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

Rethinking Rigor: Desirable Difficulties vs. Heavy Lifting

In his recent column "Should Teachers Know the Basic Science of How Children Learn," Daniel Willingham writes that "some statements concerning children’s learning are perfectly sound scientifically but should not influence educational decisions." Basically, educators must be very discerning when evaluating the usefulness of common educational phrases. As examples, Willingham highlights unhelpful, epistemic assumptions like "learning … Continue reading Rethinking Rigor: Desirable Difficulties vs. Heavy Lifting

Deliberate Practice: The Key to Improvement in Music and Teaching

I was born into a family of musicians. My father was drafted during the U.S. - Vietnam War but thankfully avoided combat by auditioning successfully for the Army Band. Later, my parents met while studying piano and organ studies together in graduate school. Starting at age four, each of my three siblings and I started … Continue reading Deliberate Practice: The Key to Improvement in Music and Teaching

Making Lessons 85% Review: The Genius Behind Engelmann’s Teaching to Mastery

This year I radically shifted my instructional focus. I made it a goal for all my lessons to be approximately 85% review of previous content, with only 10-15% of each lesson being new content. The 85% review takes many forms - lesson starters, homework checks, interleaved low-stakes quizzes -  but has had profound and far-reaching impacts … Continue reading Making Lessons 85% Review: The Genius Behind Engelmann’s Teaching to Mastery

Deconstructing Constructivism: A Widely Misunderstood and Misapplied Theory of Learning

When I completed my teacher licensure coursework only a few years back, I would have characterized myself as a die-hard believer in John Dewey, Alfie Kohn, flexible seating and student-centered learning.  I believed children learned best by doing, that teacher-talk should be limited in a "readers/writers/math workshop," and that group work and personalized technology were … Continue reading Deconstructing Constructivism: A Widely Misunderstood and Misapplied Theory of Learning

Habits to Reduce Cognitive Load for Students and Teachers

“Changing classroom practice is not a process of knowledge acquisition but of habit change.” - Dylan Wiliam (1:41:00 on Education Research Reading Room)  Before becoming a teacher, one of my many odd jobs was as a barista at Caribou Coffee. The work was backbreaking, fast-paced, and incredibly stressful. The slightest mistake or delay during a … Continue reading Habits to Reduce Cognitive Load for Students and Teachers