Tier 1-2 – Active Student Responding Strategies

Professional Tools and Resources for Behavior Analysts

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Instructional / Active Student Responding Strategies

for Classwide or Group Settings

  • Fast-paced, active student responding strategies increase student willingness to participate, improve academic achievement, and reduce disruptive behaviors during instruction.

  • These results have been repeatedly demonstrated during research with disabled and non-disabled students in elementary, middle, and high school settings.

  • A sampling of available research is included with the strategy descriptions below.

    • Response Cards and Choral Responding are two powerful, practical, and user-friendly strategies for small or large group instruction. Each of these strategies begins with a teacher cue to get students to respond together. Click here for a description of several cueing methods.

    • Response Cards:

    • After a teacher cue, all students write a short response on their small erasable white boards. (Cards with pre-printed responses also may be used.) The students lift the cards to show the teacher. The teacher visually scans the cards. When most or all students show the correct response, the teacher moves on in the lesson. If many students have an incorrect or no response, that portion of the lesson is taught again.
    • Click here for general information from Jim Wright’s Intervention Central website.
    • Click here for an analysis of the research with students of varying grade levels (2005, Education Resources Information Center – ERIC).
    • Click here for a research article involving 5th grade inner-city students during whole-class vocabulary instruction (2009, Authors: David W. Munro and Jennifer Stephenson).
    • Click here for a research article involving 5th grade inner-city students during whole-class science instruction (1994, Authors: Ralph Gardner, III, William L. Heward, and Teresa A. Grossi).
    • Click here for a research article involving secondary students during science instruction (1996, Authors: Rodney A. Cavanaugh, William L. Heward, and Fred Donelson).
    • Choral Responding:

    • After a teacher cue, the students say a short response together. When most or all students say the correct response, the teacher moves on in the lesson. If many students say an incorrect or no response, that portion of the lesson is taught again.
      • Note: This is NOT the same as “unison responding.” Choral responding uses short 1-3 word responses. Unison responding often involves lengthy responses, sometimes reading long phrases, sentences or paragraphs together. Because some students respond slower, teachers may not be able to distinguish the students’ responses when longer phrases or sentences are required.
    • Click here for general information from Jim Wright’s Intervention Central website.
    • Click here for a list of several references to scientific research.
    • Response Cards and Choral Responding – Both of the above methods can be combined!

    • Student Response Systems (also known as “Clickers” or Classroom Performance Systems):

    • Technology-empowered classrooms in secondary schools can be highly interactive learning environments in which all students participate and receive immediate feedback in a non-threatening and positive manner.
    • During the lesson, the instructor uses a computer, projector, whiteboard or other device to display a question (or “poll”) for each student to view. Each student can answer the question at his/her own pace by tapping a key on a small remote control transmitter (“clicker”) or, in some cases, a mobile device (“smartphone” or tablet). A receiver (radio, infrared, or wifi) connected to the computer picks up and records each student’s response. Instructors then view responses from all students and provide instant feedback. Resulting student data and reports are analyzed to improve future instruction. Popular systems include Mimio Vote, iClicker, SMART Response, Activote, and Turning Point. For more information, click here or here.
    • Guided Notes:

    • A lesson outline is prepared, but key terms are replaced with blank lines. Each student is given the outline to fill in the lines as the lesson proceeds. At the end of the lesson, the students have a completed outline for studying.
    • Click here for general information from Jim Wright’s Intervention Central website.
    • Click here for more information.
    • Classwide Peer Tutoring:

    • After large group instruction, the students work in pairs or small groups to complete activities that support the lesson. Activities that increase fluency (e.g., flash cards) are recommended.
    • Click here for information.
    • Direct Instruction (DI):

    • This powerful strategy employs specific curriculum materials, including SRA Reading Mastery, Corrective Reading, Connecting Math Concepts, Corrective Mathematics, and DISTAR Arithmetic.
    • Many schools have successfully used these materials and flexible grouping methods to provide supplemental, intensive instruction to struggling students.
    • Additional DI curricula have been published for writing, spelling, history, and science instruction.
    • During DI, teacher-student interactions include (a) carefully sequenced, often scripted cues by the teacher (to get student responses); (b) choral responses by students (see below); (c) immediate teacher praise; (d) immediate error correction methods (to minimize student errors); (e) brisk teacher pacing; (f) teaching to mastery (to assure correct responding over time); and (g) enhanced motivation (by maintaining high levels of student success).
    • Click here for information.