The CIA Review

Office of Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment

Edition 3 October 13, 2015

Spotlight on Strategies

Four Corners

The Four Corners cooperative teaching and learning strategy empowers students to take part in group discussions. It is a helpful strategy to use when students have been sitting and need some physical movement in order to refocus.

First, have the students read a passage or watch a short video clip on the topic you are studying. Hook your students with a thought-provoking statement like, "Colonists who fought against the King's soldiers were nothing more than rebels fighting against their own country." Give the students a moment to decide how the feel about the statement. Do they agree, disagree, strongly agree, or strongly disagree with the statement?

Students go to one of the four corners of the room, depending on how they feel in regards to the statement. Each group in a corner shares their point of view, providing evidence to support their reasoning. Have a spokesperson for the group share out with the entire class.

This strategy is great for having students defend their opinions, cite evidence, and develop critical thinking. It also helps them learn to communicate and have respectful conversations despite differing opinions.

Link to a pdf that explains how to use this strategy.
Watch the video below to see how the strategy can be used in the classroom.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKE9okJyxro&feature=youtu.be
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2015 - 2016 District School Improvement Goals

All students will independently read increasingly complex narrative and informational text at or above grade level.
  • Program evaluation for general education reading instruction
  • Michigan ELA Network Institute Conference
  • High School Reading Strategies workshop at Berrien RESA for science and social studies teachers
  • Reader’s Workshop training at Berrien RESA
  • Title 1 program at Mars and Sylvester
  • Reading intervention classes at Middle School and High School
  • AIMSWeb progress monitoring at Discovery Academy, Battle Creek, SUCCESS Virtual Learning Centers
  • Personal Learning Communities at each building to analyze math data and progress-monitor student learning

All students will use grade level math skills to demonstrate proficiency on Common Core State Standards and Career and College Readiness.
  • Carnegie Math coaching at Middle School and High School
  • Math 180 intervention at Middle School and High School
  • Bridges 2 training for Mars and Sylvester
  • Berrien and St. Joe Counties math assessment writing
  • AIMSWeb progress monitoring at Discovery Academy, Battle Creek, SUCCESS Virtual Learning Centers
  • Personal Learning Communities at each building to analyze reading data and progress-monitor student learning

All students will effectively use the writing process to develop increasingly sophisticated narrative and informational pieces of writing, including posing well-organized and well-researched arguments.
  • MAISA writing units training at Berrien RESA
  • Michigan ELA Network Institute Conference
  • Personal Learning Communities at each building to analyze student writing using common scales

All students will increase positive behaviors and attributes necessary for school and life successes.
  • Positive Behavior Supports at all buildings.
  • School social worker and counselors at all buildings
  • The Engaging Teacher Academy at Berrien RESA
  • Mentor teachers for virtual and alternative education programs
  • Growth Mindsets workshop for Mars and Sylvester

All students will demonstrate depth of knowledge in content area courses.
  • MACUL Conference
  • Tech Cohort
  • Unit development for all courses
  • Project Lead the Way training and courses
  • Personal Learning Communities training
  • Social Studies Techbook Integration trainings for Middle School
  • Building the Project Based Learning Core training for Middle School and High School
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A Wall of Excellence

The idea is very simple – a high impact display of excellent work. Not work that necessarily looks pretty, but work that is of a high quality and has been achieved by hard work and determination. Work that sets the standard of excellence and inspires other students to aim for that standard. Work that encourages students to want to go ‘beyond their best’. Work that allows us to celebrate excellence instead of hiding it away. Work that shows what can be achieved with hard work, effort and determination. Work that makes it ‘cool to be smart!

Source: Celebrating Excellence
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Maker Camp

Maker Camp is a free, online community for young Makers interested in DIY, making, creating, crafting, hacking, tinkering, and learning. Make magazine now offers maker activities for after-school programs. Sign up to receive instructions each week to create projects like a booby trap or a light-up bag.

Perfect activities for after-school programs, science clubs, and Fun Fridays!
Booby Traps: Pressure Plate Switch with LED Ghost

Examining Similarities and Differences

Comparing Strategies
  • Comparison Sentence Stems: Teachers can encourage students to find and defend similarities and differences by giving them sentence-completion tasks involving comparison.


An example unit about fairy tales:

_____________and ______________ are alike as fairy tale characters because

they both ________________________________. They are different as fairy tale characters because they ____________________.


  • Venn Diagrams: They require students to identify parallel but different characteristics of two items in opposing sections of two circles, and to identify areas of similarity in the section of the diagram where the circles intersect.



  • Double-Bubble Diagrams: A variation of the Venn diagram involves students placing the names of the two items they are comparing in two parallel bubbles and areas of similarity in bubbles placed between them. Students identify areas of difference in bubbles to the left and right of the items that are being compared.



  • Comparison Matrix: A formalized way to reinforce students’ work with comparison involves the use of a matrix in which items being compared are listed at the top of the matrix and questions about areas of similarity and difference are listed vertically on the left side of the page.



Classifying Strategies

When students classify, they group items that are alike into categories based on their characteristics or attributes. To use classification to deepen students’ knowledge the teacher should ask the students to independently generate categories and attributes. The student should explain the defining features of the categories and defend why each element belongs in a particular category.


Creating Similes and Metaphors

An engaging and often underused process for deepening students’ understanding involves having them create similes and metaphors for significant concepts and related ideas.

Creating Analogies

Analogical reasoning is a powerful tool to deepen students’ understanding. This process requires students to identify the formal relationship between two sets of items. It is significant for students to support their analogies with reason and explanations that defend their decision making and justify the relationships they have identified between the two sets of items.

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