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Premium, Select, and Institutional Plus Member Book (Jan 2012)

Classroom Instruction That Works

by Ceri B. Dean, Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, Howard Pitler and Bj Stone

Table of Contents

An ASCD Study Guide for Classroom Instruction That Works

This ASCD Study Guide is designed to enhance your understanding and application of the information contained in Classroom Instruction That Works, an ASCD book written by Ceri B. Dean, Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, Howard Pitler, and Bj Stone and published in January 2012.

You can use the study guide before or after you have read the book or as you finish each chapter. The study questions provided are not meant to cover all aspects of the book but, rather, to address specific ideas that might warrant further reflection.

Most of the questions contained in this study guide are ones you can think about on your own, but you might consider pairing with a colleague or forming a study group with others who have read (or are reading) Classroom Instruction That Works.

Introduction: Instruction that Makes a Difference

  1. Reread the vignette on pages xi–xii. How do you think most students in your school would describe the instruction they receive from their teachers?
  2. The nine categories of instructional strategies are organized into a framework for instructional planning. How does this organization help you to think about systematically and intentionally incorporating the strategies into your instructional practice? How does this structure align with other planning frameworks or educational philosophies with which you are familiar?

    Figure A.1: The Framework for Instructional Planning

  3. Reread the three principles of learning on page xvii. How do you think the nine categories of instructional strategies (as defined on page xviii) reflect these principles?
  4. What are some examples from your own experience that demonstrate the relationship between strong student–teacher relationships and student achievement?

Chapter 1: Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback

  1. Review Figure 1.1 on page 7. What are some of the challenges of communicating learning objectives that are appropriately specific?
  2. Use one of the approaches on pages 9–10 to help students write their own learning objectives. What did you learn from the experience? Moving forward, how can you change your practice related to setting objectives?
  3. The following table summarizes some information about the timing of feedback. Think about a lesson you will deliver in the near future. How might you use this information during that lesson?


    Provide immediate feedback …

    Delay feedback …

    Figuring out a difficult task


    To encourage problem-solving skills.

    Developing a skill

    • To encourage practice.
    • To help students make connections between what is done and the results achieved.


    High-performing students


    To develop cognitive and metacognitive processing.

    Struggling or less-motivated students

    • To avoid frustration.
    • To increase motivation.


  4. Reread "Setting Objectives and Providing Feedback with Today's Learners" on pages 17–18. Use one of the ideas in this section to engage your students in peer feedback. Share the results of that experience with another teacher or reflect on it in your personal journal, noting what you learned and what you might do differently in the future.

Chapter 2: Reinforcing Effort and Providing Recognition

  1. This chapter includes several classroom scenarios that highlight the relationship between effort and achievement. Find or create examples that are of interest to your students, and share at least one of these examples with them. Reflect on your students' reactions, and revise the example(s) as appropriate.
  2. Reread the example about reinforcing effort on pages 27–28. Define what it means to put forth productive effort in your classroom or in a particular subject area. Develop a method to guide your students through the process, and, based on the feedback students provide, revise the method as necessary. After a quiz or test, ask students to chart the relationship between their effort and achievement. Then have partners discuss the relationship, what they learned, and what they might do differently in the future.
  3. How does the example on page 30 illustrate a mastery-goal orientation? How would you describe the link between a mastery-goal orientation and recognition?
  4. Think about a lesson you will deliver in the next few days. Select five students whom you do not praise often, and write potential statements of praise you might say to these students. After the lesson, reflect on the statements you made to these students as well as their reactions or responses. What did you learn about using praise with these students?

Chapter 3: Cooperative Learning

  1. Review Figure 3.1 (page 36) with a colleague. Discuss how you have included these elements in cooperative learning tasks in the past. Which of these elements is the most difficult to include? Why?
  2. Reread the example on pages 39–41. How did Mr. Washington include positive interdependence and individual accountability in his cooperative learning task? How does this example compare to cooperative learning experiences in your classroom? What did you learn from this example that you might be able to apply in your classroom?
  3. What successes have you had using formal, informal, and base groups for cooperative learning? What are some challenges associated with using each of these groups that a colleague might be able to help you address?
  4. Describe how you might use Web 2.0 tools and other technologies as part of a cooperative learning task. If you have not developed a task like this before, pair up with another teacher who has and design a task together. Gather feedback from students about the success of the task. Reflect on this feedback and your own experiences, and describe what you would do differently when you next use the task.

Chapter 4: Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers

  1. What is the difference between inferential and analytic questions? Why is it important to use both kinds of questions?
  2. Ask a colleague to observe one of your classes and record your use of inferential and analytic questions. How would you describe students' responses to your questions (e.g., were they in-depth and rich with details)? How could you use what you learned from this experience to improve your use of inferential and analytic questions?
  3. Think about your use of the four types of advance organizers (expository, narrative, skimming, graphic). Identify the successes and challenges you have had with each. How could you use information from this chapter to enhance your use of advance organizers?
  4. Create an anticipation guide or a narrative advance organizer for a lesson you will teach in the near future. Discuss with a colleague, or describe in a journal entry, how the advance organizer helped students use their background knowledge to learn new information.

