The Teacher's Desk

Sharing The Passion. Sharpening The Tools. Promoting Life Long Learning.

Instructional Strategy of the week.

Marzano’s Cues and Questions And Advanced Organizers.

Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers

Developed by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon.

Teachers set the stage for learning by finding out what students already know, then connect new ideas to students’ existing knowledge base. Using a variety of instructional strategies, teachers guide students from the known to the unknown, from familiar territory to new concepts. Cues, questions, and advance organizers are among the tools and strategies that teachers use to set the stage for learning. These tools create a framework that helps students focus on what they are about to learn.


Teachers want the time spent planning and teaching to generate the most effective and sustained learning. By implementing the recommendations below focused on cues, questions, and advance organizers teachers can gain from research and maximize effort.

  • Pace yourself. Teachers commonly underestimate how often they ask questions in class. Use questions to help students focus on what is more important to learn. Remember to ask questions when you introduce new content, and not just at the end of a learning experience. Asking questions will not only tell you what students already know, but also whether they are starting with misunderstandings about a topic.
  • Ask higher-level questions. Think about how to phrase questions. By asking questions that require analysis, you prompt students to go beyond simple recall of information and help to develop their higher-order thinking skills.
  • Wait time matters. Give students time to think before jumping in with an answer to your own question. Pausing for just a few seconds is likely to generate better classroom discourse, including more conversation among students.
  • Preview the big picture. Help students see where you are going by giving them an overview of what a lesson or unit will cover.
  • Use multiple modes. Connect with diverse learning styles by presenting previews of information in multiple ways—visually with graphic organizers, verbally (aloud), and in writing

The Northeast Texas Consortium provides a resource for developing advance organizers, especially for distance learning.

The North Central Regional Educational Laboratory publishes Pathways to School Improvement which include Critical Issues. Building on Prior Knowledge and Meaningful Student Contexts/Cultures is a resource discussing the use of advance organizers.


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