Student Learning That Works™

Student Learning That Works is a new way to approach an old problem: How can we help all students better learn, recall, and master the content they need to know?

Modern neuroscience and psychology point the way, mapping out the life cycle of memories and thoughts and how they respond to changes in environment. McREL gleaned insights from this research base to create a 6-phase model for student learning that teachers can now use to plan and deliver highly effective classroom instruction aligned to the stages of student learning. We call it Student Learning That Works.

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McREL's 6-Phase Model for Student Learning

McREL 6-phase model for student learning


Chances are, you’ve already got a pretty good set of teaching tools and techniques to help you connect with students—especially if you’re familiar with McREL’s Classroom Instruction That Works® and Curiosity Works® programs. Now, you have a way to align these tools with the science of learning.

Using insights from research on memory and learning, Student Learning That Works and its 6-phase model for student learning will show you how to sequence and present lessons in a way that best aligns with what’s happening inside your students’ brains when they’re learning and applying new academic content.

Student Learning That Works is for teachers who want to go deeper by understanding what is actually happening in students’ minds as they learn.

Will a fleeting sensory input blossom into sophisticated insight, or will it be cast aside, like so much of what we experience?

instructional technology

Good teachers know what to do.

Great ones know why and when to use certain instructional strategies for best effect—and they know how to adapt lessons and activities to match the specific needs of their students. The theoretical and scientific breakthroughs that made Student Learning That Works possible can help any teacher guide student learning with unprecedented precision.

McREL has the expertise to help a school or district analyze its instructional practices and make recommendations for alignment with the Student Learning That Works learning model. We can also provide professional learning and coaching experiences that help teachers use instructional strategies that best suit each phase of learning. Contact us today to get started!


Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd Ed.)

First published in 2001, Classroom Instruction That Works revolutionized teaching by linking nine categories of instructional practices to evidence of increased student learning. This second edition explores each of the nine instructional strategy categories, and delivers expanded evidence-based insights on how to apply them in the classroom. You’ll learn how and why some strategies work more effectively than others. It includes an Instructional Planning Guide that shows you when to emphasize each of the instructional strategies and use them to:

  • Create an environment for learning that ensures an effective backdrop for every lesson.
  • Develop your students’ understanding by using their prior knowledge as scaffolding for new learning.
  • Help students extend and apply knowledge and move beyond “right answer” learning to an expanded understanding and use of concepts and skills.

Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works: Ready-to-Use Techniques for Increasing Student Achievement

When McREL published Classroom Instruction That Works, we encouraged a generation of educators to focus instruction around nine categories of teaching strategies proven to raise student achievement. The challenge for teachers has always been how to build these achievement-boosting strategies into their everyday instruction. This book provides 51 classroom-ready tools that make it easy to implement the strategies across grade levels and content areas. By incorporating these tools into your daily practice, you can turn your classroom into a place where high levels of engagement and deep learning happen every day.

Each of the 51 tools includes a summary of that tool’s research-based benefits, the 3-7 basic steps for using the tool, concrete examples that model how to use the tool in classrooms, and a “Teacher Talk” section that gives tips on lesson planning and implementation.

The final chapter in the book walks educators through a process for combining tools with principles of effective instructional design and knowledge of how student learning works to design focused, learning-driven, effective instructional plans.

Free White Paper | Student Learning That Works: How brain science informs a student learning model

Surgeons learn about the body before operating. So why don’t more teachers learn about the brain before educating? In this free white paper, McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin makes the case for incorporating brain science into the practice of teaching. Knowing how memory works can suggest classroom tactics that aid the acquisition and recall of information, he says. Furthermore, adopting a model for learning, rather than relying solely on the increasingly common (and increasingly detailed) instructional framework, can help teachers layer innovation upon tradition, in much the same way that models help screenwriters and composers to be creative within the audience’s expectations.