I have alphabetized many different strategies that can be used to differentiate instruction. Below you will find brief definitions of various strategies, as well as web resources, worksheets, and additional information relating to each strategy. The hyperlinked letters shown throughout the site provide quick navigation to the numerous differentiation resources I have gathered (and continue to gather).

Click on the picture to the right to view a list of Low-Prep and Hi-Prep
Differentiation Strategies.
As you read through the resources below look for icons that signify online tools and special strategies/resources that emphasize differentiated strategies that build reading and/or writing skills.

I have also included collections of additional resources that can be used to support differentiation on the Resources page.

A —

  • A-B-C Brainstorming Activity - this strategy could be used help build a student's background knowledge on a topic prior to the introduction of a lesson. Visit the FOR-PD site to learn more about this strategy and to access a ready-to-print worksheet.

  • A-B-C Summarize - A form of review in which each student in a class is assigned a different letter of the alphabet and they must select a word starting with that letter that is related to the topic being studied.

  • Academic Notes - A note-taking strategy page (.pdf format) developed by Jim Burke that includes helpful reminders in the margin that will help students define, summarize, serialize, classify, compare, and analyze ideas and concepts.

  • Acting Out a Problem - Students can act out mathematical, scientific, or social problems to improve their comprehension.

  • Affinity - A brainstorming strategy that encourages less verbal members of your class to participate. First, all members of a group write responses to the problem or question on separate cards, then the cards are silently grouped by each member while the others observe. After a discussion, the agreed upon arrangement is recorded as an outline or diagram.

  • AGO - A strategy that can be used to get students to focus directly and deliberately on the intention behind actions.
    • Aims
    • Goals
    • Objectives

    Use the following worksheets by AEA 267 to implement the AGO strategy:
  • Agree/Disagree Matrix - A strategy that can be used to help students organize data to support a position for or against an idea. Use the worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • Agreement Circles - Used to explore opinions. As students stand in a circle, facing each other, the teacher makes a statement. Students who agree with the statement step into the circle.

  • AIDA (Analysis of Interactive Decision Areas) - A strategy that would probably work best with older students. This strategy is "used when you have several inter-connected problems where the solution choices for one will affect the solution choices for another. You therefore need to evaluate the solutions as a group, but the number of theoretically possible group combinations may be large. AIDA identifies combinations that cannot coexist and can therefore be eliminated, hence substantially reducing the number of combinations you need to compare." Learn more about this decision-making strategy at the mycoted site.

  • Alternative Assessment - any type of assessment in which students create a response to a question or task. Alternative assessments can include short-answer questions, essays, performance assessment, oral presentations, demonstrations, exhibitions, and portfolios. Learn more about Alternative Assessment at the following website:
  • Analogies - a creative thinking skill demonstrated by a student when he or she can give examples similar to, but not identical to a target example. For example, the Internet is analogous to the post office (because both deliver mail).
    • Visit the Best Teaching Practices site to learn more about the benefits of using analogies in teaching. The site includes some excellent video that illustrates the use of analogies.

  • Anchor Activities - Ongoing assignments that students can work on independently throughout a unit, a grading period, or longer. Learn more about anchor activities using the following resources:
  • Assigned Questions - questions are prepared by the teacher (or, in some cases the students) to be answered by individuals or small groups of students. Ideally, students discuss their responses with one another or with the teacher and support their point of view or position with evidence. To learn more about this strategy go to Instructional Strategies Online.

  • Author's Chair - "Author's Chair is the final step in the writing process. A special time and place is allotted to writers who wish to share their final products with an audience." The Instructional Strategeis Online site has posted a page detailing this strategy. The page includes links to teacher resouces as well.

B —

  • Baggage Claim - use this strategy to help students get to know each other (great for Kinesthetic learners). Use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • Bio Poem - use this strategy to help students get to know each other or to help them think about themselves (great for intrapersonal learners and vrebal learners). Use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • Bloom's Taxonomy of Critical Thought - divides the way people learn into three domains. The cognitive domain emphasizes intellectual outcomes and is divided into categories. Knowledge serves as the lowest level of thinking and Evaluation serves as the highest.
    • Learn more about the cognitive levels and access key words you can use as guides to
      structure learning objectives, questions and tasks at my Bloom's Cognitive Domains site.

