Our Instructional Design
Although the language used in each of the programs varies slightly, each SFAF lesson is structured around the same basic framework, designed to support cooperative learning
and make the best use of both teacher time and student learning time.
The Cycle of Effective Instruction
During the first portion of each lesson, teachers prepare students for learning. Through questioning and modeling, they lead students through the new content they need to complete the rest of the day’s activities, whether reading a novel, conducting research, or working on a team product.
During this part of the lesson, students take control of their learning, working as partners or teams while teachers circulate through the room checking with individuals or small groups of learners to monitor comprehension and to clarify misunderstandings. This is a teacher’s chance to meet with students one-to-one for targeted instruction.
This takes place both formally and informally across the weekly cycle of instruction. Formal assessments take place at the end of each cycle. Informal assessments occur on a daily basis as teachers circulate around the classroom, through the daily products that students or teams complete, and during the wrap-up discussions at the end of a class period.
Teams earn daily points throughout the cycle for working well together and meeting certain behavioral objectives, and they receive formal recognition and rewards at the end of the cycle based on both the academic improvement of individual team members and the team cooperation points students have earned.
The cooperative-learning routines and other basic classroom-management strategies used by the SFAF are critical elements of a successful school experience. Research based and classroom tested, they form the foundation of the basic daily lesson structure used by SFAF. They also translate easily into non-SFA classrooms, allowing for a schoolwide approach to cooperative learning even in schools that have elected to adopt only a single curriculum component.