Research-Based Strategies and Activities
Englewood High School Courses
About Mrs. Sperry
strategies are listed in order of effectiveness.
Identifying similarities and differences (percentile gain = 45)
2. Summarizing and note
(percentile gain = 34)
3. Reinforcing effort and providing recognition
(percentile gain = 29)
It is surprising to
many teachers, but research has shown that many students must be
directly taught that effort is part of success. Some students believe
that luck or friendship is more connected to success than effort. Use
the two methods below to teach students the value of effort.
Pause, prompt, and praise! (the teacher
asks the student to stop working for a moment, provides a suggestion
for improving the student’s performance, and then praises the
student when he/she implements the teacher’s suggestion) (Marzano
Columbia, MO Public Schools.
Show students how to graph their own assessment
scores by using the rubric, chart, and graph available at
4. Homework and practice
(percentile gain = 28) –
Tell students the purpose of the homework - whether it is necessary
practice to become fluent in a skill or required to deepen knowledge of
a topic that will be developed over one or more units.. A student's
homework in total per night should not exceed 10 minutes multiplied by
the student's grade level. It must not be a matter of policy, but have
real purpose such as practicing a skill which has been introduced but
not mastered, researching a topic of interest, or deepening the
student's knowledge base. Research collected over decades and continuing
to the present day shows that homework is necessary, especially if
American students hope to catch up with their peers in other countries.
An article by Marzano and Pickering on this subject is available at
(non-linguistic representation [percentile gain = 27)
– Marzano et al. state that "According to research,
knowledge is stored in two forms: linguistic and visual. The more
students use both forms in the classroom, the more opportunity they have
to achieve. Recently, use of nonlinguistic representation has proven to
not only stimulate but also increase brain activity." Read more from
this research at
Creating graphic representations
Making physical models (pictoral)
Generating mental pictures
Drawing pictures and pictographs
Engaging in kinesthetic activity
Math Example: In a geometry class a teacher
can ask students to think of ways they can represent what they
are learning in “body math.” During a lesson on radius,
diameter, and circumference of circles, Barry uses his left arm
outstretched to show radius, both arms outstretched to show
diameter, and both arms forming a circle to show circumference.
During a different lesson on angles, Devon depicts obtuse and
acute angles by making wide and not-so-wide "Vs" with her arms
as other students yell out the degrees. Students or groups of
students can be asked to come up with ways to show fractions,
and mixed numbers (http://aggiefaculty.wikispaces.com/
2010). When students truly understand a concept, they can write
explanations for themselves and others.
English Example: When studying literature,
students can act out key scenes. When studying grammar, students
can act out the parts of speech and punctuation. Nouns can be
touched. Adverbs can control the speed of someone walking. Verbs
can be acted. Action must stop when a student acting the part of
a period interrupts, etc.
Learning groups (percentile gain = 27) -
According to Marzano, pairs and triads are most effective in processing
Think-Pair-Share - The teacher poses a question to the class.
The students think about their response, and then students pair with
a partner to talk over their ideas. Finally, students share their
ideas with the class.
- Students are working in pairs, within their teams. Students will
take turns writing on one piece of paper or completing a task.
- Numbered Heads
Together - Students within the team number off from 1-4. The
teacher poses a question and the students put their heads together
to discuss the answer. The teacher randomly calls a number and from
each team the student with that number writes the answer on the team
- Showdown -
Each student writes his answer on his individual response board.
When everyone in the group is ready, the leader says "Showdown" and
team members compare and discuss their answers.
Consult - Students all have their own copy of the same worksheet
or assignment questions. A large cup is placed in the center of each
team, and students begin by placing their pencils in the cup. With
pencils still in the cup, they discuss their answers to the first
question. When all team members are ready, they remove their pencils
from the cup and write their answers without talking. They repeat
this process with the remaining questions.
Brainstorming - Students in the group have roles: Speed Captain
(prompts more ideas), Super Supporter (encourages/recognizes all
ideas), Synergy Guru (encourages members to build upon one another's
ideas), and Secretary (writes ideas). Members carry out their
respective roles while the team generates a variety of possible
responses (Kagan, 1994 quoted at
Setting objectives and providing feedback (percentile gain = 27)
8. Generating and testing
hypotheses (percentile gain = 23)
- Systems Analysis – ask students to generate hypotheses that
predict what would happen if some aspect of a system were changed.
Explain the purpose of
the system, the parts of the system, and the function of each part.
Describe how the parts
affect each other.
Identify a part of the
system, describe a change in that part, and then hypothesize what would
happen as a result of this change.
When possible, test
your hypothesis by actually changing the part.
Example: In an
English class, ask students to read a story and change an aspect of the
story: a character, a plot element, or a setting element. Have students
write a paragraph using the bulleted items above. Students could then
write a new story based on the original.
Other types of analyses can be found at
Cues, questions, and advance organizers (percentile gain = 22) -
Agreeing with Marzaon, the Northwest Educational Technology
Consortium, recommends using questions and advance organizers. They
emphasize using higher level questions that ask students to
analyze information. See more at
Sizer and Wiggins are the leaders in the area of using effective
questions to motivate students to deepen their knowledge base through
effective discussions and writing. Essential questions is a term
used by Theodore Sizer at Brown University (Sizer 1992). The questions
engage students. Cheryl M. Jorgensen gives the following example:
Consider the question a 10th grade science teacher
wrote on the board: “If we can, should we?”
The teacher asked the students to get into groups
of four and gave each group a large sheet of newsprint paper and some
markers. She then asked them to divide the paper into two columns,
listing in the first column all the dilemmas or issues to which this
quotation might refer, and in the second, their answer to her question
for that issue. One group thought the question might refer to the atomic
bomb—“If we have the atomic bomb, should we use it to stop another
country from invading an innocent neighbor?” They wrote “No. Atomic
energy is too dangerous. You should use diplomacy or conventional
Finally, the teacher told the students they would
in fact be studying human genetics for the next several weeks. Every
student would have to answer an essential question through a
performance-based exhibition: “If we can influence the incidence of
birth defects through genetic selection and prenatal diagnosis, should
How to Create Essential Questions
- They have no one right answer.
- All students can answer them.
- They enable all students to learn.
- They involve thinking, not just answering.
- They make students investigators.
- They are provocative—they hook students into wanting to learn.
- They offer a sense of adventure, are fun to explore and try to
- They require students to connect learning from several
- They challenge students to demonstrate that they understand the
relationship between what they are learning and larger world issues.
- They enable students to begin the unit from their own past
experience or understanding.
- They build in personalized options for all students.
Read more at