Classroom Planning Companion: A Resource Guide for Teaching Teams

Table of Contents

Classroom Planning Companion

As teaching teams plan for the school year, they may find a need for additional context or examples for the prompts in the classroom plan. This resource will dive deeper into strategies from the classroom plan, with examples that show how successful teaching teams have approached them in the past. This is a great tool to revisit during the school year when team members have questions or concerns.

Grading Policies

While grading is a part of the teacher’s pre-work in the classroom plan, if school policy allows for flexibility, the teaching team may discuss how the team could apply strategies learned in summer training to the grading policy that the team will follow.

The classroom teacher is responsible for grades students receive and for entering grades into the school’s grading system. Methods and standards for grading vary greatly from school to school and teacher to teacher. In most TEALS classes, volunteers assist the teacher with grading student work. The teaching team should calibrate their grading by first grading the same submission and adjusting the difference in grades to a set standard.  Be sure to align with the school’s and teacher’s policies.

What will be the breakdown of criteria in students’ grades for the course?

Example: We will follow TEALS’ recommended breakdown for the intro class:

  • 40% Projects
  • 40% Class Participation / Labs / Notebooks
  • 20% Quizzes and Tests

Example: We will follow TEALS’ recommended breakdown for AP classes:

  • 40% Tests and Quizzes
  • 40% Projects / Large Labs / Performance Tasks
  • 20% Class Participation / Homework / Daily Labs / Notebooks

What is the classroom policy on late work?

Example: Large assignments are accepted up to 10 class days before the end of the semester in which it was assigned. Late work will be scaled to 80% of the score it receives. Small assignments may be turned in up to 1 day late for full credit.

Example: Assignments may be submitted late but will lose 10% of their value for each calendar day after the due date.

Will students be allowed to submit corrections to tests and/or revisions to projects?

Example: Students may always resubmit projects with revisions up to the end of the semester in which the work was assigned. The project will be re-graded and the student will receive half of the difference between the old grade and the new grade (for instance, if the project originally scored 18/40 and the revised project scored 34/40, the student will receive a final grade of 26/40). After major tests, we may choose to give all students an opportunity to correct their work to receive up to half of the points they missed.

What is the classroom (or school) policy on academic dishonesty (i.e. cheating)? What constitutes cheating, and what are the consequences?

Example: When collaboration is not allowed on an assignment or test, any sharing of code, or discussion of the details of a problem is cheating. When collaboration is allowed, students should avoid giving each other code. Students helping other students should not touch their keyboard or mouse. Students must add code comments to *cite sources* when they received help, whether online or from another student. Even with assistance from a cited source, students should be able to explain how they code works.

At TEALS High School, all instances of cheating require a conversation with the academic dean who then determines a grade and/or disciplinary penalty.

How will the team share the details of the classroom academic dishonesty policy with students and reinforce it?

Example: The policy will be provided to students in written form on their syllabus. We will discuss the policy and do a class activity around evaluating scenarios of cheating during September. Each time we assign a major project we will discuss specific examples of what does or does not constitute cheating.

Classroom Procedures

In the classroom plan, the classroom teacher should providesome established procedures for classroom actions. The team may need to develop computer science specific procedures. Procedures automate the classroom, allowing students to spend more time focused on mastering content and less time in transitions or being off task. The team should use classroom procedures for scenarios where they can save the most time, either because the task in question occurs frequently or is particularly time consuming.

A classroom procedure is a series of steps that students should follow. It should include a clear entry cue and a clear conclusion. Procedures are most effective when they are specific and well-defined. As the leader of the TEALS teaching team and the individual who will be present every day of the class, the classroom teacher should be the driving force behind these procedures.

Be sure to incorporate culturally responsive teaching strategies to increase the participation and achievement of students from underrepresented groups. When thinking about the classroom, think about how the teaching team will incorporate the following strategies:

  1. Building authentic relationships. They are the on-ramp to engagement and learning.
  2. Use the brain’s memory systems for deeper learning. Connecting new content through music, movement, and visuals strengthens the neural pathways for comprehension.
  3. Acknowledge diverse students’ stress response from everyday micro-aggressions and help calm the brain.
  4. Use ritual, recitation, repetition, and rhythm as content processing power tools.
  5. Create a community of learners by building on students’ values of collaboration and connection to create intellectual safety.

Read the example procedures for the following common scenarios. Feel free to draw on these examples of classroom procedures. Classroom procedures need to be taught and rehearsed by students in order to save time and focus.

Entering the Classroom

start when: entering the classroom before class starts
action steps:

Example: Mr. Sample will greet students at the door with a smile and a welcoming comment. Mr. Sample will have a “Do Now” section of the whiteboard to use for instructions for entry assignments.

Example: Students will collect and power on their computers when first entering the classroom [useful if the computers take a long time to start].

Getting Help from Instructors

start when:
action steps:

Example: Students will have “question flags” on the side of their monitors that they can raise when they have a question. In Newrow, students can use the raise hand function in lieu of the “question flags.”

