red bowling ball and pins

*This post was originally written by Lynn Hill, one of our previous colleagues at Stetson & Associates.

While bowling with my senior bowling team today, I observed a husband and wife team that epitomized the importance of good teaching strategies. As the wife stepped up to bowl, the husband patiently observed her stance and delivery of the ball. He then modeled for her a couple of techniques that might improve her delivery. Each time, she approached the lane, he quietly observed from behind.  After each release, he asked her what she felt she did well or needed to adjust based on what he had modeled for her. I was surprised to see she actually wrote notes, drew pictures and kept her score frame by frame for the entire 10 frames of the game. Later she told me she likes to review and compare her progress from week to week to see how much her game is improving. Her husband is not only her cheerleader, but her coach as well. You can tell how much he loves her, but during these weekly games he does not go easy on her!

Teachers Make a Difference

Like this husband/coach, one of the most important influences affecting student learning is the teacher. Effective teachers appear to be successful with students of all achievement levels regardless of level of heterogeneity in the classroom (Wright et al, 1997 pg. 63) as found in Classroom Instruction that Works by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering and Jane Pollock pg 3.

Over the years, the “art” of teaching has slowly evolved into the “science” of teaching. Much research supports the fact individual teachers can have a powerful effect on students by using successful initial  instructional strategies, and in turn maximizing student achievement.

Smart Quotes from ASCD Smart Brief Back to School Report August 24th…..

The mediocre tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires.

~William Arthur Ward

As exhibited by the bowling coach, teachers who model and have high expectations for all students often obtain the best results from their students.  The power of identifying similarities and differences is a complex mental operation of the human mind.  As the bowler reflects on what she did well and how it aligned with her coach’s modeling, she can identify the adjustments needed to perfect her delivery.  As with students in the classroom, giving guidance and asking questions to independently identify similarities and differences helps to enhance students’ understanding and their ability to implement knowledge gained according to Marzano.  The bowler does this frame by frame by recording data and then analyzing it so she can compare, classify, and create metaphors & analogies to understand what is working and what is not.  She then adjusts accordingly to become more successful at her game.  Research shows this strategy used by teachers to be very effective in building student understanding and the ability to use knowledge effectively as it is acquired.  To simplify the thinking process students and teachers often use organizational tools such as these:

  • Graphic Organizers
  • Comparison Matrixes
  • Metaphors
  • Analogies

organizational chart drawing
These are a few of the websites that provide free graphic organizers:






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