Marzano: Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers

This post is part of a series on integrating the McREL research on classroom instruction that works with videoconferencing.

Cues, Questions, and Advance Organizers: Generalizations

  1. Cues, questions, and advance organizers should focus on what is important rather than what is unusual.
  2. “Higher-level” questions and advance organizers produce deeper learning than “lower-level” questions and advance organizers.
  3. Advance organizers are most useful with information that is not well organized.
  4. Different types of advance organizers produce different results.
  5. Waiting briefly before accepting responses from students has the effect of increasing the depth of students’ answers.
  6. Questions are effective learning tools even when asked before a learning experience.


Use these to improve your practice.

  1. Use expository advance organizers.
  2. Use narrative advance organizers.
  3. Teach students skimming as a form of advance organizer.
  4. Teach students how to use graphic advance organizers.
  5. Use explicit cues.
  6. Ask questions that elicit inferences.
  7. Ask analytic questions (Pitler, et al., 2007, p. 74).

Brainstorming for Videoconferencing

Cues, Questions and Advanced Organizers are primarily again about accessing prior knowledge. Cues and questions help students see what’s coming next so they can begin connecting it to their current knowledge. These are asked by the teacher. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about getting student questions to a higher level quality (in ASK & other programs). But that is not what the research on cues & questions is about.

Cues and questions can be used by content providers during the program, and by teachers before & after a program or project. The questions & cues need to tie into the main point of what’s important in the unit.

Cues & Questions Before a VC

  • Giving students an overview of the important content in the upcoming lesson.
  • Using wait time (double the wait time in a VC) to give time for quality answers.
  • Asking higher level questions. I can think of providers who do this well, and others who ask questions that elicit only one-word answers. The Handbook has a nice list of examples of generic inferential questions that can be adapted to your content (p. 270-271).

Possible New Format

Another section is about Analytic Questions. These are questions that analyze errors, construct support, and analyze perspectives. I’m thinking of Eco-Conversations and similar projects that address current issues. What if both classes attempted to answer questions such as:

  • What are the errors in reasoning in this information?
  • How is this information misleading?
  • What is an argument that would support the following claim?
  • Why would someone consider this to be good (or bad or neutral)?
  • What is the reasoning behind his or her perspective?
  • What is an alternative perspective, and what is the reasoning behind it? (Marzano, 2001, CITW, p. 116)

Share Advance Organizers?

I think it would be so interesting and beneficial for students to share their own advance organizers on a topic, but could they be made clearly enough that the other class could read them?

Or what if two classes worked together to create an advance organizer on a topic. It could be created in GoogleDocs as a spreadsheet or table, or an artistic advance organizer in an online collaborative brainstorming or drawing too. Imagine classes with interactive white boards working on the document as a class, and then sharing to see what the other class adds to it. During the videoconference they could discuss the topic or present new information to each other and then add more new knowledge to their organizer.

What do you think? Too much of a stretch? Doable? Please comment.

References: Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R. J., Norford, J. S., Paynter, D. E., Pickering, D. J., & Gaddy, B. B. (2001). A handbook for classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works : research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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