Example: We will use the “C2B4Me” policy. Students will be expected to check their notes and/ or ask two of their fellow classmates for content-related questions before seeking the help of one of us.

Example: Students can add their name to the “question queue” for help. Team members will erase the name of each student as they complete their interaction.

Transitioning from Lesson to Lab

start when:
action steps:

Example: We will have monitors closed/turned off during instruction to avoid distraction and help to separate lab and instructional time. Because many students shared that they are interested in Lil Wayne’s music, we’ve created a ritual using one of his song lyrics. When instructors call out “Hello, Brooklyn​” students call back “How you do?”  and may open their computer and/or turn on their monitor. We will use music during lab to help students focus and further the distinction.

Example: Students will line up at the door and walk as a class to the computer lab. Once in lab, instructions will be reviewed.

Submitting Assignments

start when:
action steps:

Example: We have imported our class materials into our learning management system and we plan to have students submit their work and grade them there.

Example: Volunteers David and Desiree will create custom forms students can use to submit their work.

Non-Example: Do NOT collect assignments through email.

End of class period

start when:
action steps:

Example: We plan to use an exit ticket to wrap up class. We plan to have it as a daily activity we do with 5 minutes of class left.

Example: During lab, the classroom lights will be flashed with 5 minutes left in class to signal they should start to wrap up their work and save, share, and submit. Students will be reminded to power down/put away their computers.

Example: We plan to have students reflect on what they have learned by writing, creating a picture, a graph, or a table in their online portfolio. We plan to have it be a daily activity we do with 5 minutes of class left.

Distracted Students

start when:
action steps:

Example: Volunteers in a matter-of-fact tone and supportive body language (smile) should remind the student of their strong skills or project, and ask “how are you tackling this lab?” Let the student know that you believe that they can complete the task within the time allotted and you are available to them if they need help identifying their next step. If students remain off task, discretely notify Mr. Sample about the student and Mr. Sample will intervene.

Custom Procedure

Example: Attention Grabber: TEALS High School uses the phrase ‘eyes and ears on me’ to indicate that attention should be on the speaker. We will use this in our class.

Example: Written Work: Mr. Sample will have two paper organizers on his desk, one labeled “Turn-In” and one labeled “Returned Assignments.” We will instruct students to check these at the beginning or end of class.

Additional Team Planning

Similar to procedures, having a plan for how the team will implement the use of Notebooks and CS Culture Days will help the team utilize all of the tools at their disposal to increase student learning and engagement.


Notetaking results in better learning outcomes for students on average. In computer science, notebooks can be used to record definitions, syntax, programming patterns and idioms, examples, and diagrams. Students can also record their reflections on the work they are doing and use the notebook as a scratch space to plan out their approach to problems before implementation. Notebooks help make learning more explicit and help students to organize and process new information. Many students may not know how to take good notes. The team may need to model it for students and provide reminders when to add content into their notebooks.

When should students use their notebooks in the class?

Example: We will expect notebooks during every class period to be used for taking notes and as reference during projects and labs.

How often will the team check the notebooks? Is there a grade associated with notebook completeness?

Example: We will be doing notebook checks every two weeks. Notebooks are not allowed to be part of student grades at TEALS High School so Mr. Sample is going to work with us to use incentives for proper notebook completeness.

When can and should students refer to their notes (during lab? On quizzes? On tests?)

Example: Students may use their notebooks during lab, on quizzes, and during project work. Students may not use notebooks for tests unless specifically instructed to do so.

How will students obtain class notes if they miss class?

Example: We will have a copy of the notes available at the end of each class that will be available through either OneDrive digitally or as a hard copy collected from Mr. Sample’s desk.

CS Culture Days

The TEALS Program encourages classes to implement CS Culture Days, taking a break from normal lessons and activities to connect the academic course content to real world applications. The TEALS curriculum provides several lesson plans to illustrate how to run a culture day. They can include “show and tell” by the instructors, or topics researched and presented by students. Discuss culture day ideas with other teams on the TEALS discussion forum.

How often will the team hold culture days?

Example: We will use culture days to wrap up units and during days when we have technical difficulties.

Instructor Demo/Show and Tell

What are some topics the team would like to share with the class?

Example: Ashley Volunteer – demo of the new web app I am working on at work, my senior project from college, website my friends and I created for fun in high school.

Example: Alejandro Volunteer – bring my boss in from work to talk about working at TECHMAZING Company, demo a new phone app I am working on to help me find my keys.

Example: Preeti Volunteer – talk about what it is like to work at a tech company from the perspective of being a woman or person of color and initiatives at my company that support me as a professional with my background.

Example: Mr. Sample – show off some of the work I have done for TEALS over the summer, show students some of my errors to encourage perseverance.

Based on what the teaching team collectively knows about the students, what topics might students want to learn about?