  • Book Choices - provide options for students that are suitable to their reading level. Below are several sites that contain databases, book lists and online tools designed to help teachers search for leveled books:
  • Buddy-Studies - "A buddy-study permits two or three students to work together on a project. The expectation is that all may share the research and analysis/organization of information but each student must complete an individual product to demonstrate learning that has taken place and be accountable for their own planning, time management and individual accomplishment." (
    • I have used the following charts when implementing this strategy. I found that students took their work more seriously when they knew peer-evaluation would impact their grade.

C —

  • CAF: Consider All Factors - Use this strategy to help students make decisions, plan, or draw conclusions. Use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • C & S: Consequences and Sequel - use this strategy to help students articulate or develop the process of looking ahead to see the consequences of an action, plan, decision. Use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • CEI - A note-taking page designed to help stents develop an idea using the claim, evidence, and interpretation strategy. Download this CEI form (.pdf format) to implement this strategy.

  • Choice Boards - Choice boards are organizers that contain a variety of activities. Students can choose one or several activities to complete as they learn a skill or develop a product. Choice boards can be organized so that students are required to choose options that focus on several different skills.
    • View a PowerPoint that details the creation of a Choice Board for Centers that was originally posted at the Teaching Tools for Young Children website.

  • Chunking - breaking assignments and activities into smaller, more manageable parts, and providing more structured directions for each part. This strategy can be used to organize or classify large amounts of information which has no structure. Chunking is also a strategy used to help young readers decipher words they are not familiar with.
    • Check out the Chunking activity found at It may give you some perspective as you create chunking activities.
    • To see how words are chunked for younger students visit

  • Community Mentorships - Invite members of your community into your classroom. Community mentors can provide support for students and can also add a dimension of "real-life" experience to your lessons.
    • Visit the Virtual Volunteering Project site to access an index of organizations and online mentoring/teletutoring projects and materials, as well as selected general mentoring resources, that could be helpful as you explore online mentoring opportunities.

  • Compacting - a content acceleration strategy that enables students to skip parts of the curriculum they have already mastered and move on to more challenging content and activities. It is a three step process:
    1. teacher assesses the student to determine his/her level of knowledge on the material to be studied and determine what he/she still needs to master
    2. teacher create plans for what the student needs to know, and excuse the student from studying what he/she already knows
    3. teacher develops plans for freed-up time to be spent in enriched or accelerated study

Use the following websites/resources to learn more about compacting:

  • Complex Instruction - a teaching model that uses collaborative groups, multiple intelligences, and positive group experiences while disregarding gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Learn more about this model using the following websites:
  • Cooperative Learning - a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject. Learn more about this strategy at the following websites:
  • CRAM - this test-taking strategy is designed to help students become more effective when working with multiple choice questions
    • Cover the answer
    • Read the question carefully
    • Answer the question without looking at the choices
    • Match your answer to one of the given choices

  • Cross-Age Tutors/Peer Tutors - There are times when a student may require one-on-one instruction that go beyond the needs of his peers. After receiving this extra instruction the student could be designated as the "resident expert" for that concept or skill and could gaint valuable practice when given the opportunity to re-teach the concept to peers.

  • Cubing - a strategy to help students think about a topic or idea from many different angles. Use the sample I created below as a tool to help students think differently in a fun way (or use the blank version to create your own cube activity):


  • DeBono's Six Hats - this is a decision-making technique that helps students look at important decisions from a number of different perspectives. Students "wear" the following six metaphorical hats to "think differently":
    • White Hat Thinking (blank sheet) - think about facts, figures, information needs and gaps (objective)
    • Red Hat Thinking (fire) - think using your intuition, opinion, and emotion; you do not need to justify this kind of thinking (subjective)
    • Black Hat Thinking (judge's robe) - think logically, critically, and consider the negative aspects of an idea; consider what might not work or might not be good about an idea (objective)
    • Yellow Hat Thinking (sun) - think about all the postivie outcomes and benefits, consider why an idea would work (objective)
    • Green Hat Thinking (plant) - think creatively, consider alternatives and proposals, think about what is interesting and provocative (speculative/creative)
    • Blue Hat Thinking (sky) - thinking in a controlled manner...consider the overall process and the "big picture" (overview)

  • Diner Menu - a student option choice worksheet based on selecting choices from a "dinner menu."
  • Discovery Stations - learning areas that encourage informal learning through active looking, discussion, and hands-on activities
    • Discovery has posted directions for setting up discovery stations relating to Sound Waves.

