Archive for the 'Primary' 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’

You want evidence-based teaching practices?

In “How to Improve Student Learning in Every Classroom Now,” Janet Twyman and Bill Heward (in press) published excellent descriptions of effective practices, complete with descriptions, examples, links, and more. If you follow Teach Effectively, you'll be familiar with the practices they describe, but their article brings them together in one clear summary. Here's their abstract:

This paper is our attempt to help any of the world’s 60 million teachers who ask, “What can I do right now to improve learning in my classroom?” We describe three easy-to-use teaching tactics derived from applied behavior analysis that consistently yield measurably superior learning outcomes. Each tactic is applicable across curriculum content and students’ age and skill levels. Considerations for using digital tools to support and extend these “low-tech” tactics are also discussed.

Oh, about that evidence stuff: They provide plenty of references to solid research.

Twyman, J. S., & Heward, W. L. (in press). How to improve student learning in every classroom now. International Journal of Educationa Research. doi:10.1016/j.ijer.2016.05.007

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.

ECF: Misdirected Teacher Training has Crippled Education Reform

In the summary for a recently released policy analysis, John Stone of the Education Consumers Foundation argued that developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), the widely promoted approach to early childhood education, has effectively prevented struggling students from achieving what educational policy makers have sought since 1983: The chance to close the gap. In the statement, Misdirected Teacher Training, Mr. Stone details the ways that DAP has hindered young children’s progress.
Continue reading ‘ECF: Misdirected Teacher Training has Crippled Education Reform’

Does monitoring progress help?

Does it actually help to monitor students’ progress and adjust instruction on the basis of how they are doing? Deborah Simmons and her colleagues provided compelling evidence that, within a tier-2 implementation of the Early Reading Intervention (ERI) program at the Kindergarten level, it surely does.

Although it was published online earlier, in the May 2015 issue of Journal of Learning Disabilities, Professor Simmons and her team described a study in which they compared the reading performace of children for whom teachers had made adjustments in the pacing of instruction, either providing additional practice on lessons or skipping lessons, to the reading performance of children who had not received the adjustments. The adjustments were based on frequent assessments of students’ progress through the ERI program.

Simmons Figure 2

Among the children who received the adjustment, they identified four different groups. The graphic at the right, taken from Simmons et al. (2015) Figure 2, depicts the four groups, as described in the following list.

Continue reading ‘Does monitoring progress help?’

Is my teaching effective?

How does one know whether one’s teaching is working? That’s a dang important question. Over on myIGDIs, Scott McConnell provides a quick and clear introduction to the answer. In How Do I Know if My Classroom Practices Are Working?, Professor McConnell explains that one needs (a) goals or standards, (b) points of comparison against which to assess change or difference, and (c) trustworthy ways of measuring students’ performance, if one is to assess the effects of one’s teaching.

Although Professor McConnell’s analysis is aimed primarily at early childhood education, it’s base is general enough to be applicable across age groups. He’s talking about Individual Growth and Development Indicators, or IGDIs. Those are important tools in an effective educator’s apron. I’m thinking myIGDIs, which provides research-based, preschool language and literacy measures, looks like a valuable site. These link nicely to RtI, CBM, and other models that align with monitoring progress systematically.

Free Funnix returns!

Loyal readers of TE will recall that the folks at Royal Limited Partnership gave away copies of the Funnix Beginning Reading program in 2011. Welp, it’s going to happen again! Yes indeedy! Quoting from a page on the Funnix Web site:

From February 1 through 16th, the Funnix Beginning Reading program will be free for download–no strings, no hidden costs.

The Funnix sequence teaches 2 year’s worth of reading skills. During last year’s promotion, more than 40,000 people received the Funnix Beginning Reading program free. Even higher numbers are anticipated for this year.

If you’re in the market for an excellent beginning reading program, sign up for your free download of Funnix Beginning Reading. The program has been offered for $25 during most of 2011; however, the price will rise to $38 following the giveaway in February.

Funnix is a computer-based early reading program that delivers the essential components for decoding instruction. A teacher, parent, teaching assistant, or other competent reader can work with an individual child or small group and provide the guidance needed by the student or students as they go through the instructional activities provided via the computer. It’s predicated on all the principles of Direct Instruction (its authors are Zig and Owen Engelmann). The lessons are lively and fun. There’s plenty of monitoring and opportunities for individualization.

Now, you can’t register early for this giveaway. You have to arrive after 1 February 2012. But, you can go to the Funnix giveaway announcement and look at the various offerings now, and you can become familiar with the products in advance, and you can be prepared (i.e., bookmark the site, put a reminder in your calendar, and so forth).




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