Instructional Strategies/Graphic Organizers

               TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Miscellaneous  Instructional Strategies
  • Writing: Just Do It
  • Review Strategies
  • Higher Order Questioning Strategies
  • Differentiation Strategies
  • Vocabulary Strategies
  • Math Strategies



This strategy helps students connect to the subject at hand, a habit that is essential to transferring the material to their long-term memories. It can be tweaked to fit your content. Two-Column Notes is a comprehension strategy that should be directly taught and modeled for students.


Students write the word, the definition, and draw or paste a graphic representation.


A graphic organizer in which the first column is to write equations, the second column is to write either the teacher’s questions or the steps to solve the equations, and the third column it to record the answer. Helps with remembering steps to solve.


Can also be used as a comprehension strategy.

Anticipation Guide Template

A pre-reading/ pre-teaching strategy.


Use the above document to write/type statements related to an upcoming unit or reading. You will be able to both access students’ prior knowledge and also to check for understanding after the lesson/reading.


Not only for music, but can also be used during any listening activity.


An SOL whole-class remediation plan organizer.


Tools of the Trade that can be used all year long.


A table for recording character choices, consequences of choice, alternative choices, and alternative consequences.


Includes a link where you will find a list of character traits.


A strategy for analyzing a topic; great for group discussions.


Dialogue journals provide a way for students to nonverbally process text with a partner. This document contains directions and the set-up and can be uploaded  into a google doc for your students to use.


Help students rate their effort vs. achievement.

Effort and Achievement Sample Graph

A sample graph from Marzano’s CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION THAT WORKS. It can be used to show students that eventually, with effort, achievement will follow. They can then create their own graphs to plot their effort and achievement, which will help create intrinsic motivation.

English SOL’s 2010 instructional updates

A powerpoint presentation created and presented by Jackie Kelley, English specialist, at the 2012 VDOE conference in Williamsburg. Gives specifics on the new SOL along with instructional implications.


“Lee Ann Spillane, author of Reading Amplified, shares several easy ways to use tech tools to engage students with The Great Gatsby and other literature, in this post at Edutopia.”

Equity in Classroom Participation

Directions for creating rosters in ActivInspire from which you can randomly pull students’ names for class participation!


An outline to give students for writing a 5-paragraph essay, including links with tutorials for writing introductions and conclusions.


An explanation of and graphic organizer for recording quotes from text along with justification for labeling them fact or opinion.

formative assessment strategies

Taken from a student teacher/cooperating teacher, this document gives successful strategies for formatively assessing your students. It includes a STUDENT SURVEY to give at the end of the year to let you know where you and your instruction stood from a student perspective!

Formative Assessment Strategies

Lots of formative assessment tools/techniques to check  your students’ understanding.

Homophone Jeopardy Game Directions

Homophone Jeopardy Game

Teach basic homophones using this tool.


Get the answers to Homophone Jeopardy here.


Extra practice using the homophones in the Jeopardy game above.



KWHL Chart

 Graphic organizers where students record what they Know, Want to Know, How they will find it (sources), and what they Learned. It can be used Before, During, and After an assignment. Great for accessing prior knowledge.

Lesson Closure

Use this strategy as formative assessment to check for understanding at the close of a class period or lesson.

Literature Circles

What literature circles ARE and what they ARE NOT.

Literature Circles Role Sheets

Suggestions for roles that students will assume when discussing


From AP English Literature and Composition- a note-taking graphic organizer.


A note-taking guide that can be used when watching a movie.

Note-taking Graphic Organizer

A Marzano strategy that has students stopping to take and look at notes 3 times in 3 different formats.


“Use with math, chemistry, physics, or statistics problem-solving.”


Have writers edit each other’s work.


A 2-column chart where students record their predictions of what will happen, and after reading, record what actually happened. A good way to check for prior knowledge.

Read and Say Something

Great to use in conjunction with “Sticky Note Strategy” below OR have students choose from among the list to be prepared to say  one thing about what they read.


This “cheat sheet” names strategies, giving descriptions of each and whether or not they are  most effectively used  Before reading, During reading, and/or After reading.

Reading Strategies Checklist

Use this checklist/comments document to take anecdotal notes on a student’s use of strategies before, during, and after (BDA) reading.


