“Can a four-letter monosyllable control you and determine your emotions and your behavior? If so, then the student possesses a great deal of power packaged in the form of a single word.”
Fred Jones (see item #2)
“Computer meets classroom: classroom wins.”
Larry Cuban (quoted in item #5)
“A significant instructional shift takes place when a classroom culture is transformed from one where the teacher poses the majority of questions to one where a community of curious wonderers offer up their own.”
Jeanne Muzi (see item #6)
“Before they complete high school, nine in 10 children will experience the death of a family member or close friend. One in 20 will lose a parent. This means that in almost every class, every year, in every school, there’s likely to be at least one grieving student, if not more. Grief is, indeed, a natural occurrence. We must not lose sight, however, of how extraordinarily painful grief is for children and the impact it can have on students’ learning, school performance, and social-emotional development.”
David Schonfeld and Marcia Quackenbush in “Help for Grieving Students” in in ASCA
School Counselor, January/February 2017 (Vol. 54, #3, p. 20-24), no e-link available;
Schonfeld can be reached at [email protected].
“The human brain compares miserably with the digital computer when it comes to performing rule-based procedures. But that human mind can bring something that computers cannot begin to do, and maybe never will: understanding. Desktop-computer and cloud-based mathematics systems provide useful tools to solve the mathematical aspects of real-world problems. But without a human in the driving seat, those tools are totally useless.”
Keith Devlin (see item #3)
“Does Homework Help?” by Alexandria Neason in Education Update, January 2017 (Vol. 59, #1, p. 1, 4-5), ASCD member log-in access at http://bit.ly/2k4lvyc
In this Tools for Teaching article, classroom management guru Fred Jones shares his advice on how to respond to nasty backtalk from students. “If we can think of discipline management as a poker game in which the student raises the dealer (you) with increasing levels of provocation,” says Jones, “then nasty backtalk is going ‘all in.’ The student is risking it all for the sake of power and control. What separates nasty backtalk from whiny backtalk is not so much the words, but rather, the fact that it is personal. The backtalker is probing for a nerve ending.”
The key, says Jones, is never taking anything a student says personally. If you do, you’ll probably feel wounded and respond emotionally, in which case the student has won.
The first kind of backtalk is an insult. Students have a limited number of options, all of which have been used through the years:
“All the Mathematical Methods I Learned in My University Math Degree Became Obsolete in My Lifetime” by Keith Devlin in The Huffington Post, January 1, 2017, http://huff.to/2hIkZr2
In this article in The Reading Teacher, Sarah Lightner and Ian Wilkinson (The Ohio State University) say that classroom conversations about texts are vital to building vocabulary, content knowledge, reading comprehension, and higher-order thinking. Lightner and Wilkinson believe there are nine approaches from which teachers can choose, depending on their overall goals, what they’re teaching, and their students’ needs. These approaches get students acquiring information, making emotional connections, and engaging in critical analysis.
• Literature circles – Each group of students chooses a book from sets chosen by the teacher and decides how much to read in preparation for regular meetings. Initially, students assume roles in the meetings – discussion director, illustrator, connector, summarizer, word wizard – although the roles usually phase out as students become proficient at managing peer-led discussions. The teacher circulates and intervenes as necessary. The goal of literature circles is to foster habits of sustained and engaged reading and provide a foundation for interpretation, prediction, analysis, and comprehension.
• Book club – Small groups of students read the same text (chosen from books on a common theme selected by the teacher), write responses in journals, and use their responses to engage in discussion. There’s a whole-class “community share” and then small-group book club discussions, the goal being to enhance students’ awareness of issues on the theme or the historical background of the text. Teachers may also use this approach to enhance the quality of students’ conversations, build fluency, develop vocabulary, and improve comprehension.
• Grand conversations – The teacher sets up several literature study groups, assigns a book to each one (or students choose a book from a list supplied by the teacher), gets students reading manageable chunks, and meets with each group for a few minutes a day to make sure they’re on track. The teacher may do a daily all-class read-aloud and pose a “big question” for discussion. When groups finish their books, they meet with the teacher to discuss story elements, their enjoyment and interpretation, and any personal connections.
