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Teaching Strategies

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Lauren Hoffmann

on 9 May 2014

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Transcript of Teaching Strategies

Teaching Strategies
Strategies selected for evaluation and reflection:
Direct Instruction
Small Group Work
Cooperative Learning
Student Research (Inquiry)
Problem Solving
Role Play
Direct Instruction
Developed by Siegfried Engelmann in the 1960s
Direct instruction is a teacher-centred approach that is a whole-class technique. This strategy allows teachers to teach large amounts of information in a structured format in a relatively shorter amount of time compared to other strategies (Killen, 2013; Cohen, 2008; University of Kansas, n.d.).

Direct instruction can be implemented to cater for a diverse range of students. The University of Kansas (n.d.) recognises that direct instruction can be successfully used across a range of year levels. Although the content is being taught the same way to the whole class, depending on how the teacher delivers the content, this strategy is an effective way to explicitly teach “concepts and skills to low-achieving students” (Ross & Kyle as cited in Killen, 2013). As well as, catering for students with English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D), different learning styles, diverse abilities and from different cultural backgrounds (Killlen, 2013; University of Kansas, n.d.)
School Context
Hill Top School
Primary school
Lower middle class suburban school
Population= 623
Large number of refugees from the Sudan and Burma attending the school
Culturally and linguistically diverse
Evaluation and Reflection
Despite several benefits, direct instruction comes under heavy criticism as the teacher takes control of the learning and students can tend to have a passive role. Piaget’s theory of constructivism recognises that students better understand content when they discover it themselves compared to being directly taught it (Cohen, 2008). Without the students being actively involved in some way throughout the lesson they will lose interest and the content will not be remembered (Killen, 2013).
Small Group Work
Small Group Work aligns with the constructivist view of learning. Students work in groups of two or more for a whole or part of the lesson, without direct intervention from the teacher, however, the teacher constantly monitors learning, understanding and provides feedback where necessary (Killen, 2013; Fetherston, 2006). Groupings are usually decided by the teacher based on the purpose of the lesson (whether the teacher assigns groups or allows students to form their own).
Cooperative Learning
Role Play is a strategy where students are actively involved in the content as they take on the roles of an assigned character (usually a historical character). Students draw on their prior knowledge and any additional information they have acquired to play the role. Role play “emphasizes the social nature of learning” (Jarvis, Odell, & Troiano, 2002).
Role Play
Cooperative learning is an instructional teaching strategy where students work together to achieve a common goal (Killen, 2013; Fetherston, 2006). This strategy is adopted based on the principle that students can achieve by working with and learning from their peers. Cooperative learning expands on group work as it places specific expectations on the students.
Student Research (Inquiry)
Inquiry is research based that involves students seeking and collecting information or knowledge through questioning (Thirteen Ed Online, 2004). This strategy is highly student-centred as the learners construct their knowledge through their own investigation, also promoting skills necessary to reflect on acquired knowledge and understandings.
Discussion is a highly versatile strategy that encourages active learning. During a whole class discussion students are actively engaged with their peers whilst:
• Exchanging ideas
• Listening to points of view
• Exploring new ideas
• Accessing and applying their background knowledge to the discussion content
• Reflecting on attitudes and beliefs
The aim of a discussion can be to solve a problem, answer a question, or in most cases just to provide students with an understanding of the content (Killen, 2013).

Working within small groups requires students to talk to others and discuss the content. Through participating in small group work their communication skills are established and improved with more practice, as well as learning the appropriate curriculum content (Killen, 2013). Small group work is particularly effective in developing communication skills as it provides students with sufficient ‘talk time’ during the lesson (Martine, 2006). This is useful for students with EAL/D as they are able to use English in an authentic context and familiar language is used to understand the content (Killen, 2013; Martine, 2006). A feature of small group work is students learning from each other, higher ability students can help lower ability students and students with EAL/D.
Students’ social skills are developed through participation in cooperative learning activities. These are essential skills for learners to have in the classroom as well as for their lives outside of school.
By learning to work with their peers students learn the following valuable social skills:
• Trust
• Communication
• Leadership
• Respect (important in culturally diverse classroom)
• Conflict resolution
• Problem solving
(Killen, 2013; Dallmann-Jones, 1994)
The Jigsaw approach developed by Aronson (Killen, 2013; Dallmann-Jones, 1994) promotes cooperative learning and cross-cultural friendships and develops understanding of others.

The inquiry method teaches students to seek out information and construct their own knowledge and understanding with the information that is readily available. This provides the opportunity for deeper understanding of content, thus increasing the chances of students remembering and then applying the concepts to other situations (North Dakota Teaching with Technology Initiative, 2003).
Using discussion as a teaching strategy allows students to explore different perspectives of an issue. Through providing them with facts and resources students are able to consider different points of view that they may not have considered previously. Students often only see their own views on an issue, Brookfield (as cited in Killen, 2013) recognises discussion as a tool for “jolting students out of their comfortable world views”. Through this students are then able to gain deep knowledge and understanding, and develop critical thinking skills (Garside, 1996; Killen, 2013).
Through taking on different roles and perspectives students develop empathy. This is something that is not usually done through traditional methods of teaching, role play encourages empathy and students come away from the activities with a better and unique experience of the content (Steindorf as cited in Jarvis et al., 2002). Students sometimes perceive role play as ‘just having fun’ without realizing they are learning, this makes them more willing to participate, something that may not be possible with less active strategies.
Killen (2013) identifies that small group work does not come naturally to students. This can be an issues especially for students who come from cultures where teacher-centred approaches are used. Without proper teaching of the strategy it will be ineffective and students will not engage with the content.
Some students are reluctant to participate in a cooperative learning setting and would much prefer to work individually. This is an issue when it comes to cooperative learning as the success of the group depends on all members fulfilling their duties and being active and contributing participants (Killen, 2013; Fetherston, 2006).
Inquiry can be a difficult strategy to implement effectively if students do not have the necessary skills.
• Students with poor reading will not be able to make sure of written information
• Students with low writing abilities may be able to understand the ideas but cannot record what they have learned
• Without necessary research skills inquiry can become frustrating
(Killen, 2013)

