InstructionMake learning relevant, differentiated, and appropriate to each student.
Instruction is more likely to be effective when teachers can draw from a broad repertoire of instructional strategies to address students’ multiple learning styles; when they make careful decisions about how to allocate time and resources to engage students in meaningful activities; and when they continually assess student progress and make appropriate instructional adjustments based on the assessment results. The instructional behaviors exhibited by skilled teachers have been linked to positive outcomes for students.
These tools are provided as resources to support implementation of the Quality Schooling Framework (QSF). These tools are not a requirement for schools and districts to use.
- The Learning Acceleration Guide
This guide provides appropriate assignments and strong instruction that will accelerate learning in any instructional format: in-person, virtual, or hybrid. The guide emphasizes school experiences that are challenging and engaging and can accelerate students back to grade level.
- Working Document Self‐study Guide for Implementing High School Academic Interventions
This guide will help district–and school–based practitioners conduct self‐studies for planning and implementing high school academic interventions. The self‐study process includes the use of a guide with predetermined focus areas and questions to collect, share, and discuss data with stakeholders. This process may help educators ensure strong implementation of interventions and document current practices in implementing a specific academic practice or multi-tiered system of support or response‐to‐intervention (RTI) policy.
- 7 Actions that Teachers Can Take Right Now: Text Complexity
Both content and literature teachers can increase students’ ability to read complex texts by implementing these practices provided by TextProject, Inc. , a non-profit corporation focused on bringing beginning and struggling readers to high levels of literacy through a variety of research-based strategies and tools.
- The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Lesson Builder
This internet tool provides educators with definitions, models, and instructions on how to create and adapt lessons so they can increase the access and participation of all of their students in the general education curriculum. This tool is but one of the many outstanding resources focused on UDL provided on the CAST Web site.
- INNOVATE: A Blueprint for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in California Public Education (PDF)
Articulates how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can best be taught in terms of its attributes: critical thinking, inquiry, problem solving collaboration, and what is referred to in engineering as design thinking.
- Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Assessment Literacy
An overview of the components of a balanced assessment system as applied to the Common Core State Standards.
- CCSS English Language Arts (ELA): Content Literacy in History/Social Studies Kindergarten through Grade 5
Provides elementary teachers with information, strategies, exemplars, and resources to strengthen students' informational in the context of social studies.
- CCSS Content Literacy in History/Social Studies Grades 6 through 12
Provides a research-based and classroom-tested approach to deepen student understanding of historical content, improve critical thinking, and develop literacy.
Content Literacy for Technical Subjects
Designed specifically for California educators to help them gain deeper knowledge about the background, design, organization, and areas of emphasis of the standards that were adopted by the California State Board of Education in August 2010.
- CCSS ELA: Reading Informational Text
Provides participants with an understanding of informational text and their importance to prepare all students to be college and career ready.
- CCSS ELA: Writing to Inform, Argue, and Analyze
Provides instructional strategies and embedded lessons that reflect key shifts in teaching writing as emphasized by the CCSS.
- CCSS English Language Development (ELD) Standards
Provides an introduction to and practical strategies for implementing the 2012 California ELD (CA ELD) standards.
- CCSS ELD Standards: A Deeper Dive
Explores in depth how to implement the CA ELD standards both for designated ELD and in tandem with the CCSS for ELA/Literacy for content area instruction.
- CCSS Literacy in Science
Addresses building student understanding of inquiry-based science by incorporating and enhancing the literacy skills of oral language (speaking and listening), writing (particularly in science notebooks), and reading of informational text.
- CCSS Mathematics: Kindergarten through Grade 12 Standards (K–12)
Explores the teaching and learning of mathematics through the lens of the Standards for Mathematical Practice for students in kindergarten through grade twelve.
- CCSS Mathematics: Kindergarten through Grade 8 Progressions
Provides an overview of how the CCSS for Mathematics kindergarten through grade eight learning progressions are sequenced across and within two grade-level spans and how to apply these progressions to instructional practice.
