Strategies to use in a Secondary English Classroom
1. Fishbowl (Interactive*)
Description: A Fishbowl is similar to and yet different from an Open Discussion strategy. Students are split up so that there are about 6-8 students (depending on the size of the class) in a circle facing inwards and the rest of the class surrounds them, also facing inwards. The inner circle argues both sides of a given prompt (or one they made up) while the outer circle writes notes on what is going on, making sure to add their own thoughts ON PAPER. Students frequently rotate out from the inner to the outer circle until everyone has been a part of both circles.
Effectiveness for Students: This is effective because every student gets an opportunity to fight for both sides regardless of their personal stance of the subject. This opportunity to argue also allows them to figure out how to argue effectively and professionally.
How this helps students with the content: In terms of English content, the more students’ talk about the literature, connect with it, question it, learn from others about it, the more it is going to stick in their minds. Moreover, the discussions and arguing encourages them to look into the text deeper to find those small details that will help them prove their point. Fishbowls are great for reviewing before a test because major scenes, themes, genres, characters, etc are brought to light for another examination.
2. Open Discussion (Interactive)
Description: Basically, Open Discussion is an organized group interaction where students exchange ideas (Killen 133). The entire class is involved. Open Discussions are used for much the same reason as Fishbowls, but they are directed by the teacher more and they are not argumentative but conversational.
Effectiveness for Students: Open Discussions have much the same effect for students as a Fishbowl does, except the discussion, by being guided by the teacher, is often more intellectual and content based. Therefore the students then get practice at articulating exactly what they think.
How this helps students with the content: In an English class, an open discussion helps students remember the content because they are, once again, talking about it, learning what others know about it, and seeing it in a whole new light. It will also help the students because the discussion is directed by the teacher, the content is more specific and detailed as opposed to generalized and summarized so the students are more prepared for a detailed test.
3. Annotation Marks (Indirect)
Source: My own adaptation from https://app.box.com/s/0blpy1gll7ky28z73ghk
Description: The Annotation Marks encourages students to interact with their textbooks and novels by allowing them to underline words or phrases they think important to the piece of literature, circle unknown words or concepts, and write any side thoughts in the margins. Pages of the studied literature is covered by sheet covers/ laminate so that the students can write in the books with a permanent marker without damaging the book or with dry-erase markers so that the student can go back and change what they wrote or drew.
Effectiveness for Students: This strategy of reading will help students become critical readers and therefore critical thinkers because students, when they engage in the text, learn to take notice of the little things. By looking at every word and concept making sure they fully understand it teaches them to look at other things in life in the same way – and the more closely they look at everything the more knowledgeable they become. And of their own accord!!
How this helps students with content: Specific to secondary English class, Annotation Marks could be used in/ on everything that is covered in class. This method would be particularly useful for the poetry unit as students could colour-code alliterations, hyperboles, similes, metaphors, etc and can write all over the page, even if it is a borrow book from the library.
4. Role Playing (Experiential)
Description: Students act out a scene that we have studied or that they have come up with on their own. This can either be pre-planned or improvised.
Effectiveness for Students: By becoming the characters themselves, they make a personal connection with the book. Personal connections help students to remember the book.
How this helps students with the content: Killen, in his book Teaching Strategies for Outcomes-Based Education says, “[role playing] helps learners understand the feelings and perspectives of others by acting out situations” (Killen 281). By putting themselves in the shoes of the characters, students are able to make more observations by thinking, “What would I do if I were in their position?” or “What would have happened in the book if I had done this instead of that?”
5. Analogies (Experiential)
Source: http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED363330 (source focuses on Synectics but I focused on the analogical part of the synectics strategy).
Description: Students compare and contrast an analogy to the new concept, identifying for themselves what characteristics are important and essential to both the analogy and concept but also finding what differentiates the analogy from the concept.
Effectiveness for Students: Doing this with analogy after analogy helps students to make more and more connections to already concrete ideas in their minds. This is linked to the concept of Scaffolding – the students have the core foundations on which the analogies are based, so now new concepts can be built off of those by sharing characteristics but the concept is new in its differences from the analogy.
