Topics: Cross-Curricular

Instructional Routines that Support Student Discourse

Great Minds

by Great Minds

November 17, 2023
Instructional Routines that Support Student Discourse

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Posted in: Aha! Blog > PhD Science > Cross-Curricular > Instructional Routines that Support Student Discourse

Each Great Minds® curriculum has instructional routines that nurture engagement, while making students’ thinking and learning visible. Our instructional routines provide students with a structured approach to thinking about a topic, question, or idea while encouraging them to interact with their peers. 


Many of the instructional routines we incorporate are used across Eureka Math2®, PhD Science®, and Wit & Wisdom® to help students build enduring knowledge while they’re building critical math, science, and ELA skills. The consistency of these routines appearing across content areas allows students to grow comfortable with them and know their expectations. 

Routine and Programs Found In  Implementation Recommendation How To Implement

Response Techniques 

  • Eureka Math2
  • PhD Science
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Encourages class engagement while enabling teachers to conduct quick, formative assessments of student understanding

Ask students a question, then use one of these techniques: 

  • Equity sticks: Randomly select a student’s name from a container that holds all students’ names on slips of paper or craft sticks. 
  • Response cards: Have students select a response from a set of preprinted response cards and ask them to hold up their cards for the class to see.     
  • Nonverbal signal: Ask students to respond with a general or a situation-specific signal. 


  • Eureka Math2 
  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Allows individual students to consider their thoughts about a question and then collaboratively discuss the question with peers 
  • Students receive a thought-provoking question.  
  • Students have a few minutes to think about the question.  
  • Students share their thoughts with a partner. 
  • Pairs share their thoughts with another group or the class. Not all students need to share in the larger group. 

Take a Stand or Question Corners 

  • Eureka Math2: Take a Stand 
  • PhD Science: Question Corners 
  • Wit & Wisdom: Question Corners 
Allows students to express and support their claims 
  • Students receive a debatable statement, question, or solution.  
  • A response or opinion is posted on signs in different corners of the classroom. Students move to the sign that best represents their thinking.  
  • Groups discuss the reasons why they chose their sign.  
  • Each group shares reasons for their selections.  
  • After listening to one another’s reasoning, students have the option of moving to another sign and explaining their rationale for moving. 


  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Used to model or practice behaviors such as asking thoughtful questions, listening attentively, and sharing ideas and/or tasks 
  • Establish a purpose for the Fishbowl by directing students to focus their observations and learning on something specific. 
  • Divide students into two groups: inside or outside the fishbowl. Outside students sit in a circle around inside students. Typically, more students are outside the fishbowl than in it. 
  • Provide additional information or directions to those in the fishbowl as needed. 
  • Ask students inside the fishbowl to engage in a collaborative task or discussion, while students outside observe. 
  • Have students debrief through discussion and/or writing. 

Praise, Question, Suggestion 

  • Eureka Math2 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Provides opportunity for authentic peer-to-peer feedback 
  • Each student shares work with a partner or the group. 
  • The partner or group members give specific positive feedback, ask a question to understand the work, and offer a suggestion. 
  • Each student then summarizes her or his plan for revision based on the feedback. 
Routine and Programs Found In  Implementation Recommendation How To Implement

Gallery Walk 

  • Eureka Math2 
  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Deepens engagement and understanding by allowing students to share their work with peers in a gallery setting 
  • Work is posted around the room. The work can be group Graffiti Walls or other group or individual work.  
  • Students circulate, closely viewing the work. They write their observations or discuss them with peers.  
  • Students debrief through discussion and/or writing. 

Give One–Get One–Move On 

  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Engages all students in identifying and sharing key learning 
  • Students record key ideas on index cards or sticky notes.   
  • Students locate a partner and share their key ideas.  
  • The announcement “Give One” tells students to swap ideas and “Get One” from another student.  
  • The announcement “Move On” tells students to circulate again to find a new partner and explain the new idea to the new partner. 

Quick Write 

  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Helps students reflect on a topic and allows teachers to assess comprehension 
  • Select a purpose for the writing that is tied to the content area and read the prompt to students. 
  • Give students a short amount of time to jot down whatever comes to mind in response. 
  • Have students share with others or collect their ideas to inform teaching. 
Routine and Programs Found In  Implementation Recommendation How To Implement


  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 


Allows students to study one section of a text and then share with students who studied other sections 
  • A text is divided into sections. 
  • Students form home groups with each student in a home group assigned a specific section of the text. 
  • Students regroup according to their assignment from step 2, forming “expert” groups with others who share the same assignment.  
  • Students work collaboratively in their expert groups to become experts on their assigned text. Students then return to their home groups. One by one, group members share their expertise. 

Choral Reading 

  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Supports fluency and comprehension of a challenging text 
  • Provide copies of a text or project a large version at the front of the classroom. 
  • Read a passage aloud to model fluent reading. Ask students to follow along with the text. They may place a piece of paper or an index card under each line to help them focus and keep their place. 
  • Reread the passage as all students read the text aloud in unison. 
Routine and Programs Found In  Implementation Recommendation How To Implement

Link Up 

  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 


Helps students understand the connection between two identified vocabulary words 
  • Each student receives a card with a vocabulary word on it. 
  • An (optional) demonstration of the routine helps students understand relationships that different words may have to each other. 
  • Students circulate and discuss with each person they meet whether their words are related. When students identify someone with a related word, they pair with that person. 
  • The class holds a briefing, with pairs of students sharing the relationship between their words. 

Logical Analogies 

  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Help students find connections between concepts or ideas by making analogies 
  • Students receive a prompt (older students may come up with their own analogies independently) to complete related to a concept. 
  • Students finish the analogy and share with classmates. 


  • PhD Science 
  • Wit & Wisdom 
Helps students determine word meaning from context and morphology such as roots and prefixes 
  • Select an unfamiliar word from a text. 
  • Ask students to discuss clues outside the word that reveal the word’s possible meaning. 
  • Ask students to discuss what clues inside the word reveal about the word’s possible meaning. Have students draft possible definitions and then use reference materials to verify them. 

Five Framing Questions or WORD-K 

  • Eureka Math2: Five Framing Questions 
  • PhD Science: WORD-K learning cycle 
  • Wit & Wisdom: WORD-K learning cycle 


Supports students by providing them with questions to frame their thinking 
  • Notice and Wonder: What do you notice about this work? From your observations, what do you wonder? 
  • Organize: What steps did this student take? How do you know? 
  • Reveal: Let’s focus on [strategy/feature]. Where do you see that in this work? Focus on a specific strategy or feature related to lesson goals. 
  • Distill: What difference does [strategy/feature] make in this work? 
  • Know: How is [strategy/feature] helpful to [lesson objective/concept]? 


Instructional routines play a critical role in supporting students' academic growth and success. By providing a structured approach to thinking and learning, instructional routines help students engage with new concepts and build their content knowledge, critical thinking skills, and ability to work collaboratively with their peers. To learn more about how Great Minds tailors instructional routines for each respective content area, we encourage you to explore the Eureka Math2, PhD Science, and Wit & Wisdom Implementation Guides. 

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Topics: Cross-Curricular