Effective strategies for teaching are paramount in any classroom (Paul & Elder, 2011). Limiting oneself to just one or two methods of teaching might make the process of learning monotonous; additionally, not many types of memory will be employed, which will lead to suboptimal learning outcomes (Carr-Chellman, 2016). Therefore, it is critical that educators diversify the learning process, letting students employ various types of memory and practically use their new knowledge and skills (Paul & Elder, 2014). This paper provides 50 diverse strategies for teaching that can be combined and utilized in a variety of classrooms.
- Active reading.
While reading texts, students employ six ways of active reading – questioning the text, forecasting how it will unfold, clarifying details, comparing and contrasting the facts, and attempting to visualize (Branco, n.d.).
- Anchor activities.
These activities are designed for students who finish tasks faster than others. To avoid their idleness, the teacher proposes some additional optional activities (e.g., additional reading, exercises, vocabulary work, critical thinking questions, etc.), for instance, by writing these tasks on the board.
- Anticipation guide.
The teacher prepares some statements about how the learning materials will unfold. Students are asked to react to these statements and tell if they are likely predictions of what will happen in the text (Branco, n.d.).
- Appointment clocks.
The teacher assigns “appointments” of students with other students to particular times of the clock, and then, at certain stages of the lesson, tells the learners to meet their, e.g., 3 o’clock appointment to discuss an issue. This way, students can be assigned into pairs of similar levels, interests, etc. (TeachThought Staff, 2013).
- Assigned questions.
These questions are created by the instructor and answered by the learners during the class. The learner’s answers are discussed by them with each other and/or with the instructor (Branco, n.d.).
- Author’s chair.
Students who have written especially good papers are given a chance to share their writing with the audience. They read the papers or create reports based on them. The rest of the learners provide their feedback.
- Book/article talks.
During the class, students tell about and briefly summarize books or articles they previously read on the topic in question. This allows for sharing one another’s experience and advice (Branco, n.d.).
Students write down any notions or ideas that come to their minds and are relevant to the concept or issue in question. These are then discussed collectively by the class (Branco, n.d.).
- Brief oral reports.
Students prepare concise oral reports about a topic, or to answer a question. They have 3-5 minutes to quickly explain the gist of the issue. Best works for small groups of students.
- Case studies.
Students research and discuss an actual or imaginary situation or event which is related to the topic (such as diagnosing a patient on the basis of symptoms or researching the history of a famous company). This allows for (almost) a practical application of learners’ knowledge and skills (Bradshaw & Lowenstein, 2014).
Students are provided with a number of items (notions, ideas), which they need to group into sets according to common characteristics. Permits for identifying differences and similarities of items that are grouped (Branco, n.d.).
- Circle the sage.
Students are divided into groups of interests; those who know the topic well (“sages”) sit in different parts of the room and explain it to the interested. Then the teams are reformed, and every student elaborates their new knowledge to others. Should disagreements arise, they are discussed by the whole class with the instructor (Branco, n.d.).
A text in which words that are critical for comprehension are left out is given to the learners. The students fill in the gaps. It is often used as an evaluation technique (Branco, n.d.).
- Contrasting and comparing.
Students list and discuss the similarities and differences of a number of texts. This allows for identifying the main points of the texts and comparing arguments and facts (Bradshaw & Lowenstein, 2014).
- Concept mapping.
Students create diagrams. At the center of each diagram is the notion or topic in question. Near it, learners write all the related concepts and notions coming to their minds, and link them to the central concept and/or to one another (Branco, n.d.; Carnegie Mellon University, 2015).
- Crib preparation.
Before an exam, students are informed that they will be able to use a crib (written with their hand) of a given volume during the examination. Students prepare the cribs and use them during the exam.
- Curriculum compacting.
Students are given the curriculum of the course and asked to assess which parts of it they have already mastered. The curriculum is then modified to exclude the information that is already familiar to all or most students. Suitable for well-prepared students.
- Didactic questions.
These are questions that begin with words such as “what?,” “where?,” “when,” and “how?,” and require a single answer. They allow for checking knowledge and understanding of the materials (Branco, n.d.).
Drilling is a revision of the previously learned materials. It is possible to ask questions, do exercises, and discuss topics studied before. Best used in mathematics, vocabulary learning, scientific symbols, etc. (Branco, n.d.).
- Editing one another’s papers.
Students write papers on a given topic. Then, students exchange papers, and each member of a pair edits their peer’s paper, and adds additional facts and points they consider to be crucial for the topic.
- Explicit teaching.
Topics and materials are split into chunks and explained and demonstrated to students individually. This method is aimed at achieving specific learning outcomes (Branco, n.d.).
- Focused imaging and visualization.
Teacher prompts students to create mental pictures of the issues or objects in question. Phrases such as “think about…,” “imagine…,” or “consider…” may be employed (Branco, n.d.).
Students are required to prepare glossaries – papers which contain entries explaining in detail a number of concepts or words on a given topic (Branco, n.d.).
- Graphic organizers.
This is any type of visual representation of data, such as maps, charts, graphs, and so on. These may be used to present complex information in a concise and clear manner.
- Group papers.
Students divide into groups and write papers collectively. Each learner is responsible for a particular part of the project and for the paper as a whole.
