.
As part of an extended literature or poetry analysis, have students create a metaphor of some sort. "A road is a _" or maybe "History is _"
and then explain their metaphor. This teaches students another level of compare-contrast by creating an analogy to compare one thing to
- The first time explain metaphors with several examples. Make these very generic at the beginning.
- Have students write metaphors for content material.
- This can be done several times during the year.
This is a great strategy to help introduce students to the process of Debate. Use it with any sort of topic that would have two opposing sides (US Army vs. Native Americans, Alien & Sedition Acts--constitutional vs. unconstitutional? etc.). This allows for debate in a short amount of time.
- Divide the class into two and assign each side one viewpoint for the debate. Depending on the topic, you might want to provide students with some materials to learn a bit more about their assigned viewpoint.
- Give students a few minutes to prepare on their own and then have them meet with all others who share their viewpoint on the debate topic.
- Each students will come up with a Statement (no more than 20 sec.) to give in defense of their viewpoint. Working in the group will insure that no two people are saying the exact same thing.
- Have students write their statement on a 3x5 card and then line students up facing one another--everybody from Viewpoint A on the left, Viewpoint B on the right.
- Switching back and forth between viewpoints, students will share their statements one by one until everybody has shared the opinion.
- Give the class an additional few minutes at the end to rebut any statements the other side made or ask questions of the other side. The teacher should still act as a moderator and make sure the speaking switches back and forth equally.
Newspapers are great Primary Sources to use in the classroom. You can analyze newspapers like any other primary source, or you can use a Newspaper Analysis quadrant. This is a quick graphic organizer that students can create themselves on a sheet of paper.
- Have students draw a basic quadrant on a piece of paper and label each box--Main Text, Ads, Inserts, and Pictures. This can be done individually, in groups, or even as a whole class. (You might do it as a full class the first time.)
- Using a newspaper, or even just a page, students will analyze and take note of the four pieces of a newspaper.
- Students should then write about and/or discuss what this newspaper can tell us about the historical time period the paper came from.
- Consider especially what we can learn from the pictures/ads in a newspaper that you wouldn't learn from other documents.
Notice & Note Bookmark Groups
This strategy will help students to notice and note while reading individually and to give students a change to share/talk about books they are reading.
Notice & Note Worksheet
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
Pancake Book Report
This is a fun and creative strategy where the students will describe the scene they are going to artistically recreate on a 3x5 index card. They then will recreate the scene they wrote about on their pancake using frosting and other edibles.
Pancake Book Report
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
This is an abstract note-taking strategy to help students focus on material as it is being shared. It involves taking notes by drawing. The difference is that the page will be made up of drawings of several students.
- Each student is given a regular 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper.
- The students write their names at the bottom.
- As the teacher/presenter reads or shares information, students should draw a small picture or write one or two words that recall with what they have heard.
- Remember: You need to anticipate how many pictures may be added to the collage so you can indicate to students how large they should be drawing. More than one student will be adding to this collage!
- At a designated stopping point, the teacher instructs students to pass their paper to the next person, and then continue reading/presenting.
- The next student adds to the collage with another picture or a few more words.
- Continue in this manner until all the material has been shared.
- The paper is then returned to the original student who can use the pictures and words to help them write a summary of the content material on the back of the collage.
A quick strategy to help students consider two different points of view. Asking students to consider the perspective of different groups requires students to use higher-level thinking skills--specifically Analyzing and Critiquing. Model first time with the whole class.
- Write a word (down the middle of the page) to consider from two perspectives (i.e. Colonization, Slavery, Manifest Destiny).
- Label each side of the diagram with one of the points of view (i.e. Colonist and Native American)
- Create an image to illustrate it.
- List words or ideas that describe that particular point of view.
A photo analysis is an exploration of another form of primary source documents. You can use the NARA analysis form, or the blue analysis card. Another way to make this more fun for your students is to let students choose one photograph from a collection or a book like "Through My Eyes" by Ruby Bridges.
Students can analyze their photograph on their own--using whichever means you choose--and then share what they learned about the photo with a group of students or with the entire class. Model in a whole class environment first.