The risk with holding a class discussion can be poor student participation. This can be due to lack of interest and engagement or because of more dominant peers controlling the conversation and not allowing input from others (White, 2011; Killen, 2013).
As mentioned, during role play, students take on the role of different characters. Killen (2013) recognises that it can be difficult to make role play activities relevant to the students’ lives. This needs to be considered when planning and using the role play strategy.
Adopting UDL principles for Direct Instruction
Class Context
Upper primary
Two students from Burma with weak English language skills
Three Aboriginal students (Rada is often absent, withdrawn, or distracting friends)
One case of undiagnosed autism
Two students with ADHD
Three bright students (Clare is possibly gifted)
Mid to low achieving
Adopting UDL principles for Cooperative Learning
UDL checkpoint: 8.3
Teachers cannot change students’ preferred learning styles, however, they can adapt the strategy to include individual workers. By creating communities of learners with common interest students will be more willing to participate. Expectations within the group should be established so all group members are aware of their roles. It should also be emphasised that each student is responsible for their own learning.

Adopting UDL principles for Small Group Work
UDL checkpoint: 6.2 & 6.3
To accommodate for the students who have not previously been taught how to learn within a small group they need to be provided with considerable support from the teacher and their peers. This can be adapted by implementing coaches or mentors to demonstrate behaviours, as well as providing scaffolding through templates and graphic organisers.

Adopting UDL principles for Inquiry
UDL Checkpoints: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 5.1 & 5.2
Students need to be provided with multiple ways of viewing and recording information, depending on their ability in reading and writing.
This can include viewing and/or recording using:
• Media files (videos and audio) to compose or view information
• A range of graphic organisers and templates
• Sentence starters and prompts
• Text-to-speech and speech-to-text software
• Physical and visual stimulus

Adopting UDL principles for Discussion
UDL Checkpoint: 7.2, 7.3 & 8.3
A positive and safe classroom environment needs to be established for a discussion. In order to combat a few students dominating the discussion the use of talking tokens can be implemented. Each student will be provided with ‘talking tokens’, once they have contributed something to the conversation students place the token in the middle of the group, all students must use all their tokens. This encourages participation from all students and restricts dominance. To provoke interest and engagement the topic of conversation needs to be of relevance to the students, in this class context a variety of issues could be selected to cater for the diverse backgrounds of students.

Adopting UDL principles for Role Play
UDL Checkpoints: 3.1 &7.2
This limitation can be overcome by adapting the strategy through the choice of topic. Teachers should use the following guidelines when selecting the topic:
• Social and cultural relevance
• Relevant context
• Age appropriate
• Activate and link to students prior and background knowledge
• Use stimulus, materials and a variety of information to understand the role

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
UDL will be used to to adapt the discussed teaching strategies to address the identified limitation.
For more information and explanation of the UDL checkpoints, download the available documents at:

UDL checkpoint: 4.1
The strategy can be adapted to include more student participation through requiring the students to respond to question throughout the instruction. Responses can be written, verbal or physical. This will benefit the students who were previously excluded as they now have the opportunity to interact with the content but it is still teacher-centred.

Reference List
CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Retrieved from

Cohen, M.T. (2008, October). The effect of direct instruction versus discovery learning on the understanding of science lessons by second grade students. Paper presented at NERA Conference Proceedings. Retrieved from
Dallmann-Jones, A. (1994). The expert educator. WI: Three Blue Heron Publications.

Fetherston, T. (2006). Becoming an effective teacher. South Melbourne: Thomson Learning.

Fi, C.D., & Degner, K.M. (2012). Teaching through problem solving. Mathematics Teacher, 105(6), 455-459. Retrieved from

Gall, J. & Gall, M. (1990). Outcomes of the discussion method. In W. Wilen (ed.), Teaching and learning through discussion: The theory, research, and practice of the discussion method (pp. 25-44). Springfield, IL: Thomas.

Garside, C. (1996). Look who's talking: A comparison of lecture and group discussion teaching strategies in developing critical thinking skills. Communication Education, 45(3), 212-227.

Jarvis, L., Odell, K., & Troiano, M. (2002). Role-Playing as a Teaching Strategy. Retrieved from

Killen, R. (2013). Effective teaching strategies: Lessons from research and practice. South Melbourne, Vic: Cengage Learning Australia.

Martine, L. (2006). The Advantages and Disadvantages of using Small Group and Pair Work in the classroom. Retrieved from

North Dakota Teaching with Technology Initiative. (2003). Teaching and Learning Strategies: Inquiry-based Learning. Retrieved from

The University of Kansas. (n.d.) Direct Instruction. Retrieved from

Thirteen Ed Online. (2004). Inquiry Based Learning. Retrieved from

White, J.C. (2011). Resistance to classroom participation: Minority students, academic discourse, cultural conflicts, and issues of representation in whole class discussions. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 10(4), 250.
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