by Louise Tolbert

Strategy Bank

Instructional Strategy Bank

Use of the Digital Camera in the Elementary Classroom

Here is a great website that will give you some great ideas and strategies for using a digital camera in the classroom.  Lesson plans and other strategies are included. 

Give One - Get One: This strategy provides a great review and enables students to gather information from each other.

  1. Tell students to gather all of their notes and make a list of facts or ideas learned.
  2. Have students begin with a partner assigned by you.
  3. Instruct them to collect one new and different fact or idea from their partner.
  4. Then they are to give one new and different fact or idea.
  5. If neither has a new and different idea, tell them to brainstorm the topic and try to create one (preferably a correct one).
  6. Go from person to person until you generate about 15 ideas on the subject.
  7. Compile a group list of ideas generated.


 This is one of the best review games we have found.  By the time you have students go through this process, they will have reviewed material several times.  Test scores will rise!!!


Inside-Outside Circles - a great strategy for review or to introduce material to students.

  1. Students write review questions or unit facts on an index card.
  2. Each team member checks the validity of facts or answers to questions with the other members of the team. answers to questions are written on the back of the card.
  3. Teacher numbers off class in 1's and 2's.
  4. Number 1's form a circle facing outward.
  5. Number 2's form a concentric circle outside number 1's. Pairs should then be formed with number 1's and 2's facing each other.
  6. Number 1's read their question to 2's, wait for response, coaching if necessary.
  7. Reverse step 6.
  8. Teacher gives directions, "1's please rotate 3 people to your left, etc."
  9. Repeat with 2's moving in another direction.



Jigsaw learning is a widely practiced technique that is similar to group-to-group exchange with one important difference: Every single student teaches something. It is an exciting alternative whenever there is material to be learned that can be segmented or "chunked " and when no one segment must be taught before the others. Each student learns something which, when combined with the material learned by others, forms a coherent body of knowledge or skill.

The Jigsaw Classroom:

Jigsaw Lessons:


RoundTable - can be used for brainstorming, reviewing, or practicing while also serving as a teambuilder

Sequential form:  
Students sit in teams of 3 or more with one piece of paper and one pencil. the teacher asks a question which has multiple answers. Students take turns writing one answer on the paper, then passing the paper and pencil clockwise to the next person. when time is called, teams with the most correct answers are recognized. Teams reflect on their strategies and consider ways they could improve.

Simultaneous form:
Each person starts a piece of paper, writes one answer, and passes it so several papers are moving at once. 

In The News

This is an interesting way to get students involved and arouse their interest in the topic even before they attend the class. This peer teaching approach will also result in a wealth of material and information that can be shared with all students.


1.  Ask students to bring to class articles, news items, editorials, and cartoons related to the topic of the class session. For example, a teacher can request that students bring in a newspaper or magazine story about weather, such as a discussion of global warming.

2.  Divide the class into subgroups and ask them to share their items with each other and choose the two or three most interesting.

3.  Reconvene the entire class and ask representatives from each subgroup to share their choices with other students.

4.  As groups are reporting, listen for important points that you will address in the class and use that information to promote discussion.



1.  Collect all items from the students, copy them, and distribute them as a follow-up to the class session. Or ask students to submit their items prior to the class. You could then copy them and send them to all students as pre-reading assignments.

2.  Use the news items as case studies or the basis of role plays.


Carousel Brainstorming - Wonderful for creating lists and determining what students already know

  1. Generate questions, issues or topics.
  2. Publish the topic, each on a separate sheet of newsprint. Pose the newsprint.
  3. Have each group stand in front of one of the newsprint sheets.
  4. Members brainstorm for 2 minutes on the topic ahat appears before them.
  5. ring a bell to indicate that groups rotate to the next sheet; read and add comments to the previous group's responses.
  6. At the return to the "home sheet" all groups will then participate in a "gallery walk" and view comments of all the teams.

Point - Counterpoint

This activity is an excellent technique for stimulating discussion and gaining a deeper understanding of complex issues. The format is similar to a debate but is less formal and moves more quickly.


1.  Select an issue that has two or more sides.

2.  Divide the class into groups according to the number of positions you have stated, and ask each group to come up with arguments to support its side. Encourage them to work with seat partners or small cluster groups.

3.  Reconvene the entire class, but ask members of each group to sit together with space between the subgroups.  

4.  Explain that any student can begin the debate. After that student has had an opportunity to present one argument in favor of his or her assigned position, allow a different argument or counterargument from other groups. Continue the discussion, moving quickly back and forth between or among the groups.

