Must Reads for Instructional Leaders
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Must Reads for Instructional Leaders
Essential readings about teaching and learning
Curated by Mel Riddile
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Where Teens Have the Most Homework

Where Teens Have the Most Homework | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
An international ranking, from 14 hours a week in China to three in Finland

Via Bob Farrace
Mel Riddile's insight:

Homework is independent practice. By definition, students should have guided practice in the classroom before being assigned independent practice.

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Multitasking: Can students really do two things at once as well as they can do one?

Professor Daniel Willingham looks at multi-tasking and concludes that even though kids today may like to multi-task, there's no reason to think that they are different than previous generations; they don't *need* to multi-task to be engaged and, like everyone else, kids today can't do two things at once as well as they can do one.

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Five Rules to Help End Student Boredom & Increase Engagement

Five Rules to Help End Student Boredom & Increase Engagement | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
It's time to end classroom boredom, says educator Barbara Blackburn, who offers 5 rules for student engagement with examples from her own teaching & consulting.
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5 Assessment Forms That Promote Content Retention

5 Assessment Forms That Promote Content Retention | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it

If we hope to construct enduring understanding in our students, it's critical that, now more than ever, we know their strengths and interests. 

The First 3 Assessment Forms

  • Tests Where Notes or Textbooks are Permitted
  • Take-Home Tests
  • Student-Made Tests


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Socratic Seminars: Class Discussion to Encourage Critical Thinking

Socratic Seminars: Class Discussion to Encourage Critical Thinking | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it

Resources By Topic:

About Socratic Seminars

About Socratic Seminars

Socratic Seminars: Patience & Practice

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Chunking: Six Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students

Chunking: Six Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
What’s the opposite of scaffolding a lesson? It would be saying to students something like, “Read this nine-page science article, write a detailed essay on the topic it explores, and turn it in by Wed
Mel Riddile's insight:

Chunk size is critical to student learning and retention. In most classrooms the chunk size is much too large. We need smaller, digestible lesson segments with frequent checks for understanding and formative assessments.

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Bell-to-Bell Learning: An obligation not an option

Bell-to-Bell Learning: An obligation not an option | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
Making every minute count doesn't preclude student empowerment; it promotes it.
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Mel Riddile's curator insight, May 5, 2014 9:54 AM

"With everything kids went through to make it to school, it was imperative that I make it worth their while. Bell to bell wasn't an option to me; it was an obligation."

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Why don't students remember what they’ve learned?

Why don't students remember what they’ve learned? | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
Curricula and assessment aren’t designed with memory in mind   We’ve all had the experience of cramming for an exam and forgetting most of what we learned within a few weeks or days.
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Dan Kirsch's comment, May 5, 2014 12:41 PM
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Best Classroom Management: "I don't need a system to handle misbehavior because it so rarely occurs."

Best Classroom Management: "I don't need a system to handle misbehavior because it so rarely occurs." | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
New teachers have an opportunity to create a classroom where students feel secure, valued & successful. Veteran Cheryl Mizerny shares ideas that work for her.


"As teachers begin this school year, their thoughts undoubtedly turn to the classroom climate they want to establish and maintain. One question that I am often asked (especially by newer teachers) is what kind of classroom management program I use. My answer is that I don’t.


What I prefer instead is to develop a classroom that does not require a system to handle misbehavior because it so rarely occurs. No checkmarks on the board, no list of consequences, no rewards. Just engaged, productive, friendly students."

Mel Riddile's insight:
  • Good instruction minimizes bad behavior.
  • Where there is a vacuum, negativity will fill it. Master teachers create procedures and routines in which there is no down time.
  • They create an emotionally safe and inviting environment in which it is easy to do the right thing.
  • Master teachers know that the beginning of a lesson sets the tone. A consistent beginning of a lesson allows the teacher to focus on learning by making behavior automatic.
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Mel Riddile's curator insight, December 2, 2014 2:43 PM
  • Good instruction minimizes bad behavior.
  • Where there is a vacuum, negativity will fill it. Master teacher create procedures and routines in which there is no down time.
  • They create an emotionally safe and inviting environment in which it is easy to do the right thing.
  • Master teachers know that the beginning of a lesson sets the tone. A consistent beginning of a lesson allows the teacher to focus on learning by making behavior automatic.
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Age of Distraction: Why It’s Crucial for Students to Learn to Focus

Age of Distraction: Why It’s Crucial for Students to Learn to Focus | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
Learning to focus on one task while tuning out the many distractions vying for attention is a crucial life skill that some students are missing.
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Mel Riddile's curator insight, August 25, 2014 3:54 PM

Note to school leaders: Teachers in most schools are exerting far too much effort focusing students instead of creating the conditions that build self-control and help students learn to focus.


This is a school wide issue that cannot be corrected by individual teachers, but through the focused leadership of a strong instructional leader.

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Rigor: Just because a question comes from a higher grade level doesn’t make it rigorous - Grant Wiggins

Rigor: Just because a question comes from a higher grade level doesn’t make it rigorous - Grant Wiggins | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it

Just because a question comes from a higher grade level doesn’t make it rigorous. And rigor is surely not an absolute but relative criterion, referring to the intersection of the learner’s prior learning and the demands of the question. (This will make mass testing very difficult, of course).


To me, rigor has (at least) 3 other aspects when testing:

  1. learners must face a novel (-seeming) question,
  2. do something with an atypically high degree of precision and skill
  3. both invent and double-check the approach and result, be it in math or writing a paper.


The novel (or novel-seeming) aspect to the challenge typically means that there is some new context, look and feel, changed constraint, or other superficial oddness than what happened in prior instruction and testing. (i.e. what Bloom said had to be true of any “application” task in the Taxonomy).

