Opinion Blog

Classroom Q&A

With Larry Ferlazzo

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to lferlazzo@epe.org. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Q&A Collections: Instructional Strategies

By Larry Ferlazzo — August 31, 2020 11 min read
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During the summer, I will be sharing thematic posts bringing together responses on similar topics from the past nine years. You can see all those collections from the first eight years here.

Here are the ones I’ve posted so far:

This Year’s Most Popular Q&A Posts

Race & Racism in Schools

School Closures & the Coronavirus Crisis

Classroom-Management Advice

Best Ways to Begin the School Year

Best Ways to End the School Year

Student Motivation & Social-Emotional Learning

Implementing the Common Core

Facing Gender Challenges in Education

Teaching Social Studies.

Cooperative & Collaborative Learning

Using Tech in the Classroom

Student Voices

Parent Engagment In Schools

Teaching English-Language Learners

Reading Instruction

Writing Instruction

Education Policy Issues


Differentiating Instruction

Math Instruction

Science Instruction

Advice for New Teachers

Author Interviews

Entering the Teaching Profession

The Inclusive Classroom

Learning & the Brain

Administrator Leadership

Teacher Leadership

Relationships in Schools

Professional Development

Today’s theme is on Instructional Strategies. You can see the list following this excerpt from one of the posts:

* ‘Memorization Often Comes Without Understanding’

Three educators highlight the role of memory in learning, such as the importance of guarding against remembering “without understanding” and being strategic about when to emphasize memorization’s importance with students.

* The Roles of Memorization in Teaching & Learning

Four teachers offer different perspectives on memorization in teaching and learning, including one suggesting it is the “foundation” of the creativity process and another saying she is “tormented” by the issue.

* Movement Helps Make ‘Learning Joyful & Magical’

Using drama and gallery walks are among the ways to incorporate movement in teaching, say four educators who share their strategies.

* Eight Ways to Use Movement in Teaching & Learning

Four educators share ideas on how to use movement with students, including for learning vocabulary through the use of the Total Physical Response.

* Five Ways to Use Music in Lessons

Five educators share ways to use music in lessons across the curriculum, including for textual analysis and to help create a positive classroom culture.

* Strategies for Using Music in ALL Subjects

Five educators share multiple ways to use music in nonmusic classes, including having students create their own songs to help remember content and interpreting the music of different eras in social studies classes.

* ‘Teaching That Activates and Leverages Background Knowledge Is an Equity Issue’

Four educators share ideas on how to leverage student background knowledge, including through using The Question Formulation Technique, word splashes, and sticky notes.

* The Whys & Hows of Activating Students’ Background Knowledge

Seven educators explain the importance of tapping students’ background knowledge in order to learn new content, and they describe ways to do just that, including through the use of surveys and anticipation guides.

* Effective Ways Students Can Teach Their Classmates

Bobson Wong, Adeyemi Stembridge, Jennifer Davis Bowman, Starr Sackstein, Kathy Dyer, and Rachelle Dene Poth share ideas on how students can teach their classmates.

* Students Can Become ‘Co-Teachers’

This second post in the series on students teaching their classmates includes commentaries by Rita Platt, Paul Solarz, Laurie Buffington, Dr. Laura Greenstein, and Anne Taffin d’Heursel Baldisseri.

* The Value of ‘Peer Teaching’

Amber Chandler, Cheryl Mizerny, Andrew Miller, Dr. Karen Goeller, Michael D. Toth, Megan Bang, Laura M. Brady, Stephanie A. Fryberg, and Mary C. Murphy share their ideas on students as teachers.

* Students as Teachers in the Classroom

This four-part series on peer teaching is wrapped up today with responses from Bryan Goodwin, Dr. Jenny Grant Rankin, Sarah Thomas, and Bradley Witzel.

* The Best Lessons ‘Linger in Memories for Years to Come’

Claudine Phillips, Kelly Wickham Hurst, Mary K. Tedrow, and Diane Mora wrap up this three-part series where educators shared their best classroom lessons.

* ‘The Best Lesson I Taught’

Heather Stinson, Meredith Allen, David Hochheiser, Dr. Sonny Magana, and Brooke Ahrens contribute their “best lesson” experiences.

* Ways to Make Lessons ‘Great’

Tara Dale, Sarah Cooper, Alexis Wiggins, Debbie Silver, Stephaney Jones-Vo, and Cindi Rigsbee share their best lessons and what made them so great.

* ‘Games Absolutely Have a Role in Teaching and Learning!’

Abby Shink, Andrew Kozlowsky, Dr. Michael Young, Bradley Witzel, Heather Stinson, and Andrew Miller share their thoughts on learning games.

