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Teaching Strategies: What Works Best

Teaching Strategies: What Works Best

Good teachers know that the best teaching strategies are based on research. Most of this research looks at how students take in what they’re learning and how the best teachers give students information. Here are some teaching strategies that work for all children, including those with learning and attention issues.

* Begin a lesson by reviewing the last lesson.

The best teachers make sure students really understand the skills they need for the day’s lesson. That’s because the new lesson builds on the lesson of the day before. A study found that when teachers spent eight minutes every day going over homework and common mistakes, and practicing skills their students needed to memorize, students got higher test scores.

* Present new information in small steps.

The place in our brains where we process information is small—so when we’re asked to learn too much at one time, we can get overwhelmed. A strategy called “chunking” can help with this. Chunking means teaching in small steps while checking for understanding along the way.

* Ask many questions and talk about the answers.

Effective teachers ask lots of questions. They ask their students to explain how they got their answers. In a recent study, one group of teachers was asked to teach new material by asking questions and discussing. Their students ended up with higher scores than students whose teachers did not teach this way.

* Provide models.

Good teachers show examples of problems that have already been solved. This can be very helpful, especially in math.

* Ask students to explain what they learned.

Asking a student to think out loud while solving a problem or when planning to write an essay helps the teacher identify areas where a student needs more help. Research shows that this kind of out-loud thinking works much better than when a teacher simply asks students “Are there any questions?”

* Provide scaffolds when teaching something difficult.

“Scaffolds” are teaching aids. Research tells us that aids like cue cards and charts can help children think more clearly as they learn new information. When teaching difficult material, teachers expect that students will make mistakes. So they show them ahead of times examples of the kinds of mistakes that are likely.

* Review.

We know that students need a lot of practice and review to build and keep track of new ideas in their long-term memory. It’s easier for students to solve new problems when they have a wealth of background knowledge. Children will often forget material if they don’t keep practicing it.

These teaching strategies are good for all students—including students with learning and attention issues.