Teaching Tip Tuesdays – A.P.E. (guest post)

Hello Chase March’s loyal readers. This is a guest post from Cottam Country. I currently teach Gr. 3/4 language arts and math as well as a variety of rotary subjects.

Our school has been an “OFIP” (Ontario Focussed Intervention Program) school, which has meant that the teachers have been engaged in intensive professional development for the past 5 years.

Critical pathways target skills that we feel the class or division is weak in. Data drives those decisions – past EQAO, CASI and DRA results. For the JK and SK group, Diebels is their standardized test. We work on the skill for 4 – 6 weeks. There is a pre-test, mid-test and a post-test. Student moderation (where the students look at their work and their peer’s work) is strongly encouraged; the emphasis is on how the students can “bump up” their work.

The Literacy Numeracy Support Teacher for my school recently showed my class and I, this strategy to help with answering questions – particularly for those standardized tests – CASI (Gr. 4 – 8) and EQAO.

APE is an anacronym for:
Extend or explain

You can use any text with this approach but he suggests that the text is paired with a “Big Idea” like friendship, caring, good citizenship, responsibility, etc.

The text can be a movie or book. If you are targeting reading comprehension, then the students must read the passage independently.

We were targeting the connections to text (text to text, text to self and text to world).

The general wording of the question is based on EQAO and CASI questions.

Example text: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss (I showed the movie)


What do you think will happen to the world if we don’t take care of it?

Use information from the text and your own ideas to support your answer.

At the Gr. 4, I would expect 4 sentences for a level 3.
* answer (using words from the question)
* two pieces of proof from the text
* extension – can be a connection (text to self, text to text, text to world), or stated opinion / explanation.

At the Gr. 3 level, I would expect 3 sentences for a level 3.
* answer (using words from the question)
* one piece of proof from the text
* extension – can be a connection (text to self, text to text, text to world), or stated opinion / explanation.

This strategy particularly benefited my struggling readers because they had a framework for their answer. They knew what a good answer “looked like” and what it included.

Thanks a lot for that great guest post. If you are a teacher and have a strategy or tip you’d like to share, please contact me. And don’t forget to check the Table of Contents page for a complete list of all the tips we have shared so far, including three great guest posts. 

5 responses to “Teaching Tip Tuesdays – A.P.E. (guest post)”

  1. Hi Cottam Country,

    Thanks a lot for the great guest post. I have never used this strategy before. I have heard of something similar but I think I like this one better. My students like going "APE" anyway so that play on words could be a lot of fun.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Chase! I've been encouraged by the depth of understanding that the students have been showing with this approach. The ones who are not reaching Level 3 understand why they did not get that mark and what they need to do to reach that mark.

    As an extra benefit, the parents across the school have heard of the approach because every class (granted this is a very small school) is using this same approach. We have the same "language". The parents understand the expectation, and students, at different grades, are also using the same language.

    Cottam Country

  3. Wow, this is so funny. I am doing exactly the same thing in my 3/4 classroom. Right down to the OFIP cycle on 1.6 (making connections). The extra coincidence is that I made myself an APE anchor chart for the classroom wall and used Dr. Seuss as the example. Great minds think alike, Cottam Country!

    Anyway, thanks for the guest post. I hope you'll do another with more great strategies in the future.

    – Elle

  4. Thanks, Elle!

    It is very cool to see your ideas in print. Thanks Chase for the chance to try this out!

    Cottam Country

  5. Hi Elle,

    I guess I have even more reason to try out this strategy now. It seems like everyone else is using it. That's interesting.

    Perhaps you could write another guest post here soon as well.

    Hi Cottam Country,

    Thanks again for the great guest post. I hope you will consider writing another one in the future as Elle suggests, or perhaps you could ask a colleague to write one. Just a thought.

    Thanks again to both of you.