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Specific Subject Area Teaching Strategies

Teaching methods or strategies are the activities one uses to help students learn. Some example of teaching strategies are; a lecture about the Bill of Rights, a small group discussing good health habits, an assigned reading about Thoreau with questions to check understanding, a chemistry lab, a ceramics project, and a mathematics worksheet for drill and practice.

These teaching strategies often come together to make up a curriculum of activities and assessments to help students learn. Typically teachers put strategies together based on a cycle of learning that allow students to move toward understanding a concept.

An Experiential Learning Cycle



Planning & Preparing

Identifying a gap between our present understanding and our desired state represents a need. We plan some activity and identify the resources required to meet that need. We specify the criteria and evidence that will let us know it is being met.


We engage in the activity.


We reflect on that experience and gather information. We begin to generalize and internalize what happened on that experience. 


We compare our present state and desired state using the evidential criteria, and use these conclusions to carry on to a further stage of preparing and planning.

Chart adapted from Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: experience as the source of learning and development New Jersey : Prentice-Hall

Such a cycle (such as The 5 E Learning Cycle Model) of learning can be encouraged by matching teaching strategies to the needs of students at each stage of the cycle.


  • Learning Strategies

Engagement: Activities that capture the student's attention, stimulate their thinking and help them access prior knowledge.

  • Demonstration
  • Reading from a web site, magazine, or book
  • Free write Analyze a graphic organizer like a concept map

Exploration: Students are given time to think, plan, investigate, and organize collected information.

  • Reading authentic resources to collect information to answer an open-ended question or to make a decision
  • Solve a problem
  • Construct a model
  • Design and/or perform an experiment

Explanation: Students are involved in an analysis of their exploration. Their understanding is clarified and modified because of reflective activities.

  • Student analysis and explanation
  • Supporting ideas with evidence
  • Reading and discussion

Extension: Students expand and solidify their understanding of the concept and/or apply it to a real world situation.

  • Problem solving
  • Experimental inquiry
  • Thinking skills activities: classifying, abstracting, error analysis, etc.
  • Decision-making


  • Teacher and/or student generated scoring tools or rubrics

Chart adapted from

While many teaching methods are similar from subject to subject, each specific subject area has unique teaching strategies or emphasizes some strategies more than others.

  1. View the general web sites and those specific to your subject area and write a paper that includes:
    • A list and definition the main specific instructional strategies in your subject area.
    • A description of the audience most appropriate for the each strategy.
    • A description of the strengths and weaknesses of each strategy.
  2. Once you have completed the list, speak with a subject area teacher or teachers you know in your local area. Ask what the teacher thinks are the most important and/or useful in their classroom. Ask the teacher why s/he feels that way. Write a summary of the discussion and send to your instructor.
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General Resources

Scan these to see which seem most useful to you.

The following site includes video clips of actual classroom teaching, as well as tips and techniques from master teachers in many subject areas and age levels.

Content Area Web Sites

The web sites below represent select research in different subject areas. Scan them for lists of teaching and learning strategies in your subject area.

Agriculture, Art, Business/Marketing, Computer Science, English Language Arts, English as a Second Language, Family & Consumer Education, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education & Health, Sciences, Social Studies, Technology, World Languages



Business Education/Marketing

Computer Science

English Language Arts

English as a Second Language

Family and Consumer Education



Physical Education/Health


Social Studies


World Languages

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