Teachers need multiple resources and methods in order to effectively plan instruction. In this lesson, we will discuss the importance of quality instructional materials and teaching strategies.
What Is Quality Instruction?
How can teachers make sure they are planning high-quality instructional experiences? To answer that, we first need to look at what makes up quality instruction. Though educators sometimes vary on instructional methods, or ways to teach, most will agree all quality instruction includes:
- Curriculum based on specific goals or standards, outcomes we expect students to master
- Engaging instruction that includes differentiation, or teaching with each student’s needs in mind
- Use of data to drive lessons and objectives
- Opportunities for students to work in varying contexts, such as small groups and independently
- Support and guidance from the teacher during practice time
- A system or way to monitor each student’s progress toward a goal
What resources does a teacher need to ensure quality instruction? Teachers rely on instructional materials and strategies to get the job done.
Let’s take a look at how they choose these materials and strategies.
Quality Instructional Materials
Teachers need high-quality instructional materials in order to plan effective instruction. Instructional materials are resources teachers use to teach students, like a textbook series or curriculum guide.
When choosing instructional materials, teachers need to keep in mind the qualities we use to define quality instruction. Materials that fit the scope should:
- Be well-organized and easy to use to allow more time for differentiation
- Be aligned to the standards identified by the school or district
- Be diverse, including resources for students who struggle and opportunities for students to be challenged
- Include assessment pieces that allow the teacher both to track students’ progress and assess them at the end of teaching
- Incorporate technology for instruction and student use
- Have materials and supplies to support a variety of learning styles
Quality Strategies for Instruction
All teachers, whether they are aware of it or not, use instructional strategies. These are methods teachers use to design lessons and instruct students. Some teachers are more strategic than others. What are they doing differently? They’re thinking about their instructional methods before, during, and after teaching, asking important questions that lead them to quality teaching, such as:Before instruction, teachers may plan instruction by asking:
- What is my educational objective?
- What are my students’ strengths and struggles?
- How can I motivate, engage, and prepare students for learning?
During instruction, teachers may focus or adapt instruction by asking:
- How are my students responding to new concepts?
- Do I need to shift my focus or presentation style?
- What can I do to make sure I’m reaching all learners?
After instructions, teachers may reflect and adjust future plans by asking:
- Did students demonstrate understanding?
- How can I connect today’s learning to future instruction?
- What evidence will I use to determine student mastery of skills?
Knowing good teaching methods and strategies doesn’t mean teaching will be quality. Strategies that work in one lesson or for one group of students may not work for another.
The key to using effective and successful strategies is to constantly align instruction to desired outcomes.
Let’s look at an example. Tyler is teaching a reading unit on the comprehension skill visualizing. How does he use questions to strategize?First, let’s look at how Tyler uses the information he has gathered from questioning to plan a new lesson.
For the past few lessons, Tyler has introduced the topic and showed students how to make mental images of what they read to help them better understand text. By asking for feedback during his lessons, he knows most of his students are able to create mental images.His next objective is to have students practice this strategy in guided practice, or with him around to help. He is keeping his students’ interests in mind by using a book they’ll be interested in for this lesson.Next, let’s look at how, during instruction, Tyler considers how to reach all learners.
Tyler read the book and has paired his students, asking them to draw their visualization of the story. For guided practice he has identified several students who have struggled and is prepared to offer extra assistance. He keeps his notebook handy and ready to jot down any notes on student progress. During practice he notices some student confusion; he makes sure to circulate throughout the room and offer assistance to all learners, modifying instruction if necessary.Finally, let’s look at how Tyler reviews results after instruction.Tyler reflects on his instruction after the lesson is over.
He’ll use his notes and samples of student work to see if he reached his objective and to plan for future learning. Some students drew mental images that show understanding of the concepts, but one or two students are still struggling. Tyler will make sure to offer more teaching time to those students during a small group session.
When planning for quality instruction, educators need to pack their tool bags with many strategies.
Using quality materials increases student success. Instructional materials are resources used to teach students. Good instructional materials are easy to use, aligned to standards, and reach a diverse audience of students. Teachers also use many strategies when instructing, but no one strategy fits all learning. Teachers should use questioning techniques to help them teach strategically before, during, and after instruction.
This way they are able to offer students high-quality lessons every time.