• Questioning the author – The teacher helps students see the author as an imperfect writer who may not always present ideas clearly. While reading the text with students, the teacher asks questions like, What is the author saying here? Why is the author giving us this information? Is the author saying that clearly? The teacher encourages collaboration by weaving together students’ responses as they collectively work to make sense of the text.
• Instructional conversations – The teacher chooses a text, provides some background information, reads it with students, and leads a discussion focused on an interesting theme. The goal of this approach is to understand texts, learn complex concepts, and consider various viewpoints. It has been used successfully with English language learners and students with special needs.
• Junior Great Books shared inquiry – Students read a text and the whole class discusses it with the teacher, focusing on interpretive questions that have more than one right answer. Students share their opinions, test various possible interpretations, and address the ambiguities of the text. The teacher then gives students a focus question for their note-taking as they read the text a second time. Students’ notes generate further discussion, and students consider and discuss significant words or phrases in the text. This approach aims to build students’ comprehension, critical thinking skills, and enjoyment of reading as they explore the literary canon of noted novelists, essayists, philosophers, and poets.
• Collaborative reasoning – Students read a story or section of a story that raises a “big question” that could be resolved in a number of ways. Small groups of students then meet with the teacher and argue positions on the big question, give reasons for their positions, provide counterarguments, and respond to challenges. The goal is to critically consider competing points of view, with the teacher facilitating, prompting, and pushing for clarification.
• Paideia seminar – The teacher chooses a text that contains key values and ideas being studied and leads students through multiple close readings. As the class discusses the text, the teacher challenges students to identify consequential ideas in the text, facilitates without talking too much, keeps students from straying from the focus, and asks open-ended questions that get students seeking understanding in the text, analyzing details, and synthesizing ideas.
• Philosophy for children – Students read age-appropriate texts that address enduring ethical and philosophical topics. The teacher then asks students to generate open-ended questions about the issues raised in the text and selects one or more of their questions as the focus of all-class discussion. The goal is to develop strong reasoning skill, help students recognize the difference between good and poor reasoning, and get them thinking about important philosophical issues.
Of course teachers can mix and match components of these approaches to accomplish their goals. Lightner and Wilkinson list the key variables:
“The effects of new technology on teaching and learning are one of the most hotly debated topics in U.S. education,” say Binbin Zheng, Chin-Hsi Lin, and Chi Chang (Michigan State University) and Mark Warschauer (University of California/Irvine) in this Review of Educational Research article. Skeptics point to the failure of previous technological innovations to change basic classroom dynamics; Stanford professor Larry Cuban famously said, “Computer meets classroom: classroom wins” and computers are “oversold and underused.”
Zheng, Lin, Chang, and Warschauer believe Cuban may be right if computers are sparsely scattered among classrooms, but they say that when each student has access to a computer, it’s a different ball game. Their meta-analysis on the efficacy of one-to-one laptop programs concludes that the potential effects “are radically different from those of radio, television, and film, which explains why computers, unlike those previous technologies, are bound to have a very different educational fate from the one suggested by Cuban…” Their findings:
• The teaching-learning environment – One-to-one computer access increased student-centered, individualized, and project-based instruction, enhanced students’ engagement, and improved teacher-student and home-school relationships. Students were generally enthusiastic and used their laptops productively for drafting, revising, and sharing writing and for personal access of information.
• Academic achievement – Students with one-to-one access showed significant improvement in science, math, English, and writing, with increased quantity and genres of writing.
• Adult attitudes – Teachers’ initial reaction to one-to-one programs was much less positive than students’, the main concerns being their limited technology savvy, insufficient PD and technical support, uncertainty about how the technology would affect them, and fear of losing control of their classrooms. “As a result,” say Zheng, Lin, Chang, and Warschauer, “some teachers reportedly had difficulties creating a learning environment ‘where learning drives the use of technology, instead of the other way around.’” In schools without high-quality professional development and tech support, these negative attitudes persisted, but when teachers had good support, they were usually on board and able to integrate the laptops well within a year.
