Teacher Learning Community

Fall 2017 TLC: High Expectations and the Thinking Classroom - Activity 3 Resources

Course leader:

Teacher Quality Standards

  • QS III: Teachers plan and deliver effective instruction and create an environment that facilitates learning for their students.
    • Element D: Teachers establish and communicate high expectations and use processes to support the development of critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • QS I: Teachers demonstrate mastery of and pedagogical expertise in the content they teach.
    • Element C: Teachers demonstrate knowledge of the content, central concepts, inquiry, appropriate evidence-based instructional practices, and specialized characteristics of the disciplines being taught.

Engaging Students in Deeper Learning

In this activity you will explore the ways teachers can intentionally plan for instruction so that students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills related to what they are learning.  The resources will focus on ways teachers can prompt students to construct knowledge and create new meaning in their learning.



This article defines and explains fully guided instruction and also states that fully guided instruction is the most effective way to deliver new concepts, skills, and information.   

This article discusses ten teaching strategies that research has shown as effective best practices in the classroom.  Strategies and ideas are also included for implementation.  

This webpage houses Colorado Academic Standards for content and grades.  

The highlights of this reading, which is an excerpt from the book Getting to Got It: Helping Struggling Students Learn How to Learn, revolve around the cognitive structures, or “the basic mental processes” used to make sense of new information. Examples of these patterns of thoughts are provided, focusing on real classroom situations and how teachers have helped their students move from getting it to got it!

This list of instructional strategies was compiled by the Washoe County School District.

This article takes a deep dive into what it really means for students to think critically. Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Daniel Willingham, details the latest research in an effort support teachers as they explicitly model and scaffold critical thinking strategies with their students.

This article gives some helpful tools and definitions to help us understand how to focus on central concepts in instruction. Scroll to the bottom to access a focused unit plan template. 


In this video, teacher Monica Baines demonstrates how she uses questioning to scaffold learning for students and investigate and analyze thinking.

In this video, teacher of the year Sarah Wessling models a lesson for 4th graders to determine the difference between a concrete detail and an abstract concept. She demonstrates methods to scaffold critical thinking for all learners.

This video shows how teacher Julia Gelormino uses open-ended questions with first grades to encourage academic thinking and conversation during a math talk.

This webpage houses resource and research that support the ideas that anyone can learn, mistakes and struggle are good, and visual connections in mathematics support best learning.

This video shows a class discussion in which students are analyzing text and posing questions to enhance understanding. Students cite text evidence to support their answers.