SUPER Strategies

S.U.P.E.R. Strategies are quick ideas that both new and experienced teachers can use to increase student success while also simplifying classroom workload. These are the secrets we’d all wished we’d known years ago.

It has been said that teachers loves their acronyms. There’s definitely some truth to that. The Toronto District School Board has an official list of their recognized terms. But just because there are already over 900 doesn’t mean there’s not room for one more.



There are a number of Super Strategies you can use together, increasing the effectiveness of your practice, while increasing student success.



What are SUPER Strategies?

The term I’ve coined when discussing useful tips in the classroom is SUPER Strategies. At its most basic these are strategies that are:

  • Simple
  • Useful
  • Powerful
  • Effective
  • Repeatable



If your goal is to bring someone on board to your new idea it needs to be so simple that you can sum it up in one sentence. Sure, it might be more complex, and have a number of nuances, but you need to be able to present it as a ten word or less elevator pitch.


This might seem obvious, but a number of teaching strategies seem to just shift hard work in one area to hard work in another area. How many times have you been presented with a new paradigm that is supposed to revolutionize the profession, only to discover there aren’t enough hours in the day to start implement the ideas, let alone make them part of your daily practice.


It’s not enough that these strategies can help out the teacher, they need to be powerful enough to create deep learning opportunities for the students. It can be something as simple as increasing engagement that leads to deeper understanding, or as complex as reframing the way students lead classes while teachers simply point the way to the next island in the sea of learning.


Student success should be increased in a measurable way, even if it is only a small step. Very often implementing a number of SUPER Strategies will lead to a great overall impact. The important part is that the strategies works.


We’ve all been there, listening to teachers talk about the way they’ve changed their classroom, fashioned utopia for their students, only to learn this was possible due to some very specific conditions relevant to that classroom, with those students, at that time. It’s not enough that the strategy works once. A SUPER Strategy must be repeatable time and time again in all number of learning environments.



The First SUPER Strategy

Over the coming months a number of SUPER Strategies will be compiled on The first one is presented here.

#1 Use highlighters to create groups

When students are working hand out highlighters to students so they can annotate their text. Choose who you give what colour to, hand them out randomly or let them pick from a box. The important thing is that you have five or six different colours to choose from.

As they are writing, students will mark up their page, already increasing their engagement through the use of:

  • Highlighting the most important word
  • Underline the most important sentence
  • Circle the most important paragraph

Once complete, have them form groups with other students that used the same colour or make groups that represent one of every colour. They can then engage in metacognitive activities, explaining their choices.


Why this is useful

Students will form groups with people they don’t often interact with. You can use this strategy to break up noisy seating arrangements without resorting to a formal seating plan. Students view this as a fair and organic decision. Students can’t switch colours as they’ve physically marked their sheet. If students swap colours, predicting your move, you can use the highlighters to sort in a different way such as two blue and two green.

Powerful and Effective Results

This tool increases engagement with the actual work, aids behavior management, increases literacy skills, and grants opportunity for collaborative learning. Most importantly groups are created in seconds without student complaint.


Buy your highlighters once, and you’ll be good to go for years. You can use this to create teams, study groups, assignment partners, or quick chat groups. So long as your students know their colors, this method is effective!



Share your SUPER Strategies

If you have any SUPER Strategies you’d like to share, leave them in the comments below!

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