- Choose a photograph that shows the concept
- Have a graphic organizer to ask questions about the photograph (www.archives.gov)
- Divide photo into quadrants for focus
- Students can fill out graphic organizer individually or in pairs
- If using different photos, have students share their conclusions
This is a great strategy to help students learn new vocabulary words. After going over new vocabulary in a traditional way, show a series of pictures that illustrate one of the words. Either as a quiz or a discussion, students will identify which word is being shown in the image. There may not always be one right answer so allow students to explain/defend why they chose the vocab word they chose.
- Teach vocabulary words
- Show various pictures that can be connected to the words
- Students match words with pictures
- Defend their choice
Poetry works well as a piece of text to complement a historical event or generic study. You can also use poetry as a writing-to-learn activity.
SUGGESTED POEMS for student writing:
Biopoem of historical or scientific person
- (Line 1) First name
- (Line 2) Three or four adjectives that describe the person
- (Line 3) Important relationship (daughter of . . . , mother of . . . , etc)
- (Line 4) Two or three things, people, or ideas that the person loved
- (Line 5) Three feelings the person experienced
- (Line 6) Three fears the person experienced
- (Line 7) Accomplishments (who composed . . . , who discovered . . . , etc.)
- (Line 8) Two or three things the person wanted to see happen or wanted to experience
- (Line 9) His or her residence
- (Line 10) Last name
- Choose concept and match wounds to the subject
- Write a sentence about the content
- Combine sentence and sounds
- Illustrate the poem
- Read poem with class making sounds
- Sample: "Ancient Egypt"
As the setting sun watches and waits
The Egyptians come and go;
Leaving behind their past
Which will create mystery for the future
Two-voice poem (see later in this site)
- A one-word title, a noun
- Two descriptive words
- Three - ing participles
- A phrase or short sentence
- A synonym for your title, another noun
Sample cinquain poem (center it)
Revolving, rotating, angling
Triangles are all different.
- Haiku poems consist of three lines.
- The first and last lines of a Haiku have five syllables
- The middle line has seven syllables.
- The lines rarely rhyme.
Point of View Share
This strategy is a way of "walking around in someone else's shoes," which is an important historian's skill. In reading a text or watching a film or discussing an event, students should think about why people did what they did in other time periods, places, and cultures.
- Divide the students into two groups
- Each group considers one point of view in a story, event, or time period (i.e. Native American vs. European explorers).
- Students pair up with a partner who looked at the opposite viewpoint
- They share their different ideas and thoughts from their particular point of view
A progressive quiz is a formative assessment designed to help students learn from the experience. It can take any form--multiple choice, short answer, essay, etc. Give the quiz as you normally would, giving students a few minutes to complete the question(s). Then give students an opportunity to look over any notes they may have taken and improve or change their answers. In the final step, allow them to visit with a partner or those sitting near them and compare answers. In this way students will strengthen their grasp of the content knowledge, and you
will also boost the confidence of those students who often struggle with testing.
- Step 1: Give the quiz
- Step 2: Students can look over notes they have and improve or change answers
- Step 3: Visit with a partner or small group to compare answers. Answers can still be changed
- Remember: This is a formative assessments so changing answers is part of the process.
QAR (Question Answer Relationships)
This is a reading comprehension strategy that helps students deepen their understanding by formulating questions from their reading of a text. Questions can be divided into two main categories, "in the book" and "in my head." Within each of these categories are two types of questions. Under "in the book" are "right there" questions, where the answer is in one place and easily found, and "think and search" questions, where the answer is in the text but in more than one place. Under the heading of "in my head" are "author and me" questions, where the students must combine their own thoughts with what the text says, and "on my own" questions, where the text may have gotten the student thinking but the answer is in the student's head. Have students formulate different questions and then categorize what type of question they've come up with. Later in the year--with more scaffolding--you could assign students to write one type of each question after reading a certain piece of text.
