Four Critical Steps for Instructional Success

by Mary M. Mehaffey, Ed.D.

Teacher Input

I examine my curriculum materials (SOL blueprints,* guides for essential skills, teachers' editions, supplemental materials) and select the critical content to be taught. I ask myself what tools I will use that will have the greatest impact on my students' individual learning styles. I choose a clear and concise way to present the content that will enhance student understanding and memory. I develop multisensory materials that give students opportunities for tactile involvement by manipulating objects, underlining, or highlighting.

Guided Practice

I work with students by mediating and modeling the cognitive process they will use to learn the important content. I provide opportunities for the students to work in a "whole-class" group where they can participate in a more active learning mode. I set the expectation for increased student involvement and anticipate a higher rate of varying responses. I ensure that all members of the "whole-class" group have opportunities to participate actively.

Peer-Mediated Practice

I structure cooperative learning opportunities where students can work together in small, active learning groups. Peers serve as models and coaches for each other as they work. Students are actively engaged in the learning, and peers encourage each other to participate fully. I serve as the "guide-on-the-side" as I monitor each group and offer support when necessary.

Independent Work

I provide opportunities for students to work independently. I ensure that each student has developed the expected competence. I offer students experiences that will further develop their competence and confidence. I monitor individual student performance and give individualized feedback based on teh student's needs and accomplishments.

Adapted from the works of Deshler, D. Ellis, E. et al. (1994) and Archer, A. (1995-96).  *SOL blueprints may be found at

Date: August/September 2001