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T-STEM » T-STEM Common Instructional Framework

T-STEM Common Instructional Framework



In Collaborative Group Work, students engage in learning by
constructing group solutions, texts, experiments, or works of art.
Effective group work is well planned and strategic. Students are
grouped intentionally, with each student held accountable for
contributing to the group work. Activities are designed so that
students with diverse skill levels are supported as well as challenged
by their peers. They are planned around meaningful tasks in the
subject area that are conceptually rich, engaging, and have multiple
entry points for all students.


Through Writing to Learn, students can develop their ideas, their
critical thinking abilities, and their writing skills . Writing to Learn
enables students to experiment every day with written language
and to increase their fluency and mastery of written conventions.
By taking time to write in low-stakes exercises, students actively
engage in thinking about a concept. Writing to Learn increases
equity within the classroom since students have time to try out their
ideas in non-evaluative activities before they have to present them
to a group or as individuals . Writing to Learn can also be used as
formative assessment and as a way to scaffold mid- and high-s takes
writing assignments and tests.


Scaffolding helps students to connect prior knowledge and
experience with new information and ideas. Teachers use
information from assessments of prior knowledge to plan a careful
sequence of activities that continually links that knowledge and
understanding to new knowledge and skill attainment. Teachers
challenge students step by step with increasingly more difficult
tasks and concepts to ensure they are continuously learning.


Questioning challenges students and teachers to use good questions
as a way to open conversations and further intellectual inquiry.
Effective Questioning (by the teacher and by students) deepens
classroom conversations and the level of discourse students apply
to their work. Teachers use this strategy to create opportunities
for students to investigate and analyze their thinking, as w ell as
the thinking of their peers and the authors they read in each of
their classes. The mark of a highly engaged classroom is when all
students are asking thoughtful questions on their own initiative.


Classroom Talk creates the space for students to articulate their
thinking and strengthen their voices. Classroom Talk takes place
in pairs, in Collaborative Group Work, and as a whole class. As
students become accustomed to talking in class, the teacher serves
as a facilitator to engage students in higher levels of discourse.
Teachers introduce and reinforce the use of academic language and
encourage students to use that language in their classrooms.


Literacy Groups provide students with a collaborative structure for
understanding a variety of texts, problem sets, and documents by
engaging them in a high level of discourse. Group roles or rounds
traditionally drive Literacy Groups by giving each student a role to
play and a defined purpose within the group. The specific roles or
discussion guidelines may vary for different content areas, lengths
of text, or students’ levels of sophistication, but the purpose of
Literacy Groups is to raise engagement with texts by creating a
structure within which students actively probe the meaning of the
text or problem set.