Tuesday, April 16, 2019

JIGSAW Reading Strategy

Research proves that the best way to learn is to teach. The Jigsaw reading strategy is a cooperative activity in which students take on the role of  "experts" about an assigned reading passage or topic and teach the information to their group members.

The benefits of this strategy include:
1. It will help students with various reading abilities gain comprehension.
2. It will save a lot of time when there is a lot of content to teach.
3. Students will be able to practice listening and speaking skills, especially helpful for students who are designated English Language Learners (ELL).
4. Discussion of reading passages will help students remember important ideas.

Steps to implement the strategy in your classroom:
1. Choose a long reading passage and divide it into even sections. (I have four students per group, so I divided the readings into four sections.)
2. Divide your class into "home" groups. The amount of students per group depends on the class size and the number of sections per reading.
3. Assign each student a specific section of the reading.
4. Students who have the same assigned reading will form "expert groups" and read aloud their assigned text. You may require students to annotate the reading and complete a corresponding graphic organizer or answer key questions. Be sure all students are discussing the reading with their "expert" groups so to confirm comprehension.
5. Once "expert" groups have completed their assigned reading, have students return back to their "home" groups. 
6. Have students share the main ideas from their reading to their "home" group members. Group members will take notes on their graphic organizer.

Below are examples of the Jigsaw strategy I use in my classroom.

MAIN Causes of World War I

Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Note: Although this is a group project, this could easily be revised into a Jigsaw activity.

Special Fight Forces of World War II

Have you used this strategy in your classroom before? If not, what are you waiting for?

Happy Teaching,
Chalk Dust Diva

Wednesday, April 3, 2019


Sometimes after teaching a lesson in my history class, I look at the students to get some type of reinforcement that they understand the content. I head nod, a comment, anything would be nice. But what often happens is that I get met with a sea of blank faces.  And that's why I often incorporate frequent checks for understanding. Thumbs Up, Down, Sideways is an easy and quick strategy to use to see which students are understanding the content and which students may need more help. 

I try to incorporate CFU's every 10 minutes throughout a lesson. When I use this strategy I simply ask students how well they understand the content I'm teaching. They place their thumb close to their body facing up (I understand the content), thumbs to the side (I understand the content but I need more clarification) or, thumbs down (I don't understand most of the content). This CFU is especially helpful for students who have high anxiety in sharing their lack of understanding since no other student can see their response. 

What types of checks-for-understanding do you use in your classroom?

Happy Teaching!
Chalk Dust Diva

Monday, March 18, 2019

WHIP AROUND Teaching Strategy

In my classroom, I am constantly looking for new and quick ways to assess my students. Sometimes I  check for understanding by calling on random students using index cards. Other times I might ask a few students to write their answer on the whiteboard. There are so many engaging options to assess your students.  "Whip-Around" is one of my favorite teaching strategies.  Here is how it works:

STEP 1: Have each student write down two or three possible responses to a prompt or question.
STEP 2: Then have students, in order, share out one of their responses using a public speaking voice.
STEP 3: Ask all students to stand up prior to speaking, then as they share they sit down. You may want to have student pair-share prior to having them share with the entire class.

This activity is best meant to be a quick moving activity that only takes a few minutes. If your class is large use only one or two rows, not the entire class.

This strategy works best when summarizing or to be able to hear from multiple voices in the room. It is also a good end-of-period activity.

Make sure the question being asked has many answers and they or not long and/or complex.

How do you assess your students? I would love to hear about your ideas! Leave a comment below.

Are you looking for more teaching strategies? Click HERE to get 70 strategies for FREE!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, February 18, 2019

WAGON WHEEL Teaching Strategy

Are you looking for an engaging strategy to practice discussion in the classroom? "Wagon Wheel" is a fun and interactive strategy that will get your students moving!

This strategy provides students an opportunity to engage in a formal discussion and experience roles both as participant and as an active listener. Students also have the responsibility of supporting their opinions and response using specific textual evidence.

