3 Facts & a Fib

This strategy can be used as an assessment tool or review to allow students to show you what they know in many different ways, and also provides an opportunity for them to gain experience in narrowing choices. Students create three facts and a fib about the content that is being studied and test their peers. 

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Ask each student to write on a piece of paper four statements about the content the class has studied. Three of the statements should be true and one should be false.
  2. Tell students that each of them should move about the room, sharing his/her list of statements with others.
  3. Explain that each student should ask his/her peers to try and pick the false statement on his paper.
  4. Add that if a student fools another student, the one who was fooled should sign the paper of the student who fooled him.
  5. When all students have examined each other’s papers, have them return to their seats.
  6. Ask each student to count the number of signatures he/she collected.
  7. Compare signature counts to find out who was able to fool the most students.

Choral Response

Choral Response is a verbal repetition strategy that encourages students to respond in unison when prompted with a cue by an instructor.  The oral response can be either to answer a question or to repeat something said by the teacher.  The choral response allows the teacher to determine if most students understand a concept.
Ideal for curriculum content that:
   – can be answered in short 1-3 word responses.
   – has only a single correct answer to the question.
   – is presented in a fast paced manner.

How to Use the Strategy:   
  1. Teacher introduces choral responding by providing clear directions to entire class, detailing the frequency, length, and level of noise required for appropriate responses.
  2. Lesson is initiated with class, reviewing key concepts or phrases to be learned utilizing a “my turn, your turn” modeling approach.  
  3. A clear and consistent cue is identified by the instructor for when students should respond as a group to either a question or a repeated phrase.  A cue may be a raised hand to the ear, thumbs up, or pointing to a certain word or object on a white board.
  4. Instructor may choose to institute a “thinking pause” of 3-5 seconds before   giving students their signaled cue to respond based on the difficulty of the   information being taught to the class.  
  5. If applicable, students break into small groups and instruct each other, reciting the key phrases or questions supplied by the teacher during the initial instructional period. Student leader of each group utilizes the cue provided by instructor as a prompt for students to reply to the key phrase or question.


The RAFT strategy uses writing-to-learn activities to enhance understanding of informational text.  The writing is done in a non-traditional format that encourages creative thinking and motivates students to reflect in unusual ways about concepts they have read. Students process information rather than retell factual answers.
R = Role       A = Audience       F = Format      T = Topic

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Teacher provides students with the ROLE they must take (ie: a congressman, a planet, an observer, etc.)
  2. Teacher provides students with the AUDIENCE they will be writing for (ie: U.S. Supreme Court, Rochester Police Task Force, a parent, etc.)
  3. Teacher provides students with the FORMAT that will be used to express the information (ie: poem, business letter, diary, etc.)
  4. Teacher provides students with the TOPIC for the writing (ie: cell division, second amendment, global warming, etc.)

**Teacher may also decide to allow students to choose their own Role, Audience, and Format around a particular Topic of study.  

Text Impressions

The Text Impressions strategy arouses students’ curiosity and enables them to use “clue” words that are associated with events, characters, and settings so they can write their own versions of the text PRIOR to reading the original.  The clues words and phrases are taken directly from the reading and arranged on a list in the order they appear in the text.  The list should give the students an overall impression of the text that they will use to write predictions about the major events.  After reading the text, students will compare their versions with the original.  (When used with narrative text, its title is Story Impressions)

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Create a list of vocabulary/phrases from a text, unit, section, or chapter.  Make sure the list is long enough so all major events and subjects are covered.
  2. Explain that the list will be used to make predictions about events, characters, and settings in the text.  
  3. Students make predictions about the text and generate their own version of the text before reading the original text
  4. Students read the original text.
  5. Students compare and contrast their version to the original text. This can be discussed as a whole class, groups, partners or done independently.

Word Questioning

Word questioning is a strategy that teaches vocabulary and promotes critical thinking.  Using a concept map it challenges student to define, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate target words in their reading or unit.  This strategy can help students unlock previous knowledge and connect vocabulary to other concepts.

