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How to Practice Learning Focused Instructional Strategies
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Learning focused instructional strategies improve student success!
Get 9 resources with instructional strategies focused on student learning to achieve greater success.
Utilizing the SIOP Model for my high school lesson plans, I use effective instructional methods specifically designed with English Language Learners in mind.
This model incorporates evidence-based strategies, and with a Master of Education, Master of Arts, and TEFL certification, I’m confident to provide students of diverse backgrounds with engaging learning experiences.
The SIOP Model
The SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) Model (CREDE, 1996) is a research-based instruction framework that improves second-language learners’ academic achievement.
Additionally, it strengthens academic language and literacy skills for all students.
The model provides teachers with guidance for planning and delivering effective lessons to support language development.
Used as a best practice in the United States for over 20 years, SIOP is validated as an effective learning focused instructional tool for student success.
The SIOP Model includes eight components:
- Lesson Preparation
- Building Background
- Comprehensible Input
- Practice & Application
- Lesson Delivery
- Review & Assessment
Learning Focused Instructional Strategies
Educators’ strategies vary based on the instruction level to meet student’s needs and learning.
Learning focused unit planning and lesson planning include instructional practices and formative assessments focused on student achievement.
Common learning focused instructional strategies used with English language learners are paraphrasing and note-taking.
Scaffolding is a teaching strategy that is a gradual release of responsibility for learning from teacher to student.
When developing lesson plans, teachers answer the essential question of who will do what during the lesson.
The following four instructional strategies explain the elements of learning focused teaching:
- Teacher does; students watch.
- Teacher does; students help.
- Students do; teacher helps.
- Students do; teacher watches.
Strategic thinking is at the heart of effective teaching strategies.
Teachers who are learning focused look at the big picture, anticipate problems and take steps to prevent them from happening in their own classrooms.
This fosters positive relationships between teachers and students. Additionally, relationships between students are enriched.
Students are more likely to achieve academic success in a positive classroom environment.
Choosing strategies to meet students’ needs and lesson outcomes is essential to ensure educators set up their classrooms for success.
Building an Inclusive Classroom
To learn and be successful in school, students need to feel safe and have a positive emotional connection with their teachers and classmates.
Connecting with others is essential for healthy development and learning.
As children, we are often taught to play nice with others and share. But what happens when we constantly feel like we don’t fit in or are not good enough?
These feelings stay with us into adulthood and make it difficult to connect with others.
To create a sense of belonging in classrooms as a teaching strategy, teachers must provide opportunities for students to get to know each other.
Teachers lead by creating a safe environment where students feel comfortable sharing and listening. It’s crucial to provide chances for students to be listened to so they feel heard and understood.
For students to feel safe with each other, teachers need to model positive relationships in their classrooms explicitly.
An engaging strategy to achieve this is to set up friendly competition through games for formative assessment.
Examples of games for formative assessment:
- Wheel of Fortune
- Choose Your Own Adventure
- Scavenger Hunts
When students feel they belong, they are motivated to work hard, be challenged to do more, and feel more invested in their learning and the classroom community.
Students in a connected classroom also feel safe to take risks.
This video addresses how to build a classroom that fosters belonging:
Here are some specific things you can do to make your learning focused classroom an environment where students feel safe enough to explore, learn, and grow.
- Develop trusting relationships with students.
- Take care of your own needs.
- Encourage students to take care of each other and themselves.
- Get to know the community. Support what the community does well and challenge what it does poorly.
Build a collaborative environment that allows every student to be involved in the classroom and to get the best possible learning experience.
Universal Design for Learning
The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines are a great starting point for educators looking to create an inclusive, accessible curriculum.
The guidelines provide an overview of the UDL framework and offer suggestions on implementing UDL principles in any subject area.
By taking the time to familiarize yourself with UDL, you ensure your teaching and curriculum planning meets all learners’ needs.
In the simplest terms, UDL is an instructional strategy developed to help schools meet the needs of all their students.
By considering the different needs of all learners, we create a more equitable education for all.
A few guidelines are followed to ensure all learners access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.
- Providing multiple learning opportunities, rather than relying on a single learning experience, to reach all learners.
- Developing learning opportunities based on a wide range of intelligence, rather than simply current or prevailing academic standards or a specific cognitive or academic skill.
- Focusing on unique individual differences among learners rather than grouping them according to some conventional type (e.g., high school, middle school, and low-achieving students).
These suggestions are applied to any discipline or domain and help create an inclusive learning environment for everyone.
- Purposeful & Motivated
- Resourceful & Knowledgeable
- Strategic & Goal Directed
UDL emphasizes three aspects of the learning process: engagement, representation, and action.
