suite - Teaching Instructional Strategies and Effective Lesson Planning

Aug 20, 2010 Brian Daughtry

For success, teachers must develop effective lesson plans and instructional strategy in their classrooms. Teacher strategies for improving the learning experience of students can include, but are not limited to:

  • feedback from the teacher or fellow students
  • games or simulations
  • cooperative grouping or learning
  • homework and practice
  • questioning and formulating answers
  • organizing information

Introducing Instructional Strategies – Supervising, Simulating, and Cooperating

Feedback can sometimes be the most difficult of effective instructional strategies. To give appropriate feedback, teachers should be unwavering, but encouraging by extolling student success and providing direct, specific information following student errors. The teacher is not the only source of feedback in a classroom. Encourage students to monitor each other's efforts and learn to evaluate both themselves and their peers. During any activity, constantly provide instructional supervision; however, remember this does not necessarily mean the teacher must be constantly part of a group's work or discussion.

Games and simulations are classroom strategies which enrich a student's learning experience. Be certain to keep games and simulations focused on specific objectives. Board games or long simulations often lose their impact as students increasingly become disengaged from the activity. Games and simulations typically make great reinforcement opportunities. Additionally, do not use unconnected games and simulations which make students think the objectives are unrelated and isolated; instead, make an effort to connect all activities as part of effective lesson plans.

Cooperative grouping, or cooperative learning, is incredibly important in developing student social thinking and discussion skills. Do not use groups of over six, if possible, and only have students divided into groups of about four when emphasizing activities requiring extra effort. Rotate group members to make sure students do not begin relying on any one member for support. When differentiation is needed in instructional strategies, disperse gifted students into separate groups and require part of their grade to hinge upon group productivity.

More Effective Instructional Practices – Practicing, Questioning, and Organizing

Homework and practice problems should never be “busy work,” but should reflect specialized objectives in the lesson plans. Effective instruction utilizes scaffolding approaches, which emphasize improving mastery through practice. Do not forget to give constructive instructional feedback within a day of the practice activities. Assignment notebooks and good student/teacher/parent relations are a must. Homework and practice are the perfect opportunity to correct individual student mistakes with personalized comments from the teacher.

Another effective teaching strategy for the classroom is questioning. Question everything! Ask engaging and thought provoking questions. Encourage students to spend a few minutes developing an answer to the question by asking them to work as partners or think on their own. Be dynamic (for this, teachers will need well-prepared lesson plans). At the beginning of class, ask students simple questions to determine what they know. During class, ask questions which will correct common misunderstandings. After direct instruction, use practice, or group learning to let the teacher know exactly what the students have learned.

Lastly, effective instruction requires teaching mental organizational skills. Introduce students to multiple organizer outlines and diagrams and use these organizers frequently. If creating an original organizer, be sure to include these parts:

  1. Build background by recording prior knowledge so students determine what they do not know about the upcoming lesson.
  2. Ask students to record specific sequences, relationships, comparisons, or contrasts. Use the incomplete outline as an overview of the lesson so students can prepare mentally.
  3. After the lesson, ask, “What’s the big idea?” or “So what?” and ensure students know why they should care about the topic.

Organizers are the perfect opportunity to visualize information in multiple ways by using text and graphics to show abstract thought.

Maintaining instructional supervision, planning effective lesson plans, and implementing instructional teaching strategies are a must for all teachers. Remind students of prior knowledge, build new knowledge, correct misunderstood knowledge, and practice applying that knowledge as an individual and a group – practicing these steps in accompaniment with effective instruction and strategies will help every student to succeed in any subject.


Lujan, Michael L., Beverly Collins, and Sandra Love. "Master Instructional Strategies." Tyler, TX: Mentoring Minds, 2010.