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Provide students with the Word Questioning worksheet
  2. Explain each of the different areas on the concept map, comprehension, analysis, application, synthesis, knowledge, and evaluation
  3. Give students content specific word or topic
  4. Demonstrate one or two of the areas
  5. Discuss finished areas in either a large or small group discussion


The Alphaboxes is a strategy that uses the 26 letters of the alphabet to record important concepts about a specific topic or theme.  This strategy gives students a one place to record all content specific vocabulary and concepts throughout a unit.

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Teacher will provide the students an Alphaboxes worksheet for each unit
  2. Explain that Alphaboxes will be used to record specific concepts and vocabulary for each unit. 
  3. As you teach the unit, provide time for the students to record important vocabulary and to make connections between concepts. 

Kinesthetic Assessment

This strategy asks students to create sentences that reflect content studied. Students like the element of chance that is involved.

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Prepare a set of nine index cards for each student. On each card, write a vocabulary term from the content the class is studying. **You can use the same words for all students, or you can further differentiate by selecting different words for certain individuals or groups.
  2. Give a complete set to each student.
  3. Each student shuffles his cards and lays them out in a grid pattern, with three rows of three cards each.
  4. Each student writes 8 sentences using the words. Three sentences must use the words in the three horizontal rows (one sentence for the words in each row); three sentences must use the words in the vertical columns (again, one sentence for each column); and two sentences must use the three-card diagonals (one left to right and one right to left). 

Other Possibilities:
Each day students could receive a stack of cards with different terms on them in which to write their sentences.

Role Cards

This strategy promotes active discussion by using role cards and uses colors to differentiate for different skill levels. The example below assumes that you are using blue for the less able and green for the more able students.
How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Make one poster-sized copy of the Pointer/Signal Words Chart (located to your right) and post it in the classroom for student reference.
  2. Copy, laminate, and cut the Blue Role Cards for Expository Text and the Green Role Cards for Expository Text (both are located to the right). Make enough copies so that each student will receive a card that is appropriate for his/her readiness level.
  3. Divide the students into homogeneous readiness-level groups of four and give each student in each group one of the individual cards from the reproducibles. (Make sure each group has cards for all four roles). 
  4. Tell students to read their cards to find out what their individual role will be for the group discussion.
  5. Students read the chapter or section of the book.
  6. Provide time for group discussion.  Each group member should participated based on the role on his/her card.
  7. Give each group a large sheet of paper and some markers.
  8. Ask each group to figure out a way to show the key elements of its discussion by making a graphic representation on the large sheet of paper.
  9. Have each group present its graphic representation to the rest of the class.  
  10. Display the posters.

text in the Middle

The teacher selects challenging text excerpts and photocopies the text in the middle column. On the left, students write a statement for the gist of the text that helps the student write a more complete summary below it.  Questions may be used to help guide student thinking. One the right, students pay attention to their thinking and record the reading comprehension strategies they used to make sense of the text. As a result, teachers know whether or not students understood the content.

Word Sort-Expository

This strategy involves a collection of words and phrases from an expository text with each word of phrase written on an index card.  Students review the cards, develop categories, name each category, and rearrange cards in the appropriate categories.  Students then use the categories to make predictions about the expository text.  Students then read the selection and after reading, rearrange the cards and create new categories so they can more accurately retell and discuss the selection.  

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Prepare a collection of content specific words and phrases and put them on index cards or pieces of paper.
  2. Hand out a set of words and phrases to groups, pairs or individual and discuss words.
  3. Explain to the students that they will be organizing them into categories and explaining the relationships between the words in each category before reading the section.  
  4. Have students organize, discuss the relationships, and then make predictions about the chapter or unit.  Students can ask themselves: What might be the title? What might be the theme?  What will this text be about?  
  5. Read the selection and then have students make new categories based on the reading.
  6. Have students retell or discuss the selection using their categories.

Analogy Building

Analogy Building is a strategy that can be used to increase comprehension of a concept or idea. The concept/idea is compared to something else by using a simile.
A simile is a comparison between two different things using “like” or “as”.  The simile is supported with reasoning.

How to Use the Strategy:
1. Identify a concept/idea to create a comparison.
  • Ex: Complete the analogy “Formative assessment is like a (household appliance) because….

2. Students individually think of their analogy (3-5 minutes).

3. Place students in groups of two.

4. Each person in the group shares their analogy with the other group member and discusses their reasoning (4-6 minutes).

