Teaching Strategies

Throughout all of NICERC’s curricula, students are encouraged to conduct research, discuss openly with classmates what they learn, and work collaboratively with their peers. However, it is often difficult to find creative ways to engage students in research, classroom discussions, and collaboration. To help guide students in these activities, some suggested teaching strategies are included below. These strategies are not specifically written into NICERC curricula, but they nicely complement the content. Each strategy is linked to a document that showcases how it can be used with NICERC’s curricula.

Anticipation Reaction Guide

Given statements, students anticipate the truth by agreeing or disagreeing with the statements before reading or experimenting. After reading/experimenting, the students record their reactions. Note that the students’ reactions are different than what the students observe.

Carousel Brainstorming

In groups students visit stations, each themed with a different topic, for a few minutes. In the first round, students add information to the station. For each subsequent round, students read the information that is already at the station and add new information. After the final station, each group summarizes, by sharing aloud, the information at that station.

Chapter Tour

Before starting a chapter, students take a “chapter tour” that familiarizes the students with the topics, terms, images, etc. that are in that chapter.

Concept of Definition Map

Concept of Definition Map is a graphic organizer that helps students learn new vocabulary with definitions, synonyms, and examples that apply to that word.


Using the six sides of a cube, students can explore and examine topics as described by each face of the cube.

Exclusion Brainstorming

Before reading about a topic, students are given a list of words that may or may not have anything to do with the topic. Students identify the words they think do not have to do with the subject. After reading, the students reevaluate what they previously thought and make new connections with the given terms.

Graphic Thinking Organizers

Graphic thinking organizers provide a variety of ways to organize and analyze information.


In some form of a chart, students identify what they know about a topic and then create questions about what they want to know. After finding the solutions to their questions, they identify what they have learned about the topic.


Fishbowl is a discussion technique that allows for a richer discussion of any given topic. It frequently builds community among students and demonstrates how different groups collaborate.

Random Number Generator for Student Selection

Often the same select few students speak more often in class than others, and trying to implement a method of keeping track of each individual student participating is a challenge. Using a random number generator (RNG) application on a tablet, website, or scientific graphic calculator can assist with calling on different students to participate in a class discussion or to answer questions that arise during a lesson.

Fishbowl Tap-Out

This strategy is a modification of the Fishbowl. Only select four or five students to begin in the fishbowl; they remain responsible for the initial discussion about the topic. In order for new students to join the Fishbowl, they must tap he shoulder of a current member and switch places.

Round Table Write-Up

Students are arranged in small groups and are ask a question or given a problem. Students take turns writing one response, or one step for solving the problem on the group paper, then pass clockwise, to the next student.


Narrative material is given to the whole class, but it might be divvied into four parts, for example. Students are arranged in small groups and numbered one through four.


Teachers pose a question to the class but allow time for students to think and write about the problem, collaborate with another student, and then share their answers.