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Ruby Payne Teaching Strategies. Research-Based Strategies: Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Under-Resourced Learners. Vocabulary – Let’s think about one reason your students may have issues with it… . Fostering Student Engagement.

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ruby payne teaching strategies

Ruby Payne Teaching Strategies

Research-Based Strategies: Narrowing the Achievement Gap for Under-Resourced Learners

fostering student engagement
Fostering Student Engagement

What can teachers do to foster student engagement and create positive peer culture?

“When working with kids who come from difficult backgrounds … you’ve really got to understand these kids. You’ve got to understand what they don’t understand and what their misunderstandings are, and you’ve got to have the confidence to say, ‘If these children tell me what they are thinking, I can clear up any confusions that they have.’”

–Ronald Ferguson

Recent Research on the Achievement Gap with Ronald Ferguson. Harvard Education Letter. November/December 2006.

ruby s response to this
Ruby’s Response To This
  • More than 80% of kids in any classroom say they plan to do their best all year long—if you ask them in the fall.
  • We need to give teachers the learning experiences that help them reach and teach some of the kids they are struggling to understand if we want kids to persist and do their best work all year.
what is content comprehension
What is Content Comprehension?
  • We want more than just “understanding” information, content comprehension is also understanding content so we may “manipulate” it.
  • Applying content comprehension to Language Arts:
    • Purpose – to study how structure and language are
    • Structures – genres, (poetry, drama, etc.)
    • Patterns – units of study
    • Processes – reading, writing, speaking, filmmaking and listening.
so what
So What???
  • An expert teacher is always going to help his/her students understand the relationship between these processes.
  • Once a student has accomplished content comprehension, the teacher then may spend the bulk of the time teaching the use and manipulation of the content
  • Then this leads to higher order questioning and learning.
    • Instead of asking “what color was the girl’s dress” you can ask “What specific techniques did the writer use to make the reader feel empathetic toward the girl?”
mental models
Mental Models
  • Research shows children from poverty do not understand the “abstract”.
  • When mental models are directly taught, abstract information can be learned much more quickly and retained because the mind has a way to contain or hold it.
    • One of the most important mental model for time is PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE.
    • Helps with cause, effect, consequence and sequence
    • How do we do this? Allow the student to sketch his/her understanding of a story, concept, vocabulary word or what they think about a person or idea.

Mental Model

Beginning Learner

Skilled Learner

What: Vocabulary/content

Why: The purpose of the information

How: Process/steps

  • Abstract respresentational world – formal schooling
  • Expertise
  • Sensory-based, situated learning
  • Tied to what is already known

When a great discrepancy exists between the way the learner creates understanding and the way the expert communicates understanding, failure results.

asking questions
Asking Questions
  • Many of our students speak in a “Casual Register” and they also do not know how to ask questions.
  • To do any task, one must be able to go inside the head and ask questions and if they cannot ask questions, then they cannot retrieve information in a systematic way. (And of course this can lead to escalation!)
  • Ways to teach students to ask questions:
    • Play “Jeopardy” – this exercise involves the student forming the answer in the form of a question
    • For young students teach them to start questions with who, what, when, where, which or how
    • Have students write their own questions in multiple-choice answers
    • Always have students explain why the wrong answers on a MC test are wrong.
tried and true
Tried and true:
  • Instead of having the students answer questions at the end of the chapter, have the students ask their own questions from the chapter.
    • Research shows that if by the end of the 2nd grade, a student cannot ask questions, it could impact his/her reading.
    • If a student cannot ask questions with purpose it will be difficult for him/her to raise the reading level past the 3rd grade.
    • Keep in mind, in poverty, sometimes if kids ask questions, they get slapped!
    • Studies show that by students asking questions as a part of learning, scores will go up!
writing a multiple choice question
Writing a Multiple Choice Question
  • Writing Multiple-Choice Questions






Three Rules:

  • One wrong-answer choice must be funny
  • Only one answer choice can be right
  • May not use “all of the above,” “non of the above”, etc.


Science Question/Writing Stems



Science Question/Writing Stems




Question Stems FOR

Fifth- and Ninth-Grade Reading

In paragraph _____, what does _____ mean?