5. Teacher may decide to have volunteers share their analogies with the entire class.

Linear Arrays

Linear arrays are a strategy that illustrates gradation between related words.  This helps the student make connections between words, see subtle distinctions between words, and realize that all words have shades of meaning.  Use of linear arrays works best with vocabulary from literature text rather than informational text.   

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Distribute Linear Arrays worksheet
  2. Explain how a word’s meaning can connect to other word’s meaning, i.e. Disobedient and Refusing are connected in meaning, because one way of being disobedient is to refuse to do something.
  3. Give examples of how opposite words can connect through a chain, i.e.  naïve-open-learn-practice-experienced
  • Naïve: Lack of experience, judgment or knowledge
  • Open: To become receptive to knowledge or skill
  • Learn: To gain knowledge or a skill by study, instruction or experience
  • Practice: Repeated performance for the purpose of acquiring a skill or proficiency 
  • Experienced: Having learned through experience 
    4.  Give vocabulary words or topics that need connecting.
    5.  Discuss as a group what words students used and why.


SQ4R provides a systematic way of comprehending and studying text.  Students preview text to develop predictions and set a purpose for reading by generating questions about the topic. Students then read actively, searching for answers to the questions they have generated. By summarizing information students are able to monitor their own comprehension. Finally, students evaluate their comprehension through review.

How to Use the Strategy:
The teacher should model how to complete each step of the SQ4R strategy and then move students into guided practice. Scaffolds such as posters and worksheets can help students as they learn to implement this strategy. 

  1. SCAN: 1
    Scanning the chapter/text gives the “big picture” – a framework of the main ideas, helps to hold the details together later.
  2. QUESTION: 2
    Students develop questions giving them a purpose for reading. Reading for specific purposes positively affects comprehension.
    Reading promotes an active search for answers to specific questions students have developed. Forces students to concentrate for better comprehension and aids in focus.
  4. RELATE: 4
    By relating what was read to something that is known or personally important, students begin to think critically about what they have learned and have yet to learn about the topic.
  5. RETELL: 5
    This step encourages students to use their own words and not simply copy from the book. This improves memory and assures greater understanding.
  6. REREAD: 6
    Students review the material by re-reading parts of the text.  Helps retain information and gives instant feedback to questions.

Thick and thin Questioning

This strategy provides students with the opportunity to become thoughtful sense makers  by focusing on Thick Questions. It’s the teacher’s responsibility to understand the difference between Thick and Thin Questions. One Thick Question is far better than 20 Thin Questions.

How to use the Strategy:
*This strategy can be used with ALL concepts/ideas. 

A Thick Question is open ended.  It requires evidence to support a point of view and a warrant to link that evidence to the point being made.

A Thin Question is usually asking for literal information that does not require interpretation, argumentation, or sustained conversation.

  • Can’t be answered with a yes or no.
  • Usually lead to deeper discussions and debate.
  • Do not have one right answer.
  • Thoughtful thick questions position the student as a “doer” of the discipline.
  • For example, by saying, “Historians debate…where do you stand on this debate?  
  • Warrant your argument.” 
  • Other thick questions acknowledge gradations.  Issues are not right or wrong.  
  • Content is more subtle and complex than that.  Questions might include, “To what degree…”

  • Often follow IRE pattern (Inquiry, Response, Evaluation).  They are often used by teachers to check to see if a student knows the right answer.
  • An example might be, “Who can tell me…” or “Who remembers…”
  • Do not lead students to grapple with complex issues.
  • Are often  yes or no questions accompanied by simple explanations.

Word Sort-Narrative

Word sorts for narrative text is a before-, during-, and after-reading strategy in which the teacher creates a collection of important words and phrases from a story on index cards.  This collection is prepared in advance of the lesson.  Working individually or in pairs before reading the text, students arrange the cards in an order that supports the telling of a story and then use the cards to tell the story to the class.  During the reading the teacher stops occasionally, allowing the students to rearrange their cards, as needed. Upon the conclusion of the reading, the students rearrange for the last time in order to give a proper retelling.