How it works...
Students are asked to engage in a group discussion about  a specific topic - there will be two circles;
Inner circle students will model appropriate discussion techniques... while the outer circle students will listen, respond and evaluate. Have the outer students rotate every few minutes.

For larger classes, you might want to break up the class into two separate wagon wheels.

If you are looking for more engaging teaching strategies to spice up your classroom click HERE and get over 70 strategies for FREE!

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

FOUR CORNERS Teaching Strategy

Are you looking for fun and engaging ways to implement discussion in your classroom? One strategy that never fails is "Four Corners".

Below are the steps to teach the "Four Corners DISCUSSION" teaching  strategy:

STEP 1: The teacher posts questions, quotations, photos, etc. in each of the corners of the room.

STEP 2: The teacher assigns each student to a corner… or students choose.

STEP 3: Once in the corner, the students discuss the focus of the lesson in relation to the question, quote, etc…

 • At this time, students may report out or move to another corner and repeat the process…

STEP 4: After students have moved… as a writing assignment, they should be encouraged to reflect on changes in opinion or new learning.

Below are the steps to teach the "Four Corners OPINION" teaching  strategy:

STEP 1: Post opinions about a scenario in four corners of the classroom. Examples would include: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree

STEP 2: Present the controversial scenario to your students.

STEP 3: Students express their opinion about the scenario by standing in front of one of four corners with students of the same opinion.

STEP 4: Call on student volunteers or ask random students to share their opinion. Tell students that if they choose, they may change their opinion at any time and move to another corner.

If you decide to try this strategy, I would love to find out how it goes!

Get over 70 teaching strategies for FREE by clicking HERE!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, December 17, 2018

TALKING CHIPS Teaching Strategy

In my secondary classroom, I implement discussion as much as possible. It's important for students to practice developing and communicating their opinion. However, sometimes when I request that groups talk with each other either no one speaks, or one person dominates the entire conversation. Talking-Chips is an excellent strategy to make sure all group members have a chance to talk...and be heard.

Directions for Talking Chips
STEP 1:  Place students in small groups. I use groups of four students.
STEP 2: Pose a question for students to discuss. I usually pose an opinion-type question about the current unit of study. For example, as a history teacher, I might ask,

"If you were President of the United States what would be your recommendations to combat the Great Depression?"
"What do you think is the most important right in the first amendment?"

STEP 3: Each member is given a "chip" ( a small piece of construction paper or a real "chip")
STEP 4: Each student takes turns "talking" by placing their "chip" into the center of the table.
STEP 5: The first person to talk may only talk at that time - and may not speak again until all group members have placed their "chip" in the middle.
Repeat process

Have you tried using this teaching strategy in your classroom? What questions did you ask your students?

I hope you found this teaching strategy helpful. To get a list of over 70 teaching strategies for FREE click HERE!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, November 19, 2018

FINAL WORD Teaching Strategy

This student-centered activity will get your students talking! The Final Word teaching strategy is a great way for your students to practice expressing their opinions as well as practice listening skills. It can be used for any subject, grade level, and topic. Check-out the steps below to implement this fun strategy in your classroom tomorrow!

STEP 1: Divide the class into groups of four.
STEP 2: Give each group a controversial statement or question.
STEP 3: Students prepare their arguments prior to the activity.
STEP 4: Students create a quad chart and label each square A, B, C, D and assign each student a letter.
STEP 5: Student A talks for one minute about their prepared arguments while students B, C, D take notes and creates questions.
STEP 6: Student B then has a minute to discuss, ask questions, and make comments about what student A said. Students C and D will do the same.
STEP 7: Student A then states their "final word" answering questions and restating their arguments.
STEP 8: Continue the process for students B, C, and D.

To get 70 engaging teaching strategies for FREE click HERE!

Happy Teaching!
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