IA Department of Education defines the Characteristics of Effective Instruction as follows:

Student-centered Classrooms

Students are directly involved and invested in the discovery of their own knowledge. Through collaboration and cooperation with others, students engage in experiential learning which is authentic, holistic, and challenging. Students are empowered to use prior knowledge to construct new learning and develop meta cognitive processes to reflect on their thinking.

Teaching for Understanding

Students engage in a variety of thought-provoking activities such as explaining, finding evidence and examples, generalizing, applying, making analogies, and representing the topic in new ways. Teachers

  1. make learning a long-term, thinking-centered process
  2. engage students in assessment for learning processes
  3. support learning with representations and conceptual models
  4. teach for learner differences
  5. induct students into the discipline
  6. teach for transfer (Perkins, 1993)

Assessment for Learning

Process used by teachers and students as part of instruction that provides feedback to adjust ongoing teaching and learning to improve students’ achievement of core content. Formative assessment practices provide students with clear learning targets, examples, and models of strong and weak work, regular descriptive feedback, and the ability to self-assess, track learning, and set goals.

Rigor and Relevance

Lessons are cognitively demanding and challenge students to apply the essential concepts and skills to real-world, complex and open-ended situations. Content is linked to core concepts or skills and requires authentic work, discipline-specific methods, and applying what is known or being learned to solve complex problems. Involves use of prior knowledge, development of in-depth understanding, and the ability to develop and express ideas and findings through elaborated communication.

Teaching for Learner Differences

Planning for and responding to variances among learners creates the best learning experience possible. It includes processes to determine effectiveness of instruction, use of data to guide instructional decision-making, and ensure access to success with the Iowa Core for all students.