Buffalo Catholic Schools Conference
Instructional Strategies Presented by Dr. Karen Dutt-Doner and Dr. Marya Grande

Classwide Peer Tutoring

What is ClassWide Peer Tutoring (CWPT)?

ClassWide Peer Tutoring (CWPT) is a time tested, research proven, effective program that enhances the acquisition of academic skills. The traditional CWPT program is a systematic and fun instructional strategy that actively engages an entire classroom of students at the same time. CWPT is a comprehensive procedure that is based on reciprocal peer tutoring and group reinforcement to accelerate the process of learning and practicing basic academic skills.

Who can benefit from CWPT?

The CWPT program was originally developed and used with special education students in their mainstream classrooms. It was very evident early on that the procedures were not only effective for the targeted students, but for the entire classroom of students regardless of their ability levels. Thus, CWPT has been researched and proven effective with the following student populations:

peer-tutoring.jpg How is CWPT different from other traditional classroom instruction?

In traditional classroom instruction, the teacher is the main content delivery person, and the basic content delivery system is through teacher lecture and passive student learning and exposure. In a CWPT classroom, the students become the content delivery persons for one another, an active multi-modality delivery system drives the one-to-one practice sessions, and students are provided with numerous opportunities to respond directly with the content being learned. CWPT provides: One-to-one student pairs to teach and help each other learn, an opportunity for students to earn points and be reinforced for learning, a systematic game format that promotes self-improvement and enhances both class competition and social skills, an immediate feedback system that attempts to achieve "errorless" learning, and routine assessment evaluations to monitor and maintain both class and individual academic gains and progress.


What are the benefits of CWPT?

CWPT benefits for the classroom teacher include (but are not limited to):

CWPT benefits for students include (but are not limited to):


Together We Can.jpg

Here's a link to commercially available products that follow the procedures laid out in Classwide Peer Tutoring.

Directions to Prepare for CWPT in your classroom:

Differentiated Instruction

What is Differentiated Instruction?

differentiated instruction.jpg Differentiated instruction is a teaching theory based on the premise that instructional approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to individual and diverse students in classrooms (Tomlinson, 2001). The model of differentiated instruction requires teachers to be flexible in their approach to teaching and adjust the curriculum and presentation of information to learners rather than expecting students to modify themselves for the curriculum. Many teachers and teacher educators have recently identified differentiated instruction as a method of helping more students in diverse classroom settings experience success.


To differentiate instruction is to recognize students' varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning and interests; and to react responsively. Differentiated instruction is a process to teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student's growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is and assisting in the learning process.

(Taken from:   http://aim.cast.org/learn/historyarchive/backgroundpapers/differentiated_instruction_udl )

Identifying Components of Differentiated Instruction

tomlinson2000_fig1_1.gif Tomlinson (2001) identifies three elements of the curriculum that can be differentiated: Content, Process, and Products







Additional Guidelines That Make Differentiation Possible for Teachers to Attain

(To read more details about the above components go to:   http://aim.cast.org/learn/historyarchive/backgroundpapers/differentiated_instruction_udl )


Examples to illustrate how to incorporate differentiated instruction include:

Life Cycle of Plants:   http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/toolkits/tk_modellesson.cfm?tk_id=21&tkl_id=141

 "Planning for all learners" toolkit:



Links to Learn More About Differentiated Instruction

Guild, P. B., and Garger, S. (1998). What Is Differentiated Instruction? Marching to Different Drummers, 2nd Ed. (ASCD, p.2)

Initially published in 1985, Marching to Different Drummers was one of the first sources to pull together information on what was a newly-flourishing topic in education. Part I defines style and looks at the history of style research; Part II describes applications of style in seven areas; Part III identifies common questions and discusses implementation and staff development.

The Access Center

This web site belongs to the Access Center, a national technical assistance center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. The purpose of the K12 Access Center is to make elementary and middle school curricula more accessible to students with disabilities. The web site hosts chats and discussions and offers publications and presentations on topics related to accessing the general education curriculum, including Universal Design for Learning.

Tomlinson, C. A., (1995). Differentiating instruction for advanced learners in the mixed-ability middle school classroom. ERIC Digest ED443572.


 To meet the needs of diverse student populations, many teachers differentiate instruction. This digest describes differentiated instruction, discusses the reasons for differentiated instruction, what makes it successful, and suggests how teachers may begin implementation.

