Jack Black says,

You just delivered the best lesson of your life, one worthy of the movie School of Rock. But when you check for understanding, as every good teacher does, the students just don’t get it.

As a special education teacher for the past 12 years, I've experienced this disappointment often. Post-COVID teaching has been a challenge, with shorter attention spans and lower morale across the board.

But don't give up — there's still hope! Try these remediation strategies whenever you need to reteach a skill.

Remedial Teaching Strategy #1: Use alternative modalities

Did you know there are 4 different learning modalities? They're based on how learners synthesize information using the different senses:

  • Auditory — hearing

  • Visual — seeing

  • Tactile — touch

  • Kinesthetic — movement

You might know of these as "learning styles", but the idea that learners fit into any one style isn't backed up by evidence. Check out this TED Talk from Dr. Tesia Marshik to learn more.

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Lessons can involve just one or a variety of modalities — but since most people take in new information using multiple senses, the more you vary the learning modalities you teach toward, the more you can engage a wide range of learners.

The next time a lesson flops, try incorporating a variety of activities that appeal to multiple learning modalities.


Ms. Melendez teaches a lesson about the solar system. Which lesson activity is NOT paired correctly with the learning modality it addresses?

Remedial Teaching Strategy #2: Gamification

It can seem like students have no attention span for a whole lesson, but can spend hours and hours gaming. We can all agree — playing a game is more appealing than listening to a lecture any day. So why not gamify your lesson activities to make them more enjoyable?

They'll also be more memorable. The Federation of American Scientists found that learners retain up to 90% of what they learn when presented via gaming. Check out this video on the effectiveness of gamification in the classroom.

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Ways to gamify your lesson activities include:

  • Incorporate points systems and leaderboards. Competition is a powerful motivator! Prizes or badges for performance can also add some excitement.

  • Create an educational board game or card game on almost any topic. Get creative and rewrite the game cards to an existing game, or check out Teachers Pay Teachers for some awesome, affordable options.

  • Build a free virtual, interactive trivia game via Kahoot or Blooket.

Remedial Teaching Strategy #3: Project-based learning

No one likes busy work. One of the reasons it's increasingly hard to engage students is the lack of relatability to their everyday lives. Authentic project-based learning can be a game-changer in motivating students.

Think of a real-world problem or situation related to the topic. How can you tie in an authentic audience for an end product?

Supplies for a creative project. Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

Here is an example of a real-world project for a variety of classroom subject areas:

  • English — a persuasive speech written to convince a political stakeholder of a particular viewpoint on an issue

  • Math — a simulated shopping experience to practice basic computations, budgeting, and percent applications

  • Science — a design challenge involving building and testing prototypes for simple machines

  • Social studies — a historical writing piece that involves interviewing someone from an older generation

Check out My PBL Works for a database of free academic projects for any subject area!

Remedial Teaching Strategy #4: Incorporate student choice

A common complaint in schools today is that students rarely have a voice in their own education.

One way to reengage those students is to offer them choices within their learning — it gives them a sense of ownership over the material. Students have a more positive outlook on an assignment when given options.

Student choice increases engagement, retention, and happiness. A win-win! Check out this video on personalized learning to learn more about student empowerment.

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Some easy strategies for incorporating student choice into your lesson include:

  • The option to work independently, with a partner, or in a group.

  • Choose which problems to complete from a worksheet.

  • Choose the format of a final project to demonstrate mastery.

  • Elect to work on an assignment on paper or digitally.

  • Select which classroom resources to use, and when.


Which of the following is NOT a good strategy for remedial teaching?

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Two students learning at their desks. Photo by Santi Vedrí on Unsplash

Incorporate these remedial teaching strategies to your classroom!


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