Tuesday, October 15, 2019


Lines of Communication teaching strategy is one of my favorites! It gets the students out of their seats and most importantly communicating with their classmates. Follow the easy instructions below to implement this fun activity into your classroom.

1. Have students get into two lines. Each student faces another student. You may want to consider having the students go outside since you will need a lot of space.
2. Next, have students discuss important ideas, debate a topic, or review the main ideas from a lesson.
3. Once both partners have shared, have one line move in the same direction to the next student and repeat the process. Below are some ideas I use in my classroom.

I have my Civics students debate the death penalty after they read this informational text.

In my World History class, I have my students learn about the Enlightenment Philosophers and discuss the question: Which Philosopher was the most significant in the development of democracy and why?

In my U.S. History class, my students have a blast debating the question, "Who started the Cold War?" before or after they write a DBQ.

And, in my Psychology class, my students discuss the different theories of Personality after completing this graphic organizer:

Check out my TpT store HERE for more fun ideas!

Happy Teaching,
Chalk Dust Diva

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


Philosophical Chairs is an engaging teaching strategy to get students to think about their beliefs on important topics and to be able to discuss and share their ideas. It allows students to critically think, verbally ponder, and logically write their beliefs on a variety of ethical issues and topics.

Below are the steps to implement Philosophical Chairs in the classroom:

STEP 1: Create signs to hang in the classroom: Totally Agree, Agree, Disagree, Totally Disagree. Hang one sign in each corner of the classroom.

STEP 2: First students need to learn about a specific topic. The teacher may wish to use direct instruction, show a film clip, or assign a reading, newspaper article, short story, etc.

STEP 3: The teacher will then present a statement or high-level question that may provoke thought and discussion. Some examples I use in my social studies classroom may include:

* U.S. History: President Truman was justified in dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.
* World History: After reading excerpts from Leviathan by Hobbes. "People cannot be trusted to govern"
* Civics: After reading "Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau, "The government is best which governs least".

STEP 4: Give students a few minutes to think about their opinion related to the question. You may have students write their opinion on a piece of paper.

STEP 5: Tell students to move to the corner of the room that has the sign that matches their opinion: Totally Agree, Agree, Disagree, Totally Disagree. Tell students to they may be called upon to share their opinion with the class. You might want to have students discuss their opinions with the people they are standing next to so they can practice their response.  Tell students they can also change their opinion at any time and move to a different corner of the room. * To simplify this strategy simply remove the Totally Agree and Totally Disagree signs and have them move to either one side of the room or the other.

STEP 6: Ask volunteers to share their opinions. If no student volunteers, then call on students randomly to share their answers. You can use a simple rubric to assess their responses or give extra credit points.

STEP 7: At the end of this activity you may want to give your students a formative assessment. Some questions you may want to include:
1. What is your final opinion? Explain your reasoning in detail.
2. What were at least two opinions that are opposite of yours? What made you disagree with these opinions?
3. Are there still questions you may have about this topic?

STEP 8: Before beginning this activity you may want to review the following rules of engagement and post them on the board.

1. No talking while someone else is speaking.
2. Have an open mind and try to understand the person's point of view.
3. Explain your opinion and reasoning using academic language.
4. Respond to opinions only, not the personality of the person.

I would love to hear how you conduct this strategy in your classroom. Comment below!

Happy Teaching!

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!
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