ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Creative Instruction for Empowerment and Success in the Classroom

Updated on April 25, 2016
Title available on
Title available on | Source

How to Individualize Instruction for Overcrowded Classes

One of the greatest challenges for regular education teachers is how to differentiate instruction so that each student feels as though s/he is receiving individualized attention, while also meeting standards for quality education.

Many teachers are feeling discouraged in the education environment, leading to a mass exodus from teaching careers. Teachers who are able to are retiring early; some who are experienced but are not eligible for retirement are seeking other professional opportunities, and the numbers of students enrolling in education courses at the university levels are diminishing. One major challenge is preparing students for academic success with few resources and almost no support. Mix in with these circumstances a classroom of 35 to 45 students of varying learning abilities, and the obstacles can seem insurmountable.

There are ways that instruction can be differentiated so that the majority of students can feel individually empowered to succeed, and that don't take more than a planning period to put together. Sound impossible? It took me several years of teaching to learn from the best. And I found one of the best helps ever: A book called Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor.

Using Concrete Examples to Illustrate Abstract Concepts

I teaching 10th grade World History, as well as German. I also teach writing courses at the university level. Many of the strategies I use were initially developed for elementary aged students; however, they have been modified to meet the needs of both high school and adult learners.

Some strategies You Can Use:

1) Understanding Prior Knowledge. Tanny McGregor uses a lint roller as a way for students to interact with schema. Choose two places: The first is a place the students are mainly familiar with; the second is one that only you are familiar with. Make a T-Chart on the board and see how many descriptors students can come up with for each place. The one that only you know should draw a variety of blanks and responses like "What's that?"

All of us are unique because we all have different experiences. Have students write things that they have experienced: favorite foods, places, pieces of music, influential people, books, quotes, etc. Then, roll the lint roller over those sheets of paper. Our brain, like the lint roller, holds onto everything and makes up our understanding of the world, and subsequently, the materials we use to teach about the world. What happens if you have no prior knowledge for the information you're given? How can you use other experiences to fill in the blanks?

2) Developing Inferences: Tanny McGregor uses a beat up old pair of slippers as her example. For my classes, I use a beat up old winter coat that I've worn to change the oil in my car; cats have made nests in it; I've cleaned out the attic space wearing this jacket. I fill the pocket with all kinds of things, including a beat up copy of A Wrinkle in Time, an old set of keys, a wallet with zero clues for ID in it; hair ties, stuffed animals, and a baby sock. You can use a trash bag; you can use whatever you like with whatever objects you want. I then ask my students what they can tell me about the person who owns the jacket based on the objects that they find in it. Again, making a T-Chart on the board, you can have students give their statements, and also list the pieces of evidence they used to develop their conclusions.

Abstract thinking is best supported with concrete examples.  It's not just for students in elementary school or students with learning differences.  Everyone feels empowered to use his or her own experiences and ideas to generate final conclusions.
Abstract thinking is best supported with concrete examples. It's not just for students in elementary school or students with learning differences. Everyone feels empowered to use his or her own experiences and ideas to generate final conclusions. | Source

Tying information to Content/Standards

In a History class, there is very little background information my students have on a variety of nations and the events that shaped them. But these activities can be applied to greater discussions as pre-reading strategies and post-reading strategies.

Example: Clashes between World Religions during the Age of Exploration: How does European Catholicism during the time of influence the ways in which Explorers interacted with other people with other religious cultures? (These are really abstract concepts. How can using concrete examples help to guide students through reading and writing practices to help them answer this question?) Use your own prior knowledge to develop inferences based on the evidence we have on this time frame and era. The more hands-on activities, you use, the better off your students will be with analysis and developing opportunities to read and write with purpose.

Have Fun!

As educators, parents, mentors, etc., we all struggle to find way to ensure our children are engaged with educational information in a way that reaches them personally. We tend to forget that our greatest asset is our own creativity and the connections we have to our own students. Find ways to modify instruction to include abstract activities as much as possible. Reading to obtain information is a challenge for many of our students, and we don't need to be discouraged by potential shortcomings. Rather, use them as an opportunity to generate your own excitement with the lessons. See what your students come up with. Encourage them to explore their own conclusions. Use concrete connections! They are amazing and will change the way you interact with educational materials.

Tell me what you think!

Cast your vote for Creative Teaching for Stronger Connections


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • IvoryTusk profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Yes, it is all about connecting with my students. If something works in my classroom, it is a safe bet that it can work in other environments, too. I think I may have made an error focusing this only on education, and not on the power of play in all areas of our lives.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      This is a much different Hub than your others. It's interesting to see how you take your own personal messages into the work that you do. I am intrigued.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)