* Ways to Use Games Effectively in the Classroom

Susan Lafond, Michael Fisher, Eric Schildge, Jennifer Thomas, and Adam Powley discuss how games can be used effectively in the classroom.

* ‘Textbooks Are Terrible’

Dr. Barbara Blackburn, Meghan Everette, Rachael George, Jody Passanisi, and readers share their advice with textbook publishers about how they can improve their products.

* Use the Lead-Up Time to School Breaks for ‘Hidden’ Learning Opportunities

John Spencer, Kevin Parr, Jessica Torres, and Tammy Quist share their suggestions on how to handle the days and weeks leading up to school breaks.

* Teachers Must Encourage Students to ‘Make Meaning Together’

In today’s final post in this series on collaborative learning, Paul Vermette, Cindy Kline, Jennifer Fredricks, Dr. Jenny Grant Rankin, Andrew Miller, and Tamara Fyke contribute their ideas.

* ‘Collaborative Learning Does Not Happen Magically’

Beate Planche, Lyn Sharratt, Debbie Zacarian, Meredith Allen, Nancy Sulla, Bret Gosselin, Dr. Emily Phillips Galloway, and Dr. Paola Uccelli share their suggestions on encouraging student collaboration.

* ‘A Powerful Purpose Propels Effective Student Collaboration’

Today’s post features contributions from Michael Thornton, Robin Brandehoff, Ivannia Soto, and Nell K. Duke. They share recommendations for how teachers can encourage student collaborative learning.

* A Warm-Up ‘Mindset’ Helps Students & Teachers

Matthew Homrich-Knieling, Dr. Nancy Sulla, Michele L. Haiken, Jim Peterson, Rachel Baker, and Louise Goldberg write about their suggestions for Do Now activities (also known as Warm-Ups).

* Important ‘Moves for Teacher Success’

This four-part series on underused teaching strategies wraps up with commentaries from Regie Routman, Gabriella Corales, Shawna Coppola, Donna Wilson, Marcus Conyers, Fred Ende, Tom Hoerr, Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, and Adam Fachler.

* Underutilized Teaching Ideas

Ron Berger, Debbie Zacarian, Greg Walton, Christopher Panna, Kathy Dyer, Barb Pitchford, Dr. Paul Bloomberg, and Malke Rosenfield share their favorite underused teaching strategies.

* Instructional Strategies Teachers Might Be Missing

Jo Boaler, Katie Brown, Rachael George, Laura Greenstein, Dan Rothstein, David Jacob, and Greg Brown name what they consider underutilized teaching and learning strategies.

* Underused Teaching and Learning Strategies

Kathy Glass, Amber Chandler, Carol Salva, Jennifer Davis Bowman, and Janet Allen propose their “nominees” for underused—and effective—instructional strategies.

* Students Can ‘Own Their Learning Through Creating Questions’

Shanna Peeples, Kathy T. Glass, Maria Walther, Sandi Novak, and Toby Karten wrap up a five-part series on using questions in the classroom.

* ‘Questions Are to a Teacher What the Lasso of Truth Is to Wonder Woman’

Adeyemi Stembridge, Ph.D., Kara Pranikoff, Starr Sackstein, Jackie A. Walsh, Andrew Miller, and Brian D. Schultz take their turn at responding to the question of how to use questions effectively with students.

* ‘Questions Are the Currency of Learning’

Tan Huynh, Laura Robb, Judy Reinhartz, Ph.D., and Erik M. Francis share their suggestions for using questions in the classroom.

* Using Questions That ‘Position Students as Meaning Makers’

Sean Kelly, Sidney D’Mello, Shelly Lynn Counsell, Dr. Jennifer Davis Bowman, Rachael Williams, and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm contribute their advice on how teachers can use questions with students.

* Ways to Use Questions Effectively in the Classroom

Jeri Asaro, Dan Rothstein, Diana Laufenberg, Rebecca Mieliwocki, Jenny Edwards, Scott Reed, Cara Jackson, and Ben Johnson share suggestions on how to use questions effectively in the classroom.

* ‘Strong Structures’ Are Needed for Effective Classroom Discussions

This three-part series on organizing classroom discussions wraps up today with suggestions from Tan Huynh, Kathy T. Glass, Sandi Novak, and Brett McLean.

* ‘Trust, Challenge, & Wonder’ Are Needed for Classroom Discussions

Kara Pranikoff, Laura Robb, Sky Sweet, Tricia Ebarvia, and Patty O’Grady contribute their commentaries about facilitating classroom discussions.

* Effective Classroom Discussions Don’t Happen ‘Magically’

Rita Platt, Adeyemi Stembridge, Ph.D., Jackie Walsh, Doug Lemov, and Valentina Gonzalez share their suggestions on how teachers can best organize classroom discussions.

