Killing Off ‘Zombie’ Interventions: The Need to Root Out Ineffective Instructional Strategies

Posted on February 02, 2011

“It’s not what you say or do that ultimately matters… It IS what you

get the students to do as a result of what you said and did that counts.”

1) Choral responses – all say it together-wakes students up -gives thinking time – very helpful to rovide a cue such as holding your hands up – then drop to signal it’s time to respond

  • cue students to show you they are ready…e.g. ”thumbs up when you know…
  • non-verbal choral responses too, healing “touch the word… put your finger under…”
  • provides a safe way to practice academic language together – e.g. repeating a model sentence

2) Partner responses – one of the most potent strategies we have to increase active language use, shop attention, no rx higher order thinking, etc. during instruction.

  • teacher chooses partners – alternate ranking based on literacy/social skills
  • assign roles – A and B, one and two (“A’s tell B’s 2 things we have learned about…)
  • specific topic – “what do you predict___; two things we’ve learned about___”)
  • short time periods – 15 seconds, 1 minute, etc.
  • monitor individual students, provide feedback & scaffolding as necessary

** Be sure to structure the academic language (e.g., sentence starters, “I predict that _________.”)

3)  Written responses – especially as you move up the grades (3 and above)

  • writing first increases thinking, accountability, focus, etc
  • provides the teacher with concrete feedback (e.g., “do I need to clarify this?”
  • connects written language to oral language, provides practice w/syntax & grammar

4)  Randomly call on students (or “faux randomly!!) – Whole Group Discussion

  • NO hand raising questions (“Who can tell me ____?”)
  • If it is worth doing ALL students need to be “doing the doing” of learning – NOT just watching others!
  • increases accountability, attention, focus, involvement and it is more fun/lively & effective!

Explicit Academic Language Teaching

–        Provide students with the language tools (vocabulary, grammar & syntax) neccessary to competently discuss the topic (“One consequence of the invention was a rise in __________.”)  For example, Sentence Starters: Model for students fluent use of a sentence starter and have them repeat the model sentence chorally BEFORE rehearsing their sentence w/a partner.

Multiple benefits of strutured thinking & partner rehearsal BEFORE Whole Class Discussions Include:

1. increases number of students actively “doing the doing” of learning – actively responding

2. all students get feedback/clarification/support from their partners – no practicing of errors

3. more time to think and rehearse – encourages reflection and thoughtfullness

4. students likely to be more confident and willing to share with the group

5. all students provided the scaffolding to confidently utilize target academic language (vocab & syntax)

6. increases the odds students are attentive, engaged in the instructional conversation

7. teacher has written/spoken “evidence checks” of learner engagement

8. provides the teacher w/informal assessment – teacher can listen in or “dip stick” 2 or 3 pairs

Authors: Archer, Feldman, & Kinsella (2008).


“It’s not what you say or do that ultimately matters… It IS what you

get the students to do as a result of what you said and did that counts.”

1) Choral responses – all say it together-wakes students up -gives thinking time – very helpful to rovide a cue such as holding your hands up – then drop to signal it’s time to respond

  • cue students to show you they are ready…e.g. ”thumbs up when you know…
  • non-verbal choral responses too, site “touch the word… put your finger under…”
  • provides a safe way to practice academic language together – e.g. repeating a model sentence

2) Partner responses – one of the most potent strategies we have to increase active language use, attention, higher order thinking, etc. during instruction.

  • teacher chooses partners – alternate ranking based on literacy/social skills
  • assign roles – A and B, one and two (“A’s tell B’s 2 things we have learned about…)
  • specific topic – “what do you predict___; two things we’ve learned about___”)
  • short time periods – 15 seconds, 1 minute, etc.
  • monitor individual students, provide feedback & scaffolding as necessary

** Be sure to structure the academic language (e.g., sentence starters, “I predict that _________.”)

3)  Written responses – especially as you move up the grades (3 and above)

  • writing first increases thinking, accountability, focus, etc
  • provides the teacher with concrete feedback (e.g., “do I need to clarify this?”
  • connects written language to oral language, provides practice w/syntax & grammar

4)  Randomly call on students (or “faux randomly!!) – Whole Group Discussion

  • NO hand raising questions (“Who can tell me ____?”)
  • If it is worth doing ALL students need to be “doing the doing” of learning – NOT just watching others!
  • increases accountability, attention, focus, involvement and it is more fun/lively & effective!

Explicit Academic Language Teaching

–        Provide students with the language tools (vocabulary, grammar & syntax) neccessary to competently discuss the topic (“One consequence of the invention was a rise in __________.”)  For example, Sentence Starters: Model for students fluent use of a sentence starter and have them repeat the model sentence chorally BEFORE rehearsing their sentence w/a partner.

Multiple benefits of strutured thinking & partner rehearsal BEFORE Whole Class Discussions Include:

1. increases number of students actively “doing the doing” of learning – actively responding

2. all students get feedback/clarification/support from their partners – no practicing of errors

3. more time to think and rehearse – encourages reflection and thoughtfullness

4. students likely to be more confident and willing to share with the group

5. all students provided the scaffolding to confidently utilize target academic language (vocab & syntax)

6. increases the odds students are attentive, engaged in the instructional conversation

7. teacher has written/spoken “evidence checks” of learner engagement

8. provides the teacher w/informal assessment – teacher can listen in or “dip stick” 2 or 3 pairs

Authors: Archer, Feldman, & Kinsella (2008).

As districts move to full adoption of RTI, cialis 40mg they must ensure that interventions used to address student academic and behavioral issues are evidence-based. Schools, generic therefore, viagra 100mg should have a process in place to identify effective Tier 1 (classroom) intervention ideas that have strong empirical support and to get those ideas into the hands of teachers who serve as RTI ‘first responders’ (Fuchs & Deschler, 2007).

But even as research uncovers new effective intervention techniques, it also sometimes reveals an unwelcome surprise–that specific classroom interventions currently in wide use actually are ineffective or can even make student problems worse. Despite evidence suggesting that certain instructional or intervention strategies are harmful, however, schools often still cling stubbornly to those practices. Such discredited practices can be thought of as ‘zombie’ interventions—despite clear and compelling research arguing against their use, they resist eradication and linger on in classrooms all over the country. . . . . . . .  Read More at: http://www.interventioncentral.org/index.php/blog/36-effective-interventions/211-zombie-interventions

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