The Fundamental 5

The FORMULA for Quality Instruction

Frame the Lesson

Work in the Power Zone

Frequent, Small - Group, Purposeful Talk

Recognize & Reinforce

Write Critically

Framing the Lesson

The beginning and the end. Daily learning objective and closing question.

The objective is written in a student-friendly language (We will...).

"We will find the differences between rational and irrational numbers."

This statement is simple and direct. The students have a clear focus for the class period.

  • Place in the classroom where students can see the written objective and product.
  • Discuss the objective at the beginning of the lesson.
  • Make sure it is reasonable to complete the objective in one daily lesson or class.
  • The objective needs to be "kid friendly" language.
  • The objective must be specific enough to clarify the goal.

The closing provides concrete proof to both the student and the teacher that the objective of the lesson was met. It is typically a question, product, or task written in a student-friendly language (I will).

"I will create and share a lesson frame with my table group."

  • Completed by every student.
  • Done the last 5 minutes of class or the end of the lesson.
  • A final check for understanding.
  • Looked at daily by the teacher to guide future instruction.
  • Likely to increase the opportunity for a student to retain important learning.
  • Proof for the teacher that learning has occurred.

It is NOT....

  • Test or Quiz
  • Designed to be a grade daily.
  • Usually done in a group.
  • Usually verbal except as appropriate in the lower grades.

Examples of Frames

Science (Elementary)

Objective: We will identify natural sources of fresh water.

Closing Task: I will complete an exit ticket describing the difference between fresh an salt water.

Social Studies (Elementary)

Objective: We will discuss the regions of Texas and the products from each region.

Closing Task: I will identify the most valuable region of Texas and justify my answer.

Mathematics (Secondary)

Objective: We will identify the elements of line equations.

Closing Task: I will write down how I would explain slope to a family member.

English (Secondary)

Objective: We will identify and discuss the themes of Macbeth.

Closing Task: I will share with my partner which of the Macbeth themes apply in my life and why.


AKA: The teacher work area.

The teacher's body position in the classroom distinctly correlates to the student success.

Reasons to teach in the power zone:

  • Monitor Understanding
  • Answer Questions
  • Address problem behavior immediately
  • Manage Transitions
  • Maximize student learning
  • Communicate with all students
  • Show genuine interest in students
  • Personal connection with students
  • Promote Equitable learning for all students

Commit yourself!!

1. Make a commitment to working in the power zone. Remain in close proximity to your students.

2. Purposefully arrange the classroom so you can move about with ease. You may have to give up furnishings or storage areas in a crowded classroom to allow movement.

3. Remove your distractions. Anything that tempts you to read or respond should be put away or turned off. Keep your desk clean so you're not tempted to organize or work on paperwork.

The authors' challenge...

"If one is going to expend considerable time and energy to plan a lesson; if one is going to expend considerable time and energy to teach the lesson; if one is going to expend considerable time and energy to assess the lesson; and, ultimately, if one is evaluated on the effectiveness of the lesson; why wouldn't one position oneself in the location that will produce the nest results?"

Frequent, Small-Group, Purposeful Talk about Learning


1. Teacher-Driven Discussion

2. Every 10-15 minutes at the completion of a major instructional concept.

3. Groups of 2-4

4. Pre-planned seed questions that will ensure the critical connections are made to the content.

An Example: "Now I want you to briefly discuss with your partner the differences between rational numbers and irrational numbers."

5. Teachers remain in the power zone throughout the group conversations. This allows teachers to be in the best position to make sure students stay on task, are participating, making correct connections, and clearing up misunderstanding.

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Recognize and Reinforce

Academic Recognition & Social and Behavioral Recognition

Academic Recognition:

As educators, we readily give recognition to those students who earn A's. However, we often miss the opportunity to recognize those students who are making progress toward achieving higher academic goals.

  • Easton hasn't turned in homework in three weeks, but today, he did.
  • Robert has never scored higher than a 72 on a test. Today, he scored an 80.
  • Bridget made the honor roll for the first time.
  • Chloe's state assessment scores show she scored at the commended performance level.

We tend to recognize the success of Bridget and Chloe, but fail to use the opportunity to recognize the smaller, but possibly more important, successes of Easton and Robert.

If we give recognition of all academic levels, we are providing all students with the motivation to continue to pursue academic success.

Social and Behavioral Recognition:

Personalization and Specificity

Personalization means the teacher addresses specific groups of students or a individual student. Specificity means the teacher clearly states the behavior or action that deserved the recognition.

Which would be most effective?

"Good job, class. Most of you turned in your homework this week."


"Good job, group two. Your table has turned in 100 percent of your homework this week."

The second statement addresses personalization and specificity. The first statement is too vague and less effective.

When teachers recognize and reinforce the behaviors they want to see, they are able to mold a student behavior that they need to have a successful and engaging classroom. Teachers will see a positive change, academically and behaviorally, when they look for opportunities to recognize and reinforce. When teachers work in the power zone they are given those opportunities.

  • Make a big deal of the small things.
  • Start reinforcing the work it takes to be successful.
  • Look for the positive, good things going on and be specific.

Writing Critically

Purposeful & Intentional Writing

  • Plan the writing prompts or stems during the planning process.
  • Content writing based on objectives. (SE's)
  • Should occur in the content area.
  • The writing solidifies the learning for students.

Writing critically is used for the purposes of organizing, clarifying, connecting, dissecting, and expanding concepts. Unfortunately, it is the least used component of the Fundamental 5.

Types of writing:

Concept Maps

Thinking Maps

Minute Paper (share with partner)

Muddiest Point

Pro & Con Grid (best for SS and ELA)

Reflective Journals with pre-created word slots

Don't Break the Bank ($.10 per word and stay between $2.70 & $3.00)