Explicit instruction and student feedback - scaffolding for success!


Explicit tasks are clear, provides students with a clear sense of direction from the outset and eliminates any potential confusion.

The design of any task begins with a cognitive verb, such as ‘explain’, ‘design’, or ‘compare’. The selection of the right verb is crucial as it defines the task, determines how a student will organise their thoughts and research and influences the language they will use.

This workshop will focus on the careful scaffolding or teaching of the cognitive verbs. This means that the appropriate thinking tools are linked to the various task verbs, students are supported with their written or oral responses and that feedback is provided to the students at the key junctures.

Meaningful student feedback must be provided early and often. A variety of time-saving, yet effective formative student feedback strategies will be offered.

A practical thinking skills framework for assessment and lesson design will be offered. This workshop will also emphasise the importance of designing challenging tasks and supporting these tasks with the appropriate thinking tools and language.

Note: All itc workshops use the digital resource itc thinkdrive. Teachers are requested to bring their laptops / tablets.

Time: 90 minutes - full day workshop

A. Thinking Skills Framework – thinking with purpose

  • Challenging & supporting all students
  • A thinking skills framework based on Bloom’s taxonomy (cognitive domain)
  • The four choices of lesson / unit design & designing six questions under pressure
  • Designing a ‘hook’ for a clear purpose of the unit

B. Critical thinking – some common task verbs


  • Thinking Tool – Double Bubble map with filters, demonstrating breadth and depth for critical thinking
  • Language of ‘Compare’ - sentence starters and connectives


  • Thinking Tool – Judge Jury with a PCQ extension
  • Language of ‘Argue’ – sentence starters – teachers to use in their Judge jury exercise


  • Thinking Tool – justification flow chart
  • Language of ‘justify’ – sentence starters and connectives


  • Thinking Tool – Extent Barometer, with attachment to other tools
  • Language of ‘Recommend’ – sentence starters and connectives

C. Student feedback strategies

  • Formative v summative feedback
  • Strategies for providing early, meaningful and regular formative feedback
  • Teacher, guided self-assessment and guided peer feedback

Supporting research

High Impact Teaching Strategies - Excellence in Teaching and Learning, 2017

  • Scaffolding - planned sequencing, specific steps / activities - effect size: 0.53
  • Metacognition strategies – planning and evaluating progress – effect size: 0.69
  • Feedback – student performance / learning goals - effect size: 0.73

Note: An effect size of 1.0 would improve the rate of learning by 50% and would mean that, on average, students receiving that treatment would exceed 84% of students not receiving that treatment.