Classroom Instruction from A to Z

Classroom Instruction from A to Z
Barbara Blackburn

It isn't the strategy- it's how you use the strategy that makes a difference.

My goal is to give them information and let them internalize and give it back; not just force-fed info and make them regurgitate it. I want to give them an opportunity to internalize and express [their learning].

If they are allowed to choose how they will show that they understand the content, many students will invest more time and effort in the task.

Start with one idea and build on your success.

"Learning and teaching is messy stuff. It doesn't fit into bubbles." -Michele Forman

Think of data analysis like a triangle: classroom performance and standardized test scores should be evaluated together with a third data point, your teacher judgment.

Data shouldn't replace your judgment; it should help you make decisions.

Our students are not in their final state when we are teaching them.

The word but can serve as a red light or a stop sign for progress, The word and is like a green light.

Your language reflects your beliefs, and your students follow your model. If they hear you using words as an excuse, so will they.

Give students your BEST: belief, encouragement, support, time

Many students do not have a vision of anything more than where they are right now. You can help them create a vision for themselves through your words, actions, and activities so they they support each other.

"Students learn over half of what they know from visual images." -Mary Alice White

If your form of delivery isn't working, then find a different way to deliver it.

Rigor is not just about difficulty. Rigor is also about helping out students learn to critically think about their learning.

Complexity isn't about doing more work, it's about doing less drill and practice and more higher-level thinking activities.

Allowing students to take a zero reflects lowered expectations. It permits a student to get by without actually doing the work and says to the student, "You don't have to learn this."

Less is more. Give students small amounts of focused work that requires them to apply knowledge and evaluate information.

Our mode of instruction says, "Trust me. I know where we are going, so you don't need to." But students don't always respond positively to that approach.

Effective homework can be completed independently with minimal and appropriate support. If the assignment is too difficult, students are more likely to ask someone else to complete it for them.

"The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer." -Alice Wellington Rollins

As you create questions for your students, remember to build in questions that are open ended, those that have more than one answer.

There are three types of reflection for students: reflecting on what they have learned, reflecting on how they learn, and reflecting on their progress.

Checking Prior Knowledge- First, she gives students three minutes to answer a short true/false questionnaire. Next, in pairs, students compare responses and use the textbook to check their answers. Each set of partners must rewrite any false statements so that they are true. She ends with a whole class discussion to ensure understanding.

During "Three Alike", she writes three words on the board or overhead projector. Students then have to explain what the words have in common.

I shuffle playing cards and each student takes one. While they are taking their cards, I make up the rules. Find your group by matching either the suit, the number, or picture. I prepare the deck ahead of time so that I will have the correct number of cards that will create the desired number of groups.

Just because we do something a lot doesn't mean it works.


  1. I read this book earlier this summer. It had a lot of quick and easy tidbits that I really liked. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. I only read it because you suggested it! It wasn't my fave but I can't read without finding something worth highlighting. =)