Save the last word for me is a strategy that clarifies and deepens students’ thinking about a topic/reading. It is done in groups of 4 and the purpose is to “build on each other’s thinking, not to enter into a dialogue.”

Socratic Seminars – Making Meaningful Dialogue

Everything you will need for a Socratic Seminar! Includes a list of the benefits of a Socratic Seminar, key elements, sample opening questions, guiding question stems, closing question stems, and multiple links of Socratic Seminar resources.

Socratic Seminar Video

From the Teaching Channel, see a real-life classroom example of a Socratic Seminar in action. Simply replace the term “Common Core” with “Standard of Learning!”

Socratic Seminar-Step-by-Step

Socratic Seminar step-by-step instructions for teachers. Includes a student handout of open-ended questions, a graphic organizer prep sheet, a partner evaluation sheet, and a participant rubric.

Socratic Seminar

Taken from Bil Johnson’s, The Student-Centered Classroom Handbook, this explains how to have students be responsible for engaging discussions, with the teacher only raising a question or making a comment as a participant.


A reading comprehension aide, similar to annotation. Students use actual sticky notes that are kept with their reading, or as an alternative, they could use the sticky notes on their laptops and jot down page numbers.


Students use guided questions to complete a story map.


A template for students to record the question, each partner’s thoughts, and what they will share.


Three-circle graphic organizer for comparing/contrasting 3 things/people.


Includes a space for students to write a summary of likenesses and differences.

whip around strategy

Fun and interactive formative assessment strategy. Check out this video to hear how one teacher successfully uses it!



Written by Dottie Willis of Jefferson County Public Schools, this writing curriculum is “focused on belief or insight about life that is significant to the writer.” This gem includes lots of pertinent quotes and sample essays to inspire students. JaNee Jones of Varina High School introduced this to me and has found great success using it with her students. Try incorporating THIS (thoughtful, honorable, inspiring, safe) into this curriculum.

Writing Introductions

Gives examples of both weak and “better” introductions.

Writing Conclusions

Check out these suggestions and strategies for writing conclusions.

Writing a Good Conclusion

Student-friendly writing resource.

WritingEssays_Conclusion (1)

An excellent Power Point from the above “Writing a Good Conclusion” link.

WRITING Personal Narrative/Memoir Timeline

Model for your students how to be specific when writing a short memoir. This sample timeline pinpoints the positives and negatives in a person’s life. One positive or negative could be chosen to write about.


National Novel Writing Month “NaNoWriMo has three age-appropriate workbooks that…teach the basics-dialogue, plot, characters, tension-and other fiction building blocks.” This link takes you to the PDF of the high school workbook! Created by the Office of Letters and Light (OLL) Young Writers Program. “100% Awesome, NON-LAME workbooks.”

Try one of these strategies for review or as a formative assessment:


These 2 review strategies could be used in group google docs. Students could comment on others’ responses in addition to writing their own ideas and facts.

Hotseat Flipchart Review

A fun review game, especially for vocabulary, in a flipchart. Once opened, click on the Notes Browser for directions. Your words, phrases, or concepts can replace the ones behind the black rectangular shape. Simply draw out the words, click on the Text box, and replace your words for the ones given.


A fun review game, especially for vocabulary review.


An interactive review game.


Pairs review 10 to 20 questions. Can be uploaded into a Google Doc.

Of course, recall and comprehension questions need to be asked to check for understanding, but to extend and deepen students’ understanding, try some of the questions below:

Costa’s Levels of Questioning

(From AVID) “Students need to be familiar with Costa’s (and/or Bloom’s) levels of questioning to assist them in formulating and identifying higher levels of questions.”


A framework for promoting student thinking.

Higher Order Question Templates

Choose questions to put in your lesson plans to help students process information at breaks during direct instruction.


Question starters for the various levels of Blooms.


Includes teacher planning questions; teacher questions and stems for use with students; and student questions, stems, prompts, and sentence starters.


The first page of this document provides questions for fiction that will help students make connections and dive more deeply into the story structure. The questions on the second page are pertinent to nonfiction and will help students preview the text structure, better formulate a summary, and make connections.


Deepen and extend discussions and students’ understanding by using these question starters to respond to student questions. Don’t forget Wait Time!


Examples of critical thinking versus recall questions for reading/literature.