How this helps students with the content: In English Language Arts, students are to be able to write comparative essays. By looking at analogies, they gain practice at identifying similarities and differences that are the foundations of comparative essays. Furthermore, analogies themselves can be found in the literature students study in class, and by understanding how to come up with their own, they will become quicker at identifying the ones they find when reading.
6. Hashtag Comments (Independent)
Source: I watched an intern try this strategy when I was in Grade 12 but cannot find any resources to back it up.
Description: Students sum up a chapter or paragraph within one or two hashtags.
Effectiveness for Students: Students are used to posting a lot of what they think online using hashtags, be it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. Hashtags in the classroom are effective because it helps them modernize and personalize the literature we are reading. (ie: “Oh Romeo, Oh Romeo, For where art thou Romeo?” become #romeowhereyouat)
How this helps students with the content: This encourages them to be short and precise in summarizing the content covered. Hashtags also encourage the students to identify the most important parts of the literature we are reading.
7. Problem Solving (Indirect)
Source: http://books.google.ca/books?id=0bxlD1QEmI0C&pg=PT257&dq=role+playing+teaching+strategy&hl=en&sa=X&ei=68NSVOfcFcawogSMkIDIDg&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=role%20playing%20teaching%20strategy&f=false(page 218)
Description: “Problem solving is a strategy for ‘posing significant, contextualized, real-world situations, and providing resources, guidance, and instruction to learners as they develop content knowledge and problem-solving skills’” (Killen 219).
Effectiveness for Students: It forces students to think for themselves and look beyond the content and think critically, rationally, and with common sense. It encourages them to look at the big picture.
How this helps students with the content: As students learn how to solve their own problems, they will be studying how others solve theirs. Then, we asked to write an essay, they can comment on what was done and what could have been done that could have been better for the characters in the end.
8. Scenario Planning (Indirect)
Source: Tucker, Kerry. “Scenario Planning.” Association Management. American Society of Association Executives, 1 Apr. 1999. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. <http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/docview/229234312/fulltext?accountid=13480>.
Description: Scenario Planning is creating a story or alternative ending that is just as plausible as the one presented. Different scenarios can be prompted by the teacher or completely made up by the students.
Effectiveness for Students: It helps students learn because they have to ponder why author’s chose the ending they did and not alternative endings like the ones the students themselves came up with. When anything is focused on for a period of time and considered in different angles, it becomes ingrained in the memory.
How this helps students with the content: Getting the students to do scenario planning is a great way to connect the current literature they are studying into a writing prompt. Rather than getting students to compare or summarize or study the novel, they get to become the author and create an alternative ending. It’s a great way to start them off in Creative Writing.
9. Explore Four (Interactive)
Source: My cooperating teacher at W. F. Ready uses this strategy. Again, there were no resources I could find but my teacher and I talked about his strategy for quite some time.
Description: Students are broken up into four groups. One group works with the teacher on any questions that were tough and hard to work through. In another group, every one works individually and try to work through problems using their own resources and knowledge. In another group the students work with each other for the questions they needed clarification for. The last group is allowed computer access to solve the problems they were stuck on. During the period, the groups’ tasks will change. My teacher uses Explore Four for math, but it could easily work for high school English as well!
Effectiveness for Students: This is great for students because it supports exhausting all available resources. Often students want to give up if they do not understand right away, but Explore Four reminds them that there are other means of arriving to an answer.
How this helps students with the content: English students will receive writing prompts and questions on the details of the literature to think about and answer and from there, Explore Four.
10. Venn Diagrams (Indirect)
Source: Thompson, J., S. Jungst, and B. Licklider. “Learner-Centered Teaching: Postsecondary Strategies That Promote “Thinking like a Professional”” Theory into Practice. Taylor & Francis, Ltd., 1 Apr. 2003. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/stable/pdfplus/1477354.pdf?acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true>. (page 135).
Description: A Venn diagram has two or more circles that partially overlap. “The overlap between the two circles represents things that are common to both, while the nonoverlapping areas of the circles represent those things that are true only to the topic in that circle – that is, the differences between the two” (Thompson 135).