Tomlinson, C. A., (1995). Differentiating instruction for advanced learners in the mixed-ability middle school classroom. ERIC Digest E536.

The ability to differentiate instruction for middle school aged learners is a challenge. Responding to the diverse students needs found in inclusive, mixed-ability classrooms is particularly difficult. This digest provides an overview of some key principles for differentiating instruction, with an emphasis on the learning needs of academically advanced students.

Tomlinson, C. A., & Allan, S. D., (2000). Leadership for differentiating schools and classrooms. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

This web site contains two chapters from Tomlinson's recent publication: Leadership for differentiating schools and classrooms, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. This book is designed for those in leadership positions to learn about differentiated instruction.

Web Article: Mapping a route toward differentiated instruction.

Carol Ann Tomlinson, an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, Foundations and Policy at the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA provides an article entitled: Mapping a route toward differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership, 57(1).

Willis, S. & Mann, L., (2000). Differentiating instruction: Finding manageable ways to meet individual needs (Excerpt). Curriculum Update.

Based on the concept that "one size does not fit all" the authors describe the teaching philosophy of differentiated instruction. More teachers are determined to reach all learners, to challenge students who may be identified as gifted as well as students who lag behind grade level. This article excerpt describes the essential components of differentiated instruction beginning with three aspects of curriculum: content, process, and products.

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Web Site

A site by ASCD (2000) which discusses differentiated instruction. Page links to other pages with examples from a high school and elementary school, key characteristics of a differentiated classroom, benefits, related readings, discussion, and related links to explore.

Preparing Teachers for Differentiated Instruction

This web site, provided by Educational Leadership, links the reader to a brief summary of an article by Holloway. The author has provided a bulleted summary regarding the principles and theories that drive differentiated instruction.

Holloway, J. H., (2000). Preparing Teachers for Differentiated Instruction. Educational Leadership, 58(1).

This site is from an education course by Dr. John Durkin. It includes a diagram with suggestions for approaches to differentiated instruction. It also includes a listing of what differentiated instruction is and is not, rules of thumb on how to instruct, and management strategies.

Web Site: for Teachers, Administrators, and Higher Education

This web site is designed for educators and uses technology to inform teachers about current practices, literature, the law in education, as well as professional development. Additionally, links to articles including research on educational practices including links to information on differentiated instruction are included. CAST. Teaching Every Student.(n.d). Retrieved September 15, 2003, from http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/

Cooperative Learning

What is Cooperative Learning?

cooperative_learning_outcomes.gif Cooperative learning is an instructional strategy that simultaneously addresses academic and social skill learning by students. It is a well-researched instructional strategy and has been reported to be highly successful in the classroom. For a more in depth explanation of this strategy, follow this link to the self-guided tutorial.      

What is its purpose?

There is an ever increasing need for interdependence in all levels of our society. Providing students with the tools to effectively work in a collaborative environment should be a priority. Cooperative Learning is one way of providing students with a well defined framework from which to learn from each other. Students work towards fulfilling academic and social skill goals that are clearly stated. It is a team approach where the success of the group depends upon everyone pulling his or her weight.

How can I do it?

Five Basic Elements of Cooperative Learning
1. Positive Interdependence
2. Face-To-Face Interaction
3. Individual Accountability
4. Social Skills
5. Group Processing

The basic elements of cooperative learning can be considered essential to all interactive methods. Student groups are small, usually consisting of two to six members. Grouping is heterogeneous with respect to student characteristics. Group members share the various roles and are interdependent in achieving the group learning goal. While the academic task is of primary importance, students also learn the importance of maintaining group health and harmony, and respecting individual views.

(Taken from http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/DE/PD/instr/strats/coop/index.html )


Additional ideas for incorporating cooperative in your classroom instruction include:


(Taken from http://w4.nkcsd.k12.mo.us/~kcofer/social_cooperative_structures.htm )


(Taken from http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/DE/PD/coop/page5.html) ( Taken from http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/intech/cooperativelearning.htm)


Inquiry Based Learning


What is Inquiry?

Inquiry learning provides opportunities for students to experience and acquire processes through which they can gather information about the world. This requires a high level of interaction among the learner, the teacher, the area of study, available resources, and the learning environment. Students become actively involved in the learning process as they:

Questioning is the heart of inquiry learning. Students must ask relevant questions and develop ways to search for answers and generate explanations. Emphasis is placed upon the process of thinking as this applies to student interaction with issues, data, topics, concepts, materials, and problems.