- Heterogeneous and homogeneous grouping.
Heterogeneous grouping permits for distributing students into teams that allow for combining different types of students’ abilities, whereas homogeneous grouping can be useful in groups where learners possess a focused range of cognitive skills (Branco, n.d.).
Students are divided into groups of 5 students. Each member is given a piece of material, and is to learn it and teach it to other members of their group. Then the groups are reformed. Concluded by an evaluation (TeachThought Staff, 2013).
- KWL charts.
Students create tables with three columns: what I Know, what I Wonder, what I Learned (KWL), and fill them in at the end of a lesson. This allows them to assess and articulate what they have learned and what they still need to learn.
- Likert-scaled groups (“four sides”).
Students are given a statement or opinion, and are divided into groups according to their response (strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree). Each group discusses and then explains their point of view. Sometimes it might be possible to add a neutral group.
- Learning contracts.
Students design and write contracts in which the plan for studying, the responsibilities of the learner, and the deadlines are outlined. Instructors provide feedback and suggestions. The final version of the contract is signed by both the student and the teacher.
- Leading questions.
During a discussion, students are asked leading questions – ones that contain hints about the answer and push learners towards answering correctly. A series of questions allows students to formulate a clear picture of a discussed issue.
- Lectures by students.
Students are required to give a lecture or a mini-lecture on a given topic. Can be used with college and/or university students from later years of study.
At the end of a class, students are given a few questions pertaining to the discussed materials, and are asked to write short answers to these questions in their own words.
- Mock debates.
The class is divided into a number of groups. Members of each group prepare speeches to defend their group’s position, and make questions during the opponents’ speeches to attack or clarify their positions (The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, n.d.).
- Peer partner learning.
Pairs of students consisting of a “doer” and a “helper” work on issues. The first student does tasks, the second – provides assistance, critique, and feedback. Then learners change roles (Branco, n.d.).
- Peer review.
Each student provides a written response to one of their peers’ paper, assessing the strength of arguments, the quality and quantity of facts, the logic of flow, and so on (Paul & Elder, 2011).
- Photographic essays.
The class is divided into groups. Each group prepares a photo essay – a number of photos are glued to a piece of paper of a large format; the photos are related, and together tell a story.
- Pre-teaching vocabulary.
Students are taught vocabulary before they are given materials for the new topic. This makes comprehension easier, and might allow students to outline the topic and understand its structure.
- Question cards.
During a lecture, students write down their questions and pass them to the instructor. The instructor explicitly answers them during the lecture when it is appropriate.
- Read and paraphrase.
Students are required to paraphrase what they read. This ensures that learners really comprehend what they read, and allows for better retention of materials (Branco, n.d.).
- Response journals.
Students do response journals, in which they briefly record their responses, reactions and thoughts about texts they read and materials they studied. This stimulates thinking and allows the learners to better remember what they have read (Branco, n.d.).
- Role-playing games.
Learners are put in hypothetical situations and asked to behave according to an assigned role. This lets them to better understand an issue from different positions and perspectives (Branco, n.d.).
- Rubrics for assignments.
When giving students large assignments, they are provided with rubrics according to which they will be assessed. These let students know what exactly is expected from them.
The teacher creates a model for doing a certain task, essentially doing a part of the job for the learner, and then gradually gives the responsibility to the student. Can be used with struggling students.
- Self-monitoring strategies.
Students are given plans and/or other materials which allow them to assess their progress on their own and decide which steps need to be taken for better comprehension (Branco, n.d.; Paul & Elder, 2014).
While working with materials, students survey (S) the headings, subheadings, introductory paragraphs, etc; formulate questions (Q) the answers to which are to be found in the materials; read (R) and answer the questions; recite (R) – answer the questions without using materials; and review (R) – reread key parts of materials or their notes (Branco, n.d.).
- Structured problem solving.
Groups of learners solve problems within a limited amount of time. Each group has to come to a compromise, and each member has to be able to elaborate the solution (Branco, n.d.).
Students are required to think about an issue, then pair with a classmate and share their thoughts. This permits for concentrating on the materials and for their deeper consideration.
Students are given 3×3 grids in which each cluster contains the name and description of an activity. Students then choose a fixed number of activities they wish to do, and are given a deadline.
At the beginning of the class, a short activity (2-4 min) related to the topic to be discussed is conducted. Students may discuss a picture, a new word or concept, offer their opinions on a given issue or statement, etc.
Thus, using diverse teaching strategies is crucial if students are to learn effectively. The provided strategies may be utilized in different classrooms and combined so as to enhance students’ learning outcomes.
Bradshaw, M. J., & Lowenstein, A. J. (2014). Innovative teaching strategies in nursing and related health professions (6th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Branco, C. W. (n.d.). 100 instructional strategies. Web.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2015). Using concept maps. Web.
Carr-Chellman, A. A. (2016). Instructional design for teachers: Improving classroom practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2011). A miniature guide for those who teach on how to improve student learning: 30 practical ideas. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2014). How to improve student learning: 30 practical ideas (3rd ed.). Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.
TeachThought Staff. (2013). A list of 50+ teaching strategies to jumpstart your teacher brain. Web.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. (n.d.). 150 teaching methods. Web.