- Model with whole class
- Read text aloud as students listen or read along
- Stop periodically to formulate a question
- Identify what type of question it is
- "Right there" answer is in one place and easily found
- "Think and search" answer is in the text but in more than one place
- "In my head" combine their own thoughts with what the text says
- "On my own" answer is in the student's head
- As students use this strategy in pairs or independently, sticky notes work well (they can be put on charts under the type of question)
Quote of the Day
This is a strategy to help students look deeper at primary sources and make connections between these documents and their background
content knowledge of the time period. Give students a section of text from a primary source of the past--a speech, newspaper article, etc.
After reading through it, students select one quote from the text to share with the class that reflects the concerns of that time period. For
example, students could read part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first inaugural address and find a quote that illustrates the concerns of
the American people during this time (i.e. Great Depression, Stock Market Crash).
- Select several chunks of texts on same content concept
- Give each student one of the texts
- Students select one quote from the text
- Students share the quote and how it fits the time period
- They can do presentation format, or
- In a discussion they can tell the quote and how it fits the time period; then another student can comment on that quote or make a quote of their own
- Sticky note discussion (listed later) works well
Radio Talk Show
This is a drama strategy from Jeff Wilhelm, which works well as a post-reading activity. The teacher comes up with a controversial statement or topic related to the current study. The teacher then becomes the talk show host, and the students can "call in" with comments. They can raise their hands or say "Ring!" if they want to make a comment. They may choose to call in as themselves, or as another option,
have students take on the persona of an historical figure. This allows them to explore viewpoints that aren't their own, especially if they aren't yet sure what they think personally about the topic. It's really fun for the teacher to use a microphone and take it around the class for comments.
RAFT(S) Writing (Role, Audience, Format, Topic, Strong Verbs)
This is a write-to-learn activity. It allows for as much or as little student choice as you'd like.
- Role refers to who is writing (i.e. a Civil War soldier or Pres. Lincoln)
- Audience is to whom the person is writing (i.e. Robert E. Lee or a soldier's mother)
- Format is the form the writing will take (i.e. a letter, a memo, etc.)
- Topic is the reason for writing (i.e. a description of battlefield conditions or a plea to end the war)
- S can stand for Strong Verbs if you want students to focus on writing improvement
- You can create a chart with several choices in each category or you can make some of the decisions for the students
Role: Veteran water molecule; Audience: New water molecule; Format: Memo; Topic: How the water cycle works
Role: Abraham Lincoln; Audience: Dear Abby; Format: Advice Column; Topic: Problems with generals
Role: Plant; Audience: Sun; Format: Thank-you note; Topic: Sun's role in plant's growth
Role: Wheat Thin; Audience: Other wheat thins; Format: Travel Guide; Topic: Journey through the digestive system
This is a great reading strategy (either Shared or Guided!) to help students increase their content knowledge and improve their questioning ability. Begin by chunking the text you will be reading--having students read only a paragraph or two at a time. From that chunk of reading they will be asking or answering questions. Make sure students understand that questions and answers must be content-based and should not be trivial. Give students time to read the first chunk and then put their thumb in the book to save their place and "close" the book. Ask students questions from that chunk of reading--and make sure they understand that it is okay to re-read if necessary! On later chunks, give students an opportunity to ask you, the teacher, questions. Also allow some chunks to be read and "questioned" between two or three students--thus ensuring that all students are involved in the reading process.
From Vacca and Vacca: "When using reciprocal teaching, you model how to use four comprehension activities (generating questions, summarizing, predicting, and clarifying) while leading a dialogue. Then students take turns assuming the teacher's role."
- Students sit in groups of four
- Give each student a card with a task: summarizing, predicting, clarifying, questioning
- Chunk the reading
- Students read the chunk; they write the task on paper (which they will later turn in)
- Students each read what they wrote for the task
- Pass the tasks
- Read another chunk
- Go through the same process until reading is finished
This is a great activity to get your students up and out of their seats--preferably in a hallway or outside where there there's plenty of room! Divide students into two teams and have them line up. Each team will get an identical stack of things to sort--pictures, names, words, etc.-- depending on what your topic is. They could sort resources into "renewable" and "non-renewable" or names of cities into "Spanish Origin," "Native American Origin" etc. At the end of the hall, or a significant distance from the front of the lines if you are outside, place an appropriate number of bins labeled with the piles students should sort into. When you say "Go," one student from each team will take one item from their stack and run to the end where the bins are. Students sort their item into the bin they believe is the appropriate one. The students run back and tag the next team member who will take another item from the stack and sort it. The team that finishes first wins! After sorting, go through each bin and lead a class discussion about whether items ended up in the appropriate bin--why or why not?
