Archive for the 'Elementary' Category

Brit neuroscientists ding learning styles

In a March 2017 letter to the Guardian, a group of prominent neuroscientists from Great Britain argued expressly against basing instruction on learning styles. They contended that not only are there too many so-called styles to form a coherent framework for guiding instruction and not only is there little evidence supporting benefits from teaching according to learning styles, but also, using resources to follow learning-styles approaches wastes valuable instruction time. Here’s a link to the original letter and another link to an accompanying article by Sally Weale. Continue reading ‘Brit neuroscientists ding learning styles’

Teach reading effectively

head-and-shoulders shot snagged from video
K. Hempenstall

Professor Kerry Hempenstall wrote a literature review on teaching reading for Australia’s Centre for Independent Studies. It is an excellent resource, because it is true to the scientific evidence, but it is written in a way that is accessible to lay readers.

Parents, teachers, administrators, and interested others: You don’t have to put up with the statistics-ese and mumbo-jargon that we researchers often use when discussing scientific evidence. In Read About It:
Scientific Evidence for Effective Teaching of Reading
, Professor Hempenstall clearly explains the five fundamental features of reading competence and how to foster them in learners. Down load a copy of this excellent PDF or follow this link to learn how to purchase a hard copy.

Accommodations that don’t?

Many of us have probably heard anecdotes about accommodations that failed or even backfired. A summary of a state NEA survey of Washington state teachers indicated those teachers’ concern about students losing mandated IEP services because of administration of a Smarter Balanced Assessment, that state’s version of the Common Core.

A pair of two articles in the LA Times covers this topic, too. The lead one, “How new tools meant to help special education students take standardized tests actually made it harder” discussed one teacher’s experiences and some larger issues with references to Washington and Oregon. The second one summarized anecdotes from teachers about problems they encountered in administering California’s Common Core: “These are the problems some California teachers had when they tested students with disabilities.”

I encourage readers to be cautious about presuming that these stories and others like them indict the Common Core State Standards. There are many other players in the mix in these stories, too. Note how poorly designed or executed Universal Design for Learning might be at play in the representations of assessment materials, how the technologies themselves may be contributing to the difficulties, and of course, how these reports are only anecdotal. We have no idea how many other stories there are and how representative these may be of all the stories that could be told.

That does not mean educators should not try to address them, to fix them. Indeed, it’s important to examine problems carefully. Perhaps the National Center on Educational Outcomes, a respected US research and development group that provides technical assistance about the participation of students with disabilities and English language learners (and a collaborator with the Smarter Balanaced Assessment folks), is studying these issues.

One interesting way to study the problems might be to collect the anecdotes about problems in a systematic way…sort of crowd-source them into a data base: State test; student disability category; student age; testing area; accommodation…etc., problem encountered.

If there were a few 1000 examples, maybe some consistent patterns would be clear.

Guide for effective writing instruction

The US Institute of Education Sciences announced the release of a practice guide about improving writing instruction. The guide, entitled “Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers,” is available for free from the IES What Works Clearinghouse (direct link follows). The authorship team, led by Steve Graham of Arizona State University, included Alisha Bollinger (Norris Elementary School, Firth, NE), Carol Booth Olsen (University of California, Irvine), Catherine D’Aoust (University of California, Irvine), Charles MacArthur (University of Delaware), Deborah McCutchen (University of Washington), and Natalie Olinghouse (University of Connecticut).

This practice guide provides four recommendations for improving elementary students’ writing. Each recommendation includes implementation steps and solutions for common roadblocks. The recommendations also summarize and rate supporting evidence. This guide is geared toward teachers, literacy coaches, and other educators who want to improve the writing of their elementary students.

Recommendation Level of
1. Provide daily time for students to write. Minimal
2. Teach students to use the writing process for a variety of purposes. Strong
3. Teach students to become fluent with handwriting, spelling, sentence construction, typing, and word processing. Moderate
4. Create an engaged community of writers. Minimal

Go to the landing page for the practice guide or download a pdf of the guide directly.

Professor Graham and his team have done an excellent job of assembling and interpreting the research here and making it useful to consumers. Of course, readers of Teach Effectively recognize him as one of the foremost experts in the US on writing instruction (and a good friend of TE). Alert readers will remember earlier posts about Professor Graham’s work including Graham Lecture with S. Graham (24 April 2009) and Effective methods for teaching writing (15 April 2009).

Free gift from Education Consumers Foundation!

partial image of cover of Clear Teaching

Isn’t it unusual to get something for free that is actually worth a lot? The good folks over at Education Consumers Foundation (ECF) are giving away a small book that is quite valuable, and I encourage readers to download it, read it, and tell their friends to get it, too.

What are they giving away? It’s a book called Clear Teaching: With Direct Instruction, Siegfried Engelmann Discovered a Better Way of Teaching by Shep Barbash. As one can tell from the subtitle, it’s about Zig Engelmann’s work on education. I talked with Mr. Barbash as he worked on the manuscript for the book, read an earlier version of it, and am very impressed with this finished product. It’s even more impressive that the book is now out in the wild for free. Kudos to Mr. Barbash, John Stone, and all the others at ECF who made this happen.

