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Identifying Effective Instructional Strategies

Carefully planning for and selecting effective instructional strategies in language arts, math, science, and social studies are two of the most important factors in the effectiveness of a school’s reform efforts. Throughout the reform process, practitioners should evaluate their instructional practices and, if necessary, change them to adapt to the changing needs of their students and teachers.

For some schools, changing instructional practices means selecting an external school reform model that focuses on teacher practice in core academic areas and that has strong evidence of effects. It is important to remember that not all school reform models are designed to impact instruction—some models focus on other areas such as school climate. Careful scrutiny of the model philosophy and structure will help determine if and how the model is designed to impact instruction. Click on Examining School Reform Models for more information.

The resources below offer information and guidance on how to identify proven instructional strategies.

Tools for Identifying Effective Instructional Strategies

Differentiated instructional strategies in practice: Training, implementation, and supervision (2003) - G. H. Gregory
This book offers step-by-step activities compatible with leading differentiated instruction (DI) training materials. It uses a "one-size-does-not-fit-all" approach to faculty training, observation, and supervision for DI implementation, enabling teachers, trainers, and principals to identify their own unique strengths and concerns as they work to engage students in the classroom.

Effective Instructional Practices (2000) -- McREL
This guide presents the nine most powerful types of instructional practices that research links to improved student achievement. These instructional strategies can be widely applied and generally are effective for any student, at any grade level, in any subject area. In addition to a synthesis of the research for each type of instruction, there are multiple suggestions for classroom practice. Spiral-bound participants' manuals ($18.75) may be purchased from McREL.

Module 2 - Effective teaching: An Overview – Utah Students At Risk Online Staff Development Academy
This online tool is a set of five instructional modules education practitioners can utilize to learn how to improve various aspects of classroom instruction. The five modules cover time management, teaching functions, academic feedback, academic monitoring, and classroom management. After completing each module, practitioners can fill out a self-evaluation and checklist to assess their understanding of the topic. The most helpful sections of the module are Teaching Functions and Academic Monitoring.

The Cycle of Inquiry – Bay Area School Reform Collaborative
The Cycle of Inquiry is a structured method that helps teachers improve their practice and their interactions with students to raise student achievement and close the achievement gap.

The Diversity Kit: An Introductory Resource for Social Change in Education (2002) - The Education Alliance at Brown University
This three-part kit aims to bridge the gap between research and practice with insights on language acquisition and the effects of students' cultural backgrounds on the learning process. It invites educators at all levels, policymakers, and community members to examine their beliefs, perceptions, behaviors, and educational practices with respect to diversity in education. Each of the three sections contains activities, vignettes, and suggestions for further exploration, including Web sites, videos, and print sources. The interactive content of the kit can be used as a starting point for discussions in classrooms, teachers' lounges, schools, state and district offices of education, colleges of education, and communities at large.

Related Research and Resources

Beyond Islands of Excellence: What Districts Can Do to Improve Instruction and Achievement in All Schools (2003) – Learning First Alliance
To address the need for better information on successful system-wide reform of low-performing schools, this guide analyzes five high-poverty districts that have been making strides in improving student achievement. More specifically, the Learning First Alliance focuses on learning about how districts promoted good instruction across their systems. The report identifies a set of practical steps that schools and districts can take to move beyond a few excellent schools to success across entire systems.

Bookmark, March 2004-- Linking Promising Individual Strategies to Accomplish CSR
On-line newsletter that is part of a series on comprehensive school reform (CSR) issues in light of the most recent federal legislation, No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Bookmark, December 2003--Using Scientifically Based Research in CSR
On-line newsletter that is part of a series on comprehensive school reform (CSR) issues in light of the most recent federal legislation, No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

CSR Practitioner’s Guide to Scientifically Based Research (2003) - NCCSR
This Guide provides information about the research available on the various federal CSR components and easy access to a variety of supporting research and/or resources, most of which are available on-line. The link below directs you to the section of the Guide on CSR component 1, effective instructional strategies.

Every Child a Reader: Applying Reading Research in the Classroom (1998) – Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement
This innovative series of monographs presents teachers with a clear summary of research-based knowledge on effective strategies to implement in any classroom. The series includes practical classroom activities with proven results and tables of developmental accomplishments that can be used to monitor a child’s progress. A free online preview edition is available.

Identifying Research-Based Solutions for School Improvement (2003) - NCCSR
NCCSR’s newly developed workshop, Identifying Research-Based Solutions for School Improvement, provides clear, concise information concerning scientifically based research so that practitioners can begin to use research to inform their work. Both the full-day and the 90-minute versions are free and include a PowerPoint presentation on finding evidence-based solutions for school improvement; a guide for facilitators; illustrative handouts, activities and reference tools that explain key research terms and components; as well as examples of high-quality research.
Please note: You will be required to register before gaining access to the workshop materials.

Improving the Reading Comprehension of America's Children: 10 Research-Based Principles (2001) – Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement
Research from recent decades has provided a general outline of how to effectively teach reading comprehension. This is a draft of the 10 research-based principles that describe how to improve reading comprehension.

Instructional Strategies: How Teachers Teach Matters (2001) – Southern Regional Education Board
This guide is designed to help teachers use various teacher-directed and student-centered strategies to increase student involvement in and responsibility for their own learning. It emphasizes good instructional planning and several types of instructional strategies.

Matching Effective Instructional Strategies to Your School Needs: Increasing Student Achievement and Closing the Gap in the Arlington Public Schools (2003) – NCCSR Bookmark
Schools and districts across the nation are making every effort to eliminate differences in expectations and outcomes for students of lower socio-economic or minority status. In this edition of Bookmark, the Assistant Superintendent of the Arlington Public Schools Kathleen F. Grove offers a personal account of how she and the Arlington, VA, public school system identified and implemented an instructional strategy to increase student achievement and simultaneously decrease the achievement gap.

Research-Based Methods (2004) – CSR At A Glance
This tool provides an annotated bibliography and resources that help schools select research-based methods for effective student learning, mathematics & science instruction, reading instruction, scientifically based research, and specific student populations.

Tools for ELL-Responsive Comprehensive School Reform from A Handbook for Improving Education for English Language Learners through Comprehensive School Reform (2003) - The Education Alliance
This tool kit contains discussion guides, checklists, data grids, and other tools to help district and school staff plan and design reforms that can integrate schoolwide improvement efforts and the needs of English language learners.

The Source: A Curriculum Guide for Reading Mentors (2002) – Scholastic Inc. in collaboration with the Florida Department of Education
This guidebook is designed to help practitioners to better understand our complex language and to improve and expand students’ reading skills. It also discusses what the current research says about struggling readers and the best strategies to use to teach them. Chapter Three, “Meeting the Needs of Struggling Readers,” and Chapter Eight, “Comprehension: The Reason for Learning to Read,” provide helpful guidance.

Using Culturally Relevant Curriculum Materials to Close the Achievement Gap (2002) – NCCSR Bookmark
The June 2002 issue of the National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform’s monthly newsletter, Bookmark, discusses strategies to incorporate culturally relevant materials into the curriculum. A feature article and several resources are provided for practitioners on this topic.

What Works Clearinghouse
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) gathers studies of the effectiveness of educational interventions (programs, products, practices, and policies).Staff review the studies that have the strongest design, and report on the strengths and weaknesses of those studies. Currently, a review of middle school math curricula is posted on the site.

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