Archive for the 'Written Expression' 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’

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.

Lesaux promotes vocabulary instruction

Speaking at the 2011 George Graham Lecture at the University of Virginia’s Curry School, Nonie Lesaux explained that students who do not have English skills—English language learners, English as a second language, language minority learners, and so forth—at the middle school level need to learn an academic vocabulary. After presenting background research showing that much of the problem in reading for students in US schools who do not have English as their primary language is not in mastering the phonological aspects of literacy, and not just in learning labels for nouns, she described a 20-week vocabulary curriculum for teaching students language used in academic texts.

Professor Lesaux, a member of the faculty at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, has conducted extensive research using multiple methods across diverse topics related to language learning and literacy. Her message is clear: Helping students, including those who are not native speakers of English, requires systematic and comprehensive instruction in multiple areas, including vocabulary, and we can’t expect that simply teaching students words as labels will be sufficient. We have to get them to use those words.

Kelley, J. G., Lesaux, N. K., Kieffer, M. A., & Faller, S. E. (2010). Effective academic vocabulary instruction in the urban middle school. The Reading Teacher, 64, 5-14.

Kieffer, M. J., & Lesaux, N. (in press). Breaking down to build meaning: Morphology, vocabulary, and reading comprehension in the urban classroom. The Reading Teacher.

For more, peruse Professor Lesaux’s vita.

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!

Children of the Code posts Engelmann 2

Over on Children of the Code, David Boulton and colleagues affiliated with Learning Stewards, a non-profit organization, posted the second segment of an extended video interview entitled “Professor Siegfried Engelmann Part 2: Improving the Quality of Learning.” Here’s a snippet from the the announcement:

Siegfried “Zig” Engelmann is Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, the Director of the National Institute for Direct Instruction, and President of Engelmann-Becker Corporation, which develops instructional materials and provides educational services for students with various educational needs. The creator of “Direct Instruction”, Professor Engelmann is also the author or co-author of more than 100 articles and chapters of professional books, and more than a dozen professional books and monographs.

“It doesn’t matter what your theory of learning is, all you need to do is look at the facts of what you did and the facts of what the kids are doing.”

I like that quote. It captures the raw empiricism that undergirds Professor Engelmann’s approach to teaching and instructional design.

Siegfried Engelmann 2: Improving the Quality of Learning
Read an earlier entry from Teach Effectively that links to the first part of the interview: “Engelmann interview on instructional design.”

Engelmann explains

Zig Engelmann, progenitor of Direct Instruction (DI), has posted a video of a talk he gave earlier this month. The presentation is an explication of the underlying principles of DI, “Theory of Direct Instruction.”

In the presentation (video below the jump), Mr. Engelmann shows some of his chops from his undergraduate degree in philosophy. He starts with philosophers’ fundamental arguments and shows how those correspond (or don’t) with learning and teaching concepts. For example, as he works through John Stuart Mills’ five methods of induction from A System of Logic, he makes clear how each would apply to teaching. I suspect that this particular sequence will show many people why DI instruction (the examples used in the scripts, not the teaching behavior) is structured the way it is.
Continue reading ‘Engelmann explains’

Graham Lecture with S. Graham

S. Graham at DLD 2007
Steve Graham
(at another presentation)

Live blogging here in McKim Hall at the University of Virginia as Steve Graham delivers the McGuffey Reading Center’s 25th annual Graham Lecture. After Marcia Invernizzi’s cordial introduction, Steve began with a joke and a couple of humorous anecdotes about students’ writing. Of course, he tipped his hat to his collaborators and the sponsor of the research (Carnegie’s Writing Next).

Steve went into a rationale for the importance of writing instruction (“Why do reading, math, science, and technology get all the attention?)”. He then discussed forms of research, explaining that he was going to draw on experimental and quasi-experimental research, single-subject studies, and examinations of successful teachers. In addition, he noted that when the results from studies from diverse methods align, he has increased confidence in the strength of this findings.
Continue reading ‘Graham Lecture with S. Graham’

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