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Friday, February 19, 2016

Elements of Effective Instruction

The Institute to Credential Special Learning Needs Resource Specialists 2016 is in full swing with a highly motivated and persistent group determined to learn all they can to better serve their students with or without funding!

Today we discussed elements of effective instruction and some of the key areas were:

  • Establish consistent  classroom routines
  • Make expectations clear
  • Develop and follow lesson structure
  • Demonstrate activities
  • Emphasize the use of techniques/strategies  
  • Use effective questioning
  • Provide many opportunities for practice
  •  Provide consistent and useful feedback
  • Review previously learned materials  
Please share your ideas of  how you  lay a foundation for effective instruction to foster learning.


  1. •Each student is given a blue folder to use during class time. The independent work for the day is in the folder. It also contains sheets with information that students may need. (list of transition words, reading strategies, test-taking strategies, explanation of mnemonics,) At the end of the day students turn in the blue folder. I keep copies of all the sheets/packets that I passed out in class and a make sure to put a copies of these materials in the blue folders of students who were absent.
    •Students were given a black folder to keep their assignment sheet and their homework. Copies of the vocabulary words for each lesson are three holed punched and kept in their black homework folder.
    •The agenda for the day is on the board. I list the type of activity that they will be doing (small group, discussion, partner, using the computer,) and I explain goal of the activity. (Vocabulary-Synomyms, Reading Strategy-Self-Questioning, Writing-Extended Response)
    •I have a volunteer who records every assignment and makes sure to return the work to the student with appropriate comments.
    •Students all took the Learning Styles inventory and know their learning strengths, During lessons, we explicitly discuss learning strategies.

  2. What a great post and outstanding start to an important discussion! Thanks for sharing - I will be following this with great interest!

    In addition to my deep adoration of graphic organizers that can be used with all levels and abilities of students, I am a strong advocate of the explicit instruction approach - especially with learners who are challenged by content or struggle with skill acquisition.

    I'm delighted to learn that I am using a lot of the strategies prescribed by The Institute to Credential Special Learning Needs Resource Specialists - such affirmations are so helpful when working in the classroom! A few of the most important techniques I use in my work are:

    • Make expectations clear – one of my favorite tools are RUBRICS! They’re surprisingly easy to create (Google “rubric generator” and be amazed!) and they are so immensely helpful to students because they provide a tremendous amount of guiding information on expectations and provide a lot of consistency in communicating these expectations. Another bonus to rubrics is that they allow for a great deal of consistency in evaluation, assessment, and grading, too!

    • Demonstrate activities – this is a big part of explicit instruction! We all know it’s nice to “hear” how to do something, but so many of us need to see it DONE before we can truly grasp a concept or skill. I use think-alouds while I conduct my demonstrations because when we make our thinking transparent, it leads to better understanding among our students.

    • Emphasize the use of techniques/strategies – I love this one because I LOVE MNEMONICS! These memory aids are an outstanding strategy for all students, especially those who have a hard time remembering steps in a process. I know I can’t live without them in my daily life and my students definitely appreciate a good mnemonic!

    A few other favorites are (you guessed it) graphic organizers (either blank, partially filled, or completed – depending upon the level/ability of the student), questioning techniques to stimulate inquiry (as cited above), cooperative grouping, and always, always, always making a concerted effort to tie new information back to what they already know (an experience with this particular strategy actually changed my entire philosophy on adult education and reaching students with special needs), and contextualizing instruction as much as possible to make it applicable in “real-life”.

    Awesome post – can’t wait to see what else is shared! Thanks!