  • Double-Entry Journal - allows students to record their responses to text as they read. In the left-hand page or column, the student copies or summarizes text which is intriguing, puzzling, or moving, or which connects to a previous entry or situation. In the right-hand page or column, the student reacts to the quotation or summary. The entry may include a comment, a question, a connection made, an analysis. Entries are made whenever a natural pause in the reading occurs, so that the flow is not interrupted constantly.


  • Enrichment Clusters - students are grouped according to ability for instructional purposes. Enrichment clusters stress student choice and students as producers of useful products

  • Entry Points - Students explore a topic in five ways based on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory:
    • Narrative entry points utilize a story about the topic
    • Logical-Quantitative entry points use numbers or deductive/scientific approaches to a subject
    • Foundational entry points examine the philosophy and vocabulary related to the topic
    • Aesthetic entry points focus on sensory features of the topic
    • Experiential entry points use a hands on approach to the topic

  • Exit Slips - Exit slips are written student responses to questions you pose at the end of class. (I have also referred to this strategy as the "ticket out the door" when working with students.) Students either hand you the slips of paper as they exit or they put them in your inbox.


  • 1st TRIP (First TRIP) - A reading strategy consisting of:
    • Title
    • Relationships
    • Intent of questions
    • Put in perspective.

  • 5 + 1 (Five Plus One) - Direct instruction variation where the teacher presents for five minutes, students share and reflect for one minute, then the cycle repeats.

  • Five WHYS? - Use this process of asking why 5 times to detect the root cause or meaning of a situation. Use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • Flexible Grouping - Flexible grouping allows students to be appropriately challenged and avoids labeling a student's readiness as static. Students should not be be kept in a static group for any particular subjects as their learning will probably accelerate from time to time. As student performance will vary it is important to permit movement between groups. Student’s readiness varies depending on personal talents and interests, so we must remain open to the concept that a student may be below grade level in one subject at the same time as being above grade level in another subject.
  • Flexible Learning Environment - according to Tomlinson and Winebrenner examples of differentiated learning environments and at the elementary level include:
    • providing places in the room to work quietly and without distraction, as well as places that invite student collaboration
    • providing materials that reflect a variety of cultures and home settings
    • establishing clear guidelines for independent work that matches individual needs
    • developing routines that allow students to get help when teachers are busy with other students and cannot help them immediately
    • helping students understand that some learners need to move around to learn, while others do better sitting quietly
    • Use the Scholastic Classroom Set-Up Tool to layout your room (before you start physically moving furniture around)

  • Focus Activities - can be used to introduce a topic or to re-engage students during a longer unit of instruction. Use one or two short primary sources to begin a lesson, unit, or block of instruction. View sample Focu Activities using the links below:
  • Force Field Analysis - Analysis of pro and con sides of an issue. Use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • Four Corners - This is a great step-by-step process for discussion of issues, without threat (it will also appeal to kinesthetic learners). Use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • 4-MAT - Bernice McCarthy's 4-mat system places individual learning and behaviour preferences into one of four categories: "Why?," "What," "How," and "So What?" It is an instructional method that connects the information students learn to prior knowledge, gives time for practice, and allows for creative adaptation of new learning. The 4 MAT System promotes instruction that provides all students an opportunity to learn using four learning styles (imaginative, analytical, common sense, dynamic) one at a time. Instruction is sequenced so that 25% of instructional and learning time is devoted to each of the four classifications of learning style. "In this way, all students, whatever their learning styles, get a chance to "shine" 25% of the time. .Visit the following websites to learn more about 4-MAT:


  • Gallery Walk - an assessment technique used to assess learning by students working in groups. Use the following resources to learn more about the technique and to learn how to set up a Gallery Walk as a differentiated activity:
  • Games to Practice Mastery of Information and Skill - Games supplement other instruction and are used to provide motivating and engaging opportunities for practice after a skill or new information is taught. Games capitalize on the competitive interests of learners and add entertainment value to instruction. (Penn State) I have put together a web resources with numerous interactive games that can be used to supplement all curriculum areas:
  • Goal Setting Agreements - students determine what their goals are and how they will meet them. Here are 3 printer friendly worksheets in PDF that not only get students writing but help them think about the types of goals they should be setting. (
    • This worksheet (.pdf format) asks students to set 2 goals, state why they're important and state how they'll reach them
    • This worksheet (.pdf format) focuses on setting 1 goal, 1 target date, 3 strategies, and list how they'll stick to reaching their goal
    • This worksheet (.pdf format) requires that students select an academic goal and a behavioral goal and state why they're important and how they will reach them

  • Graduated Rubrics - "the standard and level of student proficiency and accomplishments designed for students and teachers to measure learning outcomes. Graduated rubrics offer clear expectations for quality and levels of excellence to encourage among high-ability learners." (The Different Place)

  • Graffiti Placemat - A note-taking strategy that can be used when students are reading a book or story
  • Graphic Organizers - Structured tools that can help students stay focused in their note-taking. While Kidspiration and Inspiration are excellent graphic organizer programs, there are also numerous graphic organizers online. Check the following sites for graphic organizers you can print and use:
    • Education Place - numerous (and I do mean numerous) graphic organizers are available for download at this site...they are all in .pdf format
    • Graphic Org - this is a nice site from the standpoint that it includes graphic organizers you can download, as well as suggestions for how to use them
    • SCORE - includes a few graphic organizers, including clustering and storyboarding
    • Graphic Organizer Maker - Teachnology has developed a few basic graphic organizer generators that you might want to try out. It can't compete with Kidspiration or Inspiration (in my opinion), but if you are home and don't have access to the graphic organizer progams I mentioned, this is a nice (basic) alternative.
    • Region 15 Graphic Organizers - numerous pre-made organizers in .pdf format and Word format (nice because you can edit)
    • Write Design Graphic Organizers - this site does not include a lot of "print and run" organizers, but it does include some great ideas and strategies for using graphic organizers in your curriculum.
    • Recipes for Success Graphic Organizer Generator - this site is trying to sell you a subscription, but you can personalize and create basic graphic organizers online and print them off at no cost
    • Draw Anywhere - create diagrams and graphic organizers online...great for collaboration
    • Webspiration - absolutely the best online collaborative graphic organizer available at this time....the site is a beta site developed by the creators of Inspiration and Kidspiration. And, at the time I updated this page registration is free!

  • Grouping - Students who favor the interpersonal intelligence can benefit by working in groups. Below you will find some grouping strategies that may be helpful:
    • Assign and Define roles - Examples might include: Materials Manager, Timekeeper, Clarifier, Encourager, Scout
    • Utilize the 5 Elements (mnemonic: P.I.G.S. Face)
      • Positive Interdependence - students need to feel that they need each other to comoplete the group task
      • Individual Accountability - group is not successful until each member has learned the material, helped with and understood the assignment
      • Group Processing - students must be given time to analyse how well the group is functioning
      • Social/Collaborative Skills - teacher must ensure that skills in communication, leadership, trust, decision-making and conflict-resolution are taught
      • Face-to-Face Interaction - Allows the educational outcomes of oral summarizing, giving and receiving explanations and elaborating to occur.
    • See Cooperative Learning for additional information

  • Group Investigation - This strategy can be used to help students develop problem-solving skills. Divide your class into groups by student interest. Each group selects a topic to investigate related to a topic being covered in class. Students plan and carry out the investigation and present results to class. Evaluation may have both individual and group components.



  • Iconic Teaching – Teachers use Socratic Questioning technique to encourage students to think more deeply about a subject. Students may be asked to evaluate the ethics of a character in a piece of literature, or consider a historical event from another perspective. (see Socratic Seminar below for more details)

  • Independent Study - students select topic, set goals and criteria for work, negotiate evaluation plan with teachers and present results to appropriate audience. Independent study provides total flexibility based on students readiness, interest and learning profile.