Divergent thinking is encouraged and nurtured as students recognize that questions often have more than one "good" or "correct" answer. Such thinking leads in many instances to elaboration of further questions. In this way students come to the realization that knowledge may not be fixed and permanent but may be tentative, emergent, and open to questioning and alternative hypotheses.

Deductive Inquiry

The focus in deductive inquiry is on moving students from a generalized principle to specific instances that may be subsumed logically within generalizations. The process of testing generalized assumptions, applying them, and exploring the relationships between, specific elements is stressed. The teacher co-ordinates the information and presents important principles, themes, or hypotheses. Students are actively engaged in testing generalizations, gathering information, and applying it to specific examples. Deductive inquiry is based upon the logical assimilation and processing of information.

Inductive Inquiry

The information-seeking process of the inductive inquiry method helps students to establish facts, determine relevant questions, develop ways to pursue these questions, and build explanations. Students are invited to develop and support their own hypotheses.

Through inductive inquiry, students experience the thought processes which require them to move from specific facts and observations to inferences. To help students accomplish this, the teacher selects a set of events or materials for the lesson. The student reacts and attempts to construct a meaningful pattern based on personal observations and the observations of others. Students generally have some kind of theoretical frame when they begin inductive inquiry. The teacher encourages students to share their thoughts so that the entire class can benefit from individual insights.

(Taken from:   http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/DE/PD/instr/strats/inquiry/index.html )

inquiry web.png











Opportunities to Respond (OTR)

Response Cards

(Taken from http://www.interventioncentral.org/index.php/general-academic/89-group-response-techniques)

Truefalse.jpg Students can respond as a group by displaying 'response cards' which display their answers to a teacher question or academic problem. Two response-card formats may be used: (1) cards with pre-printed response choices (e.g., YES/NO; True/False, a,b,c, & d; 1,2,3, & 4) and (2) cards/whiteboards/chalkboards on which students write their responses.

Irrespective of the type of card format used, the teacher should introduce response cards by explaining and demonstrating their use and letting students practice the response procedure until they are proficient in using the cards. The instructor should maintain a quick, lively pace through the lesson, providing clear clues about when the students should hold up or put down their cards. Some students will inevitably offer an incorrect answer; the instructor should simply focus on, and provide feedback for, the majority response.

If pre-printed response cards are used, the instructor will have the best results if the cards contain items that are clearly legible from the front of the room, are designed to be easy for Dry erase spinners.jpgstudents to manipulate and display to the teacher, and have sufficiently few items to prevent students from becoming confused. (Additional items or cards can be added to the class's routine as students master the use of the cards.)

dry erase set.jpg If write-on response cards are used, it is best to limit responses to 1 to 2 words if possible. Students may shy away from writing, or be slowed down, by problems with spelling. Among useful strategies to reduce spelling difficulties, the instructor could:


Self-recording_chart_for_teacher.png Teachers can see for themselves the relationship between providing opportunities to respond for students and student achievement. First consider, keeping a baseline of what your normal practice was; then use different models of opportunities to respond and keep data for 15 minutes on the number of student responses you received using this method. (A sample is provided here).

(The chart was taken from Moore- Partin, Robertson, Maggin, Oliver, & Wehby, 2010).


Visit this link for an excellent presentation by Dr. Melissa Jones on how to use Opportunities to Respond to improve behavior and learning.

What the research says (in a nutshell): When teachers increase the rates of opportunities to respond, student on-task behavior and correct responses increase, while student disruptive behavior decrease.

Universal Design for Learning

What is Universal Design for Learning?

Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.

UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.

Why is UDL necessary?

Individuals bring a huge variety of skills, needs, and interests to learning. Neuroscience reveals that these differences are as varied and unique as our DNA or fingerprints. Three primary brain networks come into play:























Watch this video to learn more about UDL Guidelines:

How Does UDL Address Curricular Disabilities?

The usual process for making existing curricula more accessible is adaptation of curricula so that they are more accessible to all learners. Often, teachers themselves are forced to make difficult attempts at adapting inflexible "one-size-fits-all" curricular elements that were not designed to meet the variability of individual learners. The term Universal Design for Learning is often mistakenly applied to such after-the-fact adaptations.