Effectiveness for Students: Venn diagrams are great visual tools to show the similarities and differences between two ideas, two places, two people, etc. Like Analogies, Venn diagrams help the students identify these similarities and differences, but Venn diagrams really cater to the visual students.
How this helps students with the content: Often there are multiple characters or locations are so alike but so different, and it is important to be able to label the differences and similarities. The Venn diagram is a perfect map to write or draw that in.
11. Television (Independent)
Source: Barnes, Donald L. “Television in the Classroom: Teachers’ Views.” Chicago Journals. The University of Chicago Press, 1 Feb. 1965. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1000010>.
Description: Using a Television (or DVD or YouTube video) as means of introducing or teaching your students a new concept or further exploring an old concept.
Effectiveness for Students: The Television is another very effective visual aid, which, as previously discussed, helps students remember and understand material covered.
How this helps students with the content: For students who struggle with understanding Shakespeare, watching a video of the play being studied can help students understand what was going on.
12. Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading (USSR) (Independent)
Source: Mork, Theodore. “Sustained Silent Reading in the Classroom.” JSTOR. Wiley on Behalf of the International Reading Association, 1 Feb. 1972. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/20193009>.
Description: “It provides [students] opportunity to practice their own reading skills, privately, without fear of mistakes. It allows them to react privately to ideas in print for extended periods of time” (Mork 438).
Effectiveness for Students: “If someone is to learn a skill, he is provided large amounts of practice in using that skill. If children are to become readers, they must practice reading – in the kind of materials they will read, books” (438).
How this helps students with content: When students are given serious time to look at a book in depth, they take a personal interest in the literature because of the time they have invested in it. When they are taking it personally, they are ingraining the information into themselves, and therefore helping themselves develop professionally.
13. Stump the Teacher (Indirect)
Description: “In preparation, give students a reading assignment… As they are reading, each student needs to write down at least 5 questions to ‘stump the teacher’ along with their respective answers” (Smith).
Effectiveness for Students: They guide their own learning and decide what could be an important detail to focus on. This method also encourages students to come up with their own questions when reading, which is a necessary skill when studying is.
How this helps students with content: By making the questions, students show that they have read the content and thought about it carefully. It could be used weekly or as a review day.
14. Story Mapping (Indirect)
Source: Davis, Zephaniah T., and Michael D. McPherson. “Story Map Instruction: A Road Map for Reading Comprehension.” JSTOR. Wiley on Behalf of the International Reading Association, 1 Dec. 1989. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/20200342>.
Description: Story maps are “a graphic representation of all or part of the elements of a story and the relationships between them” (Davis 232).
Effectiveness for Students: These are visual aids also, but rather than helping the students compare and contrast, these maps help students study the plot structure from one piece of literature to the next. It organizes the parts of a story nicely.
How this helps students with content: “Research supports the notion that structures for stories stored as idealized mental representations aid readers in comprehending stories they read (Fitzgerald, 1989)” (Davis, 235). So basically, being able to break down a story into its bare bones helps students fully comprehend the material. When students are reading multiple novels in a semester a teacher wants ever piece of literature to stand out in the students’ memory in its own way.
15. Pen Pals (Experiential)
Source: Dorsey-Gaines, Catherine. “Pen Pal Programs in Primary Classrooms.” ProQuest. ProQuest Education Journals, 1 Mar. 2001. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/docview/196861598/fulltextPDF?accountid=13480>.
Description: “Different from story writing or writing for an assignment these authentic writing opportunities [to write letters to other people] encourage children to work with language and develop confidence through meaningful one-on-one written correspondence” (Dorsey-Gaines 487).
Effectiveness for Students: It makes students actually care about what they are writing. A lot of students, especially at the high school level, are really good at feigning sincerity. Writing to someone they never knew often intimidates students so they write with true emotion.
How this helps students with content: Students, through Pen Pals, begin to develop their Writer’s Voice. Often Writer’s Voice is lost in essays because the students are too nervous about being unprofessional, grammatically incorrect, etc. By allowing them to just write to someone as they would have an oral conversation, teachers are allowing them to have that individual, unique voice.