Paragraph _____ is mainly about _____.

From the article, the reader can tell …

From the passage, the reader can tell …

From the paragraph, the reader can tell …

From what the reader learns about _____, which statement does not make sense?

How does _____ feel?

Why is it important …

Which of these is the best summary of the selection?

Look at this web (flow chart, graph, charts, etc.). Which detail belongs in the empty space?

An idea present in both selections is …

One way these selections are alike is …

One way these selections are different is …

Paragraph _____ is important because it helps the reader understand …

The reader can tell when _____, he/she will probably …

How does _____ feel?

Adapted from TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills)



Question Stems FOR

Fifth- and Ninth-Grade Reading

In paragraph _____, why is _____ sad? (happy, confused, angry, etc.)

What is this article mainly about?

What can the reader tell about _____ from information in this article?

The author builds suspense by …

One way this story resembles a fable is that …

In paragraph _____, the author uses the word _____ to emphasize _____.

Which of the following words is a synonym (antonym) for the word _____ in paragraph _____?

What is the overall theme expressed in this article?

Which of the following sentences from the article explains the author’s primary conflict?

The audience that would probably relate most to the article’s central message would be …

Why …

How ...


Adapted from TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills)



  • Social Studies question Stem Starters
  • Elementary (K–4)
  • What does the map (chart, drawing, timeline, graph) illustrate?
  • Which statement BEST explains (summarizes) _____?
  • What was the main cause of _____?
  • One advantage of _____ is _____.
  • The primary function (purpose, goal, objective) of _____ is _____.
  • Which of the following were consequences of _____?
  • What is the BEST definition of _____?
  • Which of these is a past (current) trend in _____?
  • Approximately when did _____ occur?
  • Which date is associated with _____?
  • Which of these statements explains how _____?
  • What is an example of _____?
  • Which of these would be the BEST solution to _____?

Developed by

Connie Abernathy



Social Studies question Stem Starters

Secondary (Grades 5–12)

How are different ways of life determined by location?

How do/did _____ adapt to their environment?

How are/were the roles of the _____ different from the _____?

What circumstances led to changes in the lives of _____?

What would happen to the _____ civilization if _____?

How are the _____ and the _____ similar and different?

What connects the grouping?

What was the response by _____ to the _____?

How did the actions of _____ conflict with _____?

How did the _____ feel about _____?

What is the correct sequence for the events?

Developed by

Connie Abernathy

  • Students ask questions, open ended, multiple choice, on content at least 2 times a week.
  • Use the stems to create the questions.
  • Use the outline to create multiple choice questions
  • Always have students identify why answers are wrong
how does this help our students
How does this help our students?
  • This is working toward students asking more and more complex questions. This can help them in the future to resolve conflict and plan.
  • This evolves into self-talk and being able to create order and process. “… first I need to do this, next…”
reading non fiction
Reading Non-Fiction
  • It has been found that when individuals do not have a systematic way to do anything they miss up to 50% of the data.
  • This could be an issue when reading non-fiction!!


  • Use the “Reading Strategies” with “The Wonder of Mughal Agra” and label the article.
  • Answer the questions
  • Did this help you with your comprehension??
  • Of course… design your own process!


Reading Strategies

another strategy let s go boxing
Another Strategy… Let’s go boxing!!

The local high school is putting on the play “West Side Story”. Mrs. Falbo bought 9 adult tickets and 5 children’s tickets for the recital. The total she paid was $67. Mrs. Ustinov bought 7 adult tickets and paid $38.50. How much does each type of ticket cost?

A) adult = $7.44; children’s = $13.40

B) adult = $5.50; children’s = $3.50

C) adult = $6.59; children’s = $7.70

D) adult = $3.50; children’s = $5.50

E) adult = $13.40; children’s = $47.44



Problem-Solving Process

Source: Judy Sain, Daily Math Skills Review

sketching for vocabulary
Sketching for Vocabulary
  • If a student cannot sketch a word, they likely do not know it
  • Idea:
    • Divide the paper into two columns
    • Write a word in the first column and then draw a picture or a visual representation of the word.
    • This creates a very fast way to teach vocabulary.
    • (I used to do this but with a graphic organizer)




I often see a scalenetriangle

on Kenny’s face.