* Strategies for Creating a Successful IB or AP Program

Today’s guests—Tan Huynh, Sean Llewellyn, and Andrew Miller—share their reflections on what makes a successful IB or AP program.

* Genius Hours Can Be ‘Transformative’

Rebecca Mieliwocki, Gallit Zvi, Denise Krebs, Yvette Jackson, Veronica McDermott, Amy Sandvold, Josh Patterson, and Maurice J. Elias share their responses on how to incorporate “Genius Hours” into the classroom.

* Ways to Promote Transfer of Learning

Cathy Beck, Heidi Pace, Anna Bartosik, Jenny Edwards, Josh Patterson, Ashley Roberts, and Andrew Miller contribute their suggestions on how to emphasize learning transfer in the classroom.

* Learning ‘Transfer Is Our Collective Goal’

Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, Adeyemi Stembridge, Todd Finley, Kenneth Baum, and David Krulwich share their ideas on transfer of learning.

* Bloom’s & SOLO ‘Are Not Just Colorful Posters We Hang on the Wall’

Tan Huynh, Russel Tarr, Laura Greenstein, Dr. Eric Jabal, Erik M. Francis, and Andrew Miller share their ideas on taxonomies and the classroom.

* Ways to Use Learning ‘Taxonomies’ in the Classroom

Meghan Everette, Dr. Rebecca Stobaugh, Dr. Sandra Love, Michael Fisher, Susan M. Brookhart, Howard Pitler, and Tony Frontier contribute their advice on using learning & questioning taxonomies in the classroom.

* ‘Great Field Trips Expand the Mind’

Daniel L. Schwartz, Jessica M. Tsang, Kristen P. Blair, Otis Kriegel, Stephanie Smith Budhai, Faye Brenner, and Effuah Sam offer their suggestions on handling field trips.

* Leveraging Field Trips to ‘Deepen Learning’

Ron Berger, Camille A. Farrington, Gail Desler, Abby Schneiderjohn, and Mike Janatovich contribute their thoughts on the best ways to plan and use field trips.

* ‘Field Trips Are Powerful Learning Experiences’

Jennifer Orr, Herb Broda, Anne Jenks, Russel Tarr, and Andrew Miller share their ideas on how to maximize the learning potential of field trips.

* How to Use Data—& How Not to Use It—in Schools

What data is, how can it be used effectively, and how can it be misused are questions we’ll consider today with commentaries from Nancy Fichtman Dana, Dr. Jenni Donohoo, Myron Dueck, Pete Hall, Andrew Miller, Jessica A. Hockett, Kristina J. Doubet, and Kimberly Long.

* ‘Best Practices’ Are Practices That Work Best for Your Students

This post features contributions from Roxanna Elden, Barnett Berry, and Pedro Noguera, along with comments from readers.

* ‘Start By Matching Student Interests, Then Build From There’

Diana Laufenberg, Jeff Charbonneau, Ted Appel, and special guest John Hattie share their thoughts.

* ‘Help Students Be Organized by Being Organized Yourself’

Debbie Diller and Leslie Blauman share their thoughts, as do readers.

* Practical Ideas to Help Students & Teachers Stay Organized

Three educators—Julia Thompson, Ariel Sacks, and Gini Cunningham—contribute their responses.

* The Role of Arts Education in Schools

This post features guest responses from three educators—Virginia McEnerney, David Booth, and Heather Wolpert-Gawron.

* Best Homework Practices

Educator/authors Dr. Cathy Vatterott and Bryan Harris contribute their thoughts here.

* Several Ways We Can Help Students Develop Their Creativity

This post features guest contributions from Jonah Lehrer, former staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Imagine: How Creativity Works, and from Ashley Merryman, co-author of NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children.

* Several Ways to Help Students Become Better Listeners

Middle school teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron, author of ‘Tween Crayons and Curfews: Tips for Middle School Teachers, and I share our ideas.

* Several Ways to Teach Critical-Thinking Skills

Three guests share their recommendations: Ron Ritchhart, author and researcher for Harvard’s Project Zero; educator Todd Stanley, co-author of Critical Thinking and Formative Assessments: Increasing the Rigor in Your Classroom; and Robert Swartz, director of the National Center for Teaching Thinking.

* Thoughts on the Meaning of “Rigor”

Barbara R. Blackburn, author of Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word; Cris Tovani, author of So...What do They Really Know?; and “Senior Provocateur” Ira Socol provide diverse guest responses, and I throw in an intriguing chart.

I hope you’ve found this summary useful and, again, keep those questions coming!

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.