5.  Conclude the activity by comparing the issues as you, the teacher, see them. Allow for follow-up reaction and discussion.


1.  Instead of a group-on-group debate, pair up individual students from different groups and have them argue with each other. This can be done simultaneously, so that every student is engaged in the debate at the same time.

2.  Line up the opposing groups so that they are facing each other. As one person concludes his or her argument, have that student toss an object (such as a ball or a bean bag) to a member of the opposing side. The person who catches the object must rebut the previous person's argument.



Acting Out

Sometimes, no matter how clear a verbal or visual explanation is, some concepts and procedures don’t sink in.  One way to help develop a picture of the material is to ask some students to act out the concepts or walk through the procedures you are trying to get across.


Great Websites to Visit

Synergetic Teaching

This method is a real change of pace. It allows students who have had different experiences learning the same material to compare notes.

The Power of Synergetic Teaching

Many teachers today are unhappy or even distressed in their work. Most who have this feeling say they very much want to teach and help students, but find their students unmotivated, uncooperative, difficult to teach, and hard to handle. Teachers’ daily struggle under these conditions, with little success to show for their effort, erodes class morale and suppresses energy and initiative. Classes become a dull daily grind. These teachers know students are not enjoying their experience in school. The teachers are not enjoying it either.

Yet, in contrast, many teachers are notably successful. Their students learn, enjoy school, and appreciate the educational experience. These heart-warming results have little to do with expensive instructional materials or costly facilities. The results occur because successful teachers know some things that are crucially important about teaching effectively and making learning enjoyable. They know how to rally students to them. They know how to build trust. They know how to strengthen and capitalize on student dignity and enhance personal relations in their classes. They know how to communicate well and help students resolve problems and conflicts. They know how to make lessons consistently interesting and worthwhile. And they add sparkle to daily classroom life with their personal charisma. By doing these things, teachers feed energy to their students who, in turn, feed energy back to the teacher. This mutually energizing phenomenon is referred to as synergy and is the fundamental principle in synergetic teaching and discipline.

If you are able to teach in ways that increase class synergy, you can be sure your students will like and respect you. They will willingly, even eagerly, immerse themselves in the educational activities you provide. As a natural consequence, they will show more responsibility, self-direction, and self-discipline. Discipline problems will be few and far between, and a high level of camaraderie will be evident. All these things contribute to a sense of exhilaration that teachers and students prize in school, but only occasionally experience.

Virtually all teachers can learn to teach in this synergetic manner. A first step is to understand well students’ nature and needs. If you do so, you will recognize that our curriculum, activities, and discipline methods, rather than being in harmony with those needs and natures, too often work against them. Teachers often expect students, even when bored to death, to pay attention, show interest, and do as they are directed. When students don’t comply, teachers often try to force them to do so, not realizing that coercion produces further student emotions that shut off learning. Teachers err most seriously when they say and do things that damage trust and student dignity, with the result that students dislike teacher and school and want little to do with either.

The Synergetic Classroom: Joyful Teaching and Gentle Discipline explains how teachers can work in ways that bring success. It points out serious errors teachers commonly make in teaching and shows how to remedy them. It explains how to work with students, by capitalizing on needs and desires, rather than struggle against them. It emphasizes ways of making instructional activities enjoyable for students. Strong emphasis is put on communicating effectively and earning student trust and desire to cooperate. As these qualities are put into place, discipline problems fade to a minimum, and that do occur are dealt with easily and productively.

All teachers have two great dreams—to work with students who try to learn, and to escape from the constant struggle against student lethargy and misbehavior. Synergetic teaching will help you achieve both dreams. Students naturally behave themselves because most reasons for misbehavior are removed. They willingly cooperate with you, enjoy working with you, and allow you to enjoy working with them. You can look forward to each day and go home each night pleasantly tired rather than raggedly frustrated. Students will be pleased to see you each day, and you them. Teaching will increasingly become what you always hoped it would be—joyful and satisfying.


This strategy is a variation of "Before" and "After" reading notes.  It also provides students with a great tool for use before and after a discussion.  First, students create a T-chart (2-column chart) and label one column "Opinion" and the other column "Proof".  The title, question, or proposed reading is written at the top.  Students write their "opinions" before reading or discussion.  As the "proof" becomes evident, students record their evidence in the "Proof" column.


Filling the Tool Box

Strategies for Teachers in the
One Computer Classroom
FaceBook Strategies for the Classroom
Classroom Strategies for Students with ADHD
The Essential Nine Strategies
Strategies for Using the Internet in the Classroom
Strategies for Classroom Success
Strategies for A Writing Classroom