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Tips From Dr. Marzano

Delivering on the Promise


Delivering on the PromiseThe following tips are designed to assist you in applying the latest research in tangible ways in your classroom, school, or district.


Teachers can use specific strategies to incorporate student voice and choice into teaching and learning.

Power Vote, also known as Spend-a-Buck, is one effective tool to ensure there is equal voice given in the classroom to all students and choice in prioritizing an activity list or next project for the class. Prior to power voting, the teacher or class members have brainstormed to create a list in regards to a question prompt (e.g., "What can we do to increase our class effectiveness?"). All possible solutions to the question are written on one large poster paper. Students are given three sticky dots each and place their dots beside the solutions they feel should be prioritized. Any combination of dots is allowed. Points are totaled with the highest point values becoming the priority actions for the class. This tool can also be used electronically. When students see that their vote counts, they are more engaged in their learning.

Teachers can use student feedback to develop student voice and choice in the classroom.

Teachers can gain feedback as a means to check and adjust teaching in a timely manner using the Parking Lot Tool. Student feedback allows you to monitor learning, respond to needs in the classroom, and celebrate learning successes as they happen.

Hang a large sheet of paper divided into four quadrants: Plus, Delta, Questions, and Ideas. Encourage students to write their questions and comments in the corresponding quadrants of the chart at break times or as needed. During work sessions or breaks, check the chart and answer or comment on each point. Relay the information to the group as a whole, or allow for anonymity as it suits the needs of the group. A classroom teacher could use the Parking Lot Tool to help meet the academic needs of students.

This tool allows students to:

  • Voice opinions in a positive way.
  • Comment, ask questions, or request information that is off the current subject or task without interrupting what is going on.
  • Make suggestions for improving the learning session or activity.
  • Contribute to classroom trust and collaboration.

Teachers can use this simple activity to develop voice in the classroom.

Most of us are familiar with turning to a neighbor to discuss content. This is a simple tool for developing voice that can be used in your classroom. Create a culture of students using voice in the classroom by providing practice in the art of discussion. Teachers should emphasize the discussion process rather than the content during the first discussions and debrief to determine what did and did not work. After practicing, ask students to turn to a neighbor to discuss answers to a question or brainstorm solutions to a problem around content—a math concept, a difficulty presented in a selection of literature, or a theory. Teachers can use turn to a neighbor to let students brainstorm their ideas with a partner before verbalizing in front of the whole group in order to build confidence and deepen understanding. Another example honors students’ individual thoughts and allows students to practically apply their knowledge in a conversation by asking students to turn to a neighbor and tell them what their thoughts are about a topic without sharing with the whole group. Engaging student voice in classroom discussions deepens content knowledge and supports higher student achievement through constructing understanding and student engagement in learning.