25 Instructional Improvements

  1. Add Energy/Movement
  2. Display Preparation (e.g. making worksheet/slideshow, guided notes, or activity)
  3. Clear & Deliberate Transitions
  4. Crisp Start or Planned Ending
  5. Confidence, Comfort, or Teacher Voice (e.g. louder, not looking nervous)
  6. Simplicity/Clarity
  7. Clear Directions (verbally issued & visually displayed)
  8. Add Illustrations to Clarify Complex/Boring Material
  9. Prepared Discussion Q’s
  10. Engage in Management/Use Proximity
  11. Professional Attire
  12. Balance Teacher/Student Talk Time
  13. Add More Wait Time
  14. Make Content Applicable
  15. Improve Quality of Questions
  16. Time Management – Linger when Needed, Don’t Tread Water
  17. Encourage Student Involvement
  18. Get rid of Filler Words; “Like”, “Um”, “You know”, & etc.
  19. CFU – Check for Understanding
  20. Getting to/Involving Assessment
  21. Scaffolding – Clearly Frame Ideas, Content, &/or Lesson
  22. “Connective Tissue” Between Segments of the Lesson
  23. Differentiation
  24. Clear Objectives (in execution, getting to the point – not wandering)
  25. Good Use of Media (Short, explained, interacted with)

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiation is not so much the “stuff” as the “how.” If the “stuff” is ill conceived, the “how” is doomed.

  • Carol Ann Tomlinson

While we’ve dabbled into what differentiated instruction is (and we will spend more time on it in the future), let’s consider Tomlinson’s Insights, in this readable 7-page article.

By class time Wednesday, read Differentiated Instruction and post a response to the following:

1. Spend 1 paragraph to describe each of the following classrooms:
a) Mr. Appleton’s (who presents factual stuff) approach to teaching,
b) Mrs. Baker’s (whose class does different stuff) approach to teaching,
c) Ms. Cassell’s (alternative approach) to teaching.

2. Use the text to explain (in at least 1-2 paragraphs) your takeaway on what differentiated instruction isn’t (that is, what it is commonly misunderstood to be), and –most importantly– what differentiated instruction authentically is.

Planning a Lesson on the Political Spectrum

You are tasked with planning -and then teaching- your first lesson plan and it is to be a 15-minute lesson on the political spectrum. The main focus is NOT so much on the ‘what’ (the content), but rather the focus and purpose is on the ‘how’, the process of developing and executing a lesson plan. Thus, we won’t fixate on the content knowledge, but rather concern ourselves with the procedures of pedagogy. Your lesson plan must include:

Feel free to utilize this Common Teaching Strategies document. For starting places with content, because we don’t have a physical textbook, you can use the “Political Considerations” post (from below) to give you information.

(Quick) Timeline: in our PLC’s, we will plan a bit in class on Wednesday, and then teach a draft version of the lesson on Thursday… That means you will have some work to do if you’re going to make a slide show, bring in props, or develop another activity.


  • Fill out an index card w/feedback for each person’s lesson & pass it off to them.
  • Post your revised lesson plan, after getting feedback from peers, to your personal site by class on Monday!

9/9: Ugly Politics, Instructional Strategies, & Ice-Breaker Sign Up

Ugly Politics.jpgBy Monday, please read this poignant article, Have Politics Become so Ugly that Teachers are Afraid to Teach Civics? about teaching politics in today’s tumultuous climate. This will give us lots to think about and interactive with.
For Wednesday, please read the instructional-planning reading which will be immediately useful in lesson planning, and we will soon have a post relating to it.
Also, sign up for at least 2 spots on our class Ice-Breaker document; y’all will soon be starting (many of) our class periods!