Chapter 5: Nonlinguistic Representations

  1. Think about how nonlinguistic representations are used in everyday life (e.g., highway signs, logos, computer icons). What are the benefits of such representations? Why do you think teachers typically favor linguistic representations of knowledge?
  2. Review the graphic organizer templates found online at Which have you used in the classroom? Among those you haven't used before, which might be appropriate to use in an upcoming lesson?
  3. Consider several concepts unique to your content area. What would you do to help students create a mental image of those concepts?
  4. Reread the examples on pages 73–75 about engaging students in physical movement as a way to create nonlinguistic representations of knowledge. Think about a topic in your curriculum that is difficult for students to learn. How might you engage students in kinesthetic activities to help them generate a mental image of the relevant knowledge?

Chapter 6: Summarizing and Note Taking

  1. Review the summary frames on pages 83–88. Which would be most helpful for your students? Explain how you might use that frame in an upcoming lesson. Then discuss how it helped students learn the targeted knowledge.
  2. Reread the example about reciprocal teaching on pages 89–90. What experience have you had with reciprocal teaching? How might you use it more effectively in your classroom?
  3. Describe some of the different note-taking formats you have taught students to use. Select a format you haven't used and teach it to your students. For which students did this format seem to work best?
  4. What have you learned about note taking that is surprising or makes you think differently about how to help students take good notes and use them effectively?

Chapter 7: Assigning Homework and Providing Practice

  1. The research on homework is mixed. Some studies indicate benefits, whereas other studies show little effect on achievement or even negative consequences. Why do you think many districts, schools, and teachers continue to support giving homework? What is your school's or district's philosophy/guidance about assigning homework?
  2. How have you involved parents in homework assignments? Reread the section on parent involvement in homework on pages 105–106. Based on this information, how might you modify or add to the ways you involve parents?
  3. Reread the example on pages 108–109. Which of Ms. Ling's homework practices would work well in your classroom? Why?
  4. Why is it important to plan for massed and distributed practice?
  5. Think about a skill or process you will teach in an upcoming lesson. What conceptual understanding do students need to understand how the skill or process works? How will you help students develop this conceptual understanding?

Chapter 8: Identifying Similarities and Differences

  1. What successes and challenges have you had with each of the four processes for identifying similarities and differences (comparing, classifying, creating metaphors, creating analogies)? After rereading pages 121–132, how has your thinking changed with regard to how you might use these processes?
  2. Select a topic in your curriculum that is often difficult for students to learn. Use the ideas on pages 126–129 to develop a metaphor or an analogy that would help students learn this content. Ask a colleague to provide feedback and share examples of metaphors or analogies he or she has used to teach the same topic.
  3. Describe your use of teacher- and student-directed tasks that involve identifying similarities and differences. In what ways do the challenges you identified in question 1 relate to the level of teacher direction for the tasks? What are the implications of this relationship for how you scaffold students' use of the processes for identifying similarities and differences?

Chapter 9: Generating and Testing Hypotheses

  1. What is your understanding of deductive and inductive approaches to generating and testing hypotheses? Why is it important to debrief students' learning when an inductive approach has been used?
  2. Reread the descriptions of the four processes for engaging students in generating and testing hypotheses (pages 139–146). Select a process you rarely use and, working alone or with colleagues, develop a task that will engage students in the process and help them learn specific content. Examine samples of student work at different levels of performance, and reflect on how the task helped students learn the content. What changes might you make to the task before using it again?
  3. Reread "Generating and Testing Hypotheses with Today's Learners" on pages 149–150. How do the ideas in this section help you think about using technology to engage students in generating and testing hypotheses?

Chapter 10: Instructional Planning Using the Nine Categories of Strategies

  1. Review the checklists in "Instructional Planning: Creating the Environment for Learning" (pages 153–158). With these in mind, analyze one of your upcoming unit or lesson plans. What changes might you make to increase intentional use of the strategies?
  2. Select a topic you will teach in the near future. Identify the generalizations and principles related to that topic. What nonlinguistic representations, metaphors, and analogies will you use to teach these generalizations and principles?
  3. What are some ways you have helped students focus on the metacognitive aspects of learning a process? How have you provided feedback on how well students execute metacognitive strategies?

Classroom Instruction That Works was written by Ceri B. Dean, Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, Howard Pitler, and Bj Stone. This 208-page, 8" x 10" book (Stock #111001; ISBN-13: 978-1-4166-1362-6) is available from ASCD for $21.95 (ASCD member) or $28.95 (nonmember). Copyright © 2012 by McREL. To order a copy, call ASCD at 1-800-933-2723 (in Virginia 1- 703-578-9600) and press 2 for the Service Center. Or buy the book from ASCD's Online Store.


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