A role-play is any dramatic activity where the students take on a persona or a situation not their own. For example, students could be immigrants from different cultures at Ellis Island. Or they could form a panel discussion of soldiers from different American wars. The possibilities are endless and can fit any content area!
Search and Seize
Search and Seize is a strategy to help students in highlighting. Highlighting is a form of note-taking where students are required to determine what is most important. If you limit the amount students can highlight in a piece of text, they are forced to look for the main ideas or most important facts.
From Schur, "Scrapbooks are a means to preserve and reflect on how historic events play a role in personal or family histories. They demonstrate how politics, social trends, and technology affect our private and professional lives. In this activity students work alone or in family groups to create a collection of memorabilia that demonstrates the impact history makes on individuals and their families."
This is a great way to get all students involved in a discussion. Post quotes or pictures--or really anything you want students to respond to--on large sheets of paper in the classroom or hallway if you need more space. Instruct students to silently read over the quotes/look over the images at their own pace, and then write a response directly on the paper. You may want to set parameters like, Students need to respond to three quotes. "In this way, students can take time to process their learning and reflect on how it impacts them. See more information here.
A simulation is any activity where students experience an event or time period as closely as possible to the actual thing. For example, the teacher could bring in a bowl of cotton for each student and let the class try separating the cotton. Other examples could be the class sitting in "trenches" like WWI, or taking part in an assembly line. (For more info, watch the video posted below--under "Snowball"!)
Snapshot biographies focus on just four or five events in the life of a historical figure with an illustration and brief description of each. Read a biography of a famous person and put together a snapshot biography. Fold a large paper into six sections: One for title and table of contents and the other five for events. Choose four or five events in the life of the person. Draw a picture of each event and include a short narrative of that event. Include a title and table of contents. You can introduce this strategy by having students do a snapshot autobiography.
- Read a short biography of a historical person
- Fold large art paper into six sections (first section is for title and table of contents)
- Choose four or five events
- Draw a picture of each event
- Write a short narrative of the event
This strategy is useful for activating students' background knowledge and to get them thinking about a topic before reading. It allows them to make predictions and guesses about the information that will be in the text or to ask questions and hypothesize about the topic they will be reading. This strategy is energetic and fun. It requires that everyone participate and reflect on statements and allows for student anonymity. Students can express themselves without the fear of ridicule. Snowball strategy also allows for multiple responses, giving students opportunities to see others' ideas and thoughts. Finally, it asks students to use writing as a learning tool. This is a great activity for class debates and dialogues.
- Divide the paper into four parts
- Write four response statements (do not need to be factual; statements that allow multiple responses are best). Examples:
- List what you know about the topic
- Make a connection to another text, movie, or event in your life
- Ask a question
- List the most important thing you read
- Tell students to write in first section
- Signal students to stop (Example: "Pencils down; eye up!"
- Make a snowball by crumpling the paper
- "Let it snow!" They toss the crumpled paper to other side of room
- Students pick up a new snowball.
- Uncrumples snowball and when teacher signals, fills in the second section on the new paper
- Repeat procedure until all sections are filled in
- Each student will respond to four different statements on four different sheets of paper
- Be sure students stay with your signals and not work ahead
- Clear off desks before you start
- Collect smoothed out papers at end to put in garbage or recycling bin
- The teacher might even participate
A sociogram is a visual representation of relationships between people or groups of people. It can be used with characters in a novel, political figures, or historical figures. The students begin by writing the people's names scattered on a piece of paper, with a circle around each name. Then they draw lines between pairs of circles to represent different types of relationships. On the lines, students write one word that describes the relationship. To improve vocabulary, each word can only be used once on the sociogram.
