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Characteristics of Effective Instruction

Student-centered Classrooms

Students are directly involved and invested in the discovery of their own knowledge. Through collaboration and cooperation with others, they engage in learning that is authentic, holistic and challenging. Students use prior knowledge to construct new learning,  develop processes that allow them to reflect on their own thinking and recognize the most appropriate strategy in problem solving.

Teaching for Understanding

Students engage in a variety of thought-provoking activities such as explaining, finding evidence and examples, generalizing, applying, making analogies and representing the topic in new ways. Teachers:

  1. make learning a long-term, thought-centered process;
  2. engage students in assessment for learning processes;
  3. support learning with representations and conceptual models;
  4. teach for learner differences;
  5. induct students into the discipline; and
  6. teach for transfer (Perkins, 1993).

Assessment for Learning

Teachers and students use assessment as part of instruction to provide feedback and make adjustments to ongoing teaching and learning. Formative assessment practices provide students with clear learning targets, examples and models of strong and weak work; regular descriptive feedback; and the ability to self-assess, track learning and set goals, all of which is designed to improve their achievement of core content.

Rigor and Relevance

Lessons are cognitively demanding and challenge students to apply the standards or essential concepts and skills to real-world, complex and open-ended situations. Content is linked to important concepts or skills and requires authentic work, discipline-specific methods and applying what is known or being learned to solve complex problems. It involves the use of prior knowledge, development of in-depth understanding, and the ability to develop and express ideas and findings through elaborate communication.

Teaching for Learner Differences

Planning for and responding to variances among learners creates the best learning experience possible. It includes processes to determine effectiveness of instruction, the use of data to guide instructional decision-making, and it ensures access to success with the Iowa Core for all students.