  • Inquiry-Based Learning - This strategy is student and problem-based. This strategy is based on the premise that learning begins with what students already know. As students take time to ask questions and then gain new perspectives by making observations, synthesizing information and drawing conclusions they learn. Learn more about this strategy at the following websites:
  • I-Search Reports - "Students research a topic of their own choice, learning to find print sources, internet sources, and human resources. Students read for understanding, applying a variety of strategies to paraphrase, record and organize notes from their various sources. They write their report using a report map, then go through the writing process: first draft, revision, second draft, proofreading, and final draft. They then put the report together complete with visual aids, bibliography and footnotes, table of contents and title page." (Turnbull)
    • Visit Ms. Turnbull's site to see her directions for I-Search reports and the I-Search Reports her students developed (including their student i-journals)

  • Inside/Outside Circle - Students in concentric circles rotate to face a partner to answer the teacher's questions or those of the partner.

  • Interest Centers/Interest Groups - often used for students to do guided explorations, but independently. Interest centers should be self-explanatory and allow students opportunities to learn more about a topic or play around with a concept. Learning experiences are usually directed toward a specific learner interest. Allowing students to choose a topic can be motivating to them.


  • Jigsaw - "Jigsaw is a group structure that can be used across all content areas. Students start with a home group. That group is responsible for learning an assigned portion of a task that is prescribed by the teacher. Then the teacher separates students into new groups -- jigsaw groups -- by assigning one member from each home group to a new group. If an activity begins with groups A, B, C, and D, the jigsaw groups have a member from A, B, C, and D. In the jigsaw groups, students share information and complete some sort of project or product." (Education World: The 'Jigsaw' Approach Brings Lessons to Life). Learn more at the following websites:


  • KWL Chart - created by Donna Ogle this graphic organizer is a 3-column chart that helps capture the Before, During, and After components of reading a text selection.
    • K - Stands for KNOW (What do I already know about this topic)
    • W - Stands for WILL or WANT (What do I think I will learn...what do I want to know?)
    • L - Stands for LEARNED (What I learned...)

    Use the following web resource to learn more:

  • KWLH - similar to the KWL chart, this is a teaching technique that helps students activate prior knowledge. It is a group instruction activity developed by Donna Ogle (1986) that serves as a model for active thinking during reading.
    • K - Stands for helping students recall what they KNOW about the subject.
    • W - Stands for helping students determine what they WANT to learn.
    • L - Stands for helping students identify what they LEARN as they read.
    • H - Stands for HOW we can learn more (other sources where additional information on the topic can be found).

Use the following web resource to learn more:


  • Learning Centers/Stations - spots where students work on different tasks simultaneous in a classroom and then rotate through them to learn content/skills related to a topic. Students might skip stations if they know the material or some stations might have tasks designed for advanced students only. Learning Centers are stations where students explore a topic but they stand alone. Students don’t need to rotate through several Centers to master the content/skills related to the topic. Centers may have many choices of activities for students to choose from based on their ability, interest and learning profile. Visit the following sites to learn more about learning centers/stations:
  • Learning Contracts - a learning contract is a written agreement between teacher and student that will result in students working independently. The contract helps students to set daily and weekly work goals and develop management skills. It also helps the teacher to keep track of each student’s progress. The actual assignments will vary according to specific student needs. Learn more at the following sites:
  • Literature/literacy Circles - small-group structure for reading and discussing fiction or non-fiction at all grade levels, across the curriculum. This strategy combines collaborative learning and independent reading.


  • Mentorships - liaison between the student and another individual other than the teacher or a classmate
    • Learn about a state-wide program--Blooming Kids!---that matches 1st-4th graders with college students to form "buddy pairs."

  • Mnemonics - a memory enhancing instructional strategy that involves teaching students to link new information that is taught to information they already know by using keywords, pegwords, or letter strategies
  • Multiple Intelligences - Based on Gardner's theory that all people possess nine intelligences in varying degrees, we strive to improve learning for our students by addressing their multiple intelligences. Use the following links to learn more:
    • Concept to Classroom Online Workshop - an excellent (free) online workshop that really delves into Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and how they can be used to improve learning in your classroom
    • Surfquarium - access the numerous Multiple Intelligence resources and read the information available at this site if you are interested in implementing and using the multiple intelligences in your classroom.
    • The Styles section of this site also features inventories and information about Garner's Multiple Intelligences

  • Multiple Levels of Questions - adjust the types of questions and the ways in which they are presented based on what is needed to advance problem-solving skills and responses. Consider the following:
    • Use wait time before taking student answers
    • Adjust the complexity, abstractness, type of response necessary, and connections required between topics based on readiness and learning profile
    • Encourage students to build upon their own answers and the answers of other students
    • If appropriate, give students a chance to talk to partners or write down their answers before responding
    • refer to Questioning Techniques (below) to learn more


  • Negotiated Criteria - a useful strategy that can be used when students are working on independent study projects. Students add their own specific criteria so they can reflect on their own goals and interest or the teacher designates specific criteria to help encourage the growth of individual students.


