Student Compass: Instructional Strategies Bank  

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Cooperative Learning

Numbered Heads - This strategy involves students numbering off within their cooperative teams (i.e. Numbers 1-5). The teacher then poses a question to the class and, after providing a specific amount of time for teams to discuss the answer, calls on a number (i.e. Number 3’s) for the response.  The objective for each team is to ensure that all team members can answer the question correctly. Teachers then provide points to teams when individual students respond with the correct answer.


1. The teacher poses a question.
2. Students huddle up and put their heads together to discuss responses.
3. The teacher calls a number at random.
4. All students from each team with the selected number raise their hands.
5. The teacher selects one of the students to respond. If more information is needed the teacher may call on another student with that number, or may call a new number.


Pairs Check - This strategy works best with 4 member teams. Each team breaks up into two sets of pairs. Partner pairs are given a problem-solving worksheet. Each member of a pair takes a turn solving a problem while the other acts as coach, checking their work. The objective for each pair is to correctly solve each problem. When pairs complete the worksheet, they reunite with their team and compare all answers, celebrating when they agree upon solutions. If teams cannot agree on a solution to a given problem, all team members raise their hand to let the teacher know additional support is needed.
1. Teams break into partner pairs.
2. Partner 1 solves a problem while partner 2 acts as coach, encouraging and helping as needed.
3. The coach checks his or her partners’ work. If there is agreement the coach gives praise. If they disagree, the partner pair consults with the other partner pair from their team. If all 4 team members cannot agree they raise their hands to let the teacher know support is needed.
4. Partners switch roles, becoming either the problem solver or coach for the next problem.
5. Pairs repeat steps 2 and 3 until the worksheet is complete.
6. Teams reunite and compare answers, and engage in a team handshake for agreement, or raise hands for teacher support if all four members disagree.

Think-Pair-Share - This strategy promotes thoughtful discussion within student pairs. With this strategy, you eliminate waiting for students to raise hands or students who never participate. After the Think and Pair steps all students should have something to share in a whole class discussion.
1. Students first think alone about a given topic. For example, students are directed to think about questions they have after listening and taking notes on a particular presentation.
2. Then, pairs are directed to discuss the topic.
3. Finally, students are called upon to share with the class.


Think-Write-Pair-Compare - This variation of Think-Pair-Share also promotes thoughtful discussion within student pairs, however, the added step of "Write" encourages students to actively engage by recording their thoughts and ensures that each student will be prepared to share with their partner. This emphasizes the importance of individual accountability. 
1. The teacher presents a problem or a question to the whole class.
2. Students are directed to think of a response or solution to the question and write it down within a specified amount of time.
3. Within teams, students form pairs and discuss their responses.
4. Pairs within teams then compare their responses.

 The Flashcard Game - In this structure student pairs work together using flash cards to support memorization of facts. Teachers can direct students in how to create their own flash cards based on areas that they need practice. For example, students may create flashcards based on the times tables that they have not yet mastered. 
1. Students sit in pairs and one student hands his or her pile of flashcards to the other student who will act as the tutor. The tutor holds up the first card and shows and reads the front and back of the card. Then the tutor only shows the tutee the front of the card and this time asks for the answer from the tutee.
2. If the tutee correctly gives the answer on the back of the card, the tutor provides praise and the tutee “wins” back the card. If the tutee answers incorrectly, the tutor provides help until the tutee is able to answer, however the card is returned back to the tutor’s pile to be repeated.
3. Once the tutee wins back all cards, the pair switches roles.
4. During subsequent rounds the Flashcard Game can be made more challenging by providing few clues, then no clues at all.


Mix-Freeze-Group - Students circulate around the room until the teacher calls out Freeze. The teacher poses a question that has a specific number as a response. Students then gather in groups according to their number. Teachers pose additional questions for discussion in groups. 
1. Students circulate around the room.
2. Teacher calls “Freeze” and poses a question.
3. Teacher gives “Think Time.”
4. Teacher calls out “Show Me” and students display their answer using fingers (teachers can vary this by providing dry erase boards to students).
5. Students gather with others who have the same answer. Students without matching answers move to the “Lost and Found,” in a designated area in the class. 
6. Teacher poses group discussion question.
7. The class starts over with a new question posed by the teacher.

Mix-n-Match - In this structure the teacher creates sets of cards that are matching pairs. Each student is provided one card and must mingle around the room until they find a student with the matching set.
1. Teacher passes out individual cards to each student.
2. Teacher signals students to mingle around the class in search of a student who holds the “match” to their card.
3. Student pairs raise their hands to let the teacher know they’ve found their partner. 


Find Someone Who - In this structure students are provided with a worksheet and move around the classroom, repeatedly forming random pairs, with the goal of “finding someone who” knows the answer to each of the problems on the worksheet. Students take turns giving and receiving answers to one another within each pair.
1. Students circulate around the classroom looking for a classmate who is not a member of their own team.
2. When a pair is formed, Student # 1 asks a Student # 2 a question from the worksheet. 
3. Student # 1 records the provided answer on his or her sheet and thanks Student # 2.
4. Student # 2 checks and initials Student # 1’s worksheet.
5. The pair switches roles and repeats steps 2-4.
6. The pair shakes hand and search for new partners.
7. Students repeat steps 1-6.
8. Students go back to their desks once the worksheet is complete and can be approached by students still circulating around the room.
9. Student teams then compare responses and raise hands if teacher support is needed.