Clear Teaching – The Book
Written by veteran journalist Shepard Barbash over a period of 10 years, Clear Teaching is a well-researched, highly readable introduction to Direct Instruction (DI), a systematic teaching approach which for more than 40 years has dramatically improved learning outcomes for students of all abilities and from all walks of life. The book looks at the development of DI through the early experiences of its creator, Zig Engelmann; explains the principles that underpin this approach; and looks at DI’s reception in the world of teaching, where it has been effectively shunned despite a formidable research base and example after example of transformative success.

The image at the top of the post is hot, but readers can also click here to go to the ECF page where they can download the PDF.

Looks like a winner!

Explicit Instruction, a new book by Anita Archer and Charles Hughes, sure gives the appearance of a winner. I’ve only had the chance to read the first chapter, but that and the knowledge that these two authors know their way around both the research about and practice of instruction are enough to convince me to place an order.
Continue reading ‘Looks like a winner!’

Teaching effectively and LD

Folks who are interested in effective teaching for students with Learning Disabilities (and other students as well) can learn a lot at the up-coming conference of the Division for Learning Disabilities in Baltimore (MD, US) later this month. Michael Gerber assembled a fine group of sessions, as shown at the end of this post.

Check out the all-star cast. Note the coverage of relevant topics ranging from RTI to math, primary to adolescent ages (with some adult interests included!), and skills to cognition. On top of the fine content, there will be excellent opportunities to mix and mingle with other people attending the conference as well as presenters and members of DLD’s executive board during social events that include breakfasts, a luncheon, and a reception. Lots of materials are included.

Learn more about the TeachingLD Conference 2010, including how to register on line.

  • Using Evidence-Based Interventions to Teach Primary Level Students Early Numeracy Concepts and Skills
    —Diane P. Bryant (University of Texas at Austin) & Brian R. Bryant (University of Texas at Austin)
  • The Math Learning Companion: An Individualized Intervention for Students with Math Learning Disabilities
    —Lindy Crawford (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs) & Barbara Freeman (Digital Directions International)
  • Responsive, Comprehensive, and Intensive Intervention for Older Struggling Readers
    —Lynn M. Gelzheiser (University at Albany) & Laura Hallgren Flynn (University at Albany)
  • Adults with Learning Disabilities: Current Research, Evidence-based Conclusions, and Emerging Directions
    —Paul J. Gerber (Virginia Commonwealth University)
  • Effective Rime-Based Instruction to Improve the Decoding Skills of Students with Learning Disabilities
    —Sara J. Hines (Hunter College), Jennifer T. Klein (Hunter College), & Kathleen M. Ryan (The Churchill School)
  • The Essay Writing Strategy: Helping Students Write More Organized and Complete Responses to Essay Questions and Prompts
    —Charles A. Hughes (Penn State University) & Bill Therrien (University of Iowa)
  • Strategy Training, Problem Solving, and Working Memory in Children with Math Disabilities
    —Olga Jerman (Frostig Center), Amber Moran (University of California at Santa Barbara), Cathy Lussier (University of California at Riverside), Michael Orosco (University of California at Riverside), Lee Swanson (University of California at Riverside), & Michael Gerber (University of California at Santa Barbara)
  • The Technology and Pedagogy of Universal Design for Learning
    —Peggy King-Sears (George Mason University)
  • Early Reading Intervention for Struggling Readers
    —Jill Marie Leafstedt (CSU Channel Islands) & Catherine Richards-Tutor (CSU Long Beach)
  • Response to Intervention Screening and Progress-Monitoring Practices in 41 Local Schools
    —Daryl F. Mellard (University of Kansas)
  • Strategic Instruction for Building Vocabulary
    —J. Ron Nelson (University of Nebraska, Lincoln)
  • Beyond Reading Words: Improving Reading Rate, Fluency, and Comprehension
    —Rollanda E. O’Connor (University of California at Riverside)
  • Growth in Literacy, Language, and Cognition in Children with Reading Disabilities who are English Language Learners
    —Michael J. Orosco (University of California at Riverside), Lee Swanson (University of California at Riverside), Michael Gerber (University of California at Santa Barbara), & Danielle Guzman (University of California at Santa Barbara)
  • Response to Intervention in Math: An Instructional Focus
    —Paul J. Riccomini (The Pennsylvania State University)
  • Developing Text Level Literacy Skills in Beginning Readers
    —Emily J. Solari (University of Texas Health Science Center Houston) & Alexis L. Filippini (San Francisco State University)
  • Reading Progress Monitoring for Secondary School Students: Reading-Aloud and Maze-Selection Measures
    —Renata Ticha (University of Minnesota) & Miya Miura Wayman (University of Minnesota)

Please note that I am compensated by DLD as its executive director so this is, indeed, a shameless promotion!

“Our teachers think they’re all effective.”

According to Stannis Steinbeck, principal of Broadus Elementary School in Pacoima (CA, US), this is the view of the members of her faculty. According to data about the teachers’ effects on student achievement, not all teachers are effective. It should come as no surprise that some are more effective than others and some are woefully ineffective.

Jason Felch, Jason Song, and Doug Smith of the Los Angeles Times aggregated achievement test data over seven years and across many students assigned to 6000 teachers to assess which teachers consistently improved and which consistently diminished their students’ outcomes.
Continue reading ‘“Our teachers think they’re all effective.”’

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