16. Peer Evaluation (Interactive):
Source: Peckham, Irvin. “Peer Evaluation.” JSTOR. National Council of Teachers of English, 1 Oct. 1978. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/814744>.
Description: After students have written essays or journals, rather than having the teacher critique every single one, students critique each other’s and mark each other.
Effectiveness for Students: Peer Evaluation teaches students to how to critique others’ work effectively and appropriately. This skill will be used throughout their lives.
How this helps students with the content: It is an opportunity for the students to share their work and ideas and to voice their concerns which could strengthen them as writers.
17. Oral Presentations (Independent):
Source: Boyce, Janet S., Jeanetta G. Riley, and Sheila R Alber-Morgan. “Fearless Public Speaking: Oral Presentation Activities for the Elementary Classroom.” ProQuest. ProQuest Education Journals, 1 Apr. 2007. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://search.proquest.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/docview/210392328/fulltextPDF?accountid=13480>.
Description: Students give a presentation by standing at the front of the class and speaking. Questions from the class and teacher are encouraged in this practice.
Effectiveness for Students: Oral presentations, when done frequently, randomly, and informally, help students become comfortable sharing their ideas with more than one person at a time.
How this helps students with the content: Oral presentations help them verbalize their personal interpretations on any readings or concepts that are being discussed in class at the time.
18. One-Minute Paper (Independent):
Source: Marzano, Robert J. “The Many Uses of Exit Slips.” Educational Leadership 70.2 (2012): 80-81. Academic Search Complete. Web. 31 Oct. 2014. <http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/ehost/detail/detail?sid=da297cf9-a7e0-4c33-9217-6bef7fd49542%40sessionmgr114&vid=0&hid=101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=82055908>.
Description: Like an exit slip, students write a short reflection on the day’s class before the leave. Unlike the exit slip, the one minute paper gives the students exactly one minute to write what they learned that day, what questions they still have, and what they would have done differently to make that class more effect for themselves.
Effectiveness for Students: This helps students learn because it asks them to reflect and sum up the past period and to self-evaluate what kind of student they are and how they can become the student they want to be.
How this helps students with the content: One-minute papers are not really meant to be content based, so I do not think I could argue that they help with the content. But it is a great way for the teacher to gage how comfortable their students feel with the content and can determine if and what needs to change in order for the students to understand the content.
19. Idea Spinner (Interactive):
Description: “Teacher creates a spinner marked into four quadrants and labelled ‘Predict, Explain, Summarize, Evaluate’. After new material is presented, the teacher spins the spinner and asks students to answer a question based on the location of the spinner. For example, if the spinner lands in the ‘Summarize’ quadrant, the teacher might say, ‘List the key concepts just presents’.”
Effectiveness for Students: Idea Spinner being an interactive method, students are up and moving and reviewing what they already know. The moving keeps them awake and the repetition really enforces the information they already know. If they do not know the answer to a question, then it is a great opportunity to clarify that for the student.
How this helps students with the content: Repetition, repetition, repetition helps students remember the content.
20. Jokes (Independent):
Source: Hunsaker, Johanna S. “It’s No Joke: Using Humor in the Classroom.” JSTOR. Taylor & Francis, Ltd., 1 Feb. 1988. Web. 1 Nov. 2014. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/30188340 .>.
Description: To review (either from the day before or at the end of that class), teachers can allow a time for students to tell jokes related to the content.
Effectiveness for Students: For the creative students/ jokesters in the class, this helps them think of the content in a new way, in a lighter way. And for the students who cannot come up with witty jokes, listening to others tell them will still get them engaged in thinking about the content differently.
How this helps students with the content: Jokes are memorable because they have puns or are witty or are sarcastic. But more than making the content memorable, jokes can be a great way to look at the details of a book – the relationships between the characters, the genres, critical attributes of the book, etc.
* Note: While I labelled every Instructional Strategy as Interactive, Direct, Indirect, Experiential, or Independent, some strategies could easily be labelled by two or three of these types of instruction. The one they are labelled by are the type of instruction I believed them to fit into the best.
For more Instructional Strategies, click here and you will be taken to the ECS300 wikipage where there are 20 Instructional Strategies found and researched per 28 other ECS300 students from this semester.