We encourage teachers to use student-centered teaching strategies that nurture students' literacy and critical thinking skills within a respectful classroom climate. The strategies suggested here can be used with students of all ages with any academic content.

You'll find a complete list of teaching strategies on this page.

This activity helps structure students’ responses to an activity, a reading or a film. It provides an easy way for teachers to check for understanding and to gauge students’ interest in a topic. Sharing 3-2-1 responses can also be an effective way to prompt a class discussion or to review material from the previous lesson.

Brainstorming is an effective way to help students get ideas from head to paper. The Alphabet Brainstorm helps structure students’ brainstorming by asking them to generate an idea that begins with each letter of the alphabet. This can be done as an individual, small group, or whole class activity. It is a quick way to generate thoughts, measure prior knowledge, and evaluate learning.

In this strategy students will:

  • Develop awareness of historical context
  • Develop critical thinking skills, particularly in regards to visual images
  • Enhance their observation and interpretive skills
  • Develop conceptual learning techniques

Use this strategy if you have introduced a writing prompt that students will revisit throughout a unit of study. Because careful reading is integral to powerful writing and thinking, annotating text—by underlining key words or writing notes, questions, and margin notes to oneself—often helps students craft stronger written arguments.  Through practice, students will learn to take notes from primary and secondary sources that address the validity and bias of evidence, the perspective of the source, and their own interpretation.

Anticipation guides ask students to express an opinion about ideas before they encounter them in a text or unit of study.  Completing anticipation guides prepares students to recognize and connect to these themes as they surface in their learning.  Reviewing anticipation guides at the end of a lesson or unit is one way to help students reflect on how learning new material may have influenced their opinions, perhaps by reinforcing previously held beliefs or by causing ideas to shift.

Many teachers find that assigning students’ particular roles is an effective way to structure group work. Sometimes certain students tend to assume too much responsibility for the groups’ work, while other students may be reluctant to contribute to the group’s activities. Assigning roles helps distribute responsibility among group members and ensures accountability for all students’ participation. As students practice different roles, they have the opportunity to develop a variety of skills.

This activity is designed to help students discuss difficult issues, while also recognizing that they likely represent different perspectives. "Attribute Linking" can help students to define, clarify, and personalize the roles of victim, perpetrator, and bystander, By having students look for attributes they share before they discuss issues on which they may differ, the exercise emphasizes commonality over differences and helps students recognize the value of negotiation. Finally, this exercise builds trust and contributes to a climate of openness in the Facing History classroom.