- Multi-Tiered System of Supports: Comprehensive Framework for Implementing the CA CCSS
Provides an introduction to Multi-tiered System of Supports as a comprehensive framework for system-wide supports and structures to address barriers to access and opportunity for ALL students to meet the CCSS for ELA/Literacy.
- A Blueprint for Creative Schools: A Report to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson by the Arts Education Task Force (PDF)
This document summarizes over two years of work by over 100 contributors, dedicated to making a creative education possible for all of California’s students by making the arts a central component of curriculum. The Blueprint proposes the infusion of the 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity – into all education policy, and making equity and access are the overriding critical lenses through which to view all policy recommendations.
- The Technology Matrix
The matrix is designed to assist schools and districts in assessing the degree to which technology is being integrated in classrooms and to provide teachers with models for using technology to enhance learning for K–12 students in meaningful ways. Short videos illustrate each of the levels for ELA, math, Science and Social Studies, and short lesson overviews provide ideas for implementation.
- Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve
Searchable database of books for children and teens that help students, teachers, and families find books that entertain, inform, and explore new ideas and experiences. Each book has a description called an "annotation" that provides specific information about the book, such as grade level span, language, and discipline. The annotation helps readers decide if the title is interesting and appropriate for selection.
- Designing and Delivering Intensive Interventions: A Teacher's Toolkit
The Toolkit provides activities and resources to assist educators implementing intensive interventions in reading and mathematics for kindergarten through grade twelve students with significant learning difficulties. Grounded in research, the Toolkit provides sequential professional learning activities that clearly illustrate strategies and can be completed individually or in facilitated groups.
- 5 Dimensions of Teaching and Learning: Instructional Framework (Version 4.0)
This tool provides descriptors of teaching practice with guiding questions covering five dimensions: Lesson Purpose; Student Engagement; Curriculum and Pedagogy; Assessment for Learning; Classroom Culture and Environment.
- Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices
This guide presents specific strategies that classroom teachers and specialists can use to increase the reading ability of adolescent students. These recommendations have been validated by What Works Clearinghouse as effective approaches to help students gain more from their reading tasks, improve their motivation for and engagement in the learning process, and assist struggling readers who may need intensive and individualized attention.
- Supporting Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners in English Education
The National Council of Teachers of English provides teachers with eight principles to create humane classrooms where students and teachers learn to use language and literacy in critical and empowering ways. Detailed discussions provide explanations of what it means to develop literacy classrooms that meet the needs of linguistically and culturally diverse learners.
- The Building Blocks of Project-Based Learning
This video describes what project-based learning is and how this process supports 21st Century Skills. This practical overview also offers implementation guidelines and tools, including a template contract for collaborative work. The video offers a strong beginning to a suite of related videos set in a high school, which illustrate how project-based learning increases student engagement in all content areas. See SAGE: A Framework for Project-Based Learning and Group Contracts for Collaborative Work.
- The PROMISE Initiative: Pursuing Regional Opportunities for Mentoring, Innovation, and Success for English Learners (EL)
This research carried out in five southern California counties identified a core of research-based guiding principles, programs, strategies and approaches for EL success. PROMISE defined and piloted a reform model focused on building the capacity of schools and districts to implement powerful EL programs that resulted in English proficiency, mastery of academic content and development of 21st century competencies.
- Creating Instructional Program Coherence
This article reviews research on the benefits of building instructional program coherence based on a common instructional framework guiding curriculum, teaching, assessment, and learning climate. Indicators of what instructional program coherence looks like are described. Suggestions for principals on building instructional coherence are cited from research literature.
Excerpted from California Department of Education's (CDE’s) External Linking Policy: The CDE is providing these external links only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any external link does not imply endorsement by the CDE or any association with the sites' operators.
