Effective instruction is guided by curriculum with identifiable learning goals that are linked to the standards. Instruction involves clearly communicated learning goals and strategically pre-planned lessons that focus not only on coverage of content but also on uncovering new ideas that have students thinking deeply about facts, experiences, and theories previously learned. Instruction is not just memorizing and practicing; it is about understanding, applying, creating, and evaluating.
Rigorous and relevant instruction is cognitively demanding and challenging to students as they apply essential concepts and skills to real-world, complex, and open-ended situations. The content is not just interesting to students but involves particular intellectual challenges. When students successfully meet these tasks, their new learning has meaning and value in contexts beyond the curriculum unit or classroom setting. Rigorous and relevant curriculum and instruction center on meaningful performances in real-word contexts.
In engaging and exciting classrooms, students are directly involved and invested in the discovery of their own knowledge. Through collaboration and cooperation with others, students engage in experiential learning that is authentic, holistic, and challenging. Students are empowered to use prior knowledge to construct new learning and develop metacognitive processes. As a partner in learning, teachers intentionally create organized and cohesive experiences to assist students to make connections to key concepts.
Formative assessment is not just an assessment tool or instrument; it is a process. It includes collecting information on student progress toward a learning goal and using it to adjust instruction and increase student learning. The assessment for learning process is not an add-on to instruction but rather an integral component of instruction to identify needs and close the learning gap for each student.
Teaching that is tailored to the individual student is about planning for and teaching to variances among learners in the classroom to create the best learning environment possible. It is designed to ensure all students acquire the essential concepts and skills housed within the curriculum (as well as the NJCCCS & CCSS). By using data to guide instructional decision-making, students are provided core, supplemental, and intensive levels of support. Tailored instruction ensures all students have access to the same grade-level and content-specific curriculum.
(Modified from the work of John O'Conner: Turning Average Instruction into Great Instruction: School Leadership's Role in Student Achievement, 2009)