  • Open-ended activities - they types of activities are advocated as a way to allow students who are identified as gifted to work in their own interest areas, in their own learning styles, and at their own ability levels.
  • Open Student Choice - whenever possible give students a choice of projects or tasks. You might consider implementing the Diner Menu strategy (.pdf file) or the Tic-Tac-Toe strategy posted by The Access Center

  • OPV: Other People's View - use this strategy to teach students a process to look at an issue from another point of view. You can also use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to implement this strategy:
  • Orbital Studies - short term (3-6 weeks) independent investigations that relate to a particular part of the course curriculum. Student choice is a key element of the studies. The student chooses the topic, designs a work plan, defines the final product and negotiates a grading rubric with the teacher. Students are usually required to present results to class. Orbital Studies can be individual or group investigations and hence, provide much flexibility.

  • Organizers - see graphic organizers




  • Partner's Projects - this strategy is a scaled-down version of Think-Pair-Share, developed with young learners in mind.You can also use the following worksheet created by AEA 267 to learn more about this strategy:
  • Part to Whole Explanations - An instructional approach in which objectives are presented to learners beginning with parts of the curriculum, then relationships between the parts are presented, and finally learners can incorporate the parts as a whole.

  • People Search - use this collaborative strategy to help learners get to know each other and/or interact with the content being taught.You can also use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to leran more about this strategy:
  • Personal Agendas - Agendas can help children learn to manage their time and helps keep students from feeling overwhelmed.
  • PMI: Plus-Minus-Interesting - use this strategy to help students evaluate and extend understanding. You can also use the following worksheets created by AEA 267 to leran more about this strategy:
  • Podcasts - A podcast is a digital media file, or a series of such files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers. The term, like "radio", can refer either to the content itself or to the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also termed podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster. Some podcasts also include video. Explore some of the educational podcasts available at the Educational Podcast Network. Visit the Tools for TEKS site to read a brief article describing the benefits of podcastng in the classroom.

  • Portfolios - students generate a collection of their work that reflects their academic growth over time. Great for evaluation but also allow students to make many choices. Hence, a student’s portfolio can really represent not only growth but also interest and learning profile.

  • Prepare-Present-Process - this strategy will help students work through the process of presenting information in a meaningful way. You can also use the following worksheet created by AEA 267 to leran more about this strategy:
  • Problem-Based Learning - students take an active role in solving an unclear, complex problem posed by the teacher. Usually the problems are based on real world issues. Students research and define the problem, make a decision about the problem and present the solution so that other's can assess the solutions effectiveness.


  • Questioning Technique - During large group discussion activities, teachers direct the higher level questions to the students who can handle them and adjust questions accordingly for student with greater needs. All students are answering important questions that require them to think but the questions are targeted towards the student’s ability or readiness level.
    • The A Questioning Toolkit website is an excellent resource that goes into the questioning technique in depth and details the various types of questions that can be used to differentiate learning
    • Changing has posted some interesting information about questioning techniques that you may find helpful (though the site is actually geared toward the powers of persuasion)
    • An article posted by Ideas on Teaching: Questioning Techniques for Active Learning may also be helpful as you work to improve your questioning technique


  • RAFT assignments - a system to help students understand their role as a writer, the audience they will address, the varied formats for writing, and the expected content.
    • It is an acronym that stands for:
      • Role of the Writer - Who are you as the writer? Are you George Washington? A warrior? A homeless person? An auto mechanic? An endangered animal?
      • Audience - To whom are you writing? Is your audience the general public? A friend? Your teacher? Readers of a newspaper? A local bank?
      • Format - What form will the writing take? Is it a letter? A classified ad? A speech? A poem?
      • Topic + strong Verb - What's the subject or the point of this piece? Is it to persuade a princess to spare your life? To plead for a re-test? To call for stricter regulations on logging?
    • RAFTS Prompt-Maker for Social Studies
    • RAFTS Prompt-Maker for Math
    • RAFTS Prompt-Maker for Science

  • Reader Response - asking students to respond to a piece of text by writing a summary is nothing new, but the FOR-PD site does feature some excellent new twists and ideas, as well as supporting ideas and materials for implementation. Consider using electronic postcards as an additional technology related hook if you choose to implement this strategy. Go to my Electronic Postcard site for ideas and links.

