What makes teaching strategies effective?

Response To Intervention (RTI) strategies are varied. Those that work are based on well-structured planning which is based on evidence. Most teaching strategies are specific to the subject being taught, such as mathematics and languages although there are strategies that can work across the subjects.

These strategies can be combined as in the following example:

  • Communicate the objective: “Our goal today is to discover what a common noun is.”
  • Direct instruction: “A common noun is the name of a person, place, thing or idea.”
  • Practical representation: to help students associate words with their meanings: “Everyone, draw a common noun. You have three minutes.” Set a timer to keep the activity moving.
  • Paired and group work: “Show your partner your common noun. Can you work out which noun your partner has drawn?”
  • Feedback, reinforcement, recognition: “Which noun drawings do you like on your table?”
  • Use similarities and differences: “Give me an example of a word that is not a noun.”
  • Use graphic organizers: “Place this list of words on this chart to separate them into common nouns and words that are not nouns.”
  • Provide feedback: Record each student’s responses as they work from the concept as you circulate around the room. Afterward, let students check their work in the group, and then give the correct answers as final feedback so that students can self-correct.
  • Use summary and note taking: “In your journal, define a common noun in your own words and write a sentence using the common noun that you or your neighbour drew.”
  • Restate the objective and reinforce the lesson: “Today we have discovered that a common noun is the name of a person, place, thing or idea. Can I have three examples please?”


Interventions need to be closely matched to the level of ability of the pupils to provide sufficient challenge to keep them engaged, but not too difficult that they give up. It can be the case that pupils who have Specific Learning Difficulties, particularly if undiagnosed, can be put into sets that are not matched to their academic abilities.

An appropriate scaffolding provides support for individuals. This intervention modifies the structure of the task so that pupils can learn the steps to master new skills. This could include differentiating the number and type of tasks as well as using the features of assistive technology such as word prediction and text-to-speech so that the pupil can complete the work without being hampered by spelling issues.

For complex, conceptually difficult, or multi-step operations, these can be broken down in a step-by-step approach in which pupils are taught to work through the steps, learning each concept and how it relates to the previous stages.

Some pupils benefit from having specific strategies modelled to them. The pupils are supervised in how to use the particular strategy until they can do this as independently as possible

Feedback on the pupils’ performance as they progress through the process of learning a new skill in which the pupils have frequent repetition in applying these skills alongside the receipt of corrective feedback. This will prevent or minimise the issue of accidental learning in which pupils can come to the wrong conclusion or apply one procedure to another area of learning incorrectly, particularly in the area of maths when learning one general rule is then transferred incorrectly to a different area.

A review cycle is a strategy in which the teacher periodically reviews prior learning with the student to reinforce the connections and relationship between the concepts or skills in new learning and those from the prior level.

Monitoring progress is essential for teachers to show that pupils are making progress in their learning. Such monitoring needs to have measure in place against which the student can compare their progress; this can take the form of summative and formative assessments, student self assessment and peer assessment to gain different information.

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