10. Short item: Audiobooks on Asian-American topics
“Because I was wrestling with so much, I immediately thought, ‘I am the dumbest person here, so I’m going to shut up, observe, and listen.’”
A college student who was the first in her immediate family to attend college, quoted
by Ian Wilhelm in the editor’s note, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 14, 2021
“For a long time, we have expected teachers to handle the mental health issues of students in their class in addition to teaching… At the most basic level, the best teacher in the world cannot effectively reach a student who is having a mental health crisis.”
Sarah Broome in “How Schools Can Fund and Implement Strong Mental Health
at The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, May 6, 2021
“A letter grade will never help a student grow the way specific, timely feedback will.”
Jennifer Gonzalez (see item #1)
“No More Easy Button: A Suggested Approach to Post-Pandemic Teaching” by Jennifer Gonzalez in Cult of Pedagogy, May 16, 2021
(Originally titled “What Is Research, Anyway?”)
“In schools, a lot of what passes as ‘research’ really isn’t,” says author/consultant Douglas Reeves in this article in Educational Leadership. “When someone claims they have looked at the research, they might mean anything from a comprehensive literature review to scanning a few posts on Facebook or similar sources.” Reeves describes five ways that people might claim a school practice is sound, only two of which hold water:
• I believe it. Some educators have strong views on the value of corporal punishment, or using grades to shame students into better performance, or teachers’ right to close their classroom doors and work in isolation. Even though numerous studies have shown that each of these practices is ineffective, that doesn’t stop people from sticking to them.
• It works for me. Good teaching might be taking place – or it might be confirmation bias. The fact that a class is being polite and compliant during a 30-minute teacher lecture doesn’t necessarily mean learning is taking place.
• The whole third-grade team agrees. There might be a good practice here, or it might be groupthink. “Some of the greatest gains I’ve seen in student achievement,” says Reeves, “happened not when a department was in agreement on practices to use, but when a few brave teachers broke out of the mold and tried something new.”
• We used action research. When several teachers identify a common learning problem, try the same intervention, and get positive results, that’s really informative, says Reeves. He likes the “science fair” approach, where teachers display these three phases on cardboard trifolds and discuss results with peers and school leaders. Of course, things don’t always work out so neatly. “The acid test of any research,” he says, “is whether we can find, and are open to, data that contradict our expectations.”
• The preponderance of the evidence shows it works. “Every research method has strengths and weaknesses,” says Reeves, and maddeningly, some findings are contradictory. But when different studies, using different methods, converge on the same conclusion (for example, the key role of teacher efficacy in student achievement), we can be confident it’s true.
In this Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness article, Alan Cheung and Tengteng Zhuang (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Chen Xie (East China Normal University), and Amanda Neitzel and the late Robert Slavin (Johns Hopkins University) report on their synthesis of research on Success for All, an elementary literacy program. Analyzing 17 studies that met rigorous standards, the researchers concluded that SFA had a mean effect size of +0.24, with the most positive impact on students with low achievement.
Developed at Johns Hopkins University in collaboration with the Baltimore City Schools and first implemented in 1987, Success for All has been modified over time and now has these key components. (There are about 500 schools in the U.S. using the full program, another 500 using some of the components.)
In this Chronicle of Higher Education article, James Lang (Assumption College) says that as a new English professor, he tried to keep track of each student’s class participation, using the data to boost a grade (for example, a B to a B+) but not to penalize students. After more than a decade, Lang soured on this system. For one thing, he was uncomfortable with a few voluble, self-confident students dominating discussions. More important, he realized that grading class participation is subject to all kinds of biases. There’s a tendency to give more points to students who seem sympatico and whose opinions the instructor agrees with – or docking a student who resembles someone the instructor dislikes.
There’s also a lot of variation in the quality of student input during discussions. “How do I measure the difference between an introvert who makes one comment that changes the way we all think of the material,” asks Lang, “and an extrovert who makes 10 comments that are all the equivalent of ‘I agree with that’?” Finally, there’s the impossible challenge of accurately recording the quantity and quality of students’ participation while actively conducting a class.
