The CHEC 7 Strategies - Columbia Heights Educational Campus

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Our goal is to provide the highest quality instruction possible, so that every student is motivated to learn, experiences rigor that will prepare him or her for college, and is supported in areas where he or she needs it.  Every classroom is a community of learners, and as a school we have chosen instructional strategies that will make sure that every student can develop to the highest level.  In all of your classrooms, you should experience the following instructional strategies:

1. Reciprocal Teaching: Reciprocal Teaching is a strategy for building reading comprehension and source investigation skills. Focusing on a central question or “zinger question,” students work in groups of four (pairs and individual work are also effective) in which each person takes on a role of a successful reader. The roles include a summarizer who identifies and condenses the most important points of a text; a questioner who formulates questions about the text; a clarifier who makes sense of confusing text by looking up vocabulary, concepts, or unclear references; a predictor who uses information to look to the future. Students read and annotate using their role, and then discuss sections of the text for meaning with regard to the central question. The immediate goal of Reciprocal Teaching is academic discussion about a critical text or source. The long term goal of Reciprocal Teaching is to build students’ skills as readers and investigators.

2. Socratic Seminar: Socratic Seminar is a discussion-based strategy to encourage academic discussion, critical thinking, student engagement, and deep reading of texts or sources. Socratic Seminar is only successful if centered on a provocative central question/essential question. Students prepare by reading and annotating a text with the essential question in mind. They search for answers to the question and evidence to support their findings. In class, students “circle up” and discuss while the teacher observes. Initially the teacher may take on a leadership role by probing and keeping the discuss flowing; however, the goal is for students to take over this role. Meta-cognitive processes should frame a successful Socratic Seminar with students setting participation and discussion goals and writing down their initial responses to the essential question, and end with reflection on students’ goals and ending responses to the essential question. The goal is not to end with everyone in agreement; it is to stimulate questions and academic discourse.

3. Writing to Learn: Writing to learn may appear in many different forms, such as quick writes, warm ups, reflections, drafts, predictions, or exit tickets. The goal of writing to learn is learning! Students write to try out ideas and connections, pose questions, and grapple with new concepts.  Writing to learn tasks are low-stakes meaning they are not graded and do not have right or wrong answers. The purpose is deep thought rather than assessment. Writing to learn tasks do, however, provide teachers with formative assessment data that can show the students’ thoughts, struggles, and misconceptions.

4. Vocabulary Building: Like writing to learn, vocabulary building can occur in many different ways. At the core, however, should be a process of making predications about the meaning of the word; examining its definitions in different contexts; exploring relevant prefixes, suffixes, and Greek or Latin roots; using the vocabulary in different ways such as writing and discussion; and being able to show mastery of the word through assessment. Some successful vocabulary strategies include concept maps, kinesthetic activities, word webs, PAVE, visualization drawing, acting out words, and accountable talk.  Marzano has provided a framework for the best ways to increase reading achievement and content mastery by explicit vocabulary instruction grounded in the content or unit of study (see file cabinet).

5. Cornell Notes: Cornell notes combine the skills of note-making and note-taking through a process which engages students in direct instruction, individual work, group work, and meta-cognition. Students split their paper into a right and left side. The right side is reserved for information given to students by a teacher or a text—the words are not their own. The left side is reserved for their thoughts, such as theme-based, connective questions, clarifying questions, and detail questions about content, connections the student can make to him or herself, summary statements, or pictures which represent the material on the right. Students practice meta-cognition when they fill in the left side because if they are unable to form questions, make connections, write a summary, or draw picture, then they are struggling with comprehension of the material. Cornell notes also provide students with great study aides as they can fold the paper and ask themselves the questions on the left to quiz their own mastery. The goal of Cornell notes is to teach the habits of mind necessary for college-level comprehension of lecture-based courses, as well as to empower students to take their learning into their own hands and monitor their understanding.

6. Accountable Talk: Accountable talk integrates the discussion basics of Socratic Seminar with vocabulary building to encourage the use of academic vocabulary in the context of conversations. Often accountable talk becomes part of a class through activities such as “think, pair, share,” allowing students to integrate new words into their working vocabularies.  The “accountable” aspect of accountable talk is often found in tracking word usage during discussion and setting goals for word usage. Students will set personal or group goals, and then track their and others’ word usage to ensure they are practicing their academic vocabularies. The goal of accountable talk is to integrate new words into students’ everyday academic vocabularies.

7. New American Literature: New American Lecture is a strategic way of     lecturing. The strategy is designed to answer two questions: (1) What does     direct instruction look like when applied to the teaching of declarative     content rather than the development of procedures and skills? (2) How can     incorporating what current brain research tells us about how to make     information memorable improve the classic lecture format? In developing     and implementing a New American Lecture, the teacher provides students     with five kinds of support:

    • To connect the learner to past knowledge and to build new connections, the teacher designs an activity that hooks students into the content and a bridge that links students' initial ideas to the content to come.
    • To organize and teach students how to collect information, the teacher provides students with a visual organizer that lays out the structure of the lecture content.
    • To increase involvement and make content memorable, the teacher uses memory devices and active participation techniques.
    • To help students process and integrate the information, the teacher conducts periodic thinking reviews.
    • To help students apply and evaluate their learning, the teacher provides synthesis and reflection activities.
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