- Identify the major people, places, events, and concepts from the text or unit
- Put each one in a circle on the page
- Model the first few connections with the whole class
- Draw a line between two items
- Label the line with a word or short phrase that indicates the connection
- They can use each word/phrase only once
- Have students work in partners or individually to make more connections
- Set limits on how many connections they need to make
In this strategy, the teacher acts as a facilitator to encourage an individual student, or a small group of students, to elaborate on their own knowledge of a particular subject. Students should have opportunity before a Socratic Dialogue to prepare by reading or learning the key information in some way. Not as much a discussion, the Dialogue involves the teacher asking questions--spiraling from lower level to
higher level--to students who then explain the information to the rest of the class.
This strategy will help to provide students with a structured time to talk to other students about a book they have recently read and for students to get reading ideas from their peers.
Speed Dating Worksheet
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
Sticky Note Discussion
This strategy will help you monitor class discussions--making sure everyone participates and nobody dominates. Give each student three sticky notes on the front of their desk. Each time they make a comment they will move one of the sticky notes to the other side of their desk. One comment = one sticky note. The rule is that everybody must use at least ONE sticky note, and nobody can use more than THREE. The teacher can move around the class and see who has used all their comments and who needs to be encouraged to speak up. Consider asking a very open-ended, easy opinion question directly to students who have not commented as the discussion draws to a close.
Sticky Note Sort
This strategy is an adaptation of the List Group Label (see above). Working in pairs or groups, students are given a list of items to sort into groups. For example, students are given a list of government entities (e.g. governor, United Nations). The teacher will decide the labels and list them on the white board (e.g. State, National, International, and City/County). Students choose four entities for each label and write them on individual sticky notes, then place them under the correct label on the white board. After all groups are done, the teacher leads a discussion and the class can choose to move sticky notes or discuss how they might fit under a number of labels.
Stop & Write
A stop and write is a form of journaling that helps students in their reading comprehension. The teacher or students can decide on several places where the students should stop while reading a piece of text. Upon stopping, they will write (on the "Stop & Write" worksheet) about what they have learned so far, what they predict will happen, etc. The Stop and Write worksheet asks students to use a number of reading comprehension strategies.
A T-Chart is a graphic organizer that is useful for note-taking. Students draw a large T on a sheet of paper, basically dividing the paper into two columns. The columns can be used for two-column notes, or for any other activity that requires dividing the page. For example, use it in predicting--students write their predictions on one side and their evidence for those predictions on the other. Another idea is to use the T-Chart to compare two things like the North and South at the eve of the Civil War.
This strategy works great for a variety of situations. Use it whenever you want students to share their ideas with a number of different people in the class. Choose a specific topic or topics you want students to discuss and instruct them to move around the classroom talking and sharing their ideas with other students. It is wise to set parameters like how many students are allowed in a group and/or how many
different people they have to talk to.
This strategy the students will be connecting a main character in their book to two current events and explaining how they would react to the current even based on their actions in the novel. Their peers will give each student a grade based on their preparedness and quality of their comments/evidence.
Text-To-World Connection Worksheet
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
A textbook guide is a graphic organizer that is created to look just like the text page students will find in their textbook--boxes around sections of text, pictures, maps, etc. This will focus the students on each area they are reading or looking over. Inside the boxes, write questions the students can answer by reading that particular chunk of text.
- Make a replica of a page in the text
- Use shapes to indicate sections of text, pictures, maps, etc.
- Write a question in each shape
- Put an X in shapes they do not need to read or look at (students like this)
- Students answer the questions
Tic-Tac-Toe Book Report
For this strategy the students will play Tic-Tac-Toe with a partner. On another piece of paper they will write the answer to the Tic-Tac-Toe squares that were theirs in the game.
Tic-Tac-Toe Book Report Worksheet
Contributed by Erin Curtis, Oquirrh Hills Middle
Like the classic lists from The Late Show, this strategy allows students to work individually or in groups to make a judgment about a topic in history. Give students an area in which to make a Top Ten list. For example, the ten most important inventions or the ten most important events leading to the Revolutionary War. Students could then share their lists with the class, or you could turn it into a writing assignment and have them give evidence to back up their argument about what is the most important.