Tips to Have Students ask Better Questions

This is a 2-minute video from the Teaching Channel, showing teacher Thristene Francisco using strategies to help students formulate higher-order questions. She mentions how it empowers students to create and answer questions. When you open the link, scroll down to access the supporting materials in the right sidebar. You can also read on the discussion board how Ms. Francisco introduced this at the beginning of the year.

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Promote Critical Reading and Thinking Skills

Includes a description of each level of questioning along with key verbs and easy-to-use question stems.

Differentiation Strategies Below:



An English sample showing how to give students choice  regarding their assigments and projects. The choices on these tic-tac-toe boards are geared to a student’s learning style, and they are also categorized according to Bloom’s taxonomy levels. You could ask them to choose 3 in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.  Look at more samples from all the disciplines at

 Renee’s Portfolio of Lesson Plan Ideas

 When you open the link above, click DOWNLOAD/DOWNLOAD ANYWAY, and it will be saved to your DOWNLOADS folder.  Navigate to your DOWNLOADS folder, and click on it after it finishes downloading. It will take a minute or two. It is a PDF Portfolio of lesson plan ideas organized by multiple intelligence/learning style. Each lesson implements technology/21st century skills.


Includes a student quick assessment and suggestions for teacher implementation. Also included are question starters and project/product ideas for each of the intelligences.

Interest and Learning Inventory

Help students identify their interests for the purpose of differentiating their projects. The interest inventory portion of this survey includes 3 parts; it is extensive and encourages the student to do a thorough brainstorming. The top 4 areas of interest from each part are recorded on the first page, and from these 3 lists, students find common threads and record their identified areas of interest.

 Power Up Your Projects Handouts

Project-based learning (PBL) is an instructional model that organizes learning around projects—complex tasks based on challenging problems or questions. Although projects may vary in duration and scope, good projects are standards-focused and engage students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks (Buck Institute for Education, 2007). This document includes everything you have always wanted to know about project-based learning, incuding sample rubrics and formative assesments.

See below for strategies for teaching vocabulary:



Includes a list of Tier 2 Words.


Consider providing your class with student-friendly definitions, and they decide how they will remember the definition and give an image or sketch that will remind them of it.

 Vocabulary Flipchart

When you access the dropbox link above, click DOWNLOAD and save to your desktop. I created this flipchart to be used however you see fit, but basically each page presents a different strategy for learning vocabulary, and each strategy has directions in the Notes Browser showing how it was created in the flipchart (so that students can recreate it in their own flipcharts). A math vocabulary page is included.


A word categorization activity.


Great for assessing prior knowledge of new vocabulary words. Give students a list of words and have them put the words in the column for “Heard of It”,  “Never Heard of It”, or “Know What it Means.”

Vocab Knowledge Rating Template

“Vocabulary or knowledge rating (Blachowicz, 1986; Young et al. 2002) is a before reading
strategy designed to evaluate students’ prior or background knowledge of a topic or concept.” Check out this site for variations on this template, even a “high five rating scale” using your fingers:

Vocabulary Strategies

Use some of these strategies to encourage discussion and reflection around new vocabulary.

Vocabulary Study

All- inclusive graphic organizer for vocabulary!


Blooms Taxonomy for Math

Includes Sample Tasks using the verbs.

Revised Blooms Taxonomy for Math

Includes the verbs, actions, and accompanying learning activities.


Instructional design from Carnegie Learning



Develop mathematical thinking with effective questions.


pythagorean choice bd

This tic/tac/toe, pythagorean choice board gives students higher-level, real-life tasks to complete. They do 3 across/down/or diagonal. Find more sample math choice boards at You can also download the template to create your own choice boards.

Suggestions for promoting higher-level thinking






From VDOE, a project-based unit.

BELOW ARE THREE MATH LINKS FOR 21st CENTURY PROBLEM SOLVING from the May, 2013, Stenhouse NEWSLINKS,Stenhouse Publishers


“Get the Math is a series of engaging videos in which professionals from high-interest fields like video game design, fashion, sports, music, etc. share how they use math in their careers.”


The link above contains a blog with pertinent topics for both teachers and students. It also includes a “How to Succeed in Math” page. A page on math careers from A to Z will answer students’ questions of how math is applied in real life.


“The UK site Maths Careers compiles even more online resources showing how people use math in real life.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.