While those are good reasons for not grading class participation, Lang says that students’ level of involvement in class discussions is an important factor in learning, because: (a) students who participate are active rather than passive; (b) they’re more likely to get feedback on their thinking; and (c) they have opportunities to practice speaking and thinking on their feet. So how can instructors increase participation without using an incentive-based grading system? Here’s the approach Lang developed:
• He makes clear up front that participation is a key component in the course and every student will be active – in small groups, in whole-class discussions, and in written work. “You can’t be a full member of our community without participating in class,” he says.
• Lang frequently gets students working in pairs or small groups – for example, annotating a poem or evaluating the most important qualities in a piece of writing. “Over the course of a semester,” he says, “all students will have participated in enough of these groups that they will have spoken multiple times in the classroom.”
• In whole-class discussions, Lang cold-calls students (“invitational participation,” he calls it). “I’m not challenging them to a duel,” he says. “I’m inviting them to share their views because I value what they think.” Knowing that being called on in class is scary for some students, Lang builds in three modifications:
In this article in Teaching Exceptional Children, Candace Mulcahy and Jeanette Wertz (Binghamton University) describe a 3-4-week project-based learning unit – the Car Project – designed in collaboration with a high-school business math teacher. With students’ interest piqued by a tour of an automobile dealership, the teacher rolled out the unit, containing all the key elements of good project-based learning:
• Sustained inquiry – The teacher’s original 2-3-day project was expanded into a 3-5-week unit to allow sufficient time for in-depth research, collaboration, and development.
• A challenging problem or question – Here were the challenges students were presented: What do you need to know to buy a car? How do you balance wants and needs? How much money do you need to buy a car? How much money do you need to budget to keep your car running? What lifestyle choices do you need to consider when you own a car?
• Key skills, knowledge, and understandings – Students had to master a wide range: budgeting and calculating interest, total cost, and loan terms; thinking through lifestyle choices; reading, interpreting, and constructing tables; analyzing data; completing applications; public speaking; persuasive essay writing and presentation; collaboration; critical thinking; research; data collection; organization; making decisions.
• Authentically constructing knowledge and collaborating with peers – Students conducted a group activity on thinking through a dream car versus a realistic choice, and created an elevator speech on attaining a dream car.
• Student voice and choice – Students did research on dream car versus realistic car choices and took roles in small-group activities, field trips, and gallery walks.
• Scaffolding – The teacher supported students’ research and discussions with mini-lessons on calculating loans, filling out applications, constructing an expense report, and interpreting graphs and tables. This was especially helpful for students with disabilities.
• Critique, revision, and reflection – Prior to their final presentations, students worked with peers to review, discuss, and get feedback so what they presented met the criteria.
• A public product – Students answered the initial essential and target questions in presentations on car-buying considerations and in elevator speeches on getting their dream car. These were assessed on a rubric and through peer evaluations.
In this article in Educational Researcher, Salvatore Ioverno (Ghent University, Belgium) and Dawn DeLay, Carol Lynn Martin, and Laura Hanish (Arizona State University) report on their study of homophobic bullying among a diverse group of sixth graders at a school in the southeastern U.S. Here’s are their major takeaways:
“Who Engages in Gender Bullying? The Role of Homophobic Name-Calling, Gender Pressure, and Gender Conformity” by Salvatore Ioverno, Dawn DeLay, Carol Lynn Martin, and Laura Hanish in Educational Researcher, May 2021 (Vol. 50, #4, pp. 215-224); Ioverno can be reached at [email protected], Delay at [email protected].
In this Leadership Freak article, Dan Rockwell suggests seven ways to make meetings more productive:
a. Audiobooks on Asian-American Topics – This School Library Journal feature by Terry Hong lists recent middle-grade, YA, and adult crossover audiobooks on the AAIP experience. (This entire issue of School Library Journal is free, after registration.)
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Those read this week are underlined.
All Things PLC
American Educational Research Journal
American Journal of Education
ASCA School Counselor
Cult of Pedagogy
District Management Journal
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)
Kappa Delta Pi Record
Literacy Today (formerly Reading Today)
Mathematics Teacher: Learning & Teaching PK-12
Middle School Journal
Peabody Journal of Education
Phi Delta Kappan
Reading Research Quarterly
Review of Educational Research
School Library Journal
Social Studies and the Young Learner
Teaching Exceptional Children
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Journal of the Learning Sciences
The Language Educator
The Learning Professional (formerly Journal of Staff Development)
The Reading Teacher
Theory Into Practice