Characteristics of Highly Effective Teaching and Learning

Expand/Collapse Characteristics of Highly Effective Teaching and Learning


This collection illustrates high quality instruction as described in The Characteristics of Highly Effective Teaching and Learning, available at the Kentucky Department of Education website.

Characteristics for both teachers and students are divided into five sections: Learning Climate, Classroom Assessment and Reflection, Instructional Rigor and Student Engagement, Instructional Relevance, and Knowledge of Content.

Resources include documents, PowerPoints, templates, and videos for teachers to use as discussion starters or for individual study.

For more information about The Characteristics of Highly Effective Teaching and Learning, contact KDE.

  • Differentiation for Reading in Math

    In this video, Melissa Rohrer describes an approach to teaching geometry to a diverse group of eighth grade students. The lessons incorporate a SmartBoard©, which uses video and interactive exercises to engage the students. Melissa and Jennifer developed a resource booklet for students to take structured notes in a consistent manner. It also serves as a way for teachers to scaffold the material and differentiate when appropriate.

    Grades: 13+
  • Early Literacy Instruction for Middle-Level Learners

    In this video, viewers observe as D. Simpson teaches eighth grade students with very low reading abilities who need explicit reading instruction at an early literacy acquisition level. A typical lesson includes talking, manipulating, and writing.

    Grades: 13+
  • Fostering High Order Thinking

    In this video, viewers watch principal Dewey Hensley talk about schoolwide efforts to engage students in higher order thinking. Time is set aside daily for H.O.T.S. (Higher Order Thinking Skills) during which teachers at all grade levels engage their students in activities that challenge them to think at very high levels. Ongoing professional development and leadership supports teachers in asking questions that result in higher order thinking in authentic assessment and instructional activities.

    Grades: 13+
  • Generating Questions To Aid Reading Comprehension

    In this video, teacher Debbie Clark guides her students in writing questions before they begin reading a text in order to promote active reading. During the reading, students pause to generate and write questions on their graphic organizers. After reading, the students generate questions that may lead to research.

    Grades: 13+
  • Guided Oral Reading for Diverse Abilities

    In this video, students work in simultaneous groups or at literacy work stations on specific skills identified by the teachers. Some have Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and other sudents need explicit comprehension instruction. The students are grouped according to specific skill needs, the assessment is continuous, and the groups are ever changing.

    Grades: 13+
  • Guided Reading Group

    In this video clip, viewers watch as the teacher scaffolds specific comprehension thought processes her fourth grade students need to synthesize what they have read.

    Grades: 13+
  • Introducing Vocabulary

    In this video, teacher Susan Christy describes and illustrates the strategies (scaffolding and differentiation) she uses to introduce new vocabulary in seventh grade social studies and address the needs of students with literacy challenges.

    Grades: 13+
  • Introduction to ORQs in Primary

    In this video, teacher Jenny Schuler introduces her first-graders to the open response question, or ORQ. She guides students through understanding what the questions is requiring them to do, writing developmentally-appropriate responses, and using a rubric to assess themselves.

    Grades: PreK-3
  • "I Wonder" Reading Comprehension Strategy

    In this video, teacher Patrice McCrary uses established routines that allow her kindergartners to function successfully as they learn how to use the "I wonder..." strategy. By generating questions, students become more aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they're reading.

    Grades: 13+
  • "Making Words" Phonics Literacy Instruction

    This video presents an instructional strategy in onset-rime phonics instruction in which children learn to identify the sound of the letter or letters before the first vowel (the onset) in a one-syllable word and the sound of the remaining part of the word (the rime). Teacher Felicia Cumings-Smith guides a small group of students in "making words," starting with two-letter words and building to five.

    Grades: 13+
  • Phonological Awareness Instruction: Elkonin Boxes

    This video features teacher Amanda Addison using Elkonin Boxes as an instructional strategy to help her early primary students bridge phonological awareness and phonics.

    Grades: 13+
  • Phonological Awareness Strategies

    In this video, teacher Diane Rasner leads a small group of kindergarten students in activities to increase their phonological awareness. Phonological awareness is the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds in spoken words.

    Grades: 13+
  • Poetry Circles

    In this video, Christy Petroze’s seventh grade students work together in poetry circles to examine the form, content, language, and meaning of poetry. At the beginning of the school year, Christy introduces the students to each part of the explication of a poem in the form of a job. After the students work with the core content elements and practice each job individually, they work in groups to construct meaning through discourse. As they engage with each job, they practice the strategies of proficient readers.

    Grades: 13+
  • Previewing Text

    In the video, teacher Susan Christy is teaching a lesson on the Neolithic Revolution, using scaffolding and differentiation to address the needs of students with literacy challenges. One of those strategies is to prepare students for reading by guiding them in the use of text features to establish prior knowledge and make predictions before they read a section of the textbook.

    Grades: 13+
  • Primary Literacy Block

    In this video, teacher Kim Slusher provides insight and advice on teaching in a multi-age primary classroom (Grades 1-3). The literacy block featured is focused around identifying themes in books. The same group of primary students were videotaped at the beginning and end of the school year. In addition to seeing how the lessons progress, the teacher provides insight on teaching students with a wide range of ages and abilities.

    Grades: 13+
  • Primary Reading Assessment I

    In this video, teacher Felicia Cumings-Smith formally assesses the reading of one of her first-grade students. Formal assessment is an important part of sound instruction. The assessment allows the teacher to monitor student progress, and her records allow her to make instructional decisions to ensure the student's individual progress.

    Grades: 13+
  • Primary Reading Assessment II

    In this second video, teacher Felicia Cumings-Smith formally assesses the reading of one of her first-grade students. Formal assessment is an important part of sound instruction. The assessment allows the teacher to monitor student progress, and her records allow her to make instructional decisions to ensure the student's individual progress.

    Grades: 13+
  • Primary Reading Workshop

    This video features the daily reading workshop in the first-grade class of Felicia Cumings-Smith. Reading workshop includes individual and group instruction, individual reading and book sharing as well as guided oral reading and informal assessment.

    Grades: 13+
  • Promoting Schoolwide Literacy at the Elementary | Level I

    In this video, Dewey Hensley discusses the literacy initiatives that have dramatically raised the scores in a previously low-performing school. Dewey's first goal as principal was bringing the faculty and staff together to develop a collective vision and mission for the school, taking a hard look at the data on student performance and developing a plan to turn the school into a high performing, positive place.

    Grades: 13+
  • Promoting Schoolwide Literacy at the Elementary Level II

    In this video, viewers look at the components of a new schoolwide literacy program that resulted in double-digit improvements at Longest Elementary, located in rural Kentucky. The school implemented a new literacy curriculum, modeled best practice instruction, and provided embedded professional development

    Grades: 13+

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