Students need to not only build mastery in current material but also remember what they have learned before and understand when and how to apply it. The way teachers organize their instruction can greatly influence a student's ability to learn, retain, recall, and apply skills and knowledge. In this topic you'll find information on four key ways that that instruction can be structured to improve students' long-term understanding: space learning over time with regular review and quizzing, include completed examples with practice opportunities, make abstract-concrete connections that explore ideas at work in various contexts, and using higher-order questions to help students delve deeper into explanations.

To learn more about the research underlying these practices, view the IES Practice Guide, Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Student Learning.

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In Front of the Class: Students' Whiteboard Explanations

In Front of the Class: Students' Whiteboard Explanations

A physics teacher describes how he organizes whiteboard presentations to give his students an authentic forum for explaining their problem solving and answering higher-order questions. Related...

School Example
Video
05/20/2014
1099 views

Learning Together About Connecting Abstract and Concrete Representations of Concepts

This training activity can be used to convene a school in-service session for teachers to learn why and how to make concrete connections to abstract concepts. Related Media and...

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Document
05/19/2014
870 views

Discuss and Design: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Visual Representations

Use this tool to guide discussions, in groups, of ways to use graphics to promote learning. Related Media and Files: Using Graphics to Support Learning (Slideshow and Transcript)

Tool
Document
05/19/2014
1017 views

Planning Chart Activity: Incorporating More Concrete Connections to Abstract Concepts

This tool provides a format for brainstorming activities that use understandable representations to teach difficult concepts.

Tool
Document
05/19/2014
1074 views
Making History Come Alive

Making History Come Alive

Social studies teacher and curriculum trainer Matt Moorman explains how to help students understand abstract ideas by using visual techniques, including graphic organizers and visual...

School Example
Video
05/19/2014
926 views
Connecting Classrooms to the World

Connecting Classrooms to the World

Teachers at Normal Park Elementary explain how they use learning expeditions to make abstract concepts from textbooks into more memorable and understandable, concrete experiences for their...

School Example
Video
05/19/2014
614 views

Student Assignment: Acme Landscaping Closure Activity

View an end-of-unit assignment from the math department at Kettle Moraine High School that asks students to explain in concrete terms the abstract concept of tangent ratios. Related...

Sample Material
Document
05/19/2014
725 views

Graphic Organizer for Teaching Vocabulary With Visuals

Middle-school teacher Bonnie Bowen uses this graphic organizer in her classroom to incorporate the use of visuals in vocabulary instruction. Related Files: Plainwell Middle School...

Sample Material
Document
05/19/2014
1537 views
Demonstrating Thermal Layering

Demonstrating Thermal Layering

Using an aquarium and food coloring, science teacher Tasia Stamos re-creates the layers of warm and cool water in a summer lake to help her students visualize the effects of thermal...

School Example
Video
05/19/2014
795 views
Cupcake Geology: Using Models to Explain Abstract Concepts

Cupcake Geology: Using Models to Explain Abstract Concepts

In this multimedia presentation, fifth-grade teacher Deb Wickerham describes how she uses models and hands-on activities to help elementary students understand complex earth science concepts. See...

School Example
Video
05/19/2014
968 views

Lesson Plan: Cupcake Geology

View the lesson plan from Deb Wickerham's activity called "Cupcake Geology," which uses physical models to illustrate geologic concepts. Related Media and Files: Cupcake Geology: Using...

Sample Material
Document
05/19/2014
1063 views

Discuss and Design: Creating Problem Sets With Worked Examples

Adult advocates can use this planner to collect information about the areas in which the student’s teachers have seen or would like to see improvement. Related Files: Student Handout:...

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05/19/2014
691 views
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