  • Reading Buddies - This strategy is particularly useful for younger students and/or students with reading difficulties. Children get additional practice and experience reading away from the teacher as they develop fluency and comprehension. It is important that students read with a specific purpose in mind and then have an opportunity to discuss what was read. It is not necessary for reading buddies to always be at the same reading level. Students with varying word recognition, word analysis and comprehension skills can help each other be more successful. Adjusted follow up tasks are also assigned based on readiness level.

  • Resource-based Learning - an independent study instructional strategy where students construct meaning through interaction with a wide range of print, non-print and human resources. Learn more at the following websites:
  • Right Brain-Left Brain - This theory of the structure and functions of the mind suggests that the two different sides of the brain control two different "modes" of thinking. It also suggests that each of us prefers one mode over the other.


  • Scaffolding - Providing temporary support until help is no longer needed. Can take many forms (examples, explanations, organizers, etc.) but needs to build on student's existing knowledge. Read through the excellent article Scaffolding for Success written by Jamie McKenzie and posted on the website to learn more about scaffolding.

  • SCOPE - a proofreading strategy that teaches students to re-read a paper five times for the following:
    • Spelling
    • Capitalization
    • Order of words
    • Punctuation
    • Express complete thoughts

    Visit the Learning Toolbox Home page to learn more about this strategy.

  • Scripted Cooperative Dyads - pairs of students read complex material, then alternate in roles of recaller (who summarizes and explains what was read) and listener (who listens, then corrects or adds to what was said by recaller).

  • Selected Audiences - students are encouraged to consider who their audience will be when they develop a product/project. Likewise teacher may want to consider "selected audiences of students" when presenting material.

  • Simulations - "The technique of simulation is most often used when practicing a skill in its real context is too costly or dangerous. It provides an opportunity for experimentation, and allows students to test assumptions in a realistic context. Simulations are also used to model real-world situations that are not physically dangerous or costly, in order to build realism and relevance into the learning situation." (Penn State) Learn more at the following sites:
  • Slice of Life - an activity that works well for thematic research projects.
    • Visit Education World to learn how this strategy could be used to help students with time management.
    • Technique can also be used as a "hook" for group assignments. Teacher puts an aspect of a given lesson on the back of each piece of a large cardboard pizza pie. Students or groups research their "piece of the pizza pie" and report back to the class. (Example: Social Studies-Culture..each piece might include topics like economy, clothing, foods, etc.)

  • Small Group Instruction - According to Joseph A. Olmstead is is generally feasible to use small-group methods to:
    • Increase understanding and grasp of course content.
    • Enhance motivation and generate greater student involvement.
    • Develop positive attitudes toward later use of presented material.
    • Develop problem-solving skills specific to the course content.
    • Provide practice in the application of concepts and information to practical problems.
    • Generate ideas among students concerning ways of applying acquired knowledge.
    • Develop student commitment to recommended ways of handling problems.
    • Emphasize an important issue.
    • Proceed with instruction when content experts are scarce or not available.

    Learn more about Small Group Instruction at the Ira C. Eaker College for Professional Development site. You can also watch a Small Group Instruction PowerPoint posted by Calub Courtwright and Amy Jackson.

  • Socratic Seminar - a method of teaching developed by Socrates that encourages students to think for themselves rather than being told what to think. Learn more at the following websites:
  • Spelling by Readiness - based on the assumption that spelling is a developmental skill, this practice is based on the idea that spelling words should "grow" out of and be related to general classroom activities and curriculum and should be appropriate to individual readiness and levels of achievement.

  • SQ3R Reading/Study Strategy - A strategy students can use when studying or reading a book:
    • Survey - survey the chapter before reading
    • Question - question while you are surveying
    • Read
    • Recite - after reading, orally answer your questions and write notes in your own words; highlight important point (if you own book of course!)
    • Review - an ongoing process

    Learn more about this strategy at the The Study Guides and Strategies website.

