California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II

Time for multiple opportunities to succeed

Differentiated instruction is one way that teachers help students learn according to their own abilities. Differentiated instruction includes learning activities requiring varied lengths of time for active and passive teaching strategies that match students’ learning styles and academic needs.  

Direct instruction typically requires less time than active learning, which includes creative writing, problem solving, experimenting, constructing, perfecting visual and performing arts skills, and other activities that link knowing and doing abilities.

In the Spotlight

Granger Junior High School, Sweetwater Union High School District, a 2009 Schools to Watch™–Taking Center Stage Model School
The staff members at Granger Junior High School made a commitment to provide immediate analysis of quiz results so that students could continue to improve. Using a school wide data system, teachers are able to provide immediate feedback on weekly quiz results for all core classes. The readily-available data also allows teachers to differentiate and provide enrichment opportunities to students who understand the standard, or to re-teach those who have not yet mastered concepts. Students who do not pass a quiz are assigned tutors in the after-school program where they may also retake the quiz.

Struggling adolescent learners may need additional time and alternative strategies to understand difficult concepts. Effective teachers often deliver information to students through the senses:

  • Hear it (teacher explains a lesson orally).
  • See it (students follow along in their books).
  • Say it (reteach to the team or partner).
  • Draw it (write or draw an example).
  • Move with it (get out of seats, act it out, dance to music, sing it).
  • Repeat it (Students summarize what they learned either orally or in writing).

Other ways to give students multiple opportunities to succeed include tutoring, remedial courses, and after school academies.

Some schools designate a short period each day—often 20-30 minutes—for students to practice core skills in math and ELA. For example, some schools use this time for sustained silent reading and study skills. A review of the literature on the effects of incorporating sustained silent reading (SSR) in class indicated that native speakers of English and students of English as a second language grew in both reading comprehension and vocabulary development relative to the amount of time spent reading. Students also develop more positive attitudes toward reading after the SSR programs. Researchers indicated that the effects of SSR are more prominent when the students are allowed to select their own reading materials and when the SSR programs are run for six months or more.1

At the KIPP Academy in New York, students begin the day with a special "Thinking Skills" period. During this 20-minute period, students work to solve a specific problem (usually a math problem) that requires them to think through and process numerous pieces of information. The purpose of these exercises is to improve student’s analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.2

Related Links

Time to Meet Student Needs

Time for tutoring and mentoring

1Ping-Ha Chow and Chi-Ting Chou, Evaluating Sustained Silent Reading in Reading Classes(Outside Source), The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11 (November 2000).
2David Farbman and Claire Kaplan, Time for a Change: The Promise of Extended-Time Schools for Promoting Student Achievement (PDF; Outside Source) . Boston: Massachusetts 2020, 2005, 11.

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