GCF Teacher Guides: Teaching Tips

Lesson 3: Teaching Tips


Teaching tips

Below are some tips on teaching our content to your students, including things to keep in mind when communicating with your students, creating assignments and examples, and adding recommendations for assessments and quizzes. These tips may be especially relevant for volunteers and service providers who are new to teaching. For tips on more technology-based material, see our Teaching Technology Tips.

General tips:

  • Experiment with different class formats based on the lesson content. Your class format may vary depending on the size of your class and the needs of your students, but you may also want to vary it based on the lesson content. On one hand, it might be useful to have students discuss the Internet Safety tutorial as a group, but if you're reviewing Everyday Life skills, you may want learners to work on the activities individually.
  • Focus on a few skills at a time. This will make the material easier for students to grasp. And if they’re struggling with something, it will be easier for you to figure out what is confusing them.
  • Try to use documents, scenarios, and situations that are applicable to real-world tasks. Students will be more engaged if they can see how a new skill will be useful to them in their everyday lives. They’ll also be more likely to remember what they learn this way.
  • Draw on students’ prior knowledge. Even though your students may have trouble with some skills, they’re probably proficient in others. If you can connect new class material to what your students already know and can do, they will be able to process it more easily.

Creating assignments and example documents:

  • Create simple assignments to test basic knowledge. For instance, at the beginning of a course you may want to find out whether students can name the basic parts of a computer or write a resume. If you’re worried that an assignment will seem too simple, you can explain that you’re using it for evaluation purposes.
  • Make sure assignments are possible to complete within the time you’ve set aside for them. Try doing an assignment yourself and testing it on someone else, if possible, before giving it to your students. Remember that it will probably take your students longer than it will take you to finish the assignment.
  • Evaluate assignments based on the skills students are working on. Not all students come to class with the same background or experience, so try not to evaluate assignments based on knowledge from outside of class. For example, don’t evaluate assignments based on design if that’s not what you’re learning about (although you may want to offer help to students who seem to need it).
  • Break down instructions for assignments into easy-to-follow steps. Bulleted or numbered lists will help students identify the information they need in order to complete an assignment. To keep assignments as realistic as possible, have students perform the steps in the same order they would take in real life.
  • To make assignments more advanced, create questions and tasks that involve critical thinking. For example, you can challenge students to apply what they’ve learned to a new situation.


The purpose of an assessment is to have students demonstrate that they have acquired the skills you’re trying to teach them. Not all assignments are assessments; some may be for the purpose of having students practice a skill or having them experience something new. Here are some good steps to follow when you’re creating an assignment you want to use for assessment.

  1. Decide what skill you’re assessing. For example, if your students are working on navigating the Chrome interface, you might decide to assess them on that skill.
  2. Design a task. In this example, you might ask students to go to a list of websites and bookmark them, or add an app to their browsers from the Chrome Web Store.
  3. Decide what good performance on this task would look like. What do you want students to be able to do when they’re using Chrome? Are some of these things more important than others? You can decide what a good performance on the task must include based on the skills you believe are most important.
  4. Decide how you’ll apply the criteria for good performance. In formal assessments, this will probably involve deciding how the criteria will translate into a student’s grade. In informal situations, applying the criteria usually means deciding what different levels of performance will tell you about what students should do next. For example, you might feel that someone who could navigate to a site but who didn’t remember how to bookmark it should review the lesson on bookmarks in Chrome.

A note on quizzes:

We know teachers often use our quizzes in the classroom, but quizzes aren’t available for all of our tutorials. If you want to create quizzes for topics where we don’t have one, here are a few tips.

  • Try to make sure your questions test knowledge or skills, not how closely a learner reads the question. In other words, make sure your questions are clear and easy to understand. Try to avoid trick questions.
  • When writing multiple-choice assessments, the answers are just as important as the questions. Make sure you don’t have choices that are meant to be wrong answers that might actually be right in some situations. This can be confusing to learners.