This paper focuses on the patterns of teaching styles and active teaching across subjects and between low and high performing schools in an attempt to examine what accounts for differences in performance between schools which are within the same locality. It uses data collected in 72 primary schools spread across six districts in Kenya. Video recordings of 213 lessons in maths (72), science (71) and English (70), and interviews with subject teachers in primary schools, were used to generate evidence on patterns of teaching styles and active teaching. Results show that teaching practice across subjects is inclined towards the command and task styles that do not promote critical thinking among learners. The dominant teaching activity was individual seat work in maths lessons; recitation in English lessons; and whole class chorus in science lessons. Overall, active teaching accounted for 62% of the lesson time. The one way ANOVA results show insignificant variation between subjects and school category on active teaching, and therefore this may not be the source of differential performance between low and high performing schools.