Each of these critical areas is important for students to succeed academically.
Strategies for UDL
Teachers with a learning focused mindset provide options for each of the three goals of UDL to help students succeed.
For example, they offer ways to sustain effort and persistence, use different languages and symbols, or improve expression and communication skills.
Doing so helps students better understand the material, stay motivated, and express themselves more effectively.
Firstly, engagement is achieved through options teachers provide for sustaining effort and self-regulation.
Teachers must engage students in learning to retain information and stay on task.
Secondly, representation is achieved through language and symbols that help comprehension.
Lastly, action is achieved through the options teachers provide for students’ expression, communication, and executive functions.
This TEDx Talk shares a powerful testimony about the impact of UDL on students and communities:
The UDL Guidelines provide educators with a framework to implement Universal Design for Learning in their classrooms.
This approach to teaching and learning considers how humans learn and provides strategies to ensure all learners access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.
Strategies for Classroom Management
A variety of strategies are available to learning focused teachers to accommodate different types of learners.
Educators must choose strategies to meet the needs of their students and align with the desired outcomes of the lesson. By doing so, teachers set their classrooms up for success.
First and foremost, teachers must set up the classroom environment to manage all the bodies coming and going.
Managing disruptions efficiently and respectfully is the first step.
Instead of handling disruptions after they’ve happened, setting up conditions that are less likely to occur is more effective.
Here are seven classroom strategies:
- Greet Students at the Door
- Establish, Maintain, and Restore Relationships
- Use Reminders and Cues
- Optimize Classroom Seating
- Give Specific Praise
- Set clear expectations
- Actively Supervise
- Be Consistent in Applying Rules
- Meeting Student’s Individual Needs
Managing interactions between students and teachers and students is an important aspect of developing learning focused instructional strategies.
Managing Student’s Exceptional Needs
One of the most important aspects of being an effective teacher is knowing how to meet the individual needs of each student in your classroom.
While some students may thrive in a more traditional educational setting, others benefit from different types of instruction or accommodations.
As such, you must take the time to learn about the various available strategies and choose the best for your students.
For instance, you may find students with learning disabilities will benefit from meeting with special education teachers and administrators in your school district to learn more about learning disability accommodations and services.
Or students who struggle with reading comprehension benefit from reading study skills lessons. Alternatively, students struggling to write complete sentences benefit from help developing sentence structure.
Adapt Lesson Plans
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to education, and this rings especially true when considering the needs of individual students.
Therefore, to be an effective teacher, it is crucial to adapt lesson plans and teaching strategies best to meet the needs of each student in your classroom.
Doing so ensures all students are engaged in learning and achieving positive outcomes.
Needing to adapt lessons is true even if you’re only teaching a single student.
Many of us will have the opportunity to work with various students each year.
For example, a student may need unique accommodation because of a learning disability.
Then, the following year, you may have a student who requires accommodation because they have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.
Differentiation of Instruction
Differentiation provides students with customized instruction based on their individual needs.
This approach is successful when teachers use ongoing assessment and flexible grouping.
Differentiating content, processes, learning aids, or the learning environment helps meet the needs of all learners.
Standard practices for differentiation include:
- Assessing students’ learning regularly and adjusting content as needed.
- Grouping students by shared interest, topic, or ability level for assignments.
- Designing lessons based on each students’ learning style.
Creating a safe and supportive classroom environment is crucial for differentiation to be effective.
Examples of Differentiation of Instruction
Tiered assignments are a type of differentiated instruction where students are given different tasks to perform based on their comprehension skills.
Tiered assignments allow all students to learn the same skill but at their level.
Choice boards allow students to select which activity to complete to practice a skill. In addition, the board typically contains options for different learning styles, such as kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and tactile.
Teachers help students move ahead in their learning by compacting the curriculum.
Compacting curriculum involves:
- Assessing student knowledge.
- Excusing them from covering material they have already mastered.
- Providing free time for them to work on accelerated skills.
By using these instructional strategies for the differentiation of lessons, all students are challenged and supported according to their individual needs.
Get 9 Resources with Learning Focused Instructional Strategies
Teachers need to take the time to learn about various teaching and learning strategies to meet the individual needs of their students.
Then, choose the best strategies for each student.
By doing this, classrooms and students are set up for success.
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Universal Design for Learning Guidelines | SABES. (n.d.). Www.sabes.org. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from https://www.sabes.org/content/universal-design-learning-guidelines
UDL Guidelines Poster. (n.d.). CAST. Retrieved July 25, 2022, from https://www.cast.org/products-services/resources/cast-publishing/udl-guidelines-poster