“Skillful instruction is an imperative to bring curriculum to life for young learners, and flexible instruction is necessary to make curriculum work for academically diverse student populations.” (1)
Instruction is the process of teaching and engaging students with content. (2) While curriculum is the organized content and plan for engaging students with specific knowledge and skills, instruction is how a teacher organizes time and activities in implementing that content and plan. Instruction and curriculum also rely on a high-quality system of assessment so that, in the course of instruction, teachers have insight into student learning and can adjust instruction accordingly. Effective assessment also ensures that stakeholders in the school community are aware of how students have benefited from instruction—or how instruction might be modified.
Most researchers and practitioners suggest that high-quality instruction meets each student where he or she is in learning the curriculum, so that instructional activities build on students’ prior knowledge and are relevant and differentiated. This instructional approach means that teachers will design and apply different methods to help students access critical content. (3)
A growing body of evidence indicates that the effectiveness of teachers’ instructional practice has an enormous impact on whether and how students learn and thrive. (1) Studies have shown that differences in student performance across classrooms are attributable to teachers and to instruction that is aligned to current content. (2)
Explicit instruction strategies engage students in the learning process, stretching their knowledge and skills in the curriculum. (3) Instructional strategies such as effective use of targeted direct instruction, scaffolding and modeling, monitoring student learning, and two-way feedback among students and teachers are associated with improved student achievement. (4) And recent research on teaching students’ metacognition—that is, to “think about their thinking”—has revealed improvement in student study skills and self-questioning. (5)
The quality of the instruction teachers deliver has a striking impact on student achievement. When instruction is differentiated to accommodate students’ learning styles, backgrounds, perspectives, and cultural identities, teachers often see dramatic improvements, particularly for students who are working below grade level academically. (6)
Several instruction-related teacher behaviors and actions are linked to positive outcomes for students. (1) Research indicates that instruction is most successful when teachers:
- Possess an in-depth understanding of the content and the standards they are expected to teach.
- Continually strive to increase their knowledge of content, monitor student progress, and use the results of assessment to guide instruction, structure opportunities for students to apply learning, and maintain high but realistic goals reflective of student content standards. (2)
- Apply research-based instructional strategies appropriate to the instructional goals, content standards, and students’ needs—including effective scaffolding—to enable all students to experience, rather than avoid, the complexity of the text or content required by the current content standards. (3)
- Provide opportunities for acceleration and enrichment for all students, including those with specific diagnosed instructional needs. (4)
Teachers with access to technology may use it to monitor student learning, provide timely feedback, and engage students in interactive activities. Technology can further aid in customizing scaffolds, learning tasks, and a variety of assessments. (5)
To ensure quality education for all students, the needs of special subgroups of learners must be addressed. For example by implementing systematic language development, English learners can “develop the requisite academic literacy skills needed for success in mainstream classes, for meeting content standards, and for passing standardized assessments in their second language.” (6) For English learners, the California English Language Development (CA ELD) Standards describe the key knowledge, skills, and abilities in core areas of systematic language development that students need in order to access, engage with, and achieve in grade level academic content areas. Varying instructional techniques support English learners in accessing English language arts, mathematics, science, and history/social studies curriculum at the same time that they are progressing through the ELD continuum. For in-depth technical assistance, see the ELD Standards Implementation Plan (PDF; 1MB).
Students with special needs also require a teacher’s expertise in using sound assessment tools to gain information about student learning that can be used to deliver high-quality, evidence-based, individualized instruction and support services aligned with the California Common Core State Standards. (7)
School leaders also contribute to instruction and student learning. Principals improve student learning by creating a climate of participation, motivating teachers, encouraging a professional community, and ensuring that collaboration occurs regularly around instructional issues. (8)
Standards and Frameworks
- English Language Development Standards
Web page for those interested in following the alignment of English language development (ELD) standards with current English language arts standards.
- Content Standards
Content standards were designed to encourage the highest achievement of every student, by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that students should acquire at each grade level.
- Career Technical Education (CTE) Model Curriculum Standards
Web page for those interested in following the revision of CTE Model Curriculum standards.