• Teaching 21st-century skills – The authors found evidence that one-to-one access improved students’ reasoning, information-finding, problem-solving, collaboration, and critical thinking skills, but the studies that report these findings were not as rigorous and robust as those on academic achievement and the teaching-learning environment.
• Equity – One-to-one laptop programs improve computer access for students from low-income families, but do they close achievement gaps? The researchers found mixed results on that question, with the critical variable being whether teachers used the laptops for higher-level skills. “The relationship between technology and inequality is quite complex,” say the authors, “and it will take far more than distribution of computers to address the issue. Laptop programs that include sufficient technical and curricular support and that focus on the particular needs of low-SES learners, such as by emphasizing writing skills, are likely to be more successful in bridging divides than programs that lack support and focus.”
• Future prospects – Zheng, Lin, Chang, and Warschauer conclude that the “falling price of hardware, software, and wireless access; the increasing digital literacy of teachers, students, and parents; the growing sophistication of educational technology applications; and the rising need for computers to be used in student assessment all suggest that one-to-one laptop programs are going to continue to expand in K-12 schools.”
(Originally titled “Five Ways to Strengthen Student Questioning”)
In this Education Update article, New Jersey enrichment specialist Jeanne Muzi suggests ways to build students’ question-asking skills:
• Pass-arounds – Have students handle a series of interesting objects (hardware, photographs), then generate and evaluate questions.
• Q-stem – Have students pick a sentence-stem (How…? Why…? Are there…? Is it possible if…?) and generate as many questions as they can on a topic they’re studying.
• Partners and Questions – Have student pairs look at a lesson-relevant object (an artifact, photograph, art image) and take turns asking and answering questions about it. Which questions are most revealing and why?
• Whose eyes? – Display a thought-provoking image (a historic photograph, contemporary illustration), give students time to think about it, and then have them generate questions that might be asked by someone in the background (for example, a little girl at the end of the line in a photo of Ellis Island).
• Question-a-go-go – Hang up an interesting photograph, blueprint, quote, artwork and over the course of a week have students post questions about it on sticky notes. Then discuss and display the questions on a Depth of Knowledge rainbow according to level.
“Five Ways to Strengthen Student Questioning” by Jeanne Muzi in Education Update, January 2017 (Vol. 59, #1, p. 8), http://bit.ly/2jQz9YY
In this Teachers College Record article, Scott Seider (Boston University) and ten colleagues from B.U., Harvard University, Simmons College, and Tufts University report on their study of high-school students developing the ability to recognize, analyze, navigate, and challenge the social forces that contribute to race and class inequality. Previous research has shown that this ability (dubbed sociopolitical development) helps marginalized youth improve their resilience, academic achievement, and civic engagement.
Seider et al. studied ninth graders in six high-poverty urban charter schools, all of which made a point of fostering their students’ awareness and activism. Three of the schools were avowedly progressive, three were guided by “no excuses” pedagogy and principles. The study had these major findings:
- “Resilience” – http://kpjrfilms.co/resilience/
- “Paper Tigers: One High School’s Unlikely Success Story” – http://kpjrfilms.co/paper-tigers/
- TED talk by pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris –
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This weekly memo is designed to keep principals, teachers, superintendents, and others very well-informed on current research and effective practices in K-12 education. Kim Marshall, drawing on 45 years’ experience as a teacher, principal, central office administrator, and writer, lightens the load of busy educators by serving as their “designated reader.”
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American Educational Research Journal
American Journal of Education
ASCA School Counselor
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Elementary School Journal
Harvard Business Review
Harvard Educational Review
Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy
Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk (JESPAR)
Journal of Staff Development
Kappa Delta Pi Record
Mathematics in the Middle School
Middle School Journal
Peabody Journal of Education
Phi Delta Kappan
Principal’s Research Review
Reading Research Quarterly
Responsive Classroom Newsletter
Review of Educational Research
School Library Journal
Teaching Children Mathematics
Teaching Exceptional Children
The Chronicle of Higher Education
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The Journal of the Learning Sciences
The Language Educator
The Reading Teacher
Theory Into Practice