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Prepare a collection of content specific words, phrases and events on index cards or pieces of paper.
  2. Hand out a set of words to groups, pairs or individuals and discuss the words, phrases and events.
  3. Explain that they will be organizing the events, words and phrases into a story line before they listen to the story.
  4. Have students organize the events, phrases, and words into a story and read or discuss as a group.
  5. Start reading the story, pausing at two or three different spots so the students can rearrange their cards to correct their story and to predict what will happen in the next portion.
  6. After reading the story, have students rearrange for a final time to show the retelling the author intended.  

Anticipation Guide

This strategy helps students anticipate the direction of the text. At the same time, it gives you a chance to pre-assess their knowledge of the content. 

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Identify the major concepts students will be learning in a particular text.
  2. Craft 3 to 7 statements around the general theme of the text. These statements should be ones that students can agree or disagree with and that will invite discussion.
  3. List these statements on a worksheet and give one to each student.
  4. Instruct students to read each statement and mark whether they agree or disagree with it.
  5. Accept all answers and invite discussion. This will be the point when you can discover misconceptions or student beliefs that might need some clarification or discussion before studying or reading.
  6. Read the text or proceed with instruction.
  7. After students read or study the content, have students review their statements.Give them a chance to change their responses based on what they’ve read or learned.

Polar Opposites

This strategy helps students analyze and evaluate characters in a text by rating them on a variety of dimensions along a three-, five-, or seven-point continuum.  After reading, students place a check mark on one of the blanks along the continuum to indicate their understanding and interpretation of a character based on a particular dimension.  They can include examples from the text as justification and discuss them in a literature circle.  This strategy can be used with the linear arrays strategy.  

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Describe how a continuum works.  Explain that they will be placing a check mark on the continuum where they believe the focus topic would be.  i.e.  Thoughtful _x__  ___  ___ Impulsive
  2. Hand out the Polar Opposite continuum worksheet with content specific descriptive words and have students start placing their check marks
  3. Have students find textual-based evidence to support their belief. (Specific number of text examples is discretionary) 
  4. Discuss in large or small literature circles, with students explaining each of their choices with examples to support them. 

Story Impressions

The story impressions strategy arouses students’ curiosity and enables them to use “clue” words that are associated with events, characters, and settings so they can write their own versions of the story PRIOR to reading the original.  The clues words and phrases are taken directly from the reading and should be arranged on a list in the order they appear in the story.  The list should give the students an overall impression of the story that they will use to write predictions about the major events.  After reading the story, students will compare their versions with the original.  (When used with non-fiction text, its title is Text Impressions)

How to Use the Strategy:
  1. Create a list of vocabulary and phrases from a text, unit, section, or chapter.  Making sure the list is long enough so all major events and subjects are covered.
  2. Explain that the list will be used to make predictions about events, characters, and settings in the story.  
  3. Have students make predictions about the story.
  4. The students will then use the predictions they have made to generate their own version of the story, before reading the original.
  5. After they finish writing their version, read the original story.
  6. Student will then compare and contrast their story to the original. This can be discussed as a whole class, groups, and partners or done independently.


This is a great anchor activity to assign to individual students. It allows them to engage in meaningful work while you’re involved with other students in a small group.

How to Use the Strategy: 
  1. Give each student a copy of the “Anything-But-Horizontal Reading-Tac-Toe for Expository Text” worksheet.
  2. Each student should choose one assignment from each COLUMN in order to form a Think-Tac-Toe.
  3. One of the assignments in the first row should be completed Before Reading, one from the second row During Reading, and one from the last row After Reading.  
  4. Specify how long students have to finish these assignments while reading/working with the text that has been assigned.

Word Toss

Word Toss is a pre-assessment strategy that helps students make predictions about text they will be reading and make them aware of what they should be watching for in the text.  It also lets you gauge their current knowledge of the content.

How to Use the Strategy:

  1. Identify major concepts for the text the students will be reading.  Write 7 to 10 words or phrases identifying these concepts and scatter them on the smartboard randomly so that they appear to have been tossed there.
  2. Students work in pairs or small groups to write a sentence or two using all of the words/phrases on display. The sentences should show how the students predict the words/phrases will be related to each other in the text they are about to read.
  3. Students read their sentences aloud. Don’t worry about the accuracy of the statements at this point.
  4. Students read the text and check the accuracy of their predictions. Invite them to revise their predictions to reflect what they learned from the text.