However, Universal Design for Learning refers to a process by which a curriculum (i.e., goals, methods, materials, and assessments) is intentionally and systematically designed from the beginning to address individual differences. With curricula that are designed with the principles of UDL, the difficulties and expenses of subsequent "retrofitting" and adaptation of "disabled" curricula can be reduced or eliminated–and a better learning environment can be implemented.

The challenge is not to modify or adapt curricula for a special few, but to do so effectively and from the start. Considerable research already exists that identifies the effective evidence-based practices for learners presently "in the margins". Unfortunately, these best practices have not been available to all learners, and typically are offered only after learners have already failed in mainstream curricula. They are often then provided in separate remedial or special placements where ties to the general curriculum and its high standards have been severed entirely. A UDL curriculum provides the means to repair those severed ties, and promote the inclusion of all learners.

(This section was taken from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlcurriculum/addressdisabledcurricula)


If you would like to make your own Prezi or have your students make their own Prezi, visit prezi.com to make one for FREE!!!!

To see a comparison of a traditional lesson to a UDL lesson, click here: The Life Cycle of Plants (Grade 1).














Guided Notes

Description: The student is given a copy of notes summarizing content from a class lecture or assigned reading. Blanks are inserted in the notes where key facts or concepts should appear. As information is covered during lecture or in a reading assignment, the student writes missing content into blanks to complete the guided notes.


  Guided notes promote active engagement during lecture or independent reading, provide full and accurate notes for use as a study guide, and help students to identify the most important information covered (Heward, 2001).

Materials: Guided notes

Preparation: The instructor identifies the lecture content or assigned reading that will be covered in the guided notes.

Intervention Steps:  Guided notes can be prepared and implemented through these steps:

  1. A set of notes is prepared that contains the essential information to be covered in the lecture content or assigned reading.
  2. The instructor reviews the notes and highlights or underlines the key facts, concepts, or information that the student will be responsible for writing into the final version of the guided notes.
  3. Using a word processor, the instructor replaces the segments of notes identified in the previous step with blanks.
  4. Prior to handing out copies of the guided notes in class, the instructor ensures that students understand their responsibility to attend to content covered in the lecture or the reading and to fill in each of the blanks in the guided notes with the appropriate concepts, definitions, or other content.
  5. During lecture or while reviewing assigned readings in class, the instructor displays the guided notes (via overhead projector, computer projector, or smartboard) and fills in blanks with appropriate facts or concepts as they are presented.

Recommendations for using guided notes and addressing issues that might arise:

Keep guided note entries brief.  Shorter guided note entries promote student understanding of content as well as or better than longer entries (Konrad, Joseph &  Eveleigh, 2009). Also, short entries can increase student motivation to write in responses.

Distribute entry items throughout the guided notes. Guided notes help to promote active student engagement during lecture or reading (Heward, 2001). When entry items are distributed evenly throughout the guided notes, they require higher rates of active student responding (Konrad, Joseph &  Eveleigh, 2009), which can both promote mastery of content and increase levels of on-task behavior.

Verify student completion of notes. To ensure that students are actively engaged in completing guided notes, the instructor can occasionally collect and review them for accuracy and completeness (on a random and unpredictable schedule).. As an incentive, those students correctly completing their guided notes can be assigned bonus grade points (Konrad, Joseph &  Eveleigh, 2009). Or students can periodically pair off and compare their guided note entries for completeness while the instructor circulates through the room conducting spot-checks of individual students' guided notes.

Have students tally notes-review sessions. Guided notes are a powerful tool for reviewing course content. Students can be encouraged to write a checkmark on the cover of a set of completed guided notes each time that they review them (Lazarus, 1996). These tallies assist students to monitor whether they have adequately reviewed those notes in preparation for quizzes and tests.

Fade the use of guided notes. As the class becomes more proficient at note-taking, the instructor can gradually 'fade' the use of guided notes by providing less pre-formatted notes-content and requiring that students write a larger share of the notes on their own (Heward, 1996).

Give students responsibility for creating guided notes. The classroom teacher generally is responsible for preparing guided notes. Instructors of older students, however, may discover that they can hand some responsibility to their students to prepare guided-notes. For example, as a cooperative-learning exercise, a group of students might be assigned a chapter-section from a biology text and asked to compose a set of guided notes based on its content. The teacher can then review and edit the notes as needed.

(Taken from http://www.interventioncentral.org/index.php/study-org/221-guided-notes)

Click here for a sample of guided notes for a Geometry unit.