Teachers have the unique challenge of meeting kids at so many different levels! This strategy is one of the best ways to get students talking and thinking – and the best part is…it’s very little work on the part of the teacher!
Try a T-A-C-O!
TACO is the simple abbreviation I’ve given to an easy-to-implement strategy that you can use across content and grade levels. We know that students need to consistently practice some basic skills to deepen the learning of any content, so here’s an easy way to remember those skills.
T – THINK
A – ANSWER
C – CONSENSUS
O – OUTPUT
Let’s break these down. At its basic core, thinking has a direct correlation to learning. Your mind is blown, right? Probably not- but the fact is, as teachers, you make more decisions in a single day than any other profession, and because of this, sometimes it’s easy to blow right on through the important things – like facilitating THINK time. So, when you are ready for students to answer or discuss, we must first give them time to think.
Second, we let students answer INDEPENDENTLY. Why independently? Because when we are talking specifically about struggling learners, when give the opportunity to “work together”, often times it becomes one student thinking and answering and one just coasting along (understandably, because they have a great partner). Students can write their answers on a white board, on their tables, or on a scratch piece of paper to be thrown away, but this gives you the opportunity to walk around and gauge your students understanding quickly as well. Giving the students time to think about and then give their own answer can be a really crucial step to cognitive engagement.
Third, the students come to a consensus, or agreement, on their answers. What does coming to a consensus force the students do? Explain, defend, speak, listen…just to name a few. This part of the strategy allows students who still have gaps in their understanding to gain new understanding from their partner. It also helps cement learning as they either affirm each other’s answers or discuss them. This is a great opportunity to process the content as well. *Remember, if you haven’t taught this process, you will need to teach, model and practice this, but the students will eventually love and it will be a very productive step in the learning process!
Lastly, the students give output, or demonstrate their understanding or learning. My style of teaching deals with the littlest amount of paper possible, so my favorite way to have the students show their learning with this strategy is with white boards or technology…some way that I can quickly see the learning and gather data on what the students understand and what they still need to practice.
There are a NUMBER of ways this strategy can be practiced! For specific ideas, enjoy the T-A-C-O Strategy PDF! Remember, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we are very thankful for you!