I saw an isosceles triangle in my refrigerator.



The Cereal of


My friend the rhombus is known as the

“Dancing Wonder.”

I found four vertices on a box of cereal.

Adapted from materials by Cathy Fields





  • To help students pass the state assessment, a teacher did the following and was very successful. All of her students took a mock test in math. Then they scored their own papers. They made this grid:
  • In the top row, for each category, students wrote the numbers of the test questions and the objective it went with.
  • Then they identified strategies that could be used with each objective. As they went through the questions, in the second row of boxes, they identified where they would put it, e.g., “no clue” got moved to “I know I could get it right.”
how can this help
How can this help?
  • After the students assess the questions missed, they can go back and count how many questions were in each category
  • Then have them take a similar test and the goal, of course, is that they would do better!
  • Also… this would be most useful in working with GED prep questions from the texts.
  • This is considered “Self-Advocacy” for a student to have more control over what s/he missed on a test.
students plan their own grades
Students Plan Their Own Grades
  • When you plan, you “keep the end in mind”.
  • Planning can help to control impulsivity
  • When students plan their grade and review it weekly, their academics can improve.

English III—Making the Grade

  • 1. What work have I done well in my English class?
    • a.
    • b.
    • c.
    • d.
  • 2. What work have I done poorly in my English class?
    • a.
    • b.
    • c.
    • d.
  • 3. I was/was not satisfied with my grade in English III last semester.
  • 1st _____ 2nd _____ 3rd _____ Exam _____ Average _____


  • English III—Making the Grade
  • (continued)
  • 4. What grade do I realistically believe that I can earn this semester in
  • English III?
  • 5. What will I do in my English class to earn that grade?
    • a.
    • b.
    • c.


Spring Semester

Fourth Grading Period I want to earn ______.

Daily 10% Quiz 30% Test 60%

Fifth Grading Period I want to earn ______.

Daily 10% Quiz 30% Test 60%

Sixth Grading Period I want to earn ______.

Daily 10% Quiz 30% Test 60%

I am/am not satisfied with my grade in English III this semester.

1st _____ 2nd _____ 3rd _____ Exam _____ Average _____

think about how this could be modified to be used in concert with the point system already in place
Think about how this could be modified to be used in concert with the point system already in place?
five models for sorting
Five Models for Sorting
  • Students will get much higher comprehension if they use a technique for sorting.
  • In nonfiction, there are basically five kinds of text and each of the following icons give a student a quick memory tool.
    • Descriptive/Topical
    • Sequence/How-to
    • Story Structure
    • Compare and Contrast
    • Persuasive Reasons



  • Descriptive or topical is the hand.
    • Use each finger to sort topics or descriptive details.



  • Anything sequential is the ladder.
    • Label sequential steps on a ladder


Story Structure

What you sort for and remember in a piece of fiction are the people, the beginning, the middle, the end, the episode, the problem, the goal, the setting. Use the car as a model for sorting and remembering.













Some text is by "compare and contrast“; it is the T-shape; it has two sides.



Persuasive Reasons

Persuasive: If you use a hamburger, the top bun is the person's position. Each one of those pieces of meat is a piece of support. The bottom bun is a conclusion.



  • Using a graph like the one below, have students list the words in the first column to be studied. They evaluate their knowledge level of each word and check the appropriate box. If they have some idea of the meaning, they write in their guess.
  • Following discussion or study, they write the definition in their own words. This activity is particularly useful in helping students develop metacognitive (being able to think about one’s own thinking) awareness.


picture it
Picture it!!
  • With each new story/reading, assign each student one vocabulary word. Students must:
  • Find the word in the story/reading and record the page number (see form below).
  • Find the word in the dictionary and record the pronunciation, number of syllables, part of speech, and definition used in the story.
  • Create a picture of the word (on the form on the next page) to represent the word.
  • Present the word to the class using the definition and picture.


Picture It


what can we do to get kids to read
What Can We Do To Get Kids To Read??
  • You already have AR, how is this being used?
  • Pick topical content areas. (handout)
  • Ideas…???