Marzano Design Question 3: Actively Engaging Your Students in Reviewing Content, Part 1

A little active review before introducing new concepts can go a long way.

Ready to activate the dendrite highways in your learners’ brains in order to deepen understanding of content? 

Actively engaging students in the review of prior learning is a critical step in effective teaching.

Using Design Question 3 in Marzano’s The Art and Science of Teaching we begin by asking, “What will I do to help students practice and deepen their understanding of new knowledge?”

Using the strategies in this design question can guide your lesson sequence. Strategy #14 on the Marzano Learning Map focuses instruction on reviewing content. Taking just a few minutes at the beginning of class to get your students ready to proceed deeper into the content knowledge can pay big dividends.

To plan an active review, first think about these questions:

1. What previous knowledge will students need to activate in order to move to a 3 (mastery of grade level standard) on the learning scale?

2. How will I monitor the majority of the students for the desired effect of the reviewing?

3. How will I modify or adapt my reviewing strategy to meet the needs of unique students and situations?

<>Here’s an idea that take about five minutes of class time and gets learners actively processing content from previous lessons.

Bricks and MortarA Critical Vocabulary Review Activity

Give students eight to twelve words from your academic word wall or word list written on index cards or post-it notes.

For two to three minutes, students work in pairs or triads to choose three words to be the “bricks” and create meaningful sentences (orally or written) that use all three words. The “mortar” is the words or phrases that help them relate or connect the “bricks.” 

Example “bricks”: protocol, elements, evidence

Example sentence using “bricks” and “mortar”: Each element has a protocol that provides examples of teacher and student evidence that can be observed.

This requires active processing because students have to fill in the gaps. After the students have created a few sentences, have the groups share out the sentences.

During the sentence creation phase, you can monitor the students for understanding of the important words and modify or adapt the strategy as needed for individual students or groups. For example, some students may need more prompting or support in order to create a meaningful sentence. 

Be sure to allow at least half of the groups to share out sentences for successful monitoring. You can use response chaining to manage response rates and ensure whole class participation in the sharing phase. As the learner or group of learners share a sentence, ask the rest of the class to evaluate the sentence.

1. Is it correct?

2. Is it partially correct? What needs to be changed or added to make the statement correct?

3. Is it incorrect? Why?

The Bricks and Mortar activity gets your students processing the meanings of the declarative knowledge they need to move on to synthesis levels of thinking and doing required in the unit goals. And best of all, it moves them towards mastery level on your learning scale. 

Tomorrow: Paired Verbal Fluency—An Oral Pair Share Activity

What games and strategies do you use to foster active reviewing? Share your expertise in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply