4 Steps to Continuous Improvement in the Classroom

I am excited to share with you this Cooperate idea that has swept the school nation!  Continuous Improvement is a systematic approach to reflection and getting know what strategies help our students learn best.  023

Plan– What is the plan for the unit?  What do students need to know how to do? When will they be tested over this information?  What will the test look like?  How do students know they are successful on the assessment?

The unit starts with these questions being answered.  As an adult, if I knew I was going to take a test ; drivers test, GRE, ACT or certification tests of any kind, I would want to know the answers to these questions.  I am also given the opportunity to know what is coming, so why not give our students the same courtesy?

img_0068Do–  These are the Strategies that are being used throughout the unit to help our students reach our PLAN.  These should include both Engagement and Instructional strategies.  Our goal, as a teacher, is to give students the tools in which they can pull from when struggling in math, reading, science etc…

The instructional strategies are those tools that give our students the opportunity to become advocates for their own learning and independence in their learning.  The engagement strategies allow the teacher to make sure that their time is being used efficiently and productively.  In previous blogs, I have written about Rich Allen, Marcia Tate and Marzano.  These innovators have given teachers wonderful tools to use to check for understanding in an engaging way and keep their attention during the learning cycle.

Here are some strategies that engage and check for understanding placed in the learning cycle processes. – You can find this at Jule-Huck TPT account as well.

Process 1

Pre Assessment

Process 2

Partner/group work

Process 3

Post assessment

Graffiti Wall

Place the topic word or phrase on the board. Allow students to draw or write what they know or think of as they enter the room.


Using a sentence frame or a graphic organizer, have students summarize the instruction, expectations for activity or new concept.

Rate it

On their way out, have students rate their understanding of the assignment, new concept.


Ink Think

Place a topic word or phrase on a piece of paper on the students table. Allow students to draw or write what they know or think about the topic.


Divide the reading into sections. Have each student take a section and when they understand the information, teach it to their team.

Corner call

Have corners of the class labeled (A, B, C, D) ask a question and allow students to walk to the corner that answers the question.

Double Entry Journal

Topic/ Think about topic


A note taking strategy for students to use while listening to explicit instruction.


Ask a question, allow students to ‘think’ about their answer, pair up (back to back) and share their answers.

I care Why?

After the instruction and independent work, have students explain why this objective was important to them.

Graphic Organizer


Students are completing a graphic organizer while explicit instruction is occurring.

Inside-Outside Circle

Create two circles, one inside facing out, one outside facing in.   Ask a question and allow students to answer – rotate the outside circle for new partners.

Sketch to Stretch

Students will draw a sketch of the main idea of the day.   Then write a paragraph explaining their drawing and how it connects to the objective.


Draw a line, place the topic in the center of the line and the two opposing ideas on opposite ends of the line. Have students write on a post it not their opinion and why.

Gallery Walk

After group work is complete, allow students to silently walk around the room to view the work and add comments, suggestions, and celebrations to the group assignments.


With a frame, students will answer a question about the objective and explain their reasoning.

I’m the Teacher

After the explicit instruction, allow students to reteach the concept to someone.

4 C’s

With a partner/group, have students write down their Connections, Challenges, Concepts, Changes about the instruction and new concept.


Split the class up into two sides. Like tug-o-war, have students take a side and explain their position.


After the explicit instruction, allow students to reteach the concept while the students mirror their partner.

Whip Around

Students quickly and verbally share 1 thing they learned in class, after the assigned work.

Response Cards/Plickers

Also referred to as an Exit Ticket. Ask a question and allow students to answer- This is not a grade but an informative way of knowing who understood the lesson.

Study– How did the students do?  What were the results of the assessment?

This is, hopefully, when the growth of our students can be visible with a graph of some kind or consensogram of what strategy the students used during the assessment.

The visibility of this is very important for our learners.  They should be able to compare themselves to the average grade in the class, compare rotations to rotations,  compare campus to campus and most of all, compare their previous assessment results with each other.  This data gives our teachers and students strategic feedback that allows us all to explicitly understand whether or not we understood the content of the PLAN.  It allows us to see if we are growing as learners.  It allows us to have a mindset towards growth and reflection.

ACT– In my mind, this IS the most important part of the continuous improvement model.  What strategies helped us learn the content?  What strategies did not help us learn?  How can we change or tweak these strategies to help us in the future?

This is when relationships are built in the classroom.  This reflective questioning gives our students voice in the classroom.  I don’t remember EVER being asked what I liked about the class, and I know that my opinion did not matter to my teachers growing up.  It was a teacher facilitated classroom- that was the way.  We are now giving our students so many opportunities to become advocates for their learning and teaching them to ‘Fish’ for themselves.  This is the part of teaching that I love so very much.

The following is a youtube link to a teacher on my campus that is reflecting with her students on the PDSA Continuous Improvement cycle.  Pay attention to how involved the students are in her reflection, listen to the questions she asks them, and watch how she models positive reinforcement to help encourage all students to give feedback.





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