Explicit Directions Support Student Achievement

By on October 30, 2012

I am teaching a freshman class this year. They are great kids, but like all young students, they have trouble working in groups. Even though I have used Strategic Grouping techniques, many of my students struggle to stay on task. While in groups of four, two students talk to each other while the other two listen passively or doodle on their note paper.

My frustration was building because I knew my students could do better. And I knew I could do a better job helping my students reach my expectations. So I went to work and developed a simple support tool that helped my students successfully work in small groups.

I wanted to create simple steps that my students could follow. I wrote down the steps and transferred them onto sentence strips. I have provided the steps below.

  1. Move into groups quickly and quietly.
  2. Read a question together.
  3. Ask each student in the group, "What do you think?"
  4. Students listen to answers.
  5. Students discuss the answers.
  6. Students reach consensus and write answers in their notes.

To reproduce this scaffolding tool for your own classroom, all you need is sentence strips, markers, and a word wall. If you don't have these materials, you could dedicate an area on your white board and write out the six steps for all students to see.

Since this went so well, I have decided to make more of these "support strips" for the various literacy activities that I ask my students to engage in. All I have to do is change out the sentence strips on my word wall so that they fit the activity. 

I hope you find this type of support useful. It has made a difference in my classroom.

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Literacy Standards In Action

We've mapped our literacy lessons and reading, speaking, and writing skills to state standards, Common Core, and NGSS. The standards are "the what" to teach. Our lessons are "the how" to meet the expectations defined by the standards. Click on the links below to view our quick reference table that maps standards to literacy lessons.

Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
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