Follow the 10/24/7 rule when teaching a new concept: repeat information ten minutes after you teach it initially, twenty-four hours later, and one week after first instruction. This helps students commit information to long-term memory.
Thornridge High School
I remix old music to include lyrics about content in U.S. history. An example: My classes would sing, "Bye-bye, British oppression, good-bye" rather than, "Bye-bye, Miss American Pie" when learning about the American Revolution. (The new lyrics are benchmarked and consistent with the textbook.) We have fun singing, and my high school students, although they claim it's corny, talk about the song the most when they return to visit. It is amazing what they can remember about a topic from a song even years later. At the end of the year, students can bring in a blank tape, and I record a copy for them.
Clintondale High School
I ask students to help me design tests and exams. It gives me a chance to review, it allows me to understand what the students think we have been learning for the most recent unit, and it empowers them.
Daniel J. McMahon
Principal, world literature teacher
DeMatha Catholic High School
I don't believe in tricks. We should spend time learning our trade, not the tricks of our trade.
Sixth-grade resource-room teacher
Academy Middle School
Alternate fun activities with their least favorite ones.
Mary Jo Bell
East Carter County R-2 School
When the majority of my kindergartners can identify the weekly sight words, we march in a parade at the end of the week. We use instruments and march to lively band music. This makes the words and the word wall more meaningful to the students, and they work hard to get to have the parade each week.
M. R. Reiter Elementary School
I use a digital timer and constantly time activities. Prior to assigning a task, I explain the expectations and ask random students to restate the task and the time limit. This keeps students engaged and on task. When the timer rings, I again ask random students for feedback and answers to the questions or task that was just completed. It is the same from day to day. The consistency helps keep student frustrations low. When students know what is expected, they are more successful.
Eighth-grade science teacher
Shepherdstown Middle School
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
When my students ask me a question about a basic concept I want them to own the answer to, I ask them questions in return. I guide them through their thinking with my questions to help them come to an understanding of the answer so they can remember the whole connection and learning, hopefully, for years to come!
Arlington Science Focus School
I use screen capture using Camtasia Studio 4. I am an Adobe-certified instructor in Premiere Pro 2.0, which is used for video editing. Screen capture is a great way to record difficult procedures that come up regularly.
Francis Tuttle Technology Center
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I try to greet students at the door. I inform them about what they have to do for the day or the week, and we work together. I move around constantly in class, motivating students to get on track and work hard.
Adolfo J. Gonzalez
Lincoln International Academy
I just believe in them.
Linwood Holton Elementary School
I let my students know that class participation counts toward their grade. I keep track of participation on my seating chart, using a different color each day. Students who are paying attention and who are on task tend to do better than those who aren’t.
Greenway High School
Incorporating games into instructional strategies is essential. Games are especially effective if students have to rely on each other for success. We play a Jeopardy-type game to study for science tests. Students in groups have to agree on the right answer before raising their collective group’s hands. This strategy forces students to share information and support one another, and the lower-performing students feel more confident answering questions.
Natoma Station Elementary School
As a university librarian, I am keenly interested in personalizing library instruction. My favorite way of doing this is to give professors a stack of my business cards. These are handed out in class, and each student has to obtain my signature on the back within two weeks. Students make appointments, and I get to teach them about various library resources in a one-on-one setting. Some students have more skills than others, and this method offers everyone a private tutorial.
Janet L. Robinson Curriculum Resource Center
Salve Regina University
Newport, Rhode Island
With each well-completed, handed-in-on-time assignment, students get a coupon. After collecting two coupons, they get a lollipop they can eat in my class or after school; five coupons earn them a game day with classroom-appropriate computer games; and ten coupons allow them to waive an assignment.
North Middle School
Rapid City, South Dakota
Teachers help students succeed by anticipating students’ questions and practicing effective questioning techniques. It is also helpful to occasionally record yourself on audio or video yourself to assess your teaching style.
Teresa Trimble Hail
District technology coordinator
Pulaski County Schools
When I feel like I’m losing the class to daydreams, something will come up, and I’ll say, “I didn’t know that”—and, oh, does that ever wake the kids up. They can’t believe a teacher doesn’t know the answer to something, and they will work hard to find it. This is a great way to get them to search through the text, or search the Internet or the library.
Laurie A. Martin
St. Maries Middle School
St. Maries, Idaho
I credit everything I’ve learned to one thing: my mistakes. I provide writing students with the freedom to choose topics that apply to their daily lives. I redirect them as they work in writing labs, and I provide a lot of contingent feedback when I grade. If they’re not satisfied, they may do it again. And again. I’ve been a journalist for twenty years, and now I’m a teacher, and that’s what my real-world editors once did for me. No rigidity, no multiple choice, no fear, no punishment, no one-shot deal. Just education.
Keeping students engaged while presenting new material can be a difficult task, but I find that relating material to their lives sparks a light inside of them that fuels a desire to learn.
High school English teacher
West Seneca West Senior High School
West Seneca, New York
I created a Web site to help my students succeed. They can practice in my online classroom 24/7. I have made more than a hundred quizzes in Quiz Lab, which is linked to my site. There are many links for practice, which are interactive games. Students have written me letters saying their grades are higher because they can practice at home online. Plus, it’s more fun than paper-and pencil-work.
Wendy Schmid Tetrault
Belmont, New Hampshire
I teach ninth-grade at-risk students in a self-contained classroom. For the first ten minutes of class in the morning, I give them free time. They can talk all the drama out, and then, when I write their warm-ups on the board, they are ready to learn. The system is not flawless, but, like adults, they just need to vent, and then they can get down to work.