- Model the strategy with the whole class
- Have students in partners or individually make a list of the top ten in order of importance with #1 the most important
- reasons for something
- Have students share with class their top choice and why it is most important
- As a writing assignment, students can give evidence for the choice
A writing to learn activity that works well in partners. Students select two people or ideas (for example: a Union Soldier and a Rebel, or a fraction and a decimal, or themselves and a child from Sudan). They brainstorm a list of similarities and differences--a Venn diagram works well for this. The poem is written in stanzas of three lines each, for example:
- I am a Ute living in central Utah.
- I am a Navajo living in southern Utah.
- We are both Native Americans in present-day Utah.
You can require as many stanzas as you'd like. The poem is read aloud like Joyful Noise; each student takes one personality, and both read the last line together. It works well to have students use three different colors when writing their poems.
- Teachers shows a sample of a two-voice poem to the class
- Discuss how a this type of poem is structured
- Model writing a two-voice poem using previous content material
- Assign students to write a two-voice poem comparing content from text
- Make at least 5 stanzas of comparison
- Divide the students into working pairs
- Students read the material
- Students work together as pairs to compose the poem
- Students practice their poems and share with class
- The information was read
- Both students worked on poem
- Five different comparisons were made
- Information is correct
- Both students performed the poem
- One copy of poem was handed to teacher
- The poem had a key to explain who said what
- The poem had a title
- Optional items: spelling and grammar correct, poem is readable, creativity was used
A very useful graphic organizer for compare and contrast. This organizer consists of two circles that overlap in the middle. The space where the circles overlap is used for things the two topics have in common, and the outsides are for differences.
Triad Venn Diagram
Like the more traditional double Venn Diagram, this is a great strategy to help students compare/contrast three different ideas or topics. Using a Triad Venn Diagram graphic organizer, students can do this on their own paper or on a larger diagram on the board.
- I introduce this strategy with people or events they know like Batman/Superman, middle school/high school, summer/winter
- Model with whole class
- Draw two-overlapping circles on board or dotcam
- Compare/contrast two people or events
- Do the outside parts of the circles first; have them tell everything they know about each
- Look over the two lists and choose similar things to be moved to the middle section
- This can be a good pre-write activity for writing a compare/contrast essay
Sometimes a short clip from a film can illustrate a point, represent an event or time period, or bring out a theme. Many teachers believe they have to show an entire movie if they use it at all, which is often more time consuming than it needs to be. For example, you could show just the "Mine, Mine, Mine" scene from Disney's Pocahontas to discuss reasons why the British might have started exploring into the Americas; there would be no reason to show the whole movie.
- Select a film that reflects the content
- Use only a clip of about 10 minutes
- Be sure film follows Jordan Media Guidelines even if it is just a clip
- Have students watch for particular information
- Discuss what was learned in the clip
Vote with Your Feet
This is a strategy students will enjoy because it gets them out of their seats and moving around the classroom. It's also a wonderful way to introduce opinion or persuasive writing. Give students an opinion question and create a "spectrum" somewhere in your classroom that is large enough for the whole class to line up in a row--it might be a good idea to move into the hall for this one! For example, ask students "Was there a way to avoid the U.S. Civil War?" and have the left end of the classroom be a solid "YES" and the right end be a solid "NO." Then instruct students to place themselves somewhere along the spectrum that would illustrate their opinion. They could be right in the middle, closer to the left or to the right, etc. Once all students are in place, give them a few moments to talk with those around them and see if they are actually in the right position compared to the opinions of those around them. Moving is totally okay and encouraged! After talking to those around them, the teacher leads a discussion as they move down the spectrum--having a few students share why they placed themselves where they did. This activity could be followed up by a writing piece where students defend their opinion.
- Give students an yes-no opinion question relating to content
- Students stand in a line with solid "yes" to the left and solid "no" to the right
- They could be in the middle or closer to right or left
- Allow time to talk to those around them to be sure they are in the right place
- Moving is encouraged
- Call on a few students to share why they chose the place
- Give a writing assignment for students to defend their opinion