Like so many buzzwords in education, it's hard to pin down what people mean by the term "Productive Struggle". Of the two meanings of Productive Struggle I've heard being used most often, the good meaning is uncontroversial, and the bad - and more popular - meaning encourages teachers to abandon principles of effective instruction. The … Continue reading Do We Want Our Students to Struggle?
It’s perhaps surprising how a lesson’s success greatly depends on the moments that precede the actual lesson: The etiquette in the hallways, the way students line up at the door and enter, and the design of the task they're meant to do when they take their seats. When I coach teachers who struggle with classroom … Continue reading From Door to Do Now
Everyone has their ideas about what will fix education. One way to categorize these ideas is through the dichotomy of progressivism and traditionalism. Progressive approaches emphasize setting the conditions to allow students to find their own way to subjects, and traditional approaches emphasize the importance of an expert bringing subjects that are of value for … Continue reading Hyper-Individualized Teaching
For the past 9 years, I've worked in private independent and international schools, and before that, I trained and worked in public schools. As I've written before, the challenges that teachers experience in each of these contexts are vastly different. A pedagogy consisting largely of unstructured tasks with ill-defined goals, coupled with a laissez-faire approach … Continue reading The Private School Penalty
Last week I attended a government-sponsored training on instructional video that began with three weird reasons for why teachers should use more instructional video: Instructional videos cater to students' learning stylesInstructional videos are more popular with students (i.e., they like them) than alternative methodsInstructional videos are the future of learning I'm sure fans of this … Continue reading Instructional Videos: Perfect for Learning Styles, Popular with Students, and THE FUTURE of Education!
One of my favorite episodes of the Progressively Incorrect podcast is the one in which we discuss an opinion piece by Alfie Kohn on classroom management. Consistent with his past writing, Kohn takes issue with the idea that schools should concern themselves with externally regulating students’ behaviors, saying that classroom management is based on a … Continue reading Is Classroom Management Based on a “Dim View” of Human Nature?
A problem teachers face when delivering lectures is the issue of "transience." Information is transient when elements of information that must be processed by a learner disappear to be replaced by new elements
If much of what we learned in teacher training was not very useful once we got to the classroom, and if some theories we were taught, like learning styles, were just plain false, it's tempting to conclude that theory has little to offer the busy teacher. Having used cognitive load theory to streamline my teaching, I can't agree.
Somewhere along the way I developed the habit of using an unproductive questioning pattern called "guess what's in my head." This is when I ask questions that the students couldn't possibly respond to because they haven't yet learned the material required to answer the questions.
When I first started teaching 4th grade, I inherited a social studies unit on Ancient Egypt, a topic that is universally adored by students at this age level. Over the years of teaching this unit, the 4th grade teachers had developed a document - what we'd now call a knowledge organizer - of all of … Continue reading The Sad, Sad Story of the Hollow Curriculum