  • Stations - see learning centers

  • Structural Analysis - “Instruction in structural analysis looks at visual patterns and meanings that change as a result of adding inflectional endings, prefixes, and suffixes, and combining the root words to form compounds” This is a strategy that would be of particular interest if you teach ELA, but it does have application to other areas as well...particularly Science. You can learn more about the strategy and download some excellent worksheets at the Florida Online Reading site.

  • Student Interest - consider using an interest survey to determine student interest. Brainstorming for subtopics within a curriculum concept and using semantic webbing to explore interesting facets of the concept is another effective tool. This is also an effective way of teaching students how to focus on a manageable subtopic. Programs like Kidspiration, Inspiration, and Mindmanager can be used to help guide students as they explore a concept and focus on manageable and personally interesting subtopics.

  • Synectics - "an approach to creative thinking that depends on understanding together that which is apparently different. Its main tool is analogy or metaphor. The approach, often used in groupwork, can help students develop creative responses to problem solving, to retain new information, to assist in generating writing, and to explore social and disciplinary problems. It helps users break existing minds sets and internalize abstract concepts. Synectics works well with all ages as well as those who withdraw from traditional methods." (Synetics)
    • Learn more about synectics at the Best Practices website (look for the worksheets found under the examples tab)


  • 10 + 2 (Ten Plus Two) - Direct instruction variation where the teacher presents for ten minutes, students share and reflect for two minutes, then the cycle repeats.

  • Think-Pair-Share - Students think about their response to a question, discuss answers in pairs, and then share their own or partner's answer with the class. Refer to the Partner Strategy to learn how this strategy can be scaled-down for younger learners.

  • Think-Tac-Toe - The teacher designs a tic-tac-toe board of options that students can select from. See the sample Tic-Tac-Toe for a book report developed by The Access Center.

  • 3-2-1 (Three-Two-One) - The idea is to help students summarize some key ideas, rethink them in order to focus on those that one is most intrigued by, and then pose a question that can reveal where understanding is still uncertain. Depending upon what a teacher’s focus is, the strategy can be modified anyway that deems necessary. To learn more about this strategy and view some samples go to the Florida Online Reading site. Feel free to use the 3-2-1 worksheets I developed if you like:
  • Tiered Assignments, Lessons and Strategies - Assignments, activities, products, etc. are designed to instruct and assess students on essential skills that are provided at different levels of complexity, abstractness, and open-endedness. The curricular content and objective(s) are the same, but the process and/or product are varied according to the student's level of readiness. Learn more about Tiering at the following sites:



  • Varied Approaches
    • Organizing Ideas - teach students different ways they can organize their thinking so they can make sense of ideas, communicate clearly, and retain and retrieve information. Encourage students to select from strategies such as summarizing, mind-mapping, concept mapping, storyboarding, or outlining. Once students understand the different approaches they are very likely to favor modes that support their learning profile.
    • Homework
    • Journal Prompts
    • Questioning Strategies
    • Supplemental Materials
    • Teacher Presentation
    • Varied Texts
    • Varying Organizers

  • Venn Diagram - a strategy that helps students compare and contrast...excellent for visual learners. Use the links below to access online Venn diagram generators:
  • Vocabulary Word Box - Word maps and charts help students expand word meanings and discover relationships between vocabulary terms (Santa, Havens, & Valdes, 2004). Word maps help students create a broader concept of a definition, one that encourages them to integrate their own knowledge (Santa et. al., 2004). Visit the FOR-PD site to learn more. There are some excellent worksheets, supporting links, and additional resources available at the site.


  • Whole to Part Explanations - An instructional approach in which objectives are presented to learners beginning with an overview of the whole model or idea, then proceeding to an analysis of the component parts.

  • Word Builder - students start with a root word and see how many other words can be made by adding suffixes and prefixes. Remember to take time to discuss the meaning with your students. To learn more about this strategy and to print out supporting worksheets go to the FOR-PD site.




  • Zone of Proximal Development - Vygotsky's theory that students learn best when they are challenged slightly beyond where they can work without assistance


Introduction | Theory | Learning Styles | Teaching/Integration Strategies | Assessment | Additional Resources