Teach, Understand, Try, Okay, Response

Over the last five years, Mr.Scott has developed a method of classroom instruction based in tutoring. His testing results exploded upward in San Bernardino (the second poorest city in America) turning to each other in class to discuss, interact, and teach each other. Instead of a normal one-year growth for one-year teaching results, 60% of my sixth graders increased one or more quintiles in language arts! Next year 70% of my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade combo class increased quintiles. Then last year, his San Bernardino classroom moved from only 22% of the class to 55% obtaining proficient/advanced levels in language arts. His method encouraged maximum student engagement as students tutored each other.

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Teachers will continue to use their best teaching strategies such as the following: Direct Instruction, Inquiry-Based Learning, Constructivism, and other approaches. Teachers continue to front load and enrich before the lesson, directly instruct, or pose a question that will require higher order of thinking to answer. The Teach stage requires that teachers keep their explanations to “chunk” sizes, something easily digested by students. Students need shorter times of listening so they can repeat or share the information they have heard. The student must be considered as a platform, who will then pass on what they understand to another student during the Understanding stage.


Each student is motivated to understand because they will be explaining the information to their peer or partner. Even if they didn’t understand, they will be able to borrow from their partner’s explanation so they will be prepared to answer if the teacher selects them. I will tell the Ones to explain to the Twos what I have just shared. Then the Two will repeat this back to the One. This will include hand motions, songs, and anything else that appeals to other learning modalities.


Okay is the stage for comparing answers and finds out if the student is doing the work correctly. Teach, Understand, Try, and Okay and Compare all occur before the teacher asks for a response or gives a test. Now partners can check the accuracy. It is powerful when the partners compare their work and find differences. Both must evaluate the work for the error. This stage is important to show where mistakes are being made, safely. There is nothing positive about students getting a test returned and it’s all marked up. Instead the teacher can identify a small group of students for attention in the back or assign a peer tutor to work one-on-one with a struggling student.


Early in my teaching I remember a middle school class where only one person passed the test with an A. It was far too late to re-teach it to the class and it was my fault they didn’t learn it. In the Response step, the teacher wants to know if the information was learned before building on the next step. If most of the class didn’t learn it, find out now! You definitely don’t want a major assessment to tell you when you have already gone on to other learning.

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