Education’s Last Mile Dilemma: Improving Instruction Without Mandates

When it comes to discussions on how to improve instructional practice, some variation of "we just need to get teachers to do x" always seems to emerge. Yet the perilous journey from ideal to implementation, from policy to classroom practice, has created an unresolved "last mile" problem in education. While a tremendous amount of immediately … Continue reading Education’s Last Mile Dilemma: Improving Instruction Without Mandates

Countering Cognitive Impatience: Less Activities, More Deep Reading

While U.S. policy-makers hand-wring over a decade of disappointments from accountability-driven "ed reform" and pundits grapple with the stubborn reality that 2/3 of American 4th, 8th and 12th graders are not proficient readers, I'd offer there is a scalable, and relatively simple classroom-level solution to our educational predicament. Dramatically cut back "classroom activities" and replace … Continue reading Countering Cognitive Impatience: Less Activities, More Deep Reading

A Profession of Buzzwords: Redefining the Language of Teaching

Discovering a New Language of Teaching I was halfway through my first year of teaching when I hit play on Mr. Barton Maths and discovered another world of education I didn’t know existed.  What hooked me was the language Barton and his guests used to describe teaching. Through his interviews I learned about ideas in … Continue reading A Profession of Buzzwords: Redefining the Language of Teaching

Tidying Up: Instructional Routines for Whole-Class Reading and Writing

Education suffers from initiative overload. Teachers are yanked here and there, impossibly tasked with newer and ever-more complex trends that come and go with each new school year. Mike Schmoker (2011) captures the conundrum: "Our failure to be clear and focused prevails even as we continue year after year, to attend conferences, workshops, and book … Continue reading Tidying Up: Instructional Routines for Whole-Class Reading and Writing

Questioning the Author: Unlocking and Weaving Together Knowledge Rich Text

Making Knowledge [Actually] Rich We're currently in the midst of an exciting shift in how reading is being taught. Backlash after decades of teaching to the test with skills and strategies has brought renewed enthusiasm for cohesive curricula that deliberately develops depth and breadth of student knowledge. What is less clear, however, is how to most … Continue reading Questioning the Author: Unlocking and Weaving Together Knowledge Rich Text

Motivation Madness: Dismantling Daniel Pink’s Misapplied Ideas in Education

Teachers are increasingly interested in student motivation, believing it to be a panacea for boosting learning and reversing low academic achievement. Yet the psychology of motivation is vast and dense, and most peoples' vague understandings are largely shaped by a single 18 minute TED talk and its accompanying best-selling book. I'm referring to Daniel Pink's Drive (2009).  Pink's framework of … Continue reading Motivation Madness: Dismantling Daniel Pink’s Misapplied Ideas in Education

Robust Vocabulary Instruction: Bringing Knowledge-Rich Curricula to Life

The "knowledge-gap" is pinpointed most recently by Natalie Wexler as a culprit for continued stagnant reading proficiency levels and growing disparities in student outcomes in the U.S. Thankfully, more and more are realizing that students' ability to think critically and creatively is severely hampered without a solid foundation of background knowledge. Yet beyond adopting a … Continue reading Robust Vocabulary Instruction: Bringing Knowledge-Rich Curricula to Life