This is a reprint of a November 2011 post. I'm reprinting it now because it's a lot easier to revisit and revise policies and practices over the summer than it is mid-year. And nothing needs to be revisited or revised more than our response to test score pressure. I look forward to your comments (see the original post for previous comments). Note to readers: With legislators considering the future of NCLB, I feel compelled to share some thoughts on this from my experience as an urban teacher and school leader. So, here's my first post on policy rather than practice: ...


Procedural fluency or conceptual understanding--math educators have debated for years which is more important. I sided with conceptual understanding until my colleague Angela McIver helped me see the value of procedural fluency in terms of stamina. Like all of us, students have finite energy. The more energy they use for procedures, the less energy they have for problem solving. And the less energy they have for problem solving, the less likely they are to gain conceptual understanding. A lack of procedural fluency can therefore contribute to a lack of conceptual understanding. The issue, then, isn't if we should target procedural ...


The fate of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics will depend on how we teach more so than what we teach. It's great, for example, that teachers will now have time to explore topics in greater depth. But unless they're prepared to go deeper with those topics, the extra time will be spent reinforcing algorithms and formulas rather than deriving them. School leaders and math teachers must therefore understand the instructional implications of CCSS in addition to the content implications. This is why I begin Math CCSS training with a discussion of six shifts in instruction associated with ...


Many people, including me, decry test prep for standardized tests. But what about other tests? I bring this up now because test prep is as common this time of year as it is in the weeks leading up to standardized tests. No enrichment or extension activities, and no new material. Just sneak previews of final exams, and opportunities for students to prepare for them using study guides--provided by their teachers, of course. (Many teachers spend more time preparing for test prep than students spend preparing for tests.) Final exam prep is another example of schools setting students up for post-secondary ...


Last post I introduced Concept Cards, a note-taking system that helps students store, retrieve, and use information more efficiently than traditional note-taking methods. Now, here are a few tips for maximizing the benefits of Concept Cards: Alphabetical Rather Than Chronological. One problem with taking notes in date sequence using a notebook is that it can take a while to find information that was covered earlier in the course. (This is especially problematic if your assignments and assessments are spiraled, as I recommend.) By keeping their Concept Cards in alphabetical order, students can find what they need when they need it. ...


"Look it up in your notes," I told students when they asked me for information that either I had already given them or they had found on their own. "You're the teacher. You're supposed to answer our questions," students responded. "The answers to those questions should be in your notes." I replied. But many students didn't take notes. And most students who did take notes were too irresponsible or disorganized to benefit from them. Some kids took notes one day, but didn't bring them to class the following day. Others, meanwhile, brought their notes to class but couldn't find information ...


The dropout rate at Chicago's Manley High School was over 60% when I taught there, and even higher for males. Yet Rodney Wilson (not his real name) made it to graduation, and his family and friends roared as he received his diploma. No one was louder or prouder than Rodney's girlfriend, Nicole (not her real name), who would graduate from Manley the following year. I asked Nicole early in her senior year how Rodney was doing. "He's alright," Nicole said, but her face said otherwise. "Is he in school?" I asked. "Not yet," Nicole replied. "He applied to Malcolm X (one...


"Stop the madness for constant group work." said author Susan Cain in her recent TED Talk, The Power of Introverts. "We need to be teaching kids to work together, for sure. But we also need to be teaching them how to work on their own because that is where deep thought comes from." (Check out Cain's talk--it's enlightening and inspiring.) I agree with Cain, which may seem like I'm contradicting myself, since teamwork is the "t" in my "success comes from the H.E.A.R.T." acronym. But the "r" in H.E.A.R.T. is resourcefulness, which ...


"I'm returning your tests, but don't look at them yet. Keep working on today's assignment." I've heard many teachers, including me, make requests like this, and then return students' tests--face down, of course. Yet rather than comply, students compare or complain. Compare scores: "I got an 85. What did you get?" And compare answers, which is when the complaining begins: "Coach G, how come you took points off for me on #7? I had the same thing as Justin and he got credit. That's not fair!" So much for students working on today's assignment--and good luck getting them to refocus ...


Just hearing the F word can cause kids (adults too) to freak out. And if you think about it, there are lots of reasons students feel flummoxed by fractions. For one thing, there's the misleading vocabulary, as when we reduce a fraction to lowest terms even though it doesn't involve a reduction in value. Or when we call a fraction "improper" just because its value is greater than one. Then there are apparent inconsistencies between arithmetic with natural numbers and arithmetic with fractions. Multiplying 10 by 5, for example, increases the value from 10 to 50. But multiply 10 by ...


Advertisement

Most Viewed On Teacher

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments