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March 18, 2021

Video Playlist: Active and Exploratory Instruction Video Playlist

I recently came across a fun infographic from We Are Teachers titled, A Teacher’s Guide to the Perfect Summer in 15 Simple Steps. Step #6 suggests that summer provides an opportunity for reflection — on what kind of teacher I am now, what kind of teacher I want to be, and how I get from where I am to where I want to be.

Watching classroom-based videos can help inspire such reflection. As you see other teachers and students in action, you gain insight into your own practice and cultivate a growth mindset. And specific strategies or practices from other classrooms can provide a path for such growth.

Below are 10 titles to add to your summer watchlist. All of the videos focus on active and exploratory instruction and spotlight what students do, under their teachers’ direction and facilitation. The featured strategies actively engage students in a range of hands-on activities, cooperative learning, and peer-teaching. These videos are from Success at the Core, an online toolkit designed to improve school leadership, classroom instruction, and student outcomes.


  • How does this video help me to better understand the teacher that I am now?
  • In what ways does this video inspire me to grow in my practice?
  • What practical strategies from this video can I incorporate into my own teaching?


The Big Brain: A Cooperative Learning ProtocolStudents in Barbara Cleveland’s class utilize a four-step protocol as they solve math problems in small groups. See how they discuss possible solutions, cite evidence, and review one another’s work, and notice the role that the teacher plays in this process.

A Descriptive Writing Experience: Teacher Aaron Allen wants his students to show more and tell less in their narrative writing. Sound familiar? In this video, you’ll see how he uses Oreo cookies to help his students recognized the difference.

Facilitating Academic Discourse: Take a look at the strategies that science teacher Steven English uses to facilitate student-centered discussion. As he takes a back seat, students grapple with concepts and vocabulary from a cars and ramps lab.

Fraction Manipulatives: Erlinda Fazio believes that students understand math best when they build, draw, and write. Notice how students use fraction strips and circle graphs as part of this three-step process.

Exploring Predictions: In this measurement lab, students make and test predictions. As part of his inquiry-based approach, teacher Al Gonzalez asks many questions and offers few answers.

Moving Beyond Brainstorming: As part of what she calls “baby steps” in the writing process, Karrie Fansler teaches her students a categorization method, designed to help them move brainstormed ideas into topic-specific groupings.

Building a 3-D Model: Science teacher Keith Olive believes that students have to see it to understand it. Watch students build models of a volcano on Mars and in the process, gain a clearer sense of its magnitude.

Facilitating Peer Learning: What does a student-centered classroom look like? Check out Mark Egger’s math class and notice the strategies he uses to transfer the focus from teacher to student.

Analyzing Data in Small Groups: Hear teacher Chris Blea explain how small group work scaffolds success for students in her class. As students work together on data analysis, their individual understanding of key concepts grows.

Inquiry-Based Discussion: To help them grapple with themes from To Kill a Mockingbird, students in Karrie Fansler’s class engage in a whole-class discussion. Watch how the teacher encourages participation and poses questions to keep the conversation going.


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