Teacher Learning Community

Spring 2017 TLC: Developing Classrooms of Inquiry - Activity 4 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.

Teaching for Transfer

Essential Question: How can teachers systematically utilize tools of inquiry to foster an environment where students engage in deep learning while making cross-disciplinary connections to the real world?

Teaching for transfer means that we design instruction with the intention that we are helping support students to apply their learning in new contexts and new content areas. Within this activity, we will explore what transfer is, how we can teach for transfer, and how the Common Core shifted expectations of how students will apply their learning. Closely related to the idea of transfer is performance-based assessment. In order to perform well on performance-based assessments, students must be able to transfer and apply their learning to a new context. So, when we consider what a performance-based assessment might look like for a given learning objective, topic, or unit, we have to think about how our teaching encourages students to transfer their knowledge.



Chapter 3, from the book How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, describes how learning and transfer help people develop competency.   

"In Hampton High's Disaster Mission Relief, math students role-play air traffic controllers and pilots to assess their skills in a performance-based simulation."

"Tenth-grade students in Claire Wolff's humanities class at Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School in New York City think like historians to curate a collection of primary source documents that are the best match for a Document-Based Question similar to what they will encounter on New York State's global history and geography Regents exam."

"See what a difference project-based learning makes for middle school math students as part of a federal i3 project using ConnectEd's hands-on math curriculum."

This video show whole class instruction in opinion writing for grades 3-5.  

In this video, several researchers who study transfer in various contexts discuss their definitions of transfer.


This Colorado Professional Learning Network webpage houses an assessment resource bank that align with Colorado Academic Standards. 

This website contains information about authentic assessment including an overview of how to create it and some examples of authentic assessment tasks and rubrics for all grade levels.

This book chapter shares many examples of performance-based assessment and discusses how it can help you to determine whether a student is able to use what they have learned and apply that knowledge to a real-world problem. 

"In Hampton High's PBA Chemistry Research Project, students create a model of their compound, produce a video about it, and defend it in a debate."

This article explains four elements of an instructional framework that supports the use of inquiry instruction in the classroom.

In this article, Grant Wiggins defines the purpose of schooling as teaching for transfer and elaborates on what this means and how we get there.


How can we ensure that students are applying what they learn in different situations? This article describes a few different types of transfer and what teachers can do to help increase the likelihood that transfer will occur.


This article discusses strategies and tools to get your students problem solving and asking/answering higher thinking questions.