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If a teacher puts out too much new information in the final minutes of a class, students might have trouble “getting” it

How the Brain Learns

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'students are less interested in learning new things if teacher told them everything they needed to know.'

'students are less interested in learning new things if teacher told them everything they needed to know.' | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it

I'm particularly struck by what Dan Ariely calls "The Ikea Effect" - people value something more because of the labor they invested into creating it. This idea was reinforced by a study published last month that showed that students tended to be less interested in learning new things if they felt that their teacher told them everything they needed to know.

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Teaching Content Is Teaching Reading - Dan Willingham

Professor Daniel Willingham describes why content knowledge is essential to reading with comprehension, and why teaching reading strategies alone is not sufficient that students read with good comprehension.
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6 Targets To Teach The Way The Brain Learns

6 Targets To Teach The Way The Brain Learns | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
6 Targets To Teach The Way The Brain Learns
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Arranging Classroom Furniture: An Unobtrusive Glimpse into How Teachers Teach

Arranging Classroom Furniture: An Unobtrusive Glimpse into How Teachers Teach | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it

How teachers arrange the furniture in classrooms gives a peek into how teachers teach. 


Do such photos of classroom furniture give observers a glimpse of how teachers teach? Yes, they do, but only a hint.

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Student Engagement Trumps Poverty

Student Engagement Trumps Poverty | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it

A recently released longitudinal study reveals that "an engaged student from a low socio-economic background will have better opportunities in life than a disengaged child from a more privileged background."

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Mel Riddile's curator insight, March 31, 2014 12:01 PM

Compliance does not equal engagement

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What Keeps Students Motivated to Learn?

What Keeps Students Motivated to Learn? | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
What keeps students motivated to learn? Relevance, connections, and their teachers' emotional investment, among just a few criteria.
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20 Ways to Provide Effective Feedback to Your Students

20 Ways to Provide Effective Feedback to Your Students | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
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Alternatives to Traditional Homework - Awesome Chart for Teachers

Alternatives to Traditional Homework - Awesome Chart for Teachers | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
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What Happens When the Teacher Stops Talking? A Simple and Effective Student Engagement Strategy

What Happens When the Teacher Stops Talking? A Simple and Effective Student Engagement Strategy | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it

On a recent school visit, I was discussing student engagement with a group of school leaders when a member of the group offered the following observation: "I think teachers are reluctant to turn the class over to a guided activity because they are concerned about classroom management."


My Response


Teachers cannot teach if they cannot manage classroom behavior. They know that and we know that. Unless we build teacher capacity to engage students in guided group activities, they will be reluctant to "stop talking" because they are afraid they will lose control. In other words, teachers must be taught what to do when they stop talking and students are working.


Remember, the brain that does the work does the learning. If we expect to dramatically increase the amount of student work and simultaneously decrease the amount of teacher talk, we must build the capacity of teachers to check for understanding and facilitate group processes while keeping all the students on-task.


Most teachers make the big mistake of spending too much time with a few individuals and while they are "fixing" those few students, the rest of the class gets off-task. It does not take long for teachers to figure out that this is not working and they revert back to their comfort zone and a teacher-centered style of instruction. 


Furthermore, the natural tendency to "fix" struggling students actually has the unintended consequence of creating "dependent" students, who quickly learn that, if they wait until the teacher stops talking to raise their hand, the teacher will come over and do their work for them. So, not only are were losing control of the class, but we are creating dependent learners who will not even attempt to complete the assignment because they know the teacher will bail them out.


Years of implementing a school wide instructional framework taught me that our teachers had to have a strategy for keeping students on-task and engaged while they circulated through the room. Fred Jones’s Praise, Prompt, and Leave (PPL) strategy is one that we found particularly useful for strengthening student engagement.


Keys to Implementation of PPL


We asked teachers to:

  • Begin the year using groups of two (collaborative pairs), which were easier to manage and easier to keep on-task.
  • Chunk the lesson or task into smaller segments.
  • Keep the outcome in mind. The goal was not to fix students, but rather to ensure that they were on-task and that the students demonstrated understanding of the task at hand.
  • Don't let too many students get to far off course! When needed stop the group activity and re-teach a key point. The only way the teacher knows whether students are off course is to circulate throughout the classroom checking for understanding.
  • Motion creates emotion. An effective teacher moved around the classroom with ease and did not get stuck instructing one or two students.
  • Every 10-12 minutes of group activity refocus the students and point out any key concepts or share your observations.


Follow a simple three step process:

  1. Praise - Point out where the student is and what the student has done so far.
  2. Prompt - Tell the student what to do next and that you will be back to check on them.
  3. Leave - Spend as little time with each student as possible. The goal is to check on the understanding of all students not to re-teach a few students.


For a more detailed explanation of Praise, Prompt, and Leave, follow this link: http://info.marygrove.edu/matblog/a-simple-and-effective-student-engagement-strategy-praise-prompt-and-leave



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Quiz Yourself: How Good Are You at Teaching the Art of Learning?

Quiz Yourself: How Good Are You at Teaching the Art of Learning? | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
Test how well you know some of these counterintuitive study tips.
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How Does the Brain Learn Best? Smart Studying Strategies

How Does the Brain Learn Best? Smart Studying Strategies | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it
A practical and engaging guide to smart studying tips.
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Student Engagement Accounts for Differences in Math Achievement

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The truth about homework in schools: Does it offer value?

The truth about homework in schools: Does it offer value? | Must Reads for Instructional Leaders | Scoop.it

By Justin Tarte


- More times than not homework adds little value when it comes to student learning...

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