Example: The incoming sophomores in our class have a range of interests including health care, video games, and cyber security. We can bring in current event topics about security. Joe Volunteer can talk about his former role at Health Incorporated.

Student Research and Presentations

Will the team assign a research and presentation project(s) to the students? If so, when in the year will they be assigned, and what will it entail?

Example: During the first month of school, we’ll assign students to research and prepare a 5-minute presentation on a CS-related topic of their choice. Students will be allowed to choose a topic from a list we present or propose a topic which the instructors must approve. We will randomly assign students a presentation date (two students presenting each Friday).

Current Events

How will the team tie current events in computer science into the classroom?

Example: Every other Friday we will spend 10 minutes discussing a relevant article from the previous week. Students will be able to submit articles for extra credit.

Team Discussion Topics: Applying What The Team Learned in Summer Training

Most of the topics below are referenced in the classroom plan section titled “Applying What The Team Learned in Summer Training.” We’ve categorized them by topic and provided some additional example responses that the teaching team may consider including or modifying.

In the Lab

Most of the time, students will be working on projects and lab assignments. Describe how the team will address the following challenges in lab.

Atmosphere for Focus and Collaboration

How will the teaching team provide an atmosphere in the classroom that encourages focus and collaboration?

Example: We will play music preselected by the team during lab and give the students the option to dim the lights.

Engaging Students

Sometimes, students need external motivation to develop good habits.

Active Learning Strategies

Which questioning techniques will the team use to ensure that all students engage during full-class instruction?

Example: Each day, we’ll use a mix of calling on raised hands (with ample wait time), around the world questions, cold calls (with warning), and the “write, then answer” activity. We’ll try to call on every student at least once.

How will the team provide structures for students to collaborate with each other during full-class instruction?

Example: Since our classroom is arranged in clusters, we plan to use think/group/share in groups of 4 students. We will use this strategy when discussing topics with students and during culture activities. When creating groups, we will select diverse groups and change them throughout the semester so that students gain exposure to many different peers’ experiences.

Example: We will allow space for rapport talk as a warmup to a lesson or unit by using discussion dyads giving each speaker equal time to talk and space to talk without being interrupted.

How will the team provide structures for students to collaborate with each other during lab work?

Example: We plan to use pair programming 2-3 times per unit when assignments are suited to this format. We will change pairs of students per unit so that students experience and learn from each other’s approaches.

Example: We will use the “C2B4Me” policy. Students will be expected to ask two of their fellow classmates for content related questions before seeking the help of one of us.

Connecting with Students

How will the teaching team use science to help students learn?

Example: We will use sorting and matching games to introduce and review new vocabulary and syntax – ideally within 24 hours – to help commit content to our students’ long-term memories.

Example: We will “storify” the introduction of new ideas, words, or concepts from a unit by asking students weave them together in a coherent, cogent narrative.

Example: We will assign rhythmic mnemonics in song by asking students to write their own songs, raps, or spoken word pieces in the style of the alphabet song to the Schoolhouse Rock! episodes.

How will the team build authentic relationships with students?

Example: We will ensure that we pronounce all students’ names correctly, asking students to say their names, restating it right then, and practicing after we’ve heard it correctly.

Example: We will take note of our students’ important events and life happenings (e.g., birthdays, playoffs, festivals, mother’s surgery, etc.) and ask about these happenings throughout the year.

Differentiated Instruction

The pace of learning will vary student to student and day to day. Differentiated instruction is a teaching strategy in which instruction is modified to best reach each student. Save valuable classroom time by consistently evaluating the pace of the class and planning strategies ahead of time for both advanced and struggling students.

How will the team identify students that may need differentiated instruction?

Example: Mr. Sample will be responsible for calling attention to students that need differentiated instruction during our weekly sync. As a team we decide to break a small group of students into a smaller learning group to review additional examples of Nested Loops.

Example: We will track differentiation notes through end of class emails to our team email account. For example, xxx students were able to complete all the project requirements and the project challenges. YYY students were able to complete the project requirements. ZZZ students were completed 4/5 project requirements.

Advanced Students

What does the team plan to do with students who are ahead of the pace of the course? Be specific: who on the team will be responsible?

Example: Extra credit assignments (check if this is allowed), give opportunities for advanced students to assist other students, complete additional work on online course or extension, extra textbook, work quietly on other subjects.

Example: Jane Volunteer will work on advanced assignments and have 1-2 ready each week. Students consistently ahead of this schedule will meet with Mr. Sample to determine if a more advanced class is a better fit/available.


What does the teaching team have planned for students that fall behind the pace of the course?

Example: split the class up based on pace, get help from another student, classroom teacher intervention, online resources.

Example: At the start of every lab, one team member will host a review session for students that feel they could use extra help. Students can opt-in to attend the review session, and we can gently suggest to individual students that they should attend.

Example: We will use “helping